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Google’s March 2024 Core Update Completed

March 2024 Core Algorithm Update Image

Google recently concluded its March 2024 Core Update. This content-focused update, which was officially completed on 19 April 2024, was complex and involved changes to several of Google’s core systems. 

Firstly, it incorporated and expanded the Helpful Content Update (HCU), a standalone algorithm update that was launched in 2022. Secondly, the rollout also introduced three new spam policies: expired domain abuse, scaled content abuse and site reputation abuse.

Now that March 2024 Core Update has been fully implemented, it’s essential to understand its implications and how it may impact your website. Here’s what you need to know.

Timeline of the Google March 2024 Core Update

Google announced their March 2024 Core Update in a blog post on 5 March. The blog outlined the expected timeline of the rollout as well as its short-term impact:

‘As this is a complex update, the rollout may take up to a month. It’s likely there will be more fluctuations in rankings than with a regular core update, as different systems get fully updated and reinforce each other.’

The update was finalised on 19 April 2024, meaning it took 45 days to complete. However, Google didn’t announce that the rollout had finished until 26 April – 52 days after the update began and one week after the update was completed.

This left many SEO experts reeling, with Glenn Gabe questioning Google’s lack of communication:

Downranking Link Spam

With the 2024 Core Update complete, we’ve already seen major changes to the way that Google ranks websites. One of the most significant changes relates to links.

These changes are apparent in Google’s Spam policy guidelines. The documentation previously referred to links as ‘an important factor in determining relevancy,’ however the link spam section has been updated. It now reads:

‘Google uses links as a factor in determining the relevancy of web pages. Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behaviour that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.’

While links remain ‘a factor,’ Google’s updated Spam policy clearly defines the difference between high-quality, relevant links and link-spamming practices. They make it clear that high-quality links can improve ranking while low-quality links will be penalised. In fact, Google’s Spam policy states:

‘Sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all.’

45% Reduction in Low-Quality Content

Google’s first real strides towards prioritising high-quality content came in 2022 with the introduction of the Helpful Content Update. The March 2024 Core Update has moved the needle, reinforcing the importance of helpful, credible and substantive content.

This shift was announced by Google in their Core Update blog post:

‘We believe these updates will reduce the amount of low-quality content on Search and send more traffic to helpful and high-quality sites. Based on our evaluations, we expect that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%.’

With the rollout complete, Google has updated the blog with the following findings:

‘Update April 26, 2024: As of April 19, we’ve completed the rollout of these changes. You’ll now see 45% less low-quality, unoriginal content in search results versus the 40% improvement we expected across this work.’

Navigating the March 2024 Core Update

Although the March 2024 Core Update is complete, many websites are continuing to feel the aftershocks. This is particularly true for sites that were heavily impacted by the Helpful Content Update, with many experiencing vast drops in organic traffic.

To help, Google has updated its Debugging drops in Google Search traffic documentation. This guide explains the impacts of algorithm updates as well as how to find and address subsequent ranking changes.

Going forward, we recommend taking steps to improve the quality of your content. This could mean revisiting your content strategy in order to create content that’s relevant and meets E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) guidelines.

Has your site been negatively impacted by the March 2024 Core Update? Here at Another Concept, we specialise in writing high quality content that’s designed to connect with your readers. Get in touch today to find out more and see how we can help you strengthen your online presence.

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  • Alex Gregory

    Alex has worked with big companies and government agencies to deliver excellent digital experiences. From strategic digital campaigns to website builds and compliance, he’s an experienced marketer that knows how to grow brands online.

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