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Google’s March 2024 Core Update & Spam Policies Explained

March 2024 Core Algorithm Update Image

Google has introduced a major algorithm update that aims to improve search results, tackle spam and provide users with more useful information. Announced via a blog post, the March 2024 Core Update is extensive, with changes that span several core systems.

So, when will these changes take effect? And how will they impact your website? Here we explain Google’s March 2024 Core Update.

Incorporating the Helpful Content Update

In the March 2024 Core Update, Google continues its mission to refine its ranking systems and provide users with original, high-quality content. This follows on from the August 2022 update, when the company first began reducing unhelpful content with their content-focused people-first focus.

This was known as the Helpful Content Update. It was the first time Google had attempted to take steps to reduce the visibility of unhelpful content in search. 

As Elizabeth Tucker, Product Management Director, put it:

“In 2022, we began tuning our ranking systems to reduce unhelpful, unoriginal content on Search and keep it at very low levels. We’re bringing what we learned from that work into the March 2024 core update.”

The March 2024 Core Update effectively integrates the 2022 Helpful Content Update. As such, this update emphasises the importance of high-quality, helpful content. 

Goodbye Low-Quality, Unoriginal Content

As of March 2024, Google’s algorithm will be able to discern between content that was written for the benefit of users versus content that has been created solely for search engine optimisation (SEO). As a result, Google estimates a 40% reduction in the appearance of low-quality, unoriginal content:

‘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%.’

Google’s New Spam Policies 

In addition to prioritising the most helpful information, the update also features new spam policies. These policies allow Google to take more ‘targeted action’ and address practices that result in low-quality content appearing in search. 

Expired Domain Abuse

Google’s ongoing efforts to combat spam include addressing the abuse of expired domains. This involves targeting expired domains that are purchased with the purpose of leveraging previous rankings to benefit their new low-quality content.

This deceptive practice can confuse users by giving the impression that this new content is affiliated with the previous site. As such, Google has announced that repurposing expired domains in this way is now considered spam. By targeting these tactics, users should be presented with more reliable and relevant information.

Scaled Content Abuse

With the advance of artificial intelligence (AI) giving rise to more sophisticated content creation, the distinction between automation and human-generated content has become harder to discern. As such, Google is updating and reinforcing its policy with the aim of combating the production of low-quality, unoriginal content at scale. 

Site Reputation Abuse

Google is also taking action against reputable websites that host low-quality, third-party content. This practice is primarily produced to build trust and gain ranking benefits, which can mislead users. In response, Google is classifying this ‘very low-value, third-party content’ as spam.

When Will the March 2024 Core Update Come Into Effect?

The March 2024 Core Update is already being rolled out. Google will continue pushing out these updates across their systems in the coming weeks, with the majority of updates taking effect by the end of the month. As such, you can expect to see fluctuations in your rankings during this period. 

There is one exception: the site reputation policy. Google has outlined a two-month transition period for this policy which will be enforced from 5 May 2024. 

To check on the status of the rollout, we recommend checking the Google Search Status Dashboard

How Will This Update Impact My Website?

With a renewed and strengthened focus on high-quality content, now is the time to ensure your website is ready for these algorithm updates. As of March 2024, high-quality, original and helpful content will be imperative, while duplicate, low-quality content will suffer.

As outlined by Google:

‘Our goal with our new policies and our constant improvements to our spam fighting systems is not just to ensure that users get great, helpful content. It’s also to ensure those producing helpful content are succeeding in Search ahead of those who engage in spam.’

If you’re concerned about how this rollout could impact your site, get in touch today. Whether you’re worried about the impact of third-party content or you’re eager to elevate your current strategy, we can help you create user-first content that supports your goals.

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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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