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7th March 2024 - Chris Regan

Understanding Google's March 2024 Core Update

This week, Google announced a new core update to its algorithm to improve rankings. Google’s goal is to help users discover useful content by connecting them to high-quality websites, and this update looks to remove low-quality and unoriginal results.

Google's March 2024 Core Update

What is the March 2024 Core Update?

Google often updates its algorithms to ensure users find the most relevant and high-quality content when they search online. These updates, known as "core updates," are designed to improve the overall search experience by making it easier for people to find helpful, informative content.

The whole point of this March 2024 Core Update is to improve the quality of results that Google delivers to its users. In their own words, they want to show less content that they feel is made purposely to attract clicks and more content that they feel is useful and helpful to the user.

To achieve this, they’ve enhanced the core ranking systems to take into account multiple new innovative signals and approaches that they believe show signs that a search result is helpful.

The March 2024 Core Update is more complex than the usual Google Core Updates, as Google has updated multiple core systems.

How does this update differ from others?

The theory behind the update is nothing new; we have known for some time that Google has been working on improving its results, and the December 2022 launch of the Helpful Content Update outlined this in detail to the community.

From our understanding of the latest announcements, this has taken the Helpful Content Update further, expanded the signals and approaches it uses to judge a page's usefulness, and pushed these across multiple systems. In their own words, Google said this is a more complex update than usual, so we expect some substantial changes based on this update.

What is the effect of the update so far?

It’s important to note that this update may take up to a full month to roll out fully, and its impact is fully understood and noted. However, as expected with all core updates, we’ve seen turbulence in the rankings early on.

We’ve also seen reports amongst the SEO community that websites that are known to rely heavily on mass AI-generated content have been deindexed and hit with manual penalties. I feel the manual penalties are a direct result of the updated spam policies and not so much the Core Update, but it’s interesting to see both of these new updates working together to deliver on what Google want the results to look like.

What does this mean for my website?

For many of our clients, this update will mean very little for your website. We’ve known about the theory behind this update for a long time and have always aligned our strategy and approach to the end user and not the algorithm. This protects us from such updates, as we’re optimising websites for sustained results and not trying to cut corners or game the system.

Regarding results, we expect some rankings turbulence over the next month while this update is rolled out.

How does it affect SEO?

The Google March 2024 core update may not revolutionise the SEO landscape overnight, but it sends a clear message about the importance of quality and compliance with Google's guidelines.

A Reminder of Best Practices

This update should not cause concern for those diligently following Google's advice and focusing on creating genuine, user-centric content. It reinforces that playing by the rules pays off in the long run.

Targeting Specific Spammy Practices

This update is poised to clamp down on certain spammy techniques that have lingered in the shadows of SEO practices. If the update is successful, those relying on such methods may find their strategies becoming less effective, closing the door on these outdated tactics.

Maintaining Industry Standards

This update serves as a nudge for the SEO industry, reminding everyone of the importance of maintaining high content creation and optimisation standards. It highlights the need for the industry to continue evolving in a direction that values user experience and content quality over manipulative strategies.

Consequences for Non-Compliance

Businesses and SEO practitioners needing to heed Google's guidelines and continue to employ spammy or black-hat techniques should brace for potential impact. If the update effectively identifies and penalises these practices, it could significantly diminish their visibility in search results.

The March 2024 core update underscores Google's ongoing commitment to enhancing the search experience by rewarding high-quality, helpful content. It reminds us that investing in ethical SEO practices and focusing on delivering real value to users is not only recommended but essential for sustained success in search rankings.

What makes content helpful?

Whilst we can look at Google’s guidelines for this, it really all comes down to common sense. Always think about the audience your writing for, will they get value for this content, is there a unique perspective you can add that isn’t already out there?

Let me share with you the thought process behind Arriba’s content using this very article to demonstrate. Already, there is hundreds of articles amongst the SEO industry discussing this new March 2024 Core Update and there is also multiple articles by Google themselves explaining the update, the theory behind it and FAQ’s to break it down further. So it’s unlikely we will rank well for this term.

So what is the point in Arriba writing about it, couldn’t we just share one of these articles with our audience? Although this may work for certain topics, our audience is unique to us. That means we are understanding the information reported to us as experts in this field, we are then breaking that information down in a way that makes sense to our audience, and adding our unique perspective.

Basically, we’re writing these articles for our users and not for the search engines, which is all that Google want you to do.

But what about the guidelines?

Ok, ok, ok…. If you really want to know what Google believes to make content helpful, then please see this breakdown;

It’s also worth noting that E-E-A-T comes into this, demonstrating who wrote or edited your content and there experience, expertise, authority or trust is amongst the subject area is important, but some of this is covered above.

Final Thoughts

Here at Arriba, we only use fully organic link-building techniques and have never bought a link, swapped, or built links through an automated system. We welcome the news that Google is doing more to make it a level playing field between our clients and their competitors. We also believe that Google has used the correct penalty with this new update of neutralising unnatural links, as penalising websites or removing them from the search results, which they've decided to do in the past, is too extreme, especially when a client may not be aware of the techniques there agencies are using.

References

Google's Official Annoucement

Google's Explanation Blog

Google's Helpful Content FAQ

Chris Regan

About the Author

Chris Regan

Chris is the Managing Director and Founder of Arriba. With a degree in web development and over 10-years of experience in the SEO industry, Chris is an expert in all aspects of user-experience and technical SEO.

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