What does the Google March 2024 update mean for you?

Posted by Dom Moriarty on 22/03/24 10:06
Dom Moriarty

The Google March 2024 core and spam update was announced on 5th March as part of their ongoing quest to improve the quality of their search results.

The update aims to refine how Google understands which web pages are unhelpful, have a poor user experience, or feel like they were created for search engines rather than people.

So far, so good - but this update, unlike some of the previous ones, includes some enhancements to several components of the overall core system, which means it’s more complex than the core updates we’ve seen recently.

The March 2024 update explained

The March 2024 update includes a core update, a spam update, manual actions, and also the Core Web Vital change - and with all these changes overlapping, if you’re feeling confused, you’re definitely not alone.

Additionally, the core update includes a helpful content update, which is leading to a 40% reduction in unhelpful, low-quality, unoriginal content within search. Plus, the spam update is also going after any method producing content at scale for the purpose of ranking in search.

Basically, according to Google, producing content at scale to boost search rankings is against the guidelines - so content created at scale with little to no value is a big no no.

This doesn’t come as much of as surprise. After all, Google’s long-standing spam policy has always been that the use of automation, including generative AI, is spam if the primary purpose is manipulating rankings in search results.

However, this latest update has been expanded to account for more sophisticated content creation methods where it isn’t always clear whether low-quality content was created purely through automation.

So, what’s happened so far?

Good question. With so many things happening at the same time, it’s hard to keep track. However, since the update was announced, there’s been search ranking volatility related to both the algorithmic updates and the manual actions to implement the updated spam policies.

The result? Many sites have been significantly impacted by algorithmic changes and deindexed from Google Search. There are also more fluctuations in rankings than in regular core updates as different systems get updated and reinforce each other.

It’s having a huge impact on the SEO industry that hasn’t been seen since the Panda and Penguin updates. Plus, with Google updates taking time to roll out, the upheaval is by no means over - which means it will be about a month until we can see where things truly lie.

What should I do in the meantime?

Until the updates are complete, it’s a good idea to take Google’s advice and improve both the quality of your content and your website’s user experience to ensure you are in a strong position and help you get ahead.

Essentially, it’s all about content. If you’ve been doing everything right and have been consistently creating high-quality, useful content, then relax - you should be fine. If not, you need to take a look at your content and take the necessary steps to improve it. And that’s exactly where we come in…

5 ways to protect your website from the Google update

1. Check whether you’ve been affected

First things first, check your website to see if it has been impacted by the update. It’s important to check because Google doesn’t notify site owners when their site is positively or negatively impacted by an algorithm update.

This means that sites impacted by the March 2024 update wouldn’t get notified of a ranking decline through Google Search Console’s manual action viewer. To search for your website in Google and see if it has been affected, type “site:website.com” and see if you are showing up in the search results.

2. Be mindful of your use of AI

Google’s ability to detect AI-generated content has become more refined, resulting in penalties for even small websites.

Of course, one of the biggest red flags of an AI website is the amount of content it publishes - but, again, quality comes into play here too. If your content is about 500 words long, doesn’t have any images, and has no external links, Google is going to spot it - not because it’s AI content, but because it's useless.

The solution here, then, is to make sure any AI content you create is fully optimised and, you guessed it, is valuable.

3. Go for quality over quantity

It’s no secret that Google has always been big on original, valuable content - so it’s not surprising that a number of the websites that have been removed and deindexed featured thin or duplicated content without any value or insights.

That’s why you need to create quality content that is targeted for your audience. Ideally, you want your content to show in-depth knowledge and ensure your audience leaves your website with the answers they need, so you can show Google you are providing value to your users.

One proven way to ensure you create quality content is by using the E-E-A-T principle. The E-E-A-T principle stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, showing both Google and your readers that you are an authority worth listening to.

4. Focus on user experience

User experience is also key to this latest update. Yes, your site should look good, but it should also be holistic and easy to use, rather than just focused on keyword optimisation.

Consider things from page speed and mobile friendliness to clear calls to action. All of this will help to keep your users engaged for longer and send positive signals to Google that your website is doing what it should do.

Google wants to save your readers time and effort, so your content has to meet the needs of every person who lands on your site.

To ensure you are doing that, it’s important to create buyer persons to ensure you know who you are speaking to and that their experience can be the best it could possibly be. Not sure how to create buyer personas? Then don’t miss this in-depth guide with step-by-step tips to nailing your buyer personas.

5. Adapt now or fall behind

With so many websites being de-indexed, it’s clear to see that Google is set on shaking up their ranking systems - and if you want to make sure you don’t get caught up in the carnage, it’s important to act fast.

Start by conducting a site audit to uncover your website’s strengths and weaknesses (which we’re pretty good at here at Angelfish, by the way…) Then you can begin to put a strategy together.

In summary, it’s about high-quality content and enhanced user experience. And if you nail those two things, you can put your website in the strongest position possible to survive whatever Google throws at you next.

How Angelfish can help

If you want your website to survive this round of Google updates and be prepared for whatever updates are scheduled for the future, you need to make sure you are providing a great user experience and that you create valuable content.

Luckily, here at Angelfish, we’re SEO and content marketing specialists, so why not book in for a free consultation with our expert team today to learn more about how we can help.

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