Analyzing Google’s March 2024 Spam & Core Algorithm Updates

Google’s March 2024 Core updates to their Search algorithms and spam policies have a stated goal of reducing unoriginal and low-quality content in search results by 40% when combined with Google’s 2023 algorithm updates and other recent modifications. This major core upgrade aims to enhance the overall user experience by improving Google’s ranking systems to better identify and demote unhelpful web pages.

They’ve also updated their spam policies in light of websites publishing large volumes of low-quality AI content for search manipulation (i.e., scaled content abuse) and other trending spam practices of expired domain abuse and site reputation abuse. These major updates will take about a month to complete and will likely cause significant search rank fluctuations that can impact how your site performs in Google searches. Here’s what you need to know about Google’s March 2024 Core Update and what it may mean for your website SEO efforts.

A Detailed Look at Google Search Enhancements in the March 2024 Update

The March 2024 Google Core Update demands a shift in how many website owners approach SEO and content creation. By understanding the focus of these updates, how they’re defined, and how pages and websites are ranked in search results, you gain insights into SEO best practices. Implementing them results in better, more sustainable website rankings and is how you avoid massive rank drops after Google Search updates and penalties that can include your site’s removal from search results. 

Low-Quality, Unhelpful Pages vs. Helpful Content

With these latest core updates, Google is sharpening its focus on demoting unhelpful content, characterized by web pages containing superficial information that don’t answer the question a user enters in a search query.

It also includes content copied or ‘scraped’ directly from other websites and social media platforms published on a site that doesn’t provide any new perspectives, analyses, or further insights. Google made special mention of sites that do this with product reviews and those that post reviews that aren’t written with first-hand experience using a product and/or contain information you can already find on other sites. Google is hypersensitive about content related to “your money, your life (YMYL)” information and prioritizes providing people with accurate and detailed data to make informed purchase decisions.

Which leads us nicely to how Google defines helpful content. In a nutshell, it considers pages helpful that genuinely satisfy a user’s search intent, offering depth, insight, and utility, like in-depth guides, well-researched articles, and content addressing specific and common questions customers ask you about your industry, products, or services.

A general rule of thumb is that helpful content is written for people to assist them in their everyday lives, and unhelpful content is written to rank well with search engines.

Person in a cafe using Google search on their laptop

How Google’s Algorithm Updates Distinguish Helpful from Unhelpful Content

To fight unhelpful content, Google enhances its algorithmic capabilities with every update to help it better identify and reduce the visibility of pages containing low-quality content in search results. This includes deploying more sophisticated natural language processing techniques to understand the context and relevance of content more accurately and using machine learning models to detect signs of unhelpful or manipulative content practices.

Google’s March 2024 Updated Spam Policies Addressing Evolving Spamming Techniques

As alluded to in the previous section, publishing spam content or using spammy or malicious search engine manipulation can get pages, sections, or your entire website delisted from Google Search. These latest spam definitions included as part of the March 2024 Core Update expand Google’s existing spam policies and categories.

Scaled Content Abuse

Scaled content abuse refers to practices where content is produced in large quantities, often using automated tools, low-cost labour, and recently, Artificial Intelligence, with the primary goal of manipulating search rankings rather than providing value to users. This type of content is typically thin, lacks depth, and is often duplicated across different pages or sites. It may or may not have different wording if the creator uses automated rephrasing tools. With the March 2024 update, Google has reiterated its commitment to penalizing this practice more stringently and has sophisticated AI tools at its disposal to help it detect unhelpful, mass-produced content.

To be clear, Google’s stance on content is the same across the board, whether pages contain automated or human-generated content – if they’re unhelpful or created to deceive people or search engines, they are suppressed or removed from search results.

Expired Domain Abuse

Expired domain abuse involves acquiring domains that have expired and repurposing them to capitalize on their existing search equity to send traffic to unrelated, malicious, or spam pages. Spammers also use this technique to leverage the domain’s history and backlink profile to gain undeserved search rankings for low-quality or unrelated pages. The March 2024 algorithm and spam policy update expands Google’s ability to find and take action against sites that disguise their pages’ content.

Site Reputation Abuse

Site reputation abuse is when high-reputation websites host or endorse low-quality content from third parties, often with little or no oversight. This can mislead users and search engines about the quality and relevance of the content, as it benefits from the hosting site’s authority. Google’s updated spam policies address this by penalizing websites that fail to adequately vet or control the content they publish, ensuring that only third-party or sponsored content that meets its standards of quality and relevance benefits from a site’s reputation.

SEO Content and Surviving Google Algorithm and Spam Updates

The common denominator of spam and unhelpful content is that it’s created with the intent to fast-track a website’s path to better search engine exposure. However, it often produces the opposite effect as unhelpful content on your site and spamming search results will immediately or eventually tank your website search rankings and get all or parts of it removed from Google searches altogether.

Not only does trying to bypass proven SEO fundamentals end up costing you more time, money, and stress in the long run than collaborating with professional Toronto SEO services, but adhering to SEO best practices for content creation helps you avoid penalties and just makes good business sense. Providing a more valuable, engaging, and trustworthy user experience helps you rank well with search engines and potential customers.

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Adapting to the March 2024 Google Core Update with Long-term SEO Strategies

The March 2024 Google Core Update reinforces the critical importance of adapting SEO strategies that align with Google’s guiding principles of enhancing user experience and providing quality content. To successfully navigate the continual evolution of digital commerce, your business must embrace long-term SEO strategies that prioritize sustainable growth and resilience against constant upgrades. Below are established strategies for maintaining and improving your SEO performance beyond the latest Google algorithm or spam update.

Prioritize Quality Content Creation

The cornerstone of a long-term SEO strategy is the creation of high-quality, original content that addresses the needs and questions of your target audience. Focus on developing content that provides real value, incorporating thorough research, expert insights, unique perspectives, credible sources, and include user testimonials and reviews where relevant. Invest time and use real-world customer interactions to help you understand your target audience’s intent to create content topics that serve their interests rather than focusing on what you assume search engines want.

When creating content, leverage the E-E-A-T framework (Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) to guide content creation and to help you review it before publishing to ensure that your website becomes a trusted source of information in your niche. It’s also a good idea to consider outsourcing your content to reputable SEO copywriting services.

Monitor how well your content is performing by utilizing tools like Google Analytics and Search Console to analyze user behaviour and refine your content strategy accordingly.

Empower your brand with engaging content through our specialized SEO copywriting services. Call us at (647) 448-4449 or submit a form using the button below.


Enhance Your Website’s User Experience (UX)

Even before Google’s Page Experience Update, its systems consistently emphasized positive user experience. Websites that are easy to navigate, fast-loading, intuitive, and mobile-friendly tend to rank higher in search results. Regularly audit your site to identify and fix UX issues, such as broken links, slow page load times, or complicated navigation structures. Implementing a responsive design and optimizing for Core Web Vitals are crucial steps in this process.

Person mapping out website UX on a clipboard

Invest in Technical SEO

Technical SEO is a vital component of a long-term SEO strategy. This includes optimizing your site’s structure, ensuring it’s secure (i.e., uses HTTPS), and improving search engine crawlability and click-through rates, especially for articles, products, and events, by leveraging structured data.

Structured data and schema markup can significantly boost your SEO by making it easier for search engines to understand the content and context of your pages. Long-term, ensure that your site’s structured data is correctly implemented and regularly updated to reflect current standards and best practices. Also, conduct regular technical audits to help you identify and rectify issues like duplicate content, missing alt tags, and improper use of canonical tags, which can significantly impact your site’s performance.

Foster High-Quality Backlinks

While Google’s March 2024 Core Update penalizes manipulative link-building practices, high-quality, relevant backlinks and SEO link-building services remain a cornerstone of effective SEO. Long-term strategies should focus on earning links through high-quality content, guest blogging, industry partnerships, and outreach efforts. Focus on building relationships within your industry and creating shareable content that others will want to link to.

Don’t Engage in Spam or Manipulative Practices

Ensure your SEO strategies are transparent and ethical. This includes avoiding black-hat techniques like keyword stuffing, cloaking, or using deceptive redirects. Regularly review your backlink profile for any unnatural links and disavow those that could be considered spammy. Educate your team about SEO best practices to prevent inadvertent engagement in tactics that could harm your site’s ranking.

Focus on Semantic Search and Intent Matching

As Google’s algorithms become more sophisticated in understanding search intent, optimizing for keywords alone is no longer sufficient. Instead, professional keyword research services focus on semantic search optimization by creating content that answers the questions your audience is asking in a natural, conversational manner. This involves using long-tail keywords, question-based queries, and related terms that encompass the broader context of your primary keywords.

Adapt to Voice Search and Mobile Optimization

With the increasing use of mobile devices and voice search, it’s essential to optimize your site for these formats. Ensure your content is conversational and easily digestible, with clear answers to common questions.

Regularly Update and Refresh Content

Content freshness is considered when determining website search rankings. Regularly update existing content with the latest information, statistics, and resources to improve your site’s relevance and authority. Additionally, consider consolidating or removing outdated or low-performing content to streamline your site’s structure and focus on high-quality pages.

Monitor Performance and Adjust Strategies

SEO is not set-and-forget; it requires ongoing monitoring and adjustment. A robust analytics setup is crucial for monitoring the effectiveness of your SEO strategies. Use tools like Google Analytics and Search Console to set up detailed tracking for key performance indicators like organic traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, and keyword rankings that track your performance and identify trends. Use this data to inform your SEO decisions and strategy adjustments over time.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

SEO is an ever-evolving field, with frequent updates and changes in best practices. Commit to continuous learning and staying informed about the latest SEO trends and updates. Attend industry conferences, follow thought leaders, or participate in SEO forums to stay ahead of the curve. Being informed about the latest SEO trends and algorithm updates is crucial for preemptive adjustments to your strategy.

The Bottom Line on Google’s March 2024 Core System and Spam Policy Updates

Adapting to the March 2024 Google Core Update—and future updates—requires a comprehensive, forward-thinking approach to SEO. Focusing on quality content, user experience, and ethical SEO practices, helps your business build a resilient online presence that withstands Google algorithm and spam policy updates, evolves with changes in the digital landscape, and establishes your brand reputation as a knowledgeable and trustworthy resource in your industry.

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