What the Google March 2024 Core Update Taught Everyone

What the Google March 2024 Core Update Taught Everyone
  • 7 min read

Google’s March update threw the internet into disarray. Websites disappeared from search results, leaving many of us scrambling to understand the new definition of “helpful content.” SEOs were baffled, rankings plummeted, and social media feeds were once again gripped by chaos. Older websites that survived previous updates weren’t spared, and some previously untouched sites faced repercussions.

Google finished rolling out the update on April 19, 45 days after starting. They described the update as particularly complex, involving changes to multiple core systems. It also marked the end of the separate helpful content update from August 2023.

Now that the smoke has cleared, the question is, is this a new golden age for quality content dawning, or a secret Google plot? Should you be sticking with Google, or focusing on other ways to be found? Let’s look at what we know.

“Which sites have benefited the most (from the Google “Big Brand” Update)? The winners have been the brands’ sites, such as Nike, or Gymshark. Google is ranking the brands directly instead. Also, smaller but authoritative niche brands for the relevant sector.”

@aleyda

Google March 2024 Core Update in a Nutshell

Our biggest takeaway from the last month is Google is saying, raise your content standards. Considering YMYL and EEAT standards, really, nothing new, right? And it was a long update. This is why we love WordPress so much – updates are way faster!

Google primed us for the March update with these words: “We’re enhancing Search, so you see more useful information, and fewer results that feel made for search engines.”

Officially that reads: “Reducing low-quality, unoriginal results Keeping more spam out of your results.” Translated that doesn’t seem much like news: Ditch the fluff, fight the spam! Google’s got your back with a focus on high-quality content.

Call me a dreamer, but wasn’t that always what we expected from Google? So maybe Google is cleaning house. We’re using AI tools more for our informational search, and Google is feeling the pinch. People are even talking a lot more about the benefits of Bing. Bing-bling. Maybe Google has read the writing on the wall and is going to get real.

What We Learned from the Core Update

Three things:

  1. Deindexing is real: websites were completely removed from search results!
  2. Content matters (more than ever): high-quality, user-centric content that provides value wins.
  3. The user reigns supreme: fast loading times, clear navigation, and mobile friendliness still matter.

Our Main Takeaway: Was Google’s Update a Spam Fight?

Nobody likes spam unless it’s fried on a plate with some eggs, and we don’t like clicking on it. However, with the rise of AI-generated content, spam content has been on the rise.

Addressing the increase in content powered by generative AI, as not all AI-generated content meets Google’s quality standards, was really at the heart of the March 2024 core update.

The update targeted webpages that felt like they were created for search engines rather than people, including those designed solely to match specific search queries. Talk about nuance. But Google’s in the business of intent.

The March 2024 Google Core Update marks an evolution in how Google identifies the helpfulness of content, using a variety of innovative signals and approaches rather than relying on a single system.

“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

Note: Google actually reached a 45% reduction by the end of the update.

Sticking with Google After the Update? What You Should Be Doing

The March Google update is a call to action for content creators to publish unique, valuable content that enriches our online experiences. That’s what we all try to do, right? A good user experience is about more than just content, so here’s what you should be doing post-update:

  1. Assess the Impact on Your Sites
  2. Optimise Content and Relevance
  3. Revisit Technical SEO Basics
  4. Evaluate the Market and Industry Trends
  5. Stay Calm and Monitor Progress

“There’s nothing new or special that creators need to do for this update as long as they’ve been making satisfying content meant for people. For those that might not be ranking as well, we strongly encourage reading our creating helpful, reliable, people-first content help page.”

Google

1.   Assess the Impact on Your Sites

First up, determine how the latest update has affected your site. Look at search visibility. Monitor changes in rankings, traffic, clicks, impressions, and conversions. Analyze Google Search Console data for any manual actions or significant changes in impressions, clicks, or average position.

You should pay special attention to the GSC Performance report. A drop in impressions may mean your pages appear less frequently, possibly due to the update. Look to distinguish the impact of the update from normal traffic fluctuations. Don’t fall for the causation/correlation trap.

2.   Optimize Content and Relevance

The core update made it clear that Google is prioritizing high-quality, original content over low-quality, unoriginal content. Websites that produce informative, in-depth, and trustworthy content are being rewarded, while those relying on thin, keyword-stuffed, or AI-generated content are being penalized.

Take Another Look at Your Content: Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

Identify problem pages that were recently negatively impacted. Is there a way to improve their relevance by aligning content with user intent?

  • You can strengthen the authority of problem pages by acquiring some high-quality backlinks. Just remember that link quality matters more than link quantity. The update reduced the importance of links as a ranking factor, shifting the focus away from acquiring as many links as possible and towards obtaining high-quality, relevant links. Or, “less is more.”
  • Create a content hub with your authority pages to increase the value of your internal links.
  • Perform a content audit to identify and eliminate thin, irrelevant content.
  • Refresh outdated content and focus on in-depth guides, user testimonials, and data-driven pieces.

Suggest collaborating with clients to showcase their expertise through author bios, case studies, and guest posts on relevant, ranked sites.

“Still thinking about using AI content on your website? while AI tools can be helpful for content creation, they shouldn’t replace human expertise. Focus on using AI to assist you, not create content entirely on its own.”

Rocket.net – Still Thinking About Using AI Content on Your Website?

3.   Revisit Technical SEO Basics

User experience is crucial. The update also emphasized the importance of providing a positive user experience. Websites with fast loading times, mobile-friendly designs, and intuitive navigation are seeing ranking boosts, as Google aims to surface content that is easy for users to engage with.

  • Ensure your technical SEO elements are in good shape. Check for crawl errors, broken links, and mobile friendliness. It’s 2024.
  • Optimize your website’s performance, including page load speed and other core web vitals.

4.   Evaluate the Market and Industry Trends

The update targeted various spam and manipulation tactics. Don’t rely on expired domain abuse, scaled content abuse, and site reputation abuse for your SERP visibility. Google is cracking down on these practices and rewarding websites that follow its guidelines.

  • Review changes in search engine results pages (SERPs) for your key terms.
  • Understand what else has happened in your industry. Consider the bigger picture.
  • Competitor analysis can provide valuable insights into how others are adapting to the update.

5.   Stay Calm and Monitor Progress

Adaptability and continuous improvement are key. So, don’t panic. Updates happen, and recovery takes time. Be patient while waiting for the update to settle.

In the meantime, regularly monitor your site’s performance, adjust strategies as needed, and stay informed about any further updates.

The volatile nature of the update and the ongoing changes to Google’s algorithms underscore the need for website owners and SEOs to remain adaptable and continuously improve their content and strategies.

Monitoring performance, conducting audits, and staying up to date with Google’s guidance are still essential for long-term success.

“The best cure is prevention, which is true both in medicine and in surviving a Google update. Here’s another cliché: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Learn the cycles to predict corrections and updates, stay with the basics of search engine optimization, and ditch hacks.”

Rocket.net – How to Recover From A Google Algorithm Update

Is Google Becoming Too Much of a Distraction? What You Should Be Doing Instead

Not everyone has the resources to fight for visibility. If you want to reach your target group, you can often do this more effectively over social media, or in a forum. Just look at what’s happening over at Reddit lately. Even year-old threads are ranking better than some website content from yesterday.

You may be a niche blogger, or even a mom-and-pop local business using WooCommerce to sell to your customers. How can you effectively increase the visibility and reach a wider audience without heavily competing for search engine dominance? We have some suggestions.

“Niche marketing is the boujie term for segment marketing. It’s a strategy focusing on a specific, narrowly defined target market instead of reaching a broad, general audience.”

Rocket.net – 10 Reasons Why Niche Marketing Can Scale Your Agency

Use Search Engine’s Strengths to Your Advantage

Google Business Profiles, and Bing Places, offer smaller businesses a big chance to be found in the SERPs. Both services are free of charge and support both your organic and paid search engine marketing. Take advantage of both!

Leverage Social Media and Forums to Generate Leads

Use social media platforms to distribute your content, connect with potential customers, and foster a community around your niche. Use social media platforms that cater to your niche, such as specialized forums or specific social networks. 

Consistently providing value through social media interactions can help you attract a loyal following and drive traffic to your blog or online shop. Don’t forget to add a Facebook Business Page to your account. It’s another free tool that is indexed by Google & Bing.

As a niche blogger, you can leverage forums and social media to increase your online visibility to reach your target audience.

  • Offer Unique Perspectives: Differentiate yourself by providing unique insights, perspectives, and solutions that cater to your target audience. This can help you stand out in a crowded online landscape. Answer questions and get into a conversation. You can’t sell anything without a dialogue. 
  • Engage in Niche-Specific Forums: Actively participate in forums related to your niche. Share your expertise, engage with your audience, and build credibility within the community. This can help you reach a new audience and drive traffic to your blog.

As a local business with a small online shop, you can benefit in several ways by leveraging both Google and forums/social media to increase your visibility.

  • Offer Personalized Service: As a local business, you can leverage your personal connection with the community and provide exceptional customer service. This can set you apart from larger online retailers and create a more enjoyable shopping experience for your customers.
  • Engage in Industry Forums: Actively participate in relevant industry forums, where you can share your expertise, engage with your audience, and build credibility. This can help you reach a new audience and drive traffic to your online shop. Engage with people by answering their questions and sparking conversations. You can’t sell if you’re not talking with people.

By balancing your efforts between SEO in Google, actively participating in forums, and strategically engaging on social media, you can effectively increase visibility and reach a wider audience without heavily competing for search engine dominance.

Choose The Future of WordPress Hosting!

Want white glove service? No problem. Regardless of the plan you choose, we help you migrate your website and start building your own personal brand. Need to migrate several? We got you. 

Streamline your workflow by choosing a reliable, performant platform for websites of all sizes. The only question is when you’d like to get going.

New call-to-action
More papers

More blog resources