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Google Core Update 2024

Google released a new core update aiming to improve the quality of search results at the beginning of March 2024. What does this core update look like? Who will be affected? Why is Google releasing this in the first place? How you can take action for your website will be briefly discussed on this blog.

Google’s prime goal is to bring users very search relevant answers to queries, and it has been fighting webmasters who try to trick the algorithm and show irrelevant results. Google core updates are nothing special, they happen every year and if you’re playing by the books you will be rewarded and not disqualified.

The 2024 Google Core Update aims to improve the quality of Search and the helpfulness of your results. Here is how:

March 2024 Spam updates

According to the official documentation of Google “spam policies are designed to address practices that can negatively impact the quality of Google’s search ”. On the same documentation it’s clearly stated that growing bad trends will no longer work. These include:

  1. Expired Domain Abuse
  2. Scaled Content Abuse
  3. Site Reputation Abuse

Don’t worry too much if you don’t know what any of these mean, we will break it down further as well as give out real world examples.

Expired Domain Abuse

The old trick of buying expired domains, repurposing the whole website, and pumping out fresh content will no longer work. Expired domain abuse has been a well-known issue way before we had large language models to support generating content at scale.

Webmasters would often search the registry of expired domains, find an authoritative website and use its authority to rank high in search results. This will no longer be the case. According to Google sites that violate these regulations will rank lower in results or not appear in results at all.

How To Check If Your Website Was Affected By Expired Domain Abuse?

If you’re worried about your current site health here are two key instructions to look out for.

  1. Keep an eye open for the number of indexed pages. You can search for a site:yourdomain.com . Make sure to keep an eye opened for the whole month of March. If you never bought an expired domain chances are you won’t get affected by this spam policy.
  2. If you can get more technical, hover over to your Google Search Console and look for removals. If any of your pages was removed by Google in any of these days it means it failed to pass the new spam policy.

Example Of An Expired Domain Abuse

You buy a domain that was first indexed by Google in the year 2000. The person who started this website forgot about it and the domain expired. This means that the hosting provider will sell the domain name again. For a period of time such domains were the same as wine, they got better with time and more authoritative. More authority means Google will help your site rank higher in search results.

Scaled Content Abuse

Scaled content abuse is just what it sounds like. People got their hands on generative languages like Chat GPT, Bard AI and started pumping content like never before. According to studies, by the year 2025 90% of the online content would be AI.

A competitor affected by Google Core Update in March.

What a website rankings affected by Google Core Update in march look like

Since Google doesn’t like its users to lose trust and move on with another search engine it had to take action. One thing that needs to be very clear, Google is not against AI content. Google itself released an update where general queries will be answered by AI in the first section of Google without users having to click on links.

The scaled content abuse is different. Users want original content and they want to hear an expert opinion on that topic. Google loves this and it rewards websites and creators that have hands-on experience or have the right expertise to answer a search query. This is why you see highly authoritative sites come up when queries about finances or health are searched.

Google rewards these sites as they have a cluster of topics which support a specific niche. The scaled content abuse tries to fight webmasters who try to overcome this by writing a ton of content around one niche, forming a fake expertise around that niche.

Here is what Google says about this: “Our new policy is meant to help people focus more clearly on the idea that producing content at scale is abusive if done for the purpose of manipulating search rankings and that this applies whether automation or humans are involved.”

How To Check If Your Website Was Hit By Scaled Content Abuse?

A lot of people believe this is just a warning from Google and actions are yet to be taken. If you have started a new website only with the purpose of generating some money on the side without putting in real effort and complying with Google guidelines you will most likely be hit.

Keep an eye opened for the number of indexed pages and changes in website clicks and impressions. If you’re experiencing fluctuation during the month of March that would be normal as the new spam policy is yet to fully-settle.

Example Of Scaled Content Abuse

We run a successful digital marketing agency but to make our agency more findable for more people on a national level we aim to target people that search for questions related to SEO and organic marketing. This is compliant with Google guidelines as we’re informing a new audience with useful, hands-on experience about a topic we are experts in.

The content abuse rises if we want to target every possible combination of marketing. A jack of all trades and a master of none is not very much liked by Google. Opting to write about 100 new pages in 1 month is a very shotgun approach, especially when the website is new, doesn’t comply with all guidelines and has thin new value gain to users.

No More Parasite SEO

Parasite SEO was a quick and easy way for people to get ahead of all competitors. The term parasite SEO refers to webmasters who will write a topic or get featured on a highly-authoritative website like Forbes or The New York Times.

Since Google trusts their legitimacy it will rank them high in search results and users are also very likely to trust the links inserted in these articles. By ranking high in search results for very competitive terms these webmasters would insert affiliate links and earn an income from doing this.

Here is the official statement by Google: ”We’ll now consider very low-value, third-party content produced primarily for ranking purposes and without close oversight of a website owner to be spam. We’re publishing this policy two months in advance of enforcement on May 5, to give site owners time to make any needed changes.”

Despite Google trying to reinforce this, there has been quite some buzzing news with experts on the field saying this is just Google trying to frighten webmasters to take action. The signals like domain authority and page rank will still be on the higher end so the algorithm will be forced to pick these sites to be shown on search results.

What Does The March 2024 Google Core Update Mean For Your Local Business?

If you operate a local business chances are you are not involved in any of these spam activities. These are mostly used by marketers in the affiliate marketing or news and informative website niche.

However, posting blogs as a local business is a relevant ranking signal as well as a brand must have. If you have been practicing content at scale, make sure to go through the content yourself and optimize for the best user experience.

Keep an eye open during the months of March and April. The update is very new and the volatility of your pages might change according to experts. Always make sure to check your impressions and clicks change in Google Search Console.

What Rotate Digital Does For It’s Clients To Combat This Update

Rotate Digital is not a believer in overnight success. SEO is not a short term strategy, and it can take months for the algorithm to reward your work.

With our seo services, we avoid suspicious activity, avoid spamming, we publish valuable and relevant content for the algorithm to digest, and all while complying with the best search algorithm practices.

Rotate Digital’s clients after the Google Core Update.

Rotate Digital's clients after the Google Core Update.

Another approach that has proven beneficial for our clients in recent history has been unique content for each page. Google is starting to move towards rewarding  rankings on an individual  page level. This means your content should be relevant and bring value to the viewers on the page. Our clients that have done this well have experienced great results in the local map pack for desirable key terms, even overtaking those pesky larger franchises that look like Goliath.

Contrary to all of the hassle that they cause for all of us digital agencies, Google Core Updates are a good thing. It’s Google’s way of improving their product and therefore improving the experience of its users (aka all of us).

They create new rules and borders for all of us digital marketers to play by and continue to keep the playing field as even as possible. Thanks to this, anybody has a chance to rank as long as they stay within the guidelines laid out. If they run a solid business that is focused on providing a valuable service to its clients, have original content on their website that isn’t mass produced by an AI generator or copy and pasted,  then Google will slowly but surely reward them with that precious visibility that so many business owners seek. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the SEO world, or are interested in the services we offer, then please click here to schedule a Discovery Call. Even if you’re not interested in our services, our team will be happy to discuss SEO with you 🙂 .