Google is rolling out the March 2024 core and spam updates

Posted by Edith MacLeod on 15 Mar, 2024
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The updates target poor quality content. The "complex" core update may take a month to complete.

Google March 2024 updates.

Google released the March 2024 core update and spam update simultaneously on 5 March. The updates are focused on improving the quality of search results, with a 40% reduction in low quality content.

Google’s announcement on Twitter said:

“Today we announced the March 2024 core update & new spam policies that, in combination, are designed to show less content made to attract clicks and more content that people find useful.”

Google gave more details in a blog post and article specifically on the March 2024 core and spam updates and the new spam policies.

March 2024 core update

This core update is described as “more complex” than other core updates, involving changes to multiple core systems.

For this reason it could take up to a month to fully roll out, and there are likely to be more fluctuations in rankings than with a regular core update, as different systems get updated and reinforce each other.

Google says it marks an evolution in how they identify the helpfulness of content, now using a variety of signals and approaches rather than a single system.

“Just as we use multiple systems to identify reliable information, we have enhanced our core ranking systems to show more helpful results using a variety of innovative signals and approaches. There's no longer one signal or system used to do this, and we've also added a new FAQ page to help explain this change.”

Google is targeting web pages which are unhelpful, deliver a poor user experience, or seem to be created for search engines rather than people. This could include sites created primarily to match very specific search queries.

“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%.”

New spam policies

Together with the March 2024 spam update, Google announced three new spam policies to tackle areas where bad practice has increased.

1. Scaled content abuse

Google’s new policy builds on previous measures against low quality, unoriginal content created at scale to manipulate search rankings, regardless of whether it’s produced by automation, human effort or some combination of the two. An example of such content is a page which pretends to have answers to popular searches but delivers no helpful content.

2. Site reputation abuse

This is where trusted websites host low-quality content provided by third parties with the goal of capitalizing on the hosting site's strong reputation. For example, a third party might publish payday loan reviews on a trusted educational website to gain ranking benefits from the site.

Google will now consider very low-value, third-party content produced primarily to manipulate rankings and without close oversight of a site owner to be spam.

The policy will be enforced on 5 May, giving site owners time to make any necessary adjustments.

3. Expired domain abuse

Google now considers expired domains purchased and repurposed with the intention of boosting the search ranking of low-quality content to be spam. This practice can mislead users into thinking the new content is part of the older, trusted site.

What should you do?

Google's general advice for sites impacted by a core update is that there may not be anything specifically wrong with your content, but you should check it still aligns with best practice. Advice for the March 2024 core update remains the same.

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.

*** Update 20 March: Google announced that the spam update rollout was complete as of 20 March 2024.

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