March 2024 core update

Google releasing massive search quality enhancements in March 2024 core update and multiple spam updates

The recent inclusion of Google's beneficial content enhancement in the core update has contributed to a significant 40% decline in unhelpful search results.

Google is implementing a series of initiatives to enhance the caliber of its search results, commencing today.
The March 2024 core update, alongside the March 2024 spam update, is being rolled out by Google. Furthermore, the integration of Google’s beneficial content system is now part of its comprehensive core ranking mechanism.
Additionally, Google has unveiled a set of new and revised spam policies that will be enforced through automated algorithms and manual interventions.

The March 2024 core update is more extensive than its predecessor.

Today marks the initiation of Google’s inaugural core update and algorithmic revision for the year – the March 2024 core update.
Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product, Search at Google, informed Search Engine Land that this update aims to slash unhelpful content in Google Search by 40%. “We anticipate a 40% collective reduction in low-quality, unoriginal content in search results, aligning with our ongoing efforts,” Tucker stated.
The rollout of the March 2024 core update is anticipated to span up to a month, encompassing updates to multiple systems. Unlike previous core updates, this one introduces enhancements to various components of the overarching core system. Given its broad scope, Google will sequentially release updates to these systems over the next few weeks.
Described as a “more complex update than our usual core updates” by Chris Nelson from the Search Quality team at Google, the March 2024 core update involves modifications to multiple core systems. Google has refined its core ranking systems to deliver more helpful results, incorporating innovative signals and approaches.
Due to the update affecting multiple core systems, fluctuations in rankings are expected to be more pronounced than with regular core updates, as different systems undergo complete updates and reinforce one another, according to Nelson.
Google emphasizes that this update enhances its understanding of webpages deemed “unhelpful, with a poor user experience, or designed primarily for search engines rather than people.” This includes sites tailored specifically to match highly specific search queries.

Helpful content update now part of core updates

With the implementation of the March 2024 core update, Google has decided to discontinue the public announcement of new helpful content updates, as the helpful content system is now integrated into the core update system.
The most recent helpful content update, the September 2023 release, had a significant impact on numerous websites. Hopes are high that some of these affected sites may experience relief with the rollout of the March 2024 core update, although the extent of the impact remains uncertain at this juncture.
The overhaul of the classifier for the helpful content system is a notable aspect, and it has been seamlessly integrated into the March 2024 core update. However, it’s important to note that the helpful content classifiers are just one component of the broader March 2024 core update, which, according to Google, had its foundations laid during the 2022 helpful content update.
If your rankings experience a decline, referring to past advice from Google for those adversely affected by core updates could be beneficial.
  • Recovering from a negative impact on rankings doesn’t come with specific actions. A decline in rankings may not necessarily indicate issues with your pages.
  • Patience is key – await the next core update. While some improvements might surface between core updates, the most substantial changes are expected to materialize following the subsequent core update.

March 2024 Spam updates

In addition to unveiling the March 2024 core update, Google has introduced fresh spam updates termed the March 2024 spam update, along with corresponding adjustments to its spam policies.
This week, two of these spam updates will trigger both automated and manual actions. The site reputation abuse spam update, however, is scheduled to take effect two months from today, on May 5th.

Scaled content abuse search spam

The revised search spam policy targeting scaled content abuse is an evolution of the earlier “spammy automatically-generated content” guidelines, surpassing the confines of merely addressing “spammy auto-generated content.” It now encompasses any method employed to generate content at scale with the aim of influencing search rankings.
Google explicitly declares that the act of producing content at scale, whether utilizing automation, human efforts, or a combination of both, contravenes its guidelines. This broader approach enables Google to address a wider array of low-value content generated at scale, including pages that feign providing answers to popular searches but ultimately fail to deliver substantive content.
According to Google, this updated policy empowers them to take action against various types of content lacking value that is created at scale. Examples include pages that falsely claim to answer popular queries but end up providing inadequate content. Elizabeth Tucker elaborated on such pages, describing them as initiating with a promise to answer a question, leading users on with subpar content, and ultimately failing to deliver the promised answers.
Google’s enduring spam policy has consistently deemed the use of automation, including generative AI, as spam when its primary purpose is manipulating search result rankings. The updated policy aligns with these principles but expands its scope to address more intricate methods of scaled content creation, where the origin of low-quality content may not be definitively attributed solely to automation.
The essence of the new policy underscores that producing content at scale becomes abusive when done with the intent of manipulating search rankings, irrespective of whether automation or human efforts are involved. Google is set to initiate actions against scaled content abuse, employing both algorithmic spam systems and manual interventions starting this week.

Expired domain abuse now considered spam

The act of engaging in “Expired domain abuse,” defined as the practice of acquiring expired domains and repurposing them with the aim of enhancing the search ranking of subpar content, is now categorized as spam, according to Tucker.
This strategy may attempt to deceive users by making them believe that new content on a domain is a continuation of the previous site, even when it is not.
This serves as a direct and unequivocal message to content creators, advising against the acquisition of expired domains with the intention of repurposing them for the purpose of achieving higher rankings in Google Search.
Google is set to implement measures against expired domain abuse, employing both algorithmic spam systems and manual interventions, beginning this week.

Site reputation abuse (aka Parasite SEO) is spam too