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Google’s March 2024 Core and Spam Updates – What You Need to Know

 In Business Insights, SEO, SEO Strategy

Things have been fairly quiet on the Google Search update front for a few weeks.  But don’t get too comfy – that’s all about to change!

On March 5 2024 Google announced a series of updates, including ones that target spam and  a core update that sounds like it covers more than any core updates have in a long time. 

Google Search Algorithm Update Announcement – March 2024

Here are the details from the March 5 announcement.  Later, we’ll look at what these might mean for you.

  • Google has announced that the intent of these updates is to provide  “more useful information and fewer results that feel made for search engines.”
  • The Helpful Content System (HCU) is now part of the Core Update – The Helpful Content System, formerly a separate algorithm, is being rolled into the core updateper Google, this represents an “evolution in how [Google] identifies the helpfulness of content.” They emphasized that the core algorithm will be better able to understand helpful vs unhelpful content and filter out content written for search engines instead of people.
  • The core update will take a month to fully roll out and is predicted to impact a whopping 40% of all search results!
  • Google also announced several spam updates – they mentioned May 5, 2024, in context with those, but some may be rolling out now.
  • Types of spam targeted by these updates:
    • Scaled Content Abuse – Generating large amounts of low value content via automated means. This includes scrapers, and sites that use generative AI tools to create large amounts of content intended mainly to boost search rankings.
    • Expired Domain Abuse –  Repurposing an expired domain with an authoritative backlink profile in order to boost the authority of another site.
    • Site Reputation Abuse – Third party, unrelated and low-quality content on authoritative web sites, created to pass link equity to another site. An example of this would be a medical site with a 3rd party page about payday loans.
  • These may generate algorithmic or manual penalties.
  • Details can be found in Google’s updated Spam Policies

Google’s Core and Spam Updates – Will They Affect You?

How will these updates affect my site?

Short answer – until the rollout finishes, we won’t know for sure.  We will have some clues, as the rollout progresses, and will be keeping on top of these developments for our clients.

Please note that OpenMoves has always encouraged our clients to focus on content that is helpful to their site’s audience. We do not engage in have never encouraged the spammy practices that these updates are targeting.

The SEO company I used to use may have done some of these things.

If you have a significant amount of unhelpful content, you may have already felt the impact of the previous Helpful Content Updates. If so, this may be a good time to rethink your content strategy in terms of providing more content that your target audience finds genuinely useful.

If you have been generating poor quality AI or other automated content to rank for various keywords, this would be a good time to put that on pause to avoid making the situation worse. Start making plans for a more helpful content strategy (An SEO strategist can help with this) and evaluate the damage from your current content when the rollout is complete.

If you believe that someone may have created link spam via reputation or expired domain abuse, your best bet is to contact an experienced SEO professional to audit the scope of the problem and make recommendations. If you rely on automated tools, there is always a risk of deleting valuable links that Google does NOT consider spam – causing even more harm to your site.

What should I do now – while these are rolling out?

For now, be patient.

We expect there to be a lot of rankings changes during the rollout – this is normal.  Resist the urge to react to daily or weekly rankings changes – you will only know the full impact after the rollout is complete.

What if my site is hit badly by these updates?

OpenMoves expects these updates to have a major impact.  Recovering from these updates may be difficult and involve significant changes in your strategy – particularly in your content and the way that you acquire links.

Even if these updates prove beneficial to your site or ultimately leave it unaffected, this is going to be a huge change. Updates of this magnitude generate a massive amount of SERP turbulence and volatility until the dust settles. Buckle up and expect the next several weeks to be a bumpy ride.

OpenMoves is keeping on top of these updates and their impact and will keep our clients advised as we learn more.

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