Google March 2024 Core Update

Page content

Things to know about Google’s March 2024 core update

Google rolled out an advanced core update in the first week of March 2024. According to sources, a large number of websites have been affected by this update and mainly the sites that have relied on poor and low quality AI generated content. However, it is not just about AI generated content but Google’s update is also targeting low quality and unoriginal content or simply useless content written for search engines. Following this update, hundreds of sites were deindexed, which means these sites will not surface in search results and the list includes several sites that had traffic in millions and were generating a lot of money in ad revenue.

Google has made it clear that its focus is on presenting original quality and useful content in its search results. It has been updating its algorithms and targeting low quality or spam content over the past several years. Particularly, in the last two years, Google started tuning its ranking systems to prevent unioriginal and unhelpful content from appearing in its search results.

In its latest core update, Google has refined some of its core ranking systems to address the problem of low quality content that is created to attract clicks. It will help Google understand if particular webpages are unhelpful, provide a poor user experience and rather than being created for humans were created for search engines. Google is targeting spam at an unprecedented level and that means it could reduce unoriginal or low quality content by 40%. The focus is now clearly on quality and to rank higher, one needs to create original, helpful and high quality content. The use of AI tools for creating content will have an adverse impact on search rankings and therefore websites need to avoid this practice or make limited use of AI tools for content generation.

Google has highlighted three types of abuse that it is targeting and one of them is content generation at scale using AI tools. Its policy since long has been to discourage the use of automation tools for generating content. Generally, websites using automation tools tend to create unoriginal and low quality content whose main aim is to rank higher in searches. Now that the use of AI tools for generating content has become a common practice, it is also more difficult to identify human generated content from AI generated content. It means Google will be targeting AI generated content more efficiently and such sites will be heavily penalized. A large number of such sites have already been penalized and according to sources most of these sites had a lot of AI generated content. It is not always clear if a website depends solely on automation tools and AI for generating content or if it is human written content being generated at scale or the website is using a mix of the two.

In any case, if the content is of inferior quality, then such website are going to receive a penalty and such content might be deindexed from search results. For example, several webpages that claim to have answers to popular search queries but fail to offer any valuable information or answer. Google will take action on such content with little to no value created at scale.

Another type of abuse that Google is targeting through its recent core update is the site reputation abuse. It means that anyone cannot publish inferior quality content on a reputed website for ranking purposes. Suppose there is a high authority educational website with a strong reputation that regularly publishes high quality content. Now, if it also hosts content provided by a third party of lower quality then such content would not meet user expectations and therefore cannot rank higher in search results. Let’s say a good website includes a post published by a third party that discusses online casino gaming. If this content ranks higher in search results, that can be misleading for users. So, Google considers such content that is published mainly for ranking purposes to be spam.

Now, Google is also targeting websites that abuse expired domains. For example, a person buys an expired domain and publishes low quality articles or content on it. This SEO tactic is mainly targeted at helping the new content rank faster. This technique has been used by people to gain authority faster since expired domains in several cases have strong backlink profiles that can be used to help new content rank faster. Google now considers such websites that abuse expired domains for ranking to be spam and such websites will be heavily penalized or removed from searches.

It is now clear that quality and originality are critical ranking factors. Rather than using automation and AI tools or other such techniques that manipulate search engines, one should focus on creating only high quality and useful content. A large number of such blogs that have been publishing a lot of low quality content at a large scale like tens or hundreds of pages daily have been penalized by Google. They have lost traffic, rankings and income. The message is loud and clear. Google’s algorithms are smart and advanced enough to filter low quality results and remove them from searches.

Key Takeaways:

  • Focus on Quality because it is of utmost importance. Quality comes before quantity and Google will judge the content regarding how much manual effort the writer has put into it to make the content satisfying.
  • Do not use or make limited use of AI tools for content creation.
  • The focus is on originality of content, depth and value for readers. Make your content original and worth reading. Provide your unique perspectives on topics you write about.
  • Focus on E-E-AT (experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trust) and also showcase your expertise on your website.
  • User experience is important according to Google. Focus must be higher on providing a better user experience than only keyword optimization. Audit your site regularly for technical issues and make improvements.

Website owners that do not want to be flagged for low quality or unoriginal/spam content should shift towards human generated content. They should adjust their content strategy according to the new guidelines offered by Google.