Google has recently announced it’ll be rolling out a complex core update. This update will see Google make significant changes to its search algorithms and spam policies to enhance the quality of its search results.

Google’s newest update aims to reduce unoriginal and low-quality content in search results. It will target websites that publish large amounts of content with the sole purpose of trying to manipulate their search rankings.

With this update, Google is doubling down on its commitment to providing helpful search results whilst emphasising the importance of creating content that prioritises the user, not the search engines.

March 2024 Core Update: What will change?

The update will include algorithmic enhancements to improve information relevance and refine ranking systems to identify unhelpful web pages. As of March 2024, Google will no longer be rolling out separate ‘helpful content’ updates, as the helpful content system now forms part of the core update system.

Google will also be rolling out a spam update to introduce new spam policies. These policies target practices like scaled content abuse, site reputation abuse, and expired domain abuse, aiming to minimise misleading content and enhance the overall user experience.

  • Scaled content abuse: Google’s existing policy has long discouraged using automation to produce low-quality or unoriginal content at scale. However, since automated content creation has become harder to detect, Google is now focusing on the abusive behaviour of producing content at scale, regardless of whether this content is created solely by a human, through automation, or a combination of both. Google hopes that sanctioning this kind of behaviour will encourage businesses to be more considered in their approach to putting out content.
  • Site reputation abuse: Occasionally, websites that produce their own high-quality, original content may host subpar content from third parties, aiming to leverage the credibility of the hosting site. To counter this, content created solely for ranking purposes and lacking close oversight by the website owner will be considered spam.
  • Expired domain abuse: At times, expired domains are acquired with the primary aim of boosting the search ranking of ‘spammy’ unoriginal content. This practice can create confusion among users, leading them to believe that the new content is affiliated with the previous site, which might not be accurate. The act of purchasing expired domains for the purpose of elevating the search ranking of low-quality content is now classified as spam.

Google expects these efforts to collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%.

Google will also be focusing on keeping spam out of search results. It’ll be taking action on websites thought to be using manipulative behaviours to appear higher in search results.

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How will the March 2024 Core Update affect my business?

As this is a more complex core update, you will likely see some fluctuation in your search rankings over the coming weeks. However, those businesses that heavily fall foul of Google’s new policies will likely see lower rankings and, in more extreme cases, even exclusion from search results. Google has said that it’s core ranking systems assess helpful content at page level, so you are more likely to see individual web pages affected, however it does utilise some site-wide signals too.

If you haven’t already, It’s worth familiarising yourself with Google’s updated spam policy to ensure your website is compliant.

If your business frequently publishes content with the sole intent of appearing active and trying to rank higher on Google, you will likely be affected by this update. Google will be looking to take action on those websites that create pages that pretend to have answers to popular queries, but actually fail to deliver any valuable information.  If you’re unsure whether your pages meet the required criteria, you might want to take a look at Google’s guidelines for creating helpful content and ensure that the content on your website adheres to them.

How long will it be until the March 2024 Core Update is rolled out?

These changes are set to take effect immediately, but due to the complexity of the update, it could take up to a month for the update to be fully rolled out. You can check the status of the update here.

The policy change for site reputation abuse will be enforced from May 5, providing site owners with a two-month window to make necessary adjustments.

Are you worried about declining rankings or need help ensuring your website doesn’t violate Google’s new requirements? LOCALiQ can help.

We’ve won awards for our SEO services and our friendly team of experts are always happy to answer any search-related questions you might have. Want to find out more? Contact us today.

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