Google Releases March 2024 Core Update and Spam Update

Google Releases March 2024 Core Update and Spam Update

If you work in SEO or marketing, you’ve probably heard about the news this past week about the March 2024 Core Update and Spam Update, and you may even know of a site that has been personally affected.

It’s fair to say that the updates have been a bit of a bloodbath. Traffic has tanked overnight, content has been removed from search results, and manual actions have been handed out left, right, and centre.

A range of sites have been affected, but niche and affiliate sites are clearly being affected, and there is a clear crackdown on AI content.

Many of us in the industry have been warning against the use of AI in content production for a while, and this is a validation of that. Content needs to be helpful, personable, educational, and high-quality. If you do not follow these guidelines, you could find yourself in similar positions to those affected by this rollout.

SEO and content are not about quick wins. If you see someone promising or guaranteeing huge traffic uplifts, I suggest you run the other way as quickly as possible. Chances are they will be using AI content, PBNs, various other black hat tactics, or a combination of all of these. Websites must conform to the Quality Rater Guidelines if you want long-term success that compounds over time.

Violating these guidelines can cost much more than you’ve spent to get to this point, and in the worst cases, it can take years to recover, if at all.

Build a strategy that is aligned with your business goals, and that conforms to Google’s guidelines. Avoid using AI for content generation and create copy that is genuinely useful and valuable to your target audience.

New Types of Manual Actions

There are three main areas that look to be targeted by the March 2024 Core Update and Spam Update, and they are triggering manual actions.

Expired Domain Abuse:

For years, we have seen domain names that previously performed well but have since ceased trading and are getting purchased by others. These domains are usually then redirected to that of the new business to transfer rankings, backlinks, performance and other positives to the new domain.

This is a manipulation of search results and misleads both search engines and users.

Repeated and clear evidence of these tactics will trigger a manual action.

Scaled Content Abuse:

Scaled content is looking at that which has been produced in large amounts of unoriginal content that does not provide any value to users and is generally created just to rank the site higher in organic rankings. While there is undoubtedly an emphasis on AI content here, that is not the sole focus of this.

Even if a human writes the content, if the quality is poor and unhelpful and is evidently being produced at scale, expect to see yourself hit by a scaled content abuse manual action.

Site Reputation Abuse:

This essentially refers to Parasite SEO and focuses on “when third-party pages are published with little or no first-party oversight or involvement, where the purpose is to manipulate Search rankings by taking advantage of the first-party site’s ranking signals”.

To be clear, this does not mean all third-party hosted content is bad or spam.

Google has made it clear that only those published without close supervision of the site owner and intended to manipulate search rankings will be impacted by this. Examples include:

  • An educational site with a page about payday loans,
  • A medical site with a page about “best casinos”,
  • A movie review site with topics that would be confusing for users to find on a movie review site.

Staying in line with Google Guidelines

The key takeaway is to produce content that is closely aligned with who you are and what you do, providing genuine help and value to your target audience. Consider the intent behind the searches and ensure you are meeting their needs. A bot cannot do this. Do not manipulate rankings in any way or chase quick performance gains at the expense of quality.

SEO is an investment, and take the time to find an SEO professional you can trust with a proven track record of success by working within Google’s guidelines. Although it is easier said than done, try not to panic, and then work on a strategy that works for you and your business. 

If you’re looking for a highly qualified and recognised SEO professional, I’d love to chat in more detail. 

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