Google introduces major updates to enhance search quality

Google introduces major updates to enhance search quality

March 2024 Core and spam updates

This month, Google is rolling out significant updates aimed at improving the search experience for users. The tech giant announced the launch of the March 2024 Core Update, alongside multiple spam updates collectively known as the March 2024 Spam Update. These updates are part of Google's ongoing effort to prioritise high-quality, relevant content in its search results in the wake of the growing use of AI.

Integration of Helpful Content System

Google has taken a significant step by integrating its Helpful Content System into the core ranking algorithm. This integration ensures that content designed to be genuinely useful to users will be favoured in search results, marking a move towards more user-centric content evaluation.

New spam policies

To combat low-quality content, Google has introduced new and updated spam policies. These policies will be enforced through a combination of sophisticated automated algorithms and manual review processes, further refining the quality of search results. The policies include scaled content abuse and expired domain abuse, both of which are now explicitly against Google's guidelines.

What is scaled content abuse?

In Google's own words, "scaled content abuse is when many pages are generated for the primary purpose of manipulating search rankings and not helping users. This abusive practice is typically focused on creating large amounts of unoriginal content that provides little to no value to users, no matter how it's created."

What is expired domain abuse?

Expired domain abuse involves someone buying up a domain that Google had previously determined to be high quality and coasting on that reputation to drive traffic to lower-quality content or site material.

Understanding the March 2024 Core Update

The March 2024 Core Update is described as more substantial and complex than previous updates – though it isn’t unusual for Google to use this terminology. It aims to diminish unhelpful content in search results by an estimated 40%. This update is unique in that it involves enhancements across multiple aspects of Google's core algorithm, leading to a more comprehensive overhaul of search rankings.

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Impact on search rankings

With the update affecting various core systems, businesses can expect more fluctuations in their search rankings. These changes reflect Google's refined approach to evaluating web pages, focusing on UX and content created for humans rather than search engines.

At Herd, we’re proud to have a team of content marketers with backgrounds in creative writing and journalism – ensuring that any content production always puts the user front and centre, while maintaining the SEO value that is so important in digital strategy.

Looking back at previous Core Updates

Google has a history of regular Core Updates, each with its own impact on the search landscape. Notable past updates include the November 2023, October 2023, and August 2023 Core Updates, each contributing to the evolution of Google's search algorithms.

This means the end of separate Helpful Content Updates

With the incorporation of the Helpful Content System into the Core Updates, Google will no longer announce separate Helpful Content Updates. This change signifies the importance of creating content that provides real value to users, aligning with Google's long-term goal of enhancing search quality.

Advice for businesses and marketers

For those impacted by the Core Update, Google advises focusing on producing high-quality, user-oriented content – a thinly veiled attack at the growing use of mass-generated AI content to influence search rankings. While there are no quick fixes for recovering from a rankings drop, consistent efforts to improve content strategy, relevance, and usefulness are key.

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So what’s the way forward?

Google's latest updates reflect its commitment to delivering a superior search experience by prioritising content that is truly helpful and relevant to users. Content creators, businesses, and marketers alike are encouraged to focus on quality and user value to succeed in the evolving search landscape.

These updates are expected to make a significant impact on how content is ranked and presented in search results, reinforcing the importance of authenticity and user value in content creation.

For now, it’s important to ensure we aren’t abusing the power of content generating AI tools – and understanding their place in an ever-evolving landscape.

If you’d like to have a chat with our content team about your content strategy, get in touch with Herd today.

About the author

Adam Brannon

Adam Brannon, Senior Content Strategist

Adam, our Senior Content Strategist loves nothing more than being creative. Graduating from the University of Lincoln in 2010 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Adam is a wordsmith with an in-depth knowledge of SEO best practice that means he can whip up fantastic content strategies for our partners.

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