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In March 2024, Google released a core update, along with several spam updates. With these new changes already taking effect, it’s wise to stay informed about the algorithm updates and adapt your SEO strategies accordingly.

After a Google algorithm update, it’s normal to see fluctuations in keyword rankings, so focusing on long-term, sustainable search engine optimization (SEO) practices is key to maintaining your visibility in Google’s search results.

March 2024 Google Core Update_Graphic 1 Freepik

Let’s get into the details of what that means for your organic content strategy.

 

Understanding the March 2024 Google Core Update

Google frequently updates its search algorithm to ensure that only the most relevant and high-quality content appears at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Many of these updates are so minor that they go unnoticed, however, once in a while — usually a couple of times per year — Google rolls out a core update.

What Is a Google Core Update?

Google core updates are significant algorithm and system changes that have a direct and widespread impact on search results. These updates are necessary: They maintain Google’s integrity and keep the search engine effective and efficient.

Every time Google rolls out a core update, it evaluates many different factors to determine how webpages should rank in search results. This evaluation considers things like content quality, relevance, and trustworthiness, plus the overall user experience and more. The goal is to provide users with the most useful and relevant information in response to their queries.

The impact of these core updates often leads to shifts in rankings for many websites. Some might actually see improvements in their rankings, while others experience declines.

 

Key Changes in the March 2024 Update

A major goal of Google’s core update in March was to facilitate a 40% reduction in unhelpful content. The search engine introduced several changes that were aimed at improving the quality and relevance of search results, favoring in-depth, comprehensive, and well-researched articles over thin or low-value content.

March 2024 Google Core Update_Graphic 2 Freepik

Google typically doesn’t disclose specific details about its algorithm changes, but industry analyses and interpretations from SEO experts provide insight into several areas the core update may have impacted.

E-E-A-T Signals

Most experts agree that one key objective of the March 2024 update was to further prioritize E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) signals in determining website rankings.

Emphasis on E-E-A-T — an aspect that helps Google Quality Raters assess whether a search engine result is showing high-quality, relevant findings — may have been strengthened, particularly for websites in sensitive or YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) niches, such as the health, finance, and legal industries, where accurate information is critical.

User Experience

Another focus of the March 2024 update is thought to focus on enhancing user experience signals. With the growing emphasis on mobile search and user-centric design, Google prioritizes websites that provide an optimized experience across various devices.

Things like page speed, mobile-friendliness, and overall website usability could have received heightened scrutiny to make sure that users have a more positive overall experience when visiting a website ranked highly by Google.

Spam and Manipulative Tactics

Google also targeted spam or manipulative tactics that try to inflate rankings. Things like keyword stuffing, link schemes, and other black-hat SEO techniques are frowned upon by Google and can lead to a website being completely wiped from search results.

 

Understanding the March 2024 Spam Updates

Google has focused on spam-fighting systems in the past to prevent low-quality content from ranking on search results.

The most recent spam updates implemented new spam policies to address the manipulative practices that let low-quality content slip through detection and show up on search results.

The update also enhanced the Google core ranking system to allow Google to more accurately determine whether a website was providing low-value, non-relevant content — especially for those sites that cater to extremely specific search queries. A few targeted spam areas include:

Scaled Content Abuse

Google has had a long-standing policy against content at scale that provides little to no value, especially content that’s been created solely to manipulate search engine rankings.

Now, they’re cracking down even harder on websites that churn out content just to boost their search rankings. This means you’ll have to carefully review your content to make sure it’s answering its targeted search queries with valuable information.

Site Reputation Abuse

Name-dropping is never a good thing — especially with Google. Here’s an example.

Some websites that already have high-quality original content might do the following: They’ll feature subpar content from third-party sources so that they can leverage that site’s positive reputation. They’ll piggyback off of a respected company’s content to try to boost their own visibility.

If a website does this and that piece of content ends up ranking highly on Google’s search results, it can mislead visitors. How? By posting content that is not on brand or in the niche of its regular content.

Google is now categorizing this type of third-party content as spam.

Expired Domain Abuse

Sometimes, companies purchase expired domains to boost their search engine rankings, without posting any relevant or high-quality content on them. These types of websites are now considered spam.

 

Key Considerations for Business Owners and Marketers

With every Google core update, make sure you’re taking a look at your content and revising it to better align with the newly implemented algorithm changes. Here are the areas you should focus on for the best outcomes:

Content Quality and Relevance

Creating and optimizing content to reflect the needs of your audience will help establish you as an authority in your field. Crafting high-quality content helps you satisfy search engine algorithms and provides a better overall user experience.

March 2024 Google Core Update_Graphic 3 Freepik

Assessing and improving the quality of your content to align with Google's standards can include:

  • Conducting thorough research to make sure your content is consistently accurate and up-to-date.
  • Citing reputable sources and providing references to support claims or statements you make within your content.
  • Avoiding the spread of misinformation that could undermine the credibility of your content.

User Experience (UX) and Site Performance

Google prioritizes websites that provide a seamless user experience across various types of devices and platforms. If your website functions well on a computer but experiences long load times via mobile viewing, your content could rank lower and underperform.

Strategies for optimizing UX and site performance can include:

  • Compressing and optimizing images and multimedia files without sacrificing quality.
  • Ensuring that your website adapts seamlessly to various screen sizes and devices.
  • Implementing clear and descriptive labels for navigation links and buttons so users can easily understand and browse your website.

E-E-A-T

Google's E-E-A-T guidelines play a large role in evaluating the credibility and quality of a website’s content. Websites that demonstrate high levels of E-E-A-T are more likely to rank well in search results and gain the trust of their target audience.

Improving your E-E-A-T can include implementing the following tactics:

  • Establishing authority by regularly publishing high-quality, authoritative content that addresses your audience’s wants and needs.
  • Demonstrating the expertise of those who write your content by showing their credentials, qualifications, and experience to establish your credibility.
  • Building trust by being transparent and honest in all your communications. Make sure to disclose your affiliations, sponsorships, or potential conflicts of interest as well.

Backlink Profile and Link Building Practices

A high-quality backlink profile helps you in the process of building your authority and credibility — to both users and search engines. A diverse backlink profile indicates that a website is trustworthy, respected, and recognized within its niche and signals to Google it deserves a higher ranking.

A few tips for building your backlink strengths:

  • Create content that addresses the pain points of your audience and provides them with practical solutions to their questions. By producing high-quality content, you increase the likelihood of earning organic backlinks.
  • Build genuine relationships with industry experts in your field, engage with them, and establish a rapport. This can lead to organic backlinks since others are more likely to reference and share your content within their networks if they have a relationship with you.
  • Have a variety of backlink sources. Find sources from industry-specific forums, blogs, and publications, and try to avoid relying solely on one type of link source. By diversifying your link sources, you strengthen your backlink profile and reduce the risk of being negatively affected by future Google algorithm updates.

 

Adapting Your SEO Strategy Post-Updates

As a general rule, you should continuously adapt your SEO strategy as part of your optimization process. This is especially important after a Google core update. Here are some areas of focus to make the most out of your content:

Data Analysis and Performance Evaluation

Continuously track changes in organic traffic, keyword rankings, and user engagement metrics to understand how the update has affected your website's rank on Google search. You can use a combination of analytics tools to view performance trends and identify any areas that need improvement.

Here are a few tools and tips to help you track these changes:

  • Google Analytics: This free tool helps you monitor organic traffic trends and user behavior while allowing you to analyze changes in your overall website traffic. This helps you gauge what sort of impact the Google core update has on your website's visibility and performance.
  • Rank Tracking Tools: Tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Moz can monitor any changes in your keyword rankings over time. Track keyword positions in the SERPs to identify fluctuations and plan your optimization strategies based on your performance after the update.
  • User Engagement Metrics: You’ll need to assess user engagement metrics like bounce rate, average session duration, and conversion rates to understand how your visitors interact with your website after a Google core update. Tools like HubSpot or Google's own Behavior Flow report can give you great insight into user behavior and help you identify maintain or improve your SERP rankings.

Content Audit and Optimization

Evaluate each piece of your content — like blogs, resources, and general website copy — and asses their performance and engagement metrics. From there, you can implement changes to transform your content into a more relevant and accurate source of information for your visitors.

Here are a few important strategies for optimizing your existing and future content:

  • Update your content to include relevant keywords that align with what your audience is searching for. Make sure to also optimize headings and title tags for target keywords while maintaining the natural flow of your copy.
  • Improve content structure, formatting, and readability by breaking your content into clear sections with descriptive headings. Use bullet points and lists for easy scanning, and try using more multimedia content like images and videos to increase your user engagement.
  • Focus on demonstrating E-E-A-T within your content. Provide accurate and well-researched information to your visitors so they view you as a go-to source for what they’re searching. Make sure to cite credible sources and demonstrate the qualifications of your authors to build trust.

Technical SEO Enhancements

After a Google core update, several technical SEO factors could impact your website’s visibility and ranking. Things like website speed and performance, mobile-friendliness, crawlability, and site security are often affected.

A fast-loading website with optimized performance across many devices is likely to receive a ranking boost, as Google prioritizes a user-friendly experience. You’ll also want to maintain the security of your site through HTTPS encryption and fix any technical issues like broken links to keep the momentum of trust and credibility you’ve been building up.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

When it comes to SEO, it’s never a one-and-done deal. There’s an element of continuous learning; since human interests and trends constantly change, your SEO strategy needs to change along with it.

With Google regularly updating its algorithm to deliver the most relevant and high-quality results to its users, you need to make sure you stay ahead of these changes and adapt your SEO strategies accordingly. Adaptation is an essential part of staying relevant and achieving long-term success in SEO.

 

Get With the Rhythm of the New Algorithm

If there’s one most important takeaway from the March 2024 Google update, it's to focus on creating high-quality content that’s relevant to your target audience. This is first and foremost what you should be focusing on at all times.

From there, adapt your SEO strategies based on the information you acquire about Google algorithm changes. Make sure you prioritize ethical SEO practices to build trust with the search engine and your audience.

If you continuously adapt your strategies and put in the time to make your content user-friendly, accurate, and relevant, Google will likely keep ranking you higher and higher in its search results.

For tips on optimizing your site for maximum effectiveness, get the free 25 Website Must-Haves Guide and start raking in the website visitors.

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Ika Chigogidze

Ika Chigogidze

Ika brings an academic background in ancient languages to the marketing realm, giving her a unique perspective on sales and marketing copywriting. Her experience spans B2B and B2C businesses in all industries, with a knack for crafting compelling and persuasive, yet educational content.