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Google Core Algorithm Update March 2024

Google is rolling out a new core algorithm update, and we're expecting some big changes that you should know about.

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What is the March 2024 Google Core Algorithm Update?

Google periodically does core algorithm updates to improve how it assesses and ranks web pages and to ensure it's providing searches with the most relevant results and to counter bad SEO practices.

From March 2024, the core algorithm changes will include helpful content updates (which had previously been separate), and Spam updates have been announced alongside the core algorithm updates for this month.

In this update we're expecting to see changes that will address:

  • Link value
  • Repurposed domains
  • Poor quality content including AI content
  • Site reputation manipulation

These changes are designed to weed out bad practices, and promote websites which are truly relevant to searchers. Google expects that the update will reduce unhelpful content in search results by 40%.


Link Value

In the past, inbound links were a significant part of Google's ranking algorithm, but over the past few years they have been steadily de-emphasising the importance of links.

Google's documentation on links and link spam has been updated to reflect this change, changing the advice from "Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages" to "Google uses links as a factor in determining the relevancy of web pages".

The removal of a single word may seem like a small change, but it reflects a shift in the signals that Google considers important for relevancy.

As well as the general de-valuing of links as a ranking factor, Google is also cracking down on the manipulation of links through "Private Blog Networks". 

Private Blog Networks are essentially collections of websites which only exist to link to other websites. By linking to a website from relevant pages throughout the network, the reputation of that target page is artificially boosted.

Another update to Google's Spam Policy document is the addition of "Creating low-value content primarily for the purposes of manipulating linking and ranking signals" as an example of link spam. 

By explicitly setting this out as link spam, it's a clear sign that Google will be more diligent in punishing PBNs and the websites they are linking to.

Repurposed Domains

When a domain expires, it can sometimes be bought and repurposed with the intention of using the value and reputation of the older domain to boost the ranking of low-value content. It can even be used to mislead users into believing that the content is from the older website.

This update will target this practice, counteracting the use of expired domains with good ranking being used to piggy-back content that is of low quality.


Site Reputation Abuse

A similar practice, site reputation abuse, refers to tactics where a website with good reputation and ranking also hosts low quality content from third parties in order to piggy-back on the host website's good reputation.

This is another area that the March 2024 update will target, with this type of content considered to be spam from May 5th.

This later deadline allows such websites - where there is good quality content alongside spam - to make updates to remove or rework poor content and prevent a significant loss in ranking.


Scaled Content Abuse

Perhaps the most significant update is to target scaled content abuse. This is the mass production of poor quality content (whether through AI or people) solely for the purpose of manipulating rankings.

Google's example of this sort of behaviour is content that "pretend to have answers to popular searches, but fail to deliver helpful content". This is a continuation of the helpful content updates that have been rolling out over the past few years, and involves a "strengthening" of Google's policy in that area.

What do the March 2024 Google Core Algorithm Updates Mean for You?

Most of the activities being cracked down on in this update were already considered to be bad tactics. But with this update explicitly stating that Google will crack down on these areas, it's certainly a good idea to tidy things up asap if you've been using any of these strategies.

But if you've not used any of these tactics, and your website produces original, high quality and useful content, then you've got nothing to worry about - in fact, you could even see a boost in your results as other websites fall down the rankings.


Hannah Laird

Digital Marketing Manager