Young Folks

Google’s March 2024 Algorithm Update

Another Google algorithm update? What’s in it this time?

In the ever-evolving world of search engines, Google’s updates are akin to the changing tides – constant, impactful, and often a bit mysterious. The latest to hit the digital shores is the March 2024 core algorithm update, a significant adjustment to Google’s algorithm that’s set to address spam, curb low quality results, and redefine how content ranks on the web. Let’s look into what this update means for marketers, content creators, and website owners alike.

Quality takes the front seat

Google’s going on a quality crusade, focusing on making its search results more helpful and cutting down on content that’s just taking up space. Think of it like a spring clean, Google is tossing out the old and making room for the fresh and useful. AKA: Content that doesn’t ‘spark joy’ is getting the boot – Marie Kondo would be proud.

‘We’re making algorithmic enhancements to our core ranking systems to ensure we surface the most helpful information on the web’, states Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product for Search at Google. The aim? To diminish the visibility of unoriginal, unhelpful content and spotlight the content that truly benefits users. They want to ensure when you hit search, you’re getting results that are actually worth your click.

All in all, they’re looking to reduce the amount of meh content by a whopping 40%. Yes, you heard that right – less fluff, more of the good stuff.

So what’s new this time around?

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘NEW’, as Google is continually seeking to improve its search experience, but definitely a lot more strict this time around. Here’s a quick summary of everything that’s changed with the March 2024 core algorithm update:

Quality ranking: Google’s algorithm has always been a bit of a mystery box, but with the latest update, it’s become even more sophisticated. The new changes mean Google is now better equipped to distinguish between high-quality content that provides real value and the low-effort fluff that clutters up search results. Imagine Google as a librarian who can now, more than ever, find the exact book you need in a library the size of the internet. This is great news for writers and content creators who invest time and effort into their content, ensuring their work gets the visibility it deserves. It’s also further evidence that Google is doubling down on the importance of Expertise, Experience, Authority and Trust (EEAT) as ranking signals.

Spam police: Google’s crackdown on spam just got serious. With the new update, they have sharpened their tools to better identify and penalise spam. This includes everything from keyword stuffing to sneaky redirects. Think of it as Google tightening security at the door; if your content doesn’t have a legitimate invitation, it’s not getting in. This move is aimed at creating a cleaner, more trustworthy search environment for everyone.

Bye-bye, bad content: If you’ve been relying on quantity over quality, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Google’s latest update is fine-tuned to spot content that’s been artificially bulked up with no real substance behind it. This means that simply filling pages with keywords or generating content at scale without regard to value won’t cut it anymore. Google is promoting a content meritocracy, where the value you provide directly influences your visibility. This can be seen as a move to address low-quality AI-generated content at scale – which is essentially regurgitating content that already exists. Google is saying ‘see ya’ to crappy content created en masse and ‘hey hey’ to original, quality content created purposefully, edited, proofed and fact-checked thoroughly.

Trust issues: With awareness around data privacy, cookies tracking and content authenticity increasing, trustworthiness is becoming a bigger part of the equation. With the new update, Google is taking a harder stance against reputable sites that host low-quality third-party content. This is about preserving the integrity of trusted domains and ensuring they don’t lend their credibility to content that doesn’t meet Google’s quality standards. For site owners, this means being more vigilant about the content they host, ensuring it aligns with Google’s emphasis on quality and relevance.

Domain drama: The practice of acquiring expired domains to inherit their SEO juice has been a grey area for a while. However, with the March 2024 core update, Google is putting its foot down. This tactic, often used to shortcut the hard work of building domain authority organically, is being targeted specifically. Google aims to ensure that the rankings are not manipulated through such practices, making the search results more about merit and less about exploiting loopholes.

How long ‘til the update is finalised?

The update is rolling out as we speak, with a grace period for the new site reputation policy. You’ve got two months to get in line with this one, but other changes are already kicking into gear.

Wondering if your website has been affected?

There are a few ways to tell if your website has been affected. The best and most effective way is to go to Google Search Console > Indexing > Pages. Check if over time the number of pages that are on Google’s index has gone down over time.

It’s not just indexing. As a result of the update, Google might just start ranking your pages further down in search engine results pages (SERPS) than what they were previously. Keep an eye out for your impressions and average position (you can do this using Search Console, Semrush, AHREFS or any other keyword and position tracking tool).

This means the opposite may also be true. If you’ve actually spent human hours carefully building, researching and coming up with original content then you should see your website rankings improve.

If you’re thinking ‘it’s been a while since the past update and my website performance is the same as it’s always been even though I’ve been using AI content, maybe I’ve outsmarted Google’, I’m here to tell you that you most definitely have not. The algorithm will take time to roll out completely but roll out it definitely will.

There are a bunch different ways to know if your site has been affected. Has the number of users decreased? Are your keywords not performing as well? Have your impressions gone down? Maybe most of your pages don’t appear altogether.

If you’re worried about how this update might affect you, feel free to reach out to our team. We’re here to help build you a SEO strategy that works for your business, your customers and Google.

Final thoughts

With AI content suddenly becoming all the buzz, the internet is not what it used to be. After all, if you can ask ChatGPT for answers, then search engines really have to step up to remain relevant. There’s a ton of fluff content and with websites becoming larger and increasingly un-authentic, Google’s decided to take a step forward. Remember Google’s E-EAT policy? Yes the one where they focus on experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. This update is a quick reminder that it’s still in place. Credibility and quality will always lead the way.

If you ask me, all these changes could not have come at a better time. We’ve all probably searched our fever on Google only to find out that it could mean cancer, tuberculosis or a whole bunch of other life threatening diseases which realistically a simple paracetamol could fix. Now take this example and multiply it times by a hundred. This sort of life altering content, also known as YMYL (Your Money Your Life) content is being fluffed. With the web being flooded with unauthentic and click-bait content that’s just there to grab attention and inflate search rankings, this update is one that was due for a while.

So, what’s the takeaway? If you’re creating content or managing websites, now’s the time to double down on quality. Google’s not just looking for content that ticks off SEO boxes; they want content that genuinely serves the user’s needs.

Written by

He's might have an absurd sleep schedule, but that's never stopped him from driving stellar marketing results. In fact, legend has it, Hatim puts the performance in performance marketing. On top of that, he has a gift for recognising what platform a website is built on and does not hold back when it comes to making them radically better. When he's not coming up with elaborate schemes to skip the gym, Hatim loves to sip black coffee and watch anime.

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