The Google March 2024 Spam Update Explained

The Google March 2024 Spam Update Explained

Mar 7, 2024 | SEO, Web Development

On March 6, 2024, Google implemented a significant update to its spam policies, aiming to improve the quality and relevance of search results. This update is expected to have a significant impact on SEO strategies, as Google seeks to reward quality, helpful content while penalizing spammy web pages.

Today I will go over the details of Google’s March 2024 Spam Update, explore its implications on search results, and provide insights and strategies to help you make sense of the coming changes. Whether you are an SEO professional, digital marketer, or website owner, this guide will help you adapt to Google’s newest algorithm and ensure your online presence remains strong. So, let’s dive in and unravel the mysteries of the Google March 2024 Spam Update.

Understanding Google’s March 2024 Spam Update

Google’s March 2024 spam update is a significant step towards improving the quality of search results. As part of its ongoing commitment to providing users with relevant and helpful content, Google has implemented several measures to combat spam and low-quality content.

One of the key changes introduced in this update is the integration of Google’s helpful content system into its overall core ranking system. This system, which was previously separate, is now incorporated into the algorithm that determines the ranking of search results. This integration aims to ensure that content that is genuinely useful and informative is given priority in search rankings.

In addition to integrating the helpful content system, Google has also announced new and updated spam policies. These policies will be enforced through automated algorithms and manual actions. The goal is to identify and penalize websites that engage in manipulative practices or produce low-quality content. By cracking down on spam, Google aims to improve the overall search experience for users.

“We believe these updates will reduce the amount of low-quality content in Search and send more traffic to helpful and high-quality sites. Based on our evaluations, we expect that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%.”

Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product Search at Google

According to Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product Search at Google, the combination of the March 2024 core update and previous efforts will reduce low-quality and unoriginal content in search results by 40%. This is a significant reduction that demonstrates Google’s commitment to providing users with valuable and trustworthy information.

The rollout of the March 2024 core update has begun, but it may take up to a month for the update to be fully implemented. During this time, website owners, SEO professionals, and digital marketers should closely monitor the impact of the update on their search rankings and organic traffic. It is important to adapt SEO strategies and make any necessary adjustments to ensure compliance with the new spam policies and maintain visibility in search results.

Overall, the March 2024 spam update should be a positive development for those who prioritize high-quality content and ethical SEO practices. By reducing the presence of spam and low-quality content, Google is working towards improving the search experience for users and rewarding websites that provide valuable and relevant information.

Impact of the New and Improved Spam Policies on Search Results

I’m sure that most of us have noticed that the proliferation of low-quality content and spam websites has been a major issue in Google Search results. This has made it difficult for users to find reliable information. But these low quality search results can also expose users to online scams and deceptive websites.

One of the key goals of Google’s new spam policies is to improve the quality of search results and minimize encounters with low-quality content. Google has made enhancements to its ranking algorithms, incorporating a more holistic approach to evaluating websites and their content. This includes reducing reliance on single signals and considering a wide range of factors to determine the relevance and usefulness of a website.

Some of the signals specifically cited by Tucker include:

  • Scaled Content Abuse – Essentially, websites are creating more content than ever. AI likely has a lot to do with this. My guess is that Google is going to look at the number of new pages created in a day and use that as a quality signal. Exactly how they will do this is isn’t known. But figure it takes a few hours for me to make a quality post. Imagine a website that’s putting out 20+ articles per day and citing the same author. (Notice the author at the end the post? That’s meant to help address Google’s E-E-A-T Quality Guidelines). If websites are pushing out large amounts of content at inhuman scale they seem likely to incur ranking penalties.
  • Site Reputation Abuse – Figure that websites that have earned a great number of inbound links and possess high quality ranking signals are more likely to rank pages well the moment the new content is released. This creates an incentive for Black Hat SEOs to post content and secure inbound links from sites with high reputation. Tucker specifically cites an article offering predatory lending products on a website dedicated to student loans. While the Payday Loan place might enjoy getting in front of relatively cash strapped college students, the topic of the article doesn’t necessarily fit the overall theme of the website.
  • Expired Domain Abuse – There is an SEO technique where one would purchase an old, expired domain with a great link profile and reputation. That “link juice” can be harvested and redirected to other pages to help give the new content a ranking boost. We should expect to see less of these search results in the future.

In addition to algorithmic improvements, Google has also introduced new spam policies to combat manipulative tactics used by spam websites. These policies aim to identify and penalize websites that engage in practices such as keyword stuffing, link schemes, and cloaking. Policies by themselves do not directly affect website ranking. But I think we should expect to see a rise in manual actions and future algorithm updates that penalize these practices. I’d also like to make mention that these black hat SEO techniques have always been disfavored by Google.

To provide transparency and guidance to website owners and SEO professionals, Google has also released resources such as the Google Search Status Dashboard, the Visual Elements of Google Search, and Google’s published Spam Policies. These resources help website owners understand Google’s guidelines and best practices, and provide insights into how the search engine identifies and handles spammy content.

The ultimate goal of these updates is to improve the search experience for users by providing more reliable and relevant information. For SEO professionals, digital marketers, website owners, and content creators, it is crucial to adapt to these new spam policies and update their strategies accordingly. By focusing on creating high-quality, helpful content and avoiding manipulative practices, website owners can ensure that their websites continue to rank well in search results and provide value to users.

Adapting SEO Strategies for Google’s March 2024 Update

With Google’s March 2024 Core Update placing a strong emphasis on originality and utility in content creation, SEO professionals, digital marketers, website owners, and content creators are now faced with the task of adapting their strategies to align with this new algorithm update.

The stated goal of the March 2024 update is to reduce unoriginal or low-value content by 40%. To achieve this, Google has incorporated new spam policies specifically targeting manipulative SEO practices. Practices such as content scaling, site reputation, and expired domain abuses are now under scrutiny. This update sets a new benchmark for content quality and sends a clear message that these manipulative tactics will no longer be tolerated.

So what changes can publishers make to improve the quality of their content? Here are some suggestions that I’ve come up with while researching for this post:

Scaled Content Abuse

  • Creating copious amounts of content will not be as rewarding as it was in the past. As a new web property, you might only want to create a handful of articles or posts per day. Slowly increase your content over time, establishing a trend. I have no idea what the magic number might be, but it’s likely best to not stick out of the statistical norm. Clearly, a small business blog is going to have a significant difference in content velocity than a newspaper. Algorithms must be flexible enough to adapt to this reality.
  • For sites with multiple authors, be sure to attribute authorship within the article using schema markup. Showing different sources of content creation should help alleviate concerns about an inhuman amount of content being created. If you have a wordpress website, you can do much of this work with any number of plugins. If you need a web developer to help with this, let me know!
  • Do SEO Sprints need to evolve? Google rewards recent content. Unleashing a large amount of content in a short time tends to amplify that recent content boost if you’re strategically linking content together. SEO Sprints that focus on content creation might need to extend their duration to avoid algorithm penalties.

Site Reputation Abuse

  • Inbound Links have always been a part of SEO that treads a fine line between white hat SEO and black hat SEO. The risk of choosing the wrong link acquisition partner might well be greater than ever. With expired domain abuse (below) being penalized in this update, you’ll find a lot of inbound links passing link juice will be disfavored in the future. If you’ve benefitted from them, expect your rank to decline with this update.
  • Sponsored stories and links should be properly annotated as such. rel=sponsored tells Google that payment was made in exchange for the link. Google’s Spam Policy does recognize sponsored links as being a part of the Internet marketing industry, so don’t expect properly disclosing links to work against you. But hiding them well might.

Expired Domain Abuse

I don’t really have much insight here, other than to guess that Google might well start tracking or prioritizing whois data provided by registrars. Certainly, there’s value in established businesses with old domains. But we might see that a change in domain ownership as part of the quality formula, especially when combined with a period where the site is offline and comes back with totally different content.

The emphasis on originality and utility in content creation marks a major shift in the digital content landscape. Websites that have traditionally relied on repurposing existing content or producing minimal effort material will need to change their strategy. Their search engine rankings could dramatically decline unless they pivot towards offering valuable, original content.

Google’s Helpful Content System has been Fully Integrated into the Core Algorithm

It appears that Google is happy with the Helpful Content System, as it will no longer be considered a separate product. So it’s a great time to review Helpful Content and explain how it can help you rank content better.

Your content should be genuinely helpful to humans and relevant to their search queries. To help website owners navigate these new guidelines, Search Engine Journal conducted a webinar on helpful content featuring industry experts Dave Snyder, CEO and Founder of CopyPress, and Jeremy Rivera, Director of Content Analysis.

During the webinar, Snyder and Rivera shared valuable insights on how to create better, more authoritative content that aligns with Google’s revised helpful content guidelines. They discussed various strategies and techniques that can be implemented to ensure your website meets the new standards. These insights are essential for SEO professionals, digital marketers, website owners, and content creators who want to stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

If you’re interested in accessing the full presentation and gaining a comprehensive understanding of the helpful content update, you can do so by completing a form. This will allow you to delve deeper into the webinar’s content and learn practical tips and tricks for adapting your content strategy to Google’s helpful content system.

If you’re looking for the Cliff’s Notes (TL;DW) version, some things I picked out:

  • Snyder and Rivera think a penalty will be coming for AI generated content. Yet, Google doesn’t care that AI content is AI generated, per se. They care about weeding out poor quality content. But AI tends to make poor quality content overall, so maybe that’s more where they are trying to go.
  • Content Aggregation is falling out of favor. Thanks to RSS, it was pretty simple to automatically pull content into your website. Snag a few RSS feeds and all the sudden you can have a topic cluster without any further work.
  • The People Also Ask feature of Google search results might need to leverage established expertise and experience to get a listing.

Analyzing the Visual Elements of Google Search Post-Spam Update

Let’s delve deeper into this topic and explore how visual elements play a crucial role in determining webpage rankings on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

To understand the significance of visual elements in Google’s algorithms, it is essential to first grasp the purpose of these algorithms. Google’s algorithms are a complex system designed to retrieve data from its vast search index and deliver the most relevant results for a given query. These algorithms consider a multitude of factors to determine the relevance and quality of webpages, ensuring that users find the most helpful and informative content.

One of the ways Google determines relevance is through the use of visual elements. Visual elements, such as images, videos, and interactive features, provide additional context and information to users. They enhance the overall user experience and make webpages more engaging and informative. It just so happens that media is an area where AI generated content is especially weak. What a coincidence!

With the post-spam update, Google has placed even greater emphasis on visual elements as a means to improve search results and user experience. By analyzing the visual elements of a webpage, Google can gain insights into its quality, relevance, and user-friendliness. These include the quality and relevance of images and videos, the presence of interactive elements, the overall design and layout of the webpage, and the accessibility of visual content for users with disabilities.

We might well see content rewarded when it offers users a media rich experience. Figure it takes a lot of time to create relevant images and properly define them. Accessibility optimization creates additional meta data that might also be rewarded as another quality signal. And let’s not forget that optimizing visual elements can also have a positive impact on user engagement. Bounce rate and dwell time are well known ranking signals.

All in All

In conclusion, the Google March 2024 Spam Update has brought significant changes to the digital landscape, impacting SEO strategies and website owners’ ability to reach their target audience effectively. By understanding the update and its implications on search results, content creators can adapt their strategies to win and maintain premium rank positions. I hope that this content gives you helpful insights to guide your content creation strategies.

Travis Fisher

Travis is Inacom’s Executive Vice President, tasked with assisting customers with their web based marketing initiatives. He’s kinda famous for his BBQ. He lives in Easton, MD with his amazing wife, two kids, and two dogs.

Looking For a great IT service provider?

More Posts by Category

Recent Posts

Telephone Systems for Small Businesses

Choosing the right telephone systems for small businesses can significantly enhance productivity, streamline operations, and improve customer service. Here, we explore various options and features to help you find the best telephone system for your small business.