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By Olivia Sandhu

Google Helpful Content: March 2024 Spam Update

Last Updated 20 Mar 2024

Google has rolled out its March core algorithm update which has taken the SEO industry by storm. Implementing significant updates to their spam policies, SEOs, website developers, content creators, and marketing specialists should know about these changes.

What is the March Spam Update?

Google makes changes to its search algorithms frequently, however, every few months, there is a major core update. This update usually sees a significant improvement in search quality for users.

From March 2024, the core algorithm changes include both helpful content updates and spam updates. Right now if you have been leaning on AI for mass production of content, you might need to worry but if your website produces unique and useful content, then you can relax.

The main goal behind the update is to reduce the number of unhelpful, spam websites which falsely rank and to increase the ranking of websites producing high-quality content which is of quality for the user. Google aims to reduce unhelpful content by 40% in this update.

There have been various changes made to improve Google’s core ranking systems using innovative signals and approaches, eliminating a single signal or system.

We don’t know how long exactly it will take for this update to complete, but it could be up to a month until you see the impact. It is likely your rankings will fluctuate during this period until the update is complete. However, as long as you continue to create content that is useful and high quality, your rankings will represent this.

Cracking Down on Spam

Google has noticed various tactics being used which make the search engine think the site has the answers the user is looking for but it doesn’t actually have any helpful content. The spam update is focused on three areas.

  • Expired domain abuse: this tactic is the practice of buying an expired domain and repurposing the content primarily to manipulate search rankings. It is used to trick users into thinking new content on a domain is part of the old site when it may not be.
  • Scaled content abuse: this included any method of creating content at scale for the sole purpose of ranking higher in search. Content quality and uniqueness determine its ranking, regardless of whether it’s produced by AI tools like ChatGPT or Gemini, or manually. Low-quality or non-unique content will rank lower.
  • Site reputation abuse: this is the practice of hosting low-quality content from third-party sites to rank highly. This won’t impact all third-party content, just that which Google considers being used to manipulate search rankings.

These policies are put into place to ensure search rankings prioritise helpful content which serves the user more effectively. If Google believes your site is violating any of these policies, you may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all. Therefore it might be worth reviewing your tactics and making sure your content is of the highest quality it can be.

The Risks of Ignoring Google’s Helpful Content Update

While Google’s update focuses on rewarding helpful content, if your website fails to comply with these new policies, then you could be facing some severe consequences which you may have previously been immune to.

  • Lower search rankings: if your website fails to convince Google that it is providing helpful content that solves the problems of the user, then you are putting your website at risk of being ranked lower in search results. This will decrease the amount of traffic going to your website and potentially impact your business.
  • Manual actions including completely de-indexing your site: in severe cases, where you are completely disregarding Google’s spam policies, you could face manual actions including website demotion or complete removal from search results.
  • Damaged brand reputation: ultimately your content enforces your brand’s reputation, without high-quality content on your website, you could face ruining your brand’s reputation which could ruin brand trust and prevent people from coming back to your website.

It is in the best interest of your business and your audience to review your content and ensure that you are following the policies outlined in this update to prevent any of these risks from happening.

How can you adapt your strategy?

The most obvious way to adapt your strategy is to ensure your content is intended to help the user with unique information that addresses their query. Here are some ways various professionals can adapt their strategies.

  • SEOs: avoid tactical strategies that solely boost search ranking over user experience and genuine content.
  • Website developers: Instead of trying to solely rank higher on search engines, consider prioritising the speed of the website, and how mobile-friendly it is. Put the user first and the search rankings will recognise this.
  • Content creators and Marketers: stand out from the crowd. In a digital world full of AI writing software, make your content stand out from the rest. Build trust, build a community around your content that engages your audience, and as a result, it will begin to rank higher. 

In almost all cases, the key to your success is putting your audience first and making sure your content is relevant and helpful for them first and foremost regardless of where it ranks on Google.

Insight from our Senior SEO Specialist

“One of the best SEO practices to alleviate the significant impact of these new algorithm updates is to ensure you’re generating original and valuable content. Like the past few updates, the March 2024 Core Update reiterates how important unique content is instead of regurgitating content from others that may not add any true value to your website’s intended audience. Google has been really pushing the user-first mindset from the first main content update of Panda which looked to crack down on content farms and spammy content. Always keep your user at the forefront of your mind when generating any online content.”

Evie Sandall, Senior SEO Specialist

The Helpful Content Update in a Nutshell

The key takeaway from Google’s core algorithm update is to make sure your content is always 100% genuine and helpful for your audience. Focus your time and resources on creating content that solves problems, engages your audience, and helps them. Ultimately, it is more beneficial to focus on user experience instead of any backhand tactics because Google will notice and reward you with better search visibility.

Ready to take your digital presence to the next level? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with our team of experts today for a free consultation. We can discuss your goals, answer any questions you have, and craft a customised strategy to help you achieve online success. Get in touch via [email protected].

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