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Google’s Recent Core Updates: A Comprehensive Guide

Google’s recent core updates are a confirmation that the war against AI is well and truly on. If you’re well versed in the digital world, like us, you’re probably watching the back-and-forth between these two like a tennis match. And if you’re not, welcome. I am sure your neck is in a much better way than ours. Here is a guide to Google’s March 2024 update.  

Google’s Recent Core Updates: What They Are & How They Work 

Google regularly updates their algorithms, making broad changes to their services that maintain their competitive advantage. These updates, which occur several times a year, are referred to as core updates. The sole purpose of core updates is to ensure that Google consistently delivers helpful and reliable results to its searchers.  

For most users, core updates won’t necessarily have a huge impact on them. If you asked someone who doesn’t work in SEO, ‘What is the biggest or most recent change to Google you have noticed?’, they would probably just say the logo.  

There doesn’t have to be an issue with the way pages are performing for Google to issue a core update. Meaning, a page may not have violated spam policies, or been subjected to manual or algorithmic action. In fact, core updates do not target specific pages or websites at all.  

Core updates are focused on improving how systems assess content overall.  

For that reason, core updates can send shockwaves through Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Under-rewarded content may now do better in search rankings and other pages may be pushed further back. It keeps us SEOers on our toes, that’s for sure.  

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Google Retaliates To AI With Recent Core Update 

Most industries are now recognising the looming threat (or opportunities, depending on how you see it) of AI and doing something about it. Do the SAG-AFTRA strikes ring any bells?  

For Google, that threat was starting to cause real damage. After the helpful content update launched in August 2022, pledging to rank original, useful content higher, SERPs were still densely populated with AI-generated content.  

What’s the problem with that? Well, AI can’t bring anything new to the table, it can only provide answers that have already been given. Plus, it’s not known for point-on-point accuracy. AI can produce content at scale but doesn’t always meet Google’s quality standards, leading to a bad user experience.  

So, what did they do about it?  

In March 2024, Google’s recent core updates were announced, which would put AI in its place. It aims to tackle spammy, low-quality content on SERPs by 40%. As opposed to focusing on helpful content, which in theory will only make AI smarter, Google is directly challenging low-quality content. 

A Guide To Google’s Core Updates: March 2024 

Enhanced Ranking Systems 

One of the top priorities of the March 2024 core updates was to improve ranking systems. Which, in fairness, is probably a good place for a search engine to start.  

These changes are essentially further developments of the helpful content update. One of the main focuses that Google has focused on in the past 2 years is website builders creating sites for humans, not search engines.  

What this means is that Google has come wise to the fact that some site developers are purely optimising their content for a search engine’s seal of approval, as opposed to helping users.  

New Spam Policies  

Google launched a series of new spam policies alongside the core update to target manipulative SEO tactics. These updated policies are aimed toward content that exploits SEO tactics and ultimately under-value user experience.  

Within these new policies, Google has addressed: 

  1. Expired Domain Abuse 

Google plans to combat expired domain abuse; the purchasing of expired domains with established backlinks, which are then repurposed to boost the ranking of low-quality content. 

  1. Site Reputation Abuse 

The strengthening of this policy will target misleading reputations based on manipulative tactics (often facilitated by AI). This is essentially low-quality content posted on a trusted domain, such as fake news or false reviews. 

  1. Scaled Content Abuse  

Regularly generating new content is one way to improve search rankings. We know this.  

To push back against mass-generated AI content, Google is strengthening its policy against automated, low-quality, inorganic content. It’s all about quality, as opposed to quantity.  

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Affected By Google’s Recent Core Updates?  

Whenever Google launches a new core update, there can always be some impact on your site’s performance. That’s to be expected. SEO isn’t a whistle-stop solution. It requires constant attention (it’s a very needy relationship).  

If you monitor your traffic and rankings regularly, you may have noticed a sudden drop. Don’t freak out. Put down the phone, it’s not an emergency. This is very normal.  

You can use analytics tools to monitor your site’s traffic patterns. Firstly, where is your traffic coming from? Organic search, referral or direct traffic? A decline in organic search could be due to an algorithm update hurting your visibility. But, if your traffic majorly comes from other sources, it could be unrelated to a core update.  

Google’s search console will provide insight into your site’s performance in SERPs. It will update/ warn you of any red flags Google has with your site so adjustments can be made accordingly.  

If you’re still struggling to recover from a core update or find it all too difficult to stay on top of, then you need the help of GrowTraffic.  

We are an award-winning digital marketing agency that is rooted in ethical SEO practices. We invest our time and efforts in creating organic content that will not only improve your rankings but is aimed at converting visitors to customers.  

We are always in the know when it comes to Google’s recent core updates. Having been in the business for so long, we recognise that consistent strategy is key. If you like to know more about how we approach content strategy or have any questions about Google’s algorithm, then please contact us.  

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