Rebel Insights

A Guide to Google’s Algorithm Updates and Changes in 2024

A Guide to Google’s Algorithm Updates and Changes in 2024

Helpful Links

A Brief Guide to Google’s New E-E-A-T Strategy

FAQ: Everything You Need to Know About Google’s Core Updates

What You Need to Know About Google’s Helpful Content Update

A Guide to Google’s Algorithm Updates and Changes in 2023

How to Optimize Your Website for Search

The March 2024 Core Update Is Complete

Google recently announced that the March 2024 core update was completed on April 19, but did not actually announce its completion until a week later on April 26. In total, the update took 45 days to complete and caused tremendous volatility across the open web during its rollout.

In its post on X (formerly Twitter), Google included a link to a form for publishers to submit feedback about the update, as well as resources on how to recover from dips in search traffic.

Some publishers reported a 60% drop in traffic as the update was rolling out. The reports of huge traffic hits were not unexpected — Google said in its announcement to expect the March 2024 core update to be more complex than usual because it involves updates to multiple core systems. Google is notoriously vague about the details of its updates, but they did say that the March 2024 core update “marks an evolution” in how they identify the “helpfulness of content.”

💡 Reminder: In August 2022, Google rolled out a major algorithm update dubbed the “helpful content update.” The helpful content update uses machine learning to deprioritize content that isn’t, well, helpful. According to Google, that includes content that is unoriginal, is low quality, and was created primarily for search engines — not for the benefit of users. Since its initial rollout, Google will periodically make adjustments to algorithms to continue to prioritize content that is considered helpful to users. Click here to learn more.

Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product at Google Search, told SEO expert Barry Schwartz that the March 2024 core update officially made helpful content part of its core ranking systems. Like mentioned above, helpful content updates would previously roll out individually. With this change, helpful content updates will now be a part of core updates.

"This update involves refining some of our core ranking systems to help us better understand if webpages are unhelpful, have a poor user experience, or feel like they were created for search engines instead of people. This could include sites created primarily to match very specific search queries.

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%,” Tucker said.

Google said there’s nothing content creators need to do to adjust to this core update, except — of course — to create helpful, reliable content for users. Luckily, Google did publish a new FAQ page about what qualifies as helpful content. Click here to check it out.

Schwartz put together a brief list of what he knows so far about the March 2024 core update over at SEO Roundtable:

  • Name: Google March 2024 Broad Core Update
  • Launched: March 5, 2024 at around 12 p.m. ET.
  • Rollout: Completed 45 days later on April 26, 2024 at around 4:09 p.m. ET.
  • Targets: It looks at all types of content.
  • Penalty: It is not a penalty; it promotes or rewards great webpages.
  • Global: This is a global update impacting all regions, in all languages.
  • Impact: Google said it will result in a 45% reduction in low-quality unoriginal and unhelpful content in its search results.
  • Discover: Core updates impact Google Discover and other features; also feature snippets and more.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google's core update advice.
  • Refreshes: Google will do periodic refreshes to this algorithm, but may not communicate those updates in the future.

Fluctuations in web traffic could still occur even after this core update is completed. Click here to learn more about how you can prepare for core updates.

March 2024 Spam Update Completed

Also on March 5, 2024, Google rolled out a new spam update that took 14 days to complete. In this update, Google targeted three malicious practices that they’ve seen has become more prevalent across the web:

  1. Expired Domain Abuse: This is when someone uses an expired domain to take advantage of the previous owner’s search visibility to post low-value content. Click here for more information.
  2. Scaled Content Abuse: This type of spam is when someone generates numerous pages of low-value content to manipulate search rankings. The new policy around scaled content abuse in the March 2024 spam update has expanded to include auto-generated content, allowing action against scaled content abuse regardless of whether it's created through automation, human effort, or a combination of the two. Click here for more information.
  3. Site Reputation Abuse: This occurs when a site publishes third-party pages with little oversight from a first party to manipulate search rankings. Often these pages are full of advertising content that serves no value to readers. Google's new policy distinguishes acceptable third-party content, such as native advertising, which doesn't intend to manipulate rankings and serves regular readers, from abusive practices. Click here for more information.

Much like frequent core updates are centered around the continued prioritization of helpful content, Google will also periodically tweak its existing regulations around spam content with updates throughout the year. Click here for even more details from Google about the March 2024 spam update.

Keeping up with Google Search’s updates is a huge undertaking for publishers and content creators that already have a huge task at hand — creating an experience that builds loyal audiences. At RebelMouse, we anticipate these algorithm changes proactively, and continue to update our platform and guide our clients on how to maintain maximum visibility across search no matter what.

If you would like to stay ahead of the search game, let’s connect to figure out how we can work together and grow your business.

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