Recover from the Google March 2024 Core Update: Find out how

Published Date: March 7, 2024
Recover from the Google March 2024 Core Update: Find out how

Introduction

Have you noticed a sudden drop in website traffic or search rankings? You’re not alone. Google’s March 2024 core update, one of their most significant in recent years, has shaken up the search landscape. This update targeted low-quality content, potentially leaving websites that relied on thin or uninformative content gasping for air. But fear not! Recovering from this update is possible, but it requires swift action and strategic adjustments. Treat this blog as your guide, outline actionable steps to identify what went wrong, and get your website back on track. Let’s reclaim those rankings!

Basic Overview of the Update

With this latest update, Google came out with all guns blazing at content that it considered irrelevant, uninformative, and of poor quality. With several websites bulk posting AI-generated content, content totally unrelated to the website, and content with shoddy user experience, we guess Google thought it was time to be a task master and begin penalization. Here is what the update targeted:

Unhelpful Content: This update wasn’t just about penalizing irrelevant content; it went after content that offered a poor user experience or felt like it was created by machines to game the search engine, not for human readers. This included content with excessive keyword stuffing or that was very thin and lacked insights and depth.

Complex overhaul of systems: Unlike past updates, this one wasn’t a single tweak but a complex overhaul of core ranking systems. This suggests Google made significant changes to how it evaluates websites, making it harder to exploit loopholes with minor SEO tactics.

Addressing the need for a Cleaner Search Landscape: The vast amount of low-quality content was polluting search results, making it harder for users to find genuinely informative and helpful websites. By cracking down on this, Google aimed to improve the overall search experience and deliver more relevant results to user queries.

Key Takeaways from the Update

Google meant business with this update. The March 2024 core update sent shockwaves through the SEO world, emphasizing Google’s commitment to prioritizing high-quality content. Here are the key takeaways website owners need to understand:

Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, & Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T): Google has placed a stronger emphasis on E-A-T, favoring websites that reflect expertise in their field through rich content. This means content needs to be created by credible sources, backed by evidence, and offer unique insights or value not readily found elsewhere.

Prioritizing User-Centric Content: Websites that prioritize user experience rose in rankings. Content that is clear, concise, well-structured, and addresses the user’s search intent directly is prioritized. Generic content or pages riddled with intrusive ads likely saw significant ranking drops.

Low-Quality, AI-Generated Content is a NO: While Google isn’t against AI content per se, the update targeted content generated solely to manipulate search rankings. Thin, unoriginal content churned out by machines likely saw significant penalties.

Outdated & Error-Riddled Sites: Websites with outdated information, broken links, or poor mobile responsiveness were heavily impacted. Google prioritizes fresh, well-maintained websites that offer a seamless user experience across all devices.

No Website is Immune: No matter how established a website was, the update impacted everyone. Even large websites with legacy content could see ranking drops if that content wasn’t deemed valuable or up-to-date by Google’s new standards.

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Google’s New Spam Policies

Google’s March 2024 core update wasn’t just about tweaking its ranking algorithm; it also coincided with an update to its official spam policies. Here’s a breakdown of the key additions:

Cracking Down on Expired Domain Abuse: This new policy targets websites that were previously legitimate but have since expired and been purchased by spammers. These websites are often filled with low-quality content aimed at manipulating search rankings.

Combating Site Reputation Abuse: Google is now taking a tougher stance on websites with a history of negative user experiences, spammy tactics, or malware distribution. This can impact websites that have been hacked or used for malicious purposes in the past.

Reshaping “Scaled Content Abuse”: Previously known as “spammy auto-generated content,” this policy now has a broader scope. It tackles websites that rely heavily on automatically generated content that lacks originality or value to users. This includes content farms that churn out vast amounts of thin content to manipulate search results.

It’s important to note that these new policies complement the core update’s focus on user experience and high-quality content. By addressing these specific spam tactics, Google aims to further clean up search results and make them more trustworthy for users.

Effects of the Google March 2024 Core Update

The March 2024 update wasn’t just a slap on the wrist for low-quality content; it came with a powerful tool: deindexing. Here’s a breakdown of how it impacted websites:

Deindexing:

This update saw a significant increase in deindexed websites, meaning they were completely removed from Google Search results. This primarily targeted websites that were deemed to be blatant offenders, such as those filled with AI-generated content or irrelevant spam.

Why the Forceful Action? Google took this aggressive approach to send a clear message: low-quality content has no place in search results. By deindexing these websites, they aimed to improve the overall user experience and make search results more trustworthy.

Traffic and Revenue Loss: Many websites saw a dramatic drop in organic search traffic after the update, particularly those heavily reliant on low-quality content or outdated SEO tactics. This translated to potential revenue loss for websites that depended on ad traffic or affiliate marketing for income.

The Long-Term Impact: The future of these websites depends on their ability to adapt. Businesses that prioritize high-quality content creation and website improvements can potentially recover their traffic and revenue. However, those who continue with outdated practices risk permanent decline.

Shifts in Affiliate Marketing: Websites that relied on thin affiliate content reviews or product descriptions likely saw a significant drop in rankings. The update prioritizes content with genuine value and user experience, pushing affiliate marketers to create content that goes beyond simply listing product features.

Building Trust Through Value: The new landscape rewards affiliate marketers who provide in-depth reviews, comparisons, or tutorials that help users make informed decisions. This shift promotes transparency and trust, ultimately benefiting both the user and the affiliate marketer.

How to Improve Your Search Engine Rankings and Organic Traffic in the Post-March 2024 Update Era

Here’s what you need to do to thrive in this new environment:

Quality Content Creation:

Go beyond keywords and understand what users are truly looking for when they perform a search. Craft content that directly addresses their search intent, providing solutions, answering questions, and offering valuable insights.

Prioritize in-depth content that dives deep into a topic. Think comprehensive guides, detailed tutorials, or well-researched articles and whitepapers that establish your website as a trusted resource.

Back up your claims with data, statistics, and credible sources. This builds trust and establishes your content’s authority on the subject matter.

Break up long text with subheadings, bullet points, and clear visuals. Ensure your content is scannable and easy to digest for readers on the go.

Prioritize E-E-A-T Signals:

Authority: Google wants to know who is writing your content. Are they credible sources? Are they experts? A good starting point would be to create an about us page (if applicable) and individual author profile pages to highlight the expertise of your authors. With this, you establish transparency and E-E-A-T. Encourage your authors to contribute to other publications to build their credibility. You can even invite subject matter experts to write guest blogs for your site.

Trustworthiness for Users: This is one of the most important aspects of Google’s ranking. As mentioned above, be clear about who creates your content. Edit your content for accuracy and cite trustworthy sources to back up your claims. This builds trust and establishes your content as an authority. Most importantly, focus on user experience and avoid bombarding your audience with intrusive ads. A secure connection and a clean website go a long way in gaining Google’s trust.

Leverage User-Generated Content: Rather than you being the sole content creator for your brand, you can leverage UGC (any type of content created by consumers or website users other than the brand). According to a study, 79% of online shoppers say that UGC influences their buying decisions. What does UGC include? Images, video and audio testimonials, reviews, blog posts, YouTube videos etc. You can read more about leveraging UGC here. We had a high success rate by leveraging UGC for our client Tynker. You can read the case study here

Avoiding Spammy Content and AI Misuse:

Don’t rely solely on AI-generated content. Use AI tools as a starting point for research or brainstorming but prioritize human editing and content creation for a more natural and valuable user experience. Create original content that offers unique perspectives and insights. Repurposed content from other sources might not rank well, especially if it doesn’t add significant value. If you do use AI for content creation, be transparent about it. Disclose the role of AI in your content creation process and ensure the final product is well-written, informative, and edited by humans.

Ethical SEO Practices:

Focus on long-term SEO strategies that prioritize user experience and high-quality content. Avoid black-hat tactics like keyword stuffing or link buying, as these can lead to penalties. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and optimized for a seamless user experience across all devices. Google prioritizes mobile-first indexing, so a responsive website design is crucial. Link relevant pages within your website to create a strong information architecture. This helps users navigate your website easily and improves Google’s understanding of your content.

Set a timeframe for regularly auditing your existing content. Look for outdated information, broken links, or content that no longer meets user needs.

Who Was Impacted?

Following the March 2024 Core Update, Google has deindexed 1.7% of the 49,345 websites analyzed, as detailed by Nichesite Metrics. This action specifically targets sites heavily utilizing AI-generated content. Notable examples include:  popularnetworth.com ,fresherslive.com

 Conclusion

Are you feeling overwhelmed? You don’t have to navigate this alone!

AdLift’s team of SEO experts can help you analyze your website, identify areas for improvement, and develop a customized strategy to recover your rankings and boost organic traffic.

Contact AdLift today for a free consultation! We’ll help you navigate the ever-changing SEO landscape and ensure your website thrives in the post-March 2024 update era.
Read more about Google Algorithm Updates

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