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Google’s March 2024 core update

Mar 12, 2024

By Carla Crichton, SEO Account Manager at B2B SEO agency, Extramile Digital.

Brace yourself, it’s a big one.

Google has announced that it is rolling out another core update this month, aiming to improve the quality of search by showing less content it believes is designed just to attract clicks. 

Google’s blog post on the topic says: “this is a complex update, the rollout may take up to a month. It’s likely there will be more fluctuations in rankings than with a regular core update.” 

New spam policies and manual checks

The new spam policies are probably the most relevant part of this update for our B2B clients. Sites that violate Google’s updated spam policies may rank lower in results or not appear in SERPs at all. 

Even more alarmingly, Google is carrying out manual checks on websites. If affected by a spam manual action, site owners will receive a notice through their registered Search Console account that a page has been deindexed. Site owners can then apply to have the action reconsidered.

Google Manual Website Spam Checklist

Manual checks are trying to catch the following:

• Hidden text or links

• Keyword stuffing

• Link spam

• Scaled content abuse

• User generated spam

• Sneaky redirects

• Scraped content

The chances are, you don’t do any of these things on your website. We certainly don’t practise any of these strategies with our SEO clients, nor would we recommend doing so. That said, we will be keeping a close eye on our client’s Search Console accounts, just in case one of those manual checks goes wrong and flags a website incorrectly.

It looks like around 2% of websites are getting hit by the manual checks. Of these websites:

• 100% of the penalised websites had some posts that were AI-generated

• 50% of the penalised websites had 90%-100% of their posts as AI-generated

AI Spam Content Stats

The verdict?

The chatter in the SEO world on this core update is interesting. Some are celebrating its arrival, saying it is much needed. Arguably, SERPs have degraded over the last six months, and Google has lost control over the game it created. Quality content wasn’t always winning over the black hat methods (think key-word stuffing, mass-generated AI spam and anything else that cheats the system).

Other people are more apprehensive, particularly with the changes to spam policies. Some have referred to Google’s definitions as “ambiguous” and others say “you never know what to expect with Google”.

Of course, we hope this update solves a lot of problems, but we won’t really know until the dust has settled. For now, keep a close eye on your Google Search Console accounts, just in case you get hit by a manual check!

If you need help riding the Google algorithm waves, you are welcome to reach out to B2B SEO agency Extramile Digital. We have a range of SEO services, to help you rank well and be viewed as authoritative by Google.