Google March 2024 Core Update Rolling Out - It's A Big Core Update

Mar 6, 2024 - 7:51 am 1245 by
Filed Under Google Updates

Google Core Update Content Paper

Google announced the March 2024 core update has now started to roll out and that this core update will take up to a month to fully roll out because it has updates to a few systems within the core ranking system. Google's Helpful content system is now also part of the core update.

In addition, Google also released the March 2024 spam updates, with new spam policies. I dig into those spam updates and policy changes in super detail over here.

Google says this core update should lead to a reduction in unhelpful, low-quality, unoriginal content in its search results by 40%. I spoke with Google in detail about this update, so this story will go through what I know about this March 2024 core update. I also covered this in detail at Search Engine Land.

Maybe this set of updates will resolve most of those search quality issues we've all seen over the past several weeks. Maybe this is what Google has been telling us (not) to buckle up for and has been coming to improve search quality for many months now - is this the Google answer.

It is important to note that with this March 2024 core update, Google will be pushing out updates to different systems with in the overall core system throughout the next few weeks. So you will likely see a lot of fluctuations on various days over the next 3-4 weeks. Google even said this update will result in more ranking changes than previous core updates.

Currently, I am seeing some limited chatter about ranking volatility but nothing out of the norm. Plus the tracking tools are not spiking yet. I am not sure if this update has kicked in just yet.

Google March 2024 Core Update Quick Facts:

Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:

  • Name: Google March 2024 Broad Core Update
  • Launched: March 5, 2024 at around 12 pm ET
  • Rollout: Rolled out over 45 days completing on April 19, 2024
  • Targets: It looks at all types of content
  • Penalty: It is not a penalty, it promotes or rewards great web pages
  • Global: This is a global update impacting all regions, in all languages.
  • Impact: Google said it will result in a 40% 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. Maybe this is what we saw the past couple of weeks or all those unconfirmed Google updates.

Here is the post on X of this:

March 2024 Core Update Details

I spoke with a few people at Google about this, including Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product at Google Search. I will say Elizabeth Tucker really knew this update inside and out and it was refreshing talking with her.

This core update is unlike most previous core updates in that Google will push this update out over three to four weeks. There will be multiple updates to the core ranking system within this timeframe. Elizabeth Tucker told me that several core ranking systems will be updated in this time frame, they are all part of the overall core ranking system but each one will be updated within that system. So you might think you are fine and not hit by this core update today, but next week, you might get hit by another core system update to this March 2024 core update. Google will let us know when this update is done rolling out but until then, you may be hit by something core update related during this 3-4 week period.

Elizabeth said, "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%," she wrote.

Chris Nelson from the Search Quality team added, "The March 2024 core update is a more complex update than our usual core updates, involving changes to multiple core systems. It also marks an evolution in how we identify the helpfulness of content." "As 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, as different systems get fully updated and reinforce each other," he added.

Also, Chirs Nelson added that there is "nothing new or special that creators need to do for this update as long as they’ve been making satisfying content meant for people. For those that might not be ranking as well, we strongly encourage reading our creating helpful, reliable, people-first content help page."

Helpful Content Update Now Part Of The Core Updates

You read that right, there is no more standalone Helpful content update - it is now incorporated into the core ranking system. If you read what Elizabeth Tucker wrote, she said, "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." She referenced the first efforts of the 2022 helpful content update and says "we began tuning our ranking systems to reduce unhelpful, unoriginal content on Search and keep it at very low levels. We're bringing what we learned from that work into the March 2024 core update."

So yea, the helpful content system is now part of the core ranking system - no more updates on that going forward. I do wonder how many of you may recover with this March 2024 core update from the Septmeber 2023 helpful content update - time will tell...

Previous Broad Core Updates

Here is a list of the most recent core updates we've seen since Google started to confirm them. Previously we nicknamed them Phantom updates or unconfirmed updates.

Previous Helpful Content Update Impact

Here is the list of the previous Google helpful content updates:

SEO Chatter

Here is some of the chatter within the SEO community around this March 2024 core update (and some on the spam update). Keep in mind, the chatter around the impact of this update will take a few weeks to fully see and we will keep you updated on that.

John Mueller from Google said on LinkedIn:

While we're always working on improving the quality of Google Search results, we just announced some changes which feel a bit bigger: the March 2024 core update & new spam policies.

When we make bigger updates to Google's Search systems, we tend to call them "core updates". There's a bunch involved with this particular update (though not 10 million changes, which is why we stuck with 'core' instead of 'crore'). It will likely take a month to be completely visible. If you're looking at the search results for something, I hope you find that they're better & more helpful in the end (and, I know, if you're working on a website of your own, then 'better' will be hard to decouple from how your website's visibility in search changes :-)).

We have some of the details in our blog post at https://lnkd.in/ehXZpBJ7 - check it out if you're curious. The new policies are also linked from there. One of them won't go into effect until May, so if you're affected by that, then you have a bit of time to get things into a better shape.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a smooth roll-out (the team here is amazing!) and curious about your feedback.

Chatter:

Here is some of the chatter from X, WebmasterWorld and the hundreds of comments here:

I am seeing some early chatter about ranking changes but nothing out of the daily norm. I am not sure if this update kicked in just yet.

Here is some of that chatter:

Big drop. If this is March core & spam update and their answer to AI spam, then Google is in trouble - even bigger than before.

Huge drop... Here we go again...

One of my oldest domain suddenly has been removed from the search engine, I hope this is a bug jesus...

I am wondering if those seeing really big delistings are the ones that got hit by the new manual actions for those spam policies? I am not yet seeing massive ranking volatility on the algorithmic level.

Google Tracking Tools On March 2024 Core Update:

Here is what the tools are showing so far (it will take time for this one to roll out) from the tools:

SERPmetrics:

Serpmetrics

Semrush:

Semrush

Accuranker:

Accuranker

Cognitive SEO:

Cognitiveseo

SimilarWeb:

Similarweb

Mangools:

Mangools

Mozcast:

Mozcast

Advanced Web Rankings:

Advancedwebranking

Wincher:

Wincher

SERPstat:

Serpstat

Algoroo:

Algoroo

Will this solve many of those search quality issues? What do you all think?

80% of you think not:

Forum discussion at X, Black Hat World and WebmasterWorld.

 

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