Google’s March Core and Spam Updates Are Going After Low-Quality Content

march google updates 2024After a long winter, Google has finally come back to life to start March off with a curveball. On March 5, Google announced the release of core and spam updates.

And these aren’t just any regular updates because Google has warned us that both aim to improve search result quality by demoting low-value content and cracking down on manipulative practices.

Here Is What We Know

  • Google typically aims to avoid two updates at once, but the Google Search team ultimately decided to do so if it meant they could improve search results.
  • Google’s Helpful Content System is now fully integrated into its core ranking algorithm. This means content that prioritizes user needs and provides genuine value will see a boost.
  • Google is aiming to reduce the amount of unhelpful content in search engine results by 40%.
  • Unoriginal content, especially AI content churned out to target specific keywords, will likely be penalized:

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  • The new spam updates target practices like expired domain misuse and scaled content creation via AI.
  • There will be another update on May 5 for reputation abuse, which targets sites that host low-quality content provided by third parties that capitalize on the domain’s authority.
  • Given the size and complexity of these updates, the rollout is expected to take at least a month, which is two weeks longer than normal. You can track progress via Google’s search status dashboard.
  • Several “pure spam” manual actions happened to be sent out to website owners in the days surrounding the rollouts. However, Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, says these notices are not connected to the updates:

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Has the Google Team Changed Their Minds on AI and Forums?

In a blog post regarding the updates, Google reps made a point to address the company’s views on AI content in terms of spam. Here is what they had to say:

“Our long-standing spam policy has been that use of automation, including generative AI, is spam if the primary purpose is manipulating ranking in Search results. The updated policy is in the same spirit of our previous policy and based on the same principle. It’s been expanded to account for more sophisticated scaled content creation methods where it isn’t always clear whether low-quality content was created purely through automation.”

And you may have also noticed in recent weeks that Reddit and other forums are now regularly appearing in search results. While Google has explained that first-person perspectives are important for many searchers, some users have not been happy with the change.

Barry Schwartz was able to talk to a Google representative about the subject:

“We know that for some queries, people are really seeking out content that comes from other people with relevant experiences. We want to surface content that people are looking for, in cases where it’s helpful. There is high-quality and low-quality content across all content types – including user-generated forum and discussion content. Our goal is to surface the best of the web, and we believe these ranking improvements will help us surface higher-quality discussion/forum content for searches where it’s helpful – and will help us get better at detecting when such content is truly helpful.”

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Sarah Blocksidge

About the Author

Sarah Blocksidge

Sarah is the Marketing Director at Sixth City Marketing and has been with the company since 2016. Her main role is to attract more B2B clients for the company. Over the years, she has been mentioned on HubSpot, Content Marketing Institute, Fast Company, Mashable, and many other notable sites.

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