A closer look at the latest Google Core Update

Google released a new Core Update on March 5th 2024 that has turned the digital world on its head. Predicted to have as big an impact as the famous panda and penguin updates, this latest Core Update is already taking victims. Some AI-generated websites and content are being completely deindexed and many sites are receiving penalties for low-quality content or excess spam. So, what exactly does this new update aim to do and what changes will it bring about?

In this blog, we take a closer look at the March 2024 Core Update and what it means for content marketers and creators moving forward.

What are Google’s Core Updates?

Before we talk about the March 2024 update, let’s go back to basics. What is a Core Update? Well, Google is constantly evolving the way its search algorithm works, making major changes multiple times a year. The company calls these more significant changes Core Updates. Google announces these updates on a dedicated page, detailing the exact nature of the update and what has changed.

These updates can cause pages to perform better or worse than they previously had, as the algorithm changes the way that it functions and what types of content and web pages it prioritizes. Google emphasizes that these updates do not target individual pages or sites but instead change how the algorithm interacts with content as a whole.

On its site, Google likens Core Updates to making a list of your favorite movies. In 2023, you might create a list of your top 10 movies but come 2024, you might swap some out for new releases or movies you hadn’t previously seen. The Core Updates are the same — Google is adjusting based on new information.

What happened during the March 2024 Core Update?

What happened during the March 2024 Core Update

So, what’s in this latest March 2024 Core Update and why do we care? Well, according to the official announcement from Google, this update focuses on two key areas. Let’s take a gander at each in turn.

Improved quality ranking

What they said: “We’re making algorithmic enhancements to our core ranking systems to ensure we surface the most helpful information on the web and reduce unoriginal content in search results.”

What it means: Essentially, Google has been messing with its algorithm’s ranking system since 2022 in an attempt to remove as much of the unhelpful and unoriginal content that appears on its search pages as possible. The company predicts that these changes could cut down low-quality content in users’ search results by 40%.

Specifically, this new ranking system will look to see if pages are unhelpful, have a poor user experience, or seem as if they have been written for search engines instead of people.

People-first content

This last point — whether content has been written for search engines instead of people — is the key one for content marketers. We’ve spoken about search engine optimization (SEO) many times on this blog. Using relevant keywords, fine-tuning meta descriptions, and ensuring your content is easy to read are all crucial for getting your content to rank on Google.

However, it can be tempting to make SEO your only focus when creating content. If content is created with the sole purpose of ranking on Google, this should lead to more traffic and more people finding your site, right? Well, not anymore.

SEO should be the icing on the cake of your content, not the main goal.

With this new update, Google is punishing this approach and encouraging content creators to keep the true goal of content creation in mind — providing relevant, original, and helpful content to the audience.

Here at Scribly, our approach has always been to ensure we create work that is designed for people to read, not Google. SEO should be the icing on the cake of your content, just giving it the last push it needs to get noticed, not the main goal.

At the end of the day, it’s people who will read your work and hopefully engage with your services, not search engines.

Cutting down on spam

What they said: “We’re updating our spam policies to keep the lowest-quality content out of Search, like expired websites repurposed as spam repositories by new owners and obituary spam.” 

What it means: While the first prong of Google’s attack is focused on promoting high-quality content, this prong is looking at penalizing spam content. Google is doing this by focusing on three key areas:

  • Scaled content abuse — Looking for low-quality content that has been produced at scale simply to take up real estate online. This often involves the use of automation or AI
  • Site reputation abuse — Penalizing sites that host low-quality, third-party content with the primary goal being to take advantage of the host site’s good reputation in order to rank more highly
  • Expired domain abuse — Identifying when expired domains have been purchased and repurposed into low-quality content farms relying on the website’s previously good reputation and ranking to deliver poor content to the top of Google

The key message to take here is that the focus for content marketers should not be on trying to “game” the system through underhanded means. Instead, we should be focusing on producing the best possible content for our audience and trusting that Google will recognize its value.

A crackdown on AI-generate content?

AI has been a huge boon for many industries but also something of a curse. In recent times, we have seen an explosion of AI-generated content online, with people creating reams of low-quality content to save time and money and hopefully, trick Google into delivering this content to their audience just based on the fact that there is so much of it.

However, this new core update looks set to spell the end for this approach and Google has reportedly already manually de-indexed over 1000 websites that were built using AI.

We don’t use AI to write any of our content at Scribly. While we recognize the value of these tools when used thoughtfully, in our opinion, content should be written for humans, by humans. When you stray away from using real people to create your content, you risk having content that is produced for no other reason than to take up space and trick the algorithm into thinking that it is valuable.

March 2024 Core Update key takeaways

March 2024 Core Update key takeaways

This latest core update is basically Google’s way of trying to encourage content creators to focus on creating high-value, high-quality content that is aimed at pleasing real people, not its algorithm. The aim, ultimately, is that search results will now deliver more useful, relevant content produced by humans and less spam churned out by AI.

As content marketers, we have to focus on creating the best content that we possibly can to ensure that Google’s algorithm will see its merits. 

Get help with your SEO-optimization

Has your website been a victim of this latest core update? Finding your pages aren’t ranking like they used to, or worse, have been completely de-indexed? Get in touch with Scribly today and find out how we can help you produce original, helpful, top-notch content that gets seen by your audience!