March 2024: Google core update. Prepare your website!

google search algorithm

The March 2024 core update is a more complex update than Google’s 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.

New spam policies

Google spam policies are designed to address practices that can negatively impact the quality of Google’s search results. Three new spam policies against bad practices have been growing in popularity: expired domain abuse, scaled content abuse, and site reputation abuse.

Expired domain abuse

Expired domain abuse is where an expired domain name is purchased and repurposed primarily to manipulate Search rankings by hosting content that provides little to no value to users. For example, someone might purchase a domain previously used by a medical site and repurpose that to host low quality casino-related content, hoping to be successful in Search based on the domain’s reputation from a previous ownership.

Expired domain abuse isn’t something people accidentally do. It’s a practice employed by people who hope to rank well in Search with low-value content by using the past reputation of a domain name. These domains are generally not intended for visitors to find them in any other way but through search engines. It’s fine to use an old domain name for a new, original site that’s designed to serve people first.

Scaled content abuse

Scaled content abuse is when many pages are generated for the primary purpose of manipulating Search rankings and not helping users. This abusive practice is typically focused on creating large amounts of unoriginal content that provides little to no value to users, no matter how it’s created.

This new Google search policy builds on the previous spam policy about automatically-generated content, ensuring that Google can take action on scaled content abuse as needed, no matter whether content is produced through automation, human efforts, or some combination of human and automated processes.

Site reputation abuse

Site reputation abuse is when third-party pages are published with little or no first-party oversight or involvement, where the purpose is to manipulate Search rankings by taking advantage of the first-party site’s ranking signals.

Such third-party pages include sponsored, advertising, partner, or other third-party pages that are typically independent of a host site’s main purpose or produced without close oversight or involvement of the host site, and provide little to no value to users.

Google new policy doesn’t consider all third-party content to be a violation, only that which is hosted without close oversight and which is intended to manipulate Search rankings..

To allow time for site owners to prepare for this change, this new policy will take effect starting May 5, 2024.