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Outreach Monks

Google March 2024 Core And Spam Update: Your Proactive Response Guide To Future-Proof Your Website

Latest Google's March Core And Spam Updates

Google launched a major update in March 2024 to fight low-quality content and crack down on spam. This included both a core algorithm update and expanded spam policies targeting manipulative tactics like content scaling, expired domain abuse, and site reputation abuse.

The Goal:  Google wants you to find helpful, trustworthy information more easily.  

This commitment is serious: 

“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%.” – Elizabeth Tucker, Director, Product Management Google.

What This Means for You:  Websites relying on outdated SEO tricks or thin content need to adapt.  This article will explain the changes and the action steps you must take to stay ahead in search results.

Section 1: So, What’s Behind These Updates

SEO

Google wants you to find the best answers to your questions quickly and easily. Their March 2024 update focused on making this happen.  Let’s break down what changed and why it matters to your website…

Google March 2024 Core Update

In March 2024, Google released a major update to its core search ranking systems. These updates are rolled out periodically to continually improve the quality of search results.  This update was more complex than usual, so website owners might see some ranking fluctuations initially as the changes fully roll out.  It’s important to remember that Google’s understanding of content quality isn’t based on any single factor. Their systems are constantly evolving to find websites that demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

What Changed: Google is always refining how it identifies which websites are truly helpful and reliable. This update was significant, involving changes to multiple systems designed to better understand and surface content that genuinely answers people’s questions.

Why This Matters: Websites that rely on outdated tactics to “trick” search engines will find it harder to rank well.  Focusing on creating content that genuinely helps your audience aligns you with Google’s direction, positioning your site for greater success.

Helpful Content Update Now Permanent

Google’s focus on rewarding helpful content is here to stay.  In March 2024, they made this focus a permanent part of their core ranking systems.

“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,” stated Elizabeth Tucker, Director, Product Management Google.

Why It Matters:  You can’t game the system with content designed solely to please search engines. To rank well, your website needs to genuinely address the questions and needs of your target audience.

March 2024 Spam Updates

spam

Google got even tougher on spam in March 2024.  They expanded their spam policies to specifically target manipulative practices that try to artificially boost search rankings.

Key Targets:

Why It Matters: These tactics used to work, but now they can hurt your website’s rankings.  Google is focused on rewarding websites that earn their place in search results through high-quality content and legitimate techniques.

Let’s take a closer look at each new spam type:

Scaled Content Abuse

  • The Problem: Websites churning out massive amounts of low-quality content, often with little regard for accuracy or user value. This can be human-written or AI-generated.
  • Why It Matters: This pollutes search results, making it harder for users to find what they need.
  • Example: A website with hundreds of generic, unhelpful product descriptions, often focusing on the same few popular items.

Site Reputation Abuse (aka Parasite SEO)

  • The Problem: Attempting to game search rankings by publishing low-quality content on trusted, high-authority websites (guest posts, comments, etc.).
  • Why it Matters: This damages the reputation of the host site and can mislead users who expect quality information from those sources.
  • Example: A reputable tech blog unknowingly accepts a poorly written guest post stuffed with affiliate links for unrelated products.

Expired Domain Abuse

  • The Problem: Repurposing expired domains primarily for their existing search ranking power, often ignoring whether the new content is relevant to the domain’s history or the original audience’s expectations
  • Why it Matters: This can be deceptive to users, as they may land on a site expecting one type of content and get something completely different, harming their search experience.
  • Example: An expired domain for a photography blog gets purchased by a company selling electronics, with no connection to the original site’s topic.

Section 2: Is Your Site at Risk?

The best way to know if your website is aligned with Google’s updates is to take a critical look at your content and practices.  Be honest with yourself – cutting corners to rank well worked in the past, but now it could damage your search visibility. Let’s identify any areas where your site might be at risk.

Warning Signs

These red flags indicate your website might be negatively affected by the March 2024 Google update. The more of these you find, the more urgent it is to adapt.

Content Issues:

  • Thin or Overly Short Articles: Content lacking depth or substance.
  • Keyword Stuffing: Unnaturally cramming keywords in, making content hard to read.
  • Reshaping Existing Information: Providing no new insights or value beyond what’s already easily found online.
  • AI-Generated Content (If Not Carefully Edited): Content created primarily by AI tools without thorough human review for quality and helpfulness.
  • Writing for Search Engines, Not People: Content that prioritizes technical tricks over genuinely addressing user needs.

What is Quality Content?

Quality content gives your audience what they’re actually looking for when they use a search engine. It answers their questions, solves their problems, or provides the information they need in a clear, helpful way. This type of content naturally satisfies the intent behind their search.

Site Tactics:

  • Excessive, Irrelevant Backlinks: Unnatural-looking links from low-quality sites.
  • Participating in Link Schemes: Any attempt to manipulate rankings with purchased or artificial links.
  • Low-Quality Guest Posting: Publishing thin content on other sites just for links.
  • Misusing Expired Domains: Repurposing domains unrelated to your niche, purely for their existing ranking power.

What Could Happen If You Ignore the Changes

Ignoring the shift towards quality content and ethical SEO practices poses risks, including:

  • Ranking Drops: Your website could lose visibility in search results.
  • Manual Penalties: Google could take direct action against your site for spammy tactics.
  • Loss of User Trust: If visitors have a poor experience, they won’t return to your site.

Here Is What You Need To Do

If your self-assessment revealed red flags, don’t panic! Here’s where to start:

  • Thin or Low-Quality Content: Identify your weakest articles and begin rewriting or removing them.
  • Risky Backlinks: Create a list of potentially harmful backlinks (irrelevant sites, link schemes). Start a plan for disavowing or requesting removal.
  • Guest Post Opportunities: Research high-quality, relevant sites in your niche where you could contribute valuable content.
  • Expired Domains (If Applicable): If you’re considering this strategy, carefully research any domain’s history and relevance before purchasing.

Remember: These are just the first steps.  Our “How To Adapt (Section 3)” will provide detailed guidance on how to address these issues and future-proof your website.

Section 3: How To Adapt

change

Now, that you know about the latest Google core update, lets explore, how to overcome and adapt:

The Content Audit: A Step-by-Step Guide

A thorough content audit helps you identify and fix existing issues aligned with Google’s update. More importantly, it reveals patterns in your content that could lead to problems in the future.

Step 1:  Gather Your Data

  • Use a website crawler (like Screaming Frog) to get a complete list of URLs and basic content data.
  • Export search analytics (Search Console data) to see which pages get little to no traffic.

Step 2: Identify Red Flags

  • Thin Content: Look for pages with very low word counts.
  • Keyword Stuffing: Use the “Find” function (Ctrl+F) to check for overused target keywords.
  • Duplication: Use a plagiarism checker (Copyscape) or search for phrases from your content on Google to find copied text.
  • Low-Value Content: Ask yourself, “Would I recommend this page to someone in my industry?” If the answer is no, it needs improvement.

Step 3: Prioritize Your Fixes

  • Focus on Traffic Potential: Start with low-traffic pages that align with important keywords.
  • Worst Offenders First: Tackle the most obvious spam violations (e.g., heavily keyword-stuffed content)
  • Decision Time: For each problem page:
    • Improve: Rewrite or expand to provide unique value.
    • Consolidate: Combine thin articles into a stronger resource. 
    • Remove: Get rid of content that offers nothing of value.

Tools to Help:

  • Screaming Frog (Crawling)
  • Copyscape (Plagiarism checks)
  • Google Search Console and GA4 (Traffic analysis)

Future-Proofing Your Content Creation

Google’s focus on quality isn’t temporary. To succeed long-term, you need to shift from gaming the system to genuinely serving your audience.

1.  Embrace E-E-A-T

  • Expertise: Demonstrate that you know your topic well. Cite sources and partner with true experts if needed.
  • Experience: Where possible, share firsthand knowledge or insights that set your content apart.
  • Authoritativeness: Build a reputation in your niche through consistent quality content and natural backlinks.
  • Trustworthiness: Be transparent and focus on helping your audience, not just ranking.

2. Think Topics, Not Just Keywords

  • Broaden Your Perspective: A single keyword can have multiple search intents. Understand the full range of questions people are asking about a topic.
  • Build Topical Authority: Create in-depth content on various aspects of a core topic, demonstrating your expertise across the board.
  • Tools to Help: MarketMuse, Semrush, and others offer topic analysis features.

3. The “So What?” Test

Before publishing anything, ask yourself:

  • What value does this provide to my readers?
  • Could they easily find this information elsewhere?
  • Does this showcase my unique expertise?

If you can’t give strong answers, go back to the drawing board.

Action Step: Pick a core topic in your niche.  Use a combination of tools and manual research to answer:

  • What are the main subtopics and related questions users have?
  • What content formats are currently ranking well for those queries (articles, videos, etc.)?

Section 4: Beyond the Updates

The March 2024 Google update was a wake-up call for many website owners. But it’s also an opportunity. Those who embrace the shift towards quality and user experience will set themselves up for long-term success.  Let’s look at how to stay ahead of the curve.

Google Will Keep Evolving. You Should Too

Google’s March 2024 update was a major turning point, but it’s not the end of the story.   Algorithms will continue to evolve, and so must your website strategy.

  • Stay Informed: Follow reputable SEO resources to keep up with changes in how Google evaluates quality.
  • Prioritize Your Users: Focus on creating content and building a site that provides genuine value. This is the best way to future-proof your SEO efforts.

A Final Checklist for Success

  • Audit Your Content Regularly: Identify and improve thin, outdated, or duplicate pages.
  • Re-evaluate Your Backlinks: Aim for quality, relevant links from trusted websites.
  • Write with E-E-A-T in Mind: Prioritize expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in your content.
  • Invest in High-Quality Guest Posts: Build relationships and provide value on reputable sites.

Call to Action

The best time to adapt is now!  Revise your guest posting strategy. Target sites where you can deliver truly helpful content to a relevant audience. This is a key step towards sustainable SEO success.

Resources to Stay Updated:

Conclusion

The March 2024 update was a clear sign that focusing on user experience is no longer optional. By prioritizing helpful content and ethical SEO practices, you’ll future-proof your website and build lasting visibility in search results.

Frequently Asked Questions

My site has hundreds of blog posts. Is there a faster way to find the bad ones?

Yes! Tools like Screaming Frog can crawl your website and flag potential issues like thin content and over-optimized titles.

Should I ditch my old keyword research strategies?

Not completely, but expand your focus. Think about the problems your audience needs to solve, not just the words they search.

I need backlinks fast! Are services that offer hundreds of links a good idea?

Absolutely not! These links can hurt your website's rankings.

How do I find high-quality guest post opportunities?

Start by identifying well-respected blogs and websites in your niche that accept guest contributions.

Can I still rank well if I'm not an expert in my field?

Yes, but transparency is key. Cite your sources and consider partnering with a true expert.

Are AI content tools completely off-limits now?

They can be helpful, but always edit AI-generated content carefully to ensure it's accurate and aligns with your brand voice.

Sahil Ahuja

Sahil Ahuja

Sahil Ahuja, the founder of Outreach Monks and a digital marketing expert, has over a decade of experience in SEO and quality link-building. He also successfully runs an e-commerce brand by name Nolabels and continually explores new ways to promote online growth. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn profile.

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