March 2024 Core Update: Did You Survive?


Breaking Down Google’s Most Complex Core Update Yet

Covering an update that began to roll out almost two months ago? Yep, that’s right. The March 2024 core update took 45 days to roll out and not only that, Google didn’t inform everyone it was complete until one week later. From March 5th to April 19th, the SEO world experienced a whirlwind of an update that was one of the largest and most complex systems to date.

As a digital marketing company, we’re always up to date with the latest SEO news. Our team of experts starts to break down this massive core update below. If you’re looking for a new digital marketing team, contact Now Media Group today at (858) 333-8950.

So, What Happened?

According to Google, this monster update helped reduce low-quality and unoriginal content in search results by 45%. From manual spam actions (a spam update released at the same time as the core) in the beginning, to rising search result page rankings for websites like Reddit near the end, the March 2024 core update was a journey.

In its official guidance, Google highlighted the criteria it looks for when targeting link spam and manipulation attempts:

  • Creating “low-value content” purely to garner manipulative links and inflate rankings.
  • Links intended to boost sites’ rankings artificially, including manipulative outgoing links.
  • The “repurposing” of expired domains with radically different content to game search visibility.

The updated guidelines warn:

“Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”

Say Goodbye to Helpful Content Updates

Websites impacted by the September helpful content update were hoping for a recovery during this update; however, most didn’t find that. That’s right, it seems that Google is transitioning its helpful content system into the core ranking system. Long gone are the days when helpful content updates were announced on their own, as they’re now incorporated into core system updates.

The update was designed to show “less content that feels like it was made to attract clicks and more content that people find useful.”

There are still a lot of questions circling around and it’s to be expected. With such a large update that came with many changes, there are still many answers to be found. Glenn Gabe broke down the helpful content system being intertwined with core updates in a very digestible manner!

How Did the Core Update Affect Us?

As a digital marketing agency, primarily dealing with dental websites, we didn’t experience too many noticeably concerning drops. In fact, we had some pretty good traffic jumps for a few of our clients, while others continued on their normal traffic trajectory.

One of our medical spa clients earned record highs in both impressions and clicks during this update. The highly optimized content we added back in December of 2022 (yes, 2022) finally got picked up and started propelling this site to the top of the search engine results pages.

March core update results

We even saw traffic spikes for our own website. In January 2024, we completed a redesign of our website and have been adding optimized content ever since (blog posts, case studies, etc.)

March core update results

When looking at results from all across the board from this update, we came out relatively unscathed across the board. Most of our websites have graphs that look like the one below— small movements up and down, but on average, we’re seeing small increases in traffic over time.

March core update results

Now, we do have a small number of websites that saw crashes. However, there are other variables to take into account along with the core updates. The graph below shows a website that we just recently took over (about the same time as the update rolled out). Many pages did not make it over, which is the possible cause of the decline. The update likely affected it as well.

March core update results

Recovering After Any Google Update

Google never really gives us much advice when it comes to recovering after a core update. If you were impacted by the recent updates, your top priority should be to look at what Google is ranking now—put yourself in the shoes of a searcher and determine how you can be the choice that people would consistently choose to click on and engage with.

In general, do what you always do—create content for people, not search engines.

If your website has taken a hit and your current digital marketing agency isn’t delivering on its promises, contact Now Media Group today.

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