March 2024 Google Core Algorithm Update: What Happened?

Industry Updates
May 15, 2024
Marissa Bavaro

Google often keeps details of its algorithm updates under wraps. However, the two significant Google Core Algorithm Updates in March 2024 caused considerable volatility in the organic search results, prompting the search industry to closely analyze Google’s announcements and monitor the SERPs for insights. These updates have sparked much discussion in the SEO community. This article will explore these pivotal updates and Mason’s response to them.

’24 Algorithm Update

At the beginning of March, Google announced its first core algorithm update of 2024, and it was major. Over the years, the process for rolling out algorithm updates has evolved and in this update, Google decided to roll out two core updates in one. One was the March 2024 Spam Update and the other was the March 2024 Core Update

’24 Spam Update

This update rolled out on March 5th and completed on March 20th. As it suggests in the name, this update was aimed toward spammy websites with three new spam policies: expired domain abuse, scaled content abuse, and site reputation abuse. All three of these policies target websites that have a sole purpose of manipulating the search results by hosting content that “provides little to no value to users” –Google.

Examples of content banned in recent policies:

  • Expired Domain Abuse: 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 previous ownership.
  • Scaled Content Abuse: Websites with AI-generated un-original content created to manipulate the search results.
  • Site Reputation Abuse: Third-party websites that have little to no oversight from the first-party website. One example would be a sports site hosting a page written by a third party about “workout supplements reviews”, where the sports site’s editorial staff had little to no involvement in the content and the main purpose of hosting the page is to manipulate search rankings.

As part of this spam update, many websites faced a ‘manual action’ by Google, which resulted in partial or complete removal from the SERP.

Source: Search Engine Land

Details on the March 2024 Core Update

This update also rolled out on March 5th and was expected to take up to a month to complete. The update ended up finishing on April 19th, 45 days after it began rolling out, but Google didn’t announce it was complete until April 26th

This core update was noted to be more complex than other previous updates and required changes to multiple core systems that make up the algorithm.

The main goal behind the March 2024 update, the first update in 2024, was to reduce the amount of low-quality and unhelp content in the SERP by 40%, but a Google spokesperson said that after the update finished rolling out it ended up being about a 45% reduction.

Desktop SERP Volatility (Real-Time)

Mobile SERP Volatility (Real-Time)

How the Mason SEO Team Handles Major Algorithm Updates

The strategy of the Mason SEO Team in response to Google’s core algorithm updates is designed to maximize stability and performance amidst changes. Here’s how we manage:

  • Prioritize High-Quality Content: Our approach centers around maintaining excellent content standards by staying true to Google’s emphasis on unique and high-quality content.
  • Monitor Performance Closely: We continuously monitor fluctuations in rankings and traffic during the rollout of updates, identifying any significant changes that might affect our strategies.
  • Respond to Volatility: Algorithm updates often lead to initial volatility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Our team keeps a steady course during these periods and waits for the SERP to stabilize.
  • Evaluate and Adjust: Post-update, we assess the impact on our rankings and traffic. We make targeted adjustments to align with the new search algorithm criteria if necessary.
  • Continuous Improvement: We use insights from each update to refine and evolve our SEO strategies, ensuring resilience against future changes.

During the March 2024 Algorithm Updates, we’re proud to say we did not face any manual actions from Google amongst our client roster.

In Summary

The March 2024 algorithm updates from Google brought significant changes to the search landscape, leaving many in the SEO industry to speculate and adapt. The dual rollout of the March 2024 Spam Update and Core Update targeted spammy practices and aimed to improve the quality of search results by addressing issues such as expired domain abuse and low-quality content. While the updates caused fluctuations in SERP rankings for many websites, those adhering to high-quality content standards, like the Mason SEO Team, weathered the changes without facing manual actions from Google. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, focusing on quality content remains paramount for maintaining search visibility amidst algorithmic shifts.