In this episode of BTW w/ BTM we’re discussing Google’s March 2024 Update which aim at combating spam content results in the SERPs and an overhaul to the helpful content systems that appear to be driving much of the modern search results. This is new, it’s complex, and has widespread implications. As always, our goal is to provide you with updates in a snackable format so you can be better prepared and an a more informed marketer. Give it a listen below, or feel free to see the highlights in the show notes.

The Redirect Podcast · [EP. 12] BTW with BlackTruck – Unpacking Google’s March 2024 Update

Understanding Google’s March Update

First up, let’s talk about the Google March update. It’s not your average tweak. Google is on a mission to show “more useful information and fewer results that feel made for search engines.” This update marks a significant evolution in Google’s content helpfulness identification. With algorithmic enhancements aimed at surfacing top-notch content and trimming down on unoriginal search results, the rehauled helpful content system’s integration into core rankings is a game-changer. We’re looking at a rollout that will span over a month, with a promise of a 40% reduction in low-quality content. To put that into perspective, remember Panda in 2011? This is set to be even more impactful. Google’s Panda update impacted around 12% to 15% of low-quality content. Meaning, this update is set to be much more aggressive than Panda ever was.

Breakdown Google’s Spam Updates

Next, let’s tackle the spam update, which is set for May 5, 2024. With this planned phase, Google is clamping down on spam with a vengeance, targeting everything from expired domain misuse to scaled content and site reputation abuses. Meaning, individuals who nabbed up expired domains for their own misuses or “gaming the system” for their own benefit are at risk. What counts as abuse and how these changes might impact the SEO landscape are yet to be known.

What’s the SEO Industry Saying about the March Update?

Many in the industry have been speculating this for awhile now. Dr. Marie Haynes and Lily Ray both have been very frank about the fact that these changes were coming, in fact Marie had predicted it last week prior to Pubcon 2024. The trend really has been (and maybe should have been all along) toward valuing helpful content and authoritative content more than ever. The spam updates, certainly these are targeted against a lot of the AI-generated content. Meaning those who have been leveraging AI to generate massive amounts of content at scale… this could be of concern.

Google Gemini 1.5 – Google’s AI Breakthrough?

The story doesn’t end with the helpful content system’s integration either. Google’s Gemini 1.5 AI technology, featuring a Mixture of Experts architecture, could be crucial to what’s shaping the future of the SERPs.

What If My Site Is Impacted by Google’s Updates?

While our mantra here at BlackTruck is that of “don’t freak out,” we can understand the anxiety that comes with these types of updates. Whether you want to take Google’s advise with a grain of salt, but you should hold fast and watch your site as the rollout takes place.
You first have to determine if your site is even impacted by this before you can even construct a plan on how you’re going to combat the changes. Recovery can always feel super daunting, but it’s achievable.

The shift here is really towards creating genuinely useful content, moving beyond SEO to establish your brand as a being of quality and relevance. Which should not come as a shock to anyone really, unless of course you were doing things strictly off gaming your position.

Taking Action on Google’s Update

What are some steps you can take to determine if your site is impacted by Google’s updates?
Monitor your site for data loss – we’re not talking just relying on GA4 to track your organic search traffic here. Keep in mind, GA4 is an application to tell you where people are coming from and what they are doing on your site – not exactly how your site is showing up in search results.

Leverage Google Search Console and monitor your site over the next month to three months.Keep a keen eye on your impressions fluctuating within the SERPs.

Utilizing another third-party tool such as Moz or SEMrush, Ahrefs, etc. might not be a bad idea either. These tools help provide an independent lens on SERP activity and SERP features that could be changing. Please just keep in mind, these tools do not deliver you with an SEO strategy for improvement or recovery, only that they provide you with valuable data that can then be used for determining a path forward.

This could be a monumental shift in search, but perhaps one of good measure as Google has come under significant fire for their poor quality of results lately. As with any of these changes, there’s a lot to shake out.

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