Google March 2024 Core Update Officially Completed A Week Ago

Google has officially completed its March 2024 Core Update, ending over a month of ranking volatility across the web.

However, Google didn’t confirm the rollout’s conclusion on its data anomaly page until April 26—a whole week after the update was completed on April 19.

Many in the SEO community had been speculating for days about whether the turbulent update had wrapped up.

The delayed transparency exemplifies Google’s communication issues with publishers and the need for clarity during core updates

Google March 2024 Core Update Timeline & Status

First announced on March 5, the core algorithm update is complete as of April 19. It took 45 days to complete.

Unlike more routine core refreshes, Google warned this one was more complex.

Google’s documentation reads:

“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.”

The aftershocks were tangible, with some websites reporting losses of over 60% of their organic search traffic, according to data from industry observers.

The ripple effects also led to the deindexing of hundreds of sites that were allegedly violating Google’s guidelines.

Addressing Manipulation Attempts

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.”

John Mueller, a Search Advocate at Google, responded to the turbulence by advising publishers not to make rash changes while the core update was ongoing.

However, he suggested sites could proactively fix issues like unnatural paid links.

Mueller stated on Reddit:

“If you have noticed things that are worth improving on your site, I’d go ahead and get things done. The idea is not to make changes just for search engines, right? Your users will be happy if you can make things better even if search engines haven’t updated their view of your site yet.”

The core update made notable changes to how Google ranks websites.

Most significantly, Google reduced the importance of links in determining a website’s ranking.

In contrast to the description of links as “an important factor in determining relevancy,” Google’s updated spam policies stripped away the “important” designation, simply calling links “a factor.”

This change aligns with Google’s Gary Illyes’ statements that links aren’t among the top three most influential ranking signals.

Instead, Google is giving more weight to quality, credibility, and substantive content.

Consequently, long-running campaigns favoring low-quality link acquisition and keyword optimizations have been demoted.

With the update complete, SEOs and publishers are left to audit their strategies and websites to ensure alignment with Google’s new perspective on ranking.

Core Update Feedback

Google has opened a ranking feedback form related to this core update.

You can use this form until May 31 to provide feedback to Google’s Search team about any issues noticed after the core update.

While the feedback provided won’t be used to make changes for specific queries or websites, Google says it may help inform general improvements to its search ranking systems for future updates.

Google also updated its help documentation on “Debugging drops in Google Search traffic” to help people understand ranking changes after a core update.


Featured Image: Rohit-Tripathi/Shutterstock

FAQ

After the update, what steps should websites take to align with Google’s new ranking criteria?

After Google’s March 2024 Core Update, websites should:

  • Improve the quality, trustworthiness, and depth of their website content.
  • Stop heavily focusing on getting as many links as possible and prioritize relevant, high-quality links instead.
  • Fix any shady or spam-like SEO tactics on their sites.
  • Carefully review their SEO strategies to ensure they follow Google’s new guidelines.

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