08/04/24 5 Minute Read

5 minute read

Here’s what you need to know about Google’s double update from March

Here’s what you need to know about Google’s double update from March Here’s what you need to know about Google’s double update from March

Our Search Engine Optimisation experts are always very on the ball when it comes to Google Updates, given how much potential they have to affect your position in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Now, not every Google Update is created equal, but when a particularly big one comes around, we like to highlight it here on the blog – it’s often an easy way to help keep you informed!

On 5th March, Google announced it was rolling out a double update – both a Core update and a Spam update – and that this rollout would likely take a month. On the same day, webmasters across the globe reported receiving manual penalty notices from Google for spam, removing their sites in part or in full from Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

So then – what’s going on, and should you be worried?

What has Google said about these updates?

The gist of what’s happening is that Google is rolling out improvements to its algorithm which help it to distinguish between useful pages and sites, and sites that are not delivering a good experience to users. (That’s pretty much the shared underlying goal of every Google Update.)

These two concurrent updates are specifically targeting websites that are, in Google’s own words, “producing content at scale to boost search ranking — whether automation, humans or a combination are involved.

Essentially, this means that Google is trying to get rid of results from websites that are using AI (or large-scale content production by humans) to generate lots of poor-quality pages that don’t provide any benefit to the people who land on those pages.

Pages like these may be there to host affiliate links, advertising or merely in hopes of driving baffled visitors to more useful pages. These sites may also be using content taken from other, better sites and used word-for-word or rewritten slightly using AI. (We saw one particularly high-profile case of this last year, referred to as an AI “heist”, and judging by Google’s response, it seems to be something the company is keen to discourage actively.)

The latest updates are also designed to identify websites taking advantage of old domains with good reputations by purchasing the expired domain and putting up ‘spam’ content, or “third-party pages”, which Google describes as pages that are “published with little or no first-party oversight or involvement, where the purpose is to manipulate Search rankings by taking advantage of the first-party site’s ranking signals”.

In other words, Google is taking steps to put an end to a couple of old, questionable SEO techniques. First and foremost amongst these techniques is the use of old domains to get fast rankings and paying to place badly written, often pointless content, for the sole purpose of obtaining backlinks.

Google Update - March 2024
Google Update - March 2024

What does this mean for my site?

If your site has good content created with the customer in mind, then you shouldn’t need to worry about this update. It’s true that Google Updates do occasionally penalise innocent sites by accident, but it’s really not that common.

What we noticed in the data for 21Digital’s customer sites is that pretty much every site saw a drop in visibility around the 9th of March for about 2 days. After that, traffic quickly recovered, and in most cases even improved. In case you’re wondering, this is pretty normal – SERPs tend to be volatile while updates are happening!

But what do I do if I think my site has been affected?

Now, if you’ve seen a drop and your traffic hasn’t recovered, don’t panic! The Spam update is finished, but the Core update is still happening, and while it continues, Google is still tweaking the settings.

The best thing you can do is take a look at the pages on your website and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this page serve a purpose for my customers?
  • Is this page serving the same purpose as other pages on my site?
  • Does this page have spelling or grammatical errors?
  • Is all the information on this page accurate?
  • Is this content similar or the same as content elsewhere on the internet?

If you find that your content isn’t delivering a good experience, then it’s time to make improvements. A good place to start is by removing anything that isn’t necessary or is duplicated. Update pages that you think do serve a purpose but could be better.

If you’ve received a manual penalty, you’ll need to remove any offending pages and then send a reinclusion request – this should explain that you understand what you did wrong, what you did to fix it, and promise to never, ever do it again. (They’re very stern over at Google.)

To be honest, you can then expect to do 2 or 3 more rounds of the same (if you’re lucky) before, eventually, you meet its expectations and Google lifts the penalty.
If you want help in dealing with the impacts of these updates, or you want SEO help from experts to ensure you won’t be impacted by an update in the future, then don’t worry – that’s exactly what we’re here for! With around 20 years of experience to our name here at 21Digital, you can trust our experts to know exactly how to get your websites to climb the rankings, and stay there.

If you’ve got any questions, or you need any advice, just drop us a line on hello@21digital.agency or give us a call on 01254 660560, and we’ll be happy to help!


Give us a call on 01254 660 560, or email us on hello@21digital.agency and let’s talk!

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