Google often makes minor updates to it’s search engine algorithm but this one in March 2024 is a big one. Related to the Google Helpfulness update the goal is to provide users with more accurate, higher quality and trustworthy search result. The focus is on making sure content is original (not produced by AI). In addition, placing three new spam policies in effect. These have been completed in two steps. However, the results will not fully be known until the last site reputation abuse policy is finalized in May of 2024. Here is some information you need to know and how it can impact your business and SEO Strategy.

 

When did this update start rolling out?

This update started rolling out March 5, 2024 and was expected to take four weeks to complete. The rollout which was completed March 20, 2024 enacted two new policies which included scaled content abuse and expired domain abuse. The last policy site reputation abuse will be in effect starting in May 2024. 

 

What are these policies?

Scaled Content Abuse

Producing low quality and non-original content at a high level simply for the purpose of manipulating the search results. In other words, if you are generating a lot of content in a short amount of time, Google is going to assume some type of automation is involved which includes utilizing Chat GPT or humans. In addition, pages that pretend to have answers to popular questions and searches but fail to deliver helpful content for the user will also not be given a priority.

Expired Domain Abuse

If expired or older domains are purchased with the goal of producing unoriginal and low quality content, they will now be considered spam. Google considers this misleading to the user as it makes them believe that the content is part of an older site which may not be the case.

Site Reputation Abuse

A website has great content but includes and hosts low quality content from a third party site with the intention of using the site’s strong reputation as a catalyst. This shows intent to confuse or mislead users who are expecting a completely different result and experience.  There will be a two month grace period for websites to make the needed changes prior to this spam policy being put into effect.

 

What can we do to prevent a drop in the rankings or a manual action?

As always, google will also refer to EEAT, This stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Be sure that your content is original, is helpful and provides answers to users questions. The content should also solve a problem (providing an answer) for what the user is looking for in the search engines. The page should load quick, be easily navigable and provide a good overall user experience. It should also should include images and videos when possible to break up the content and provide visuals. This will increase your on-page time sending a signal to Google that your page is providing helpful content because users are interacting more with it for a longer period of time.

If you have used Chat GPT or other forms of automation, consider updating the content or rewriting with the user in mind first, not the search engines.

 

Right now, there is going to be a lot of volatility in the rankings. It is recommended to wait until the last spam policy update is completed in May to get an accurate assessment of how your site has been effected by these changes. Utilize Google Analytics and Google Search Console to document some baseline information so you have a comparison to refer to once all of the changes and policies have been finalized. As always you can always keep an eye on the latest algorithm and core updates posted by Google to keep up to date. Or, you can hire an SEO consultant to do it for you 🙂