Google’s Latest Core Update: Key Insights for Web Creators

Google's Latest Core Update

The March 2024 core update is more complex than the usual core updates, involving changes to multiple core systems. This update marks an evolution in how you can identify the helpfulness of content. The core ranking systems have advanced to show more helpful results using a variety of innovative signals and approaches, moving beyond relying on a single signal or system.

As this is a complex update, the rollout may take up to a month, and there will likely be more fluctuations in rankings than with a regular core update as different systems get fully updated and reinforce each other. There’s nothing new or special that creators need to do for this update as long as you have been making powerful content meant for people.

New Spam Policies

The new spam policies are designed to address practices that can negatively impact the quality of Google’s search results. They announced three new spam policies against bad practices they have seen grow in popularity: expired domain abuse, scaled content abuse, and site reputation abuse.

It is encouraged that content creators review all of the spam policies and ensure you aren’t engaging in such practices. Sites that violate the spam policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all. If affected by a spam manual action, site owners will receive notice through their registered Search Console account and can apply to reconsider the action. 

Expired Domain Abuse

Expired domain abuse occurs when an expired domain name is bought and repurposed primarily to manipulate search rankings by hosting content that offers little to no value to users. For instance, someone might purchase a domain previously used by a medical site and repurpose it to host low-quality casino-related content, hoping to capitalize on the domain’s prior reputation.

This practice isn’t accidental. It’s a deliberate strategy used by those aiming to rank well in search results with low-value content by leveraging the domain’s past reputation. These domains are typically intended to be found through search engines rather than through direct traffic. However, it is perfectly acceptable to use an old domain name for a new, original site designed to prioritize user experience.

Scaled content abuse

Scaled content abuse involves generating numerous pages with the primary intent of manipulating search rankings rather than offering any meaningful value to users. This practice often focuses on producing a large volume of unoriginal or redundant content that fails to provide substantial information or utility. Whether these pages are created through automated systems, human efforts, or a combination of both, they share a common characteristic: they exist mainly to game the search engine algorithms rather than to benefit the end-user.

This new policy enhances the previous spam guidelines regarding automatically generated content, allowing us to address scaled content abuse more effectively. Whether the content is produced entirely by automated means, manually by humans, or through a hybrid approach involving both human and automated processes, the new policy ensures that Google can intervene and reduce the impact of such practices.

The goal of this policy is to maintain the integrity of search results and ensure that users find high-quality, relevant content when they search for information. By cracking down on scaled content abuse, Google aims to discourage the creation of large amounts of low-value content designed solely to exploit search algorithms. This change underscores our commitment to fostering an internet where valuable and original content is readily accessible, enhancing the overall user experience.

Site reputation abuse

Site reputation abuse occurs when third-party pages are published with little or no oversight from the primary site, aiming to manipulate search rankings by exploiting the site’s ranking signals. These third-party pages often include sponsored content, advertising, partner pages, or other content that is independent of the host site’s main purpose and provides little to no value to users.

The new policy does not consider all third-party content a violation, only content hosted without proper oversight and intended to manipulate search rankings. For instance, many publications host advertising content designed for their regular readers rather than to manipulate search rankings. Often referred to as “native advertising” or “advertorial,” this type of content typically does not confuse regular readers when found on the publisher’s site or in Google’s search results and does not need to be blocked from Google Search. This new policy took effect May 5, 2024.