Core Update: March 2024 and It’s BIG!


Key Takeaways

  • Helpful Content is now part of the core update.
  • The Helpful Content update is better refined to understand different webpages where content is made for search engines more than for people.
  • Spam updates will affect sites via manual action or algorithmically.
  • Expired domain abuse is now against Google’s guidelines when used for ranking purposes only.
  • Bulk content at scale which is used primarily for manipulating search rankings is now being targeted.
  • ‘Parasite SEO’ or Site Reputation Abuse is also being targeted. This is where people publish low quality content on authoritative and trusted websites.
  • The roll out of the update will take a month to complete.
  • Over the coming weeks there’ll be major ranking fluctuations.
  • Google predicts it will reduce low quality content in its search results by up to 40%.

Ok are you ready for it? Google’s biggest core update yet. While I was expecting something to happen, I wasn’t quite expecting the gravity of what this update has in store for us. We all know Google’s laser focus lately has been on quality, and it shows because it’s now releasing another major core update and the March 2024 spam update. So, what does this mean?

Helpful Content

Yes, you read that right, Helpful Content is now going to be part of core updates. I’m excited for this update because I’m hoping people can start to recover from a helpful content penalty. I’m still yet to see anyone really turn a site around on this yet. Even though Google says you can do it within a few weeks. It’ll be interesting to see as this update is being integrated into the core update whether website owners will start to come out of that full site-wide penalty.

The other biggest thing to keep in mind with this update, I believe, is they’re going after AI generated content. Now what I mean by this, and what you have to understand, is that when I say generated AI content I mean when you get ChatGPT to write the whole blog and you simply upload it without reviewing it closely.

I think this is what they’re looking to penalise, not so much when you get ChatGPT’s help to write a blog and then a human reviews it.

And let’s be honest, I think they’ve already been penalising this type of content for the past few months.

And another thing you have to remember is how much are they going to be able to determine whether a piece of content is written solely by AI vs a full-scale editorial team like we have at NO-BS for example. Their idea is to hit sites who scale content for ranking purposes, but we’ve yet to see exactly how far they’re planning to go with that. But I’m sure we’ll see the impact of this over the next few months.


  1. March 2024 Spam Update: Google is releasing its March 2024 spam update along with its updated spam policy. This week two of the updates will result in manual and automated actions.
  2. Site Reputation Abuse: Nicknamed Parasite SEO, Google’s now cracking down on site reputation abuse. This is where high authority websites host links which don’t make sense or are irrelevant. Let’s be honest, Google should have been doing this years ago.
    One example of this is where a payday loan review is published on an esteemed educational website for the benefit of ranking the site. Another example is a medical site hosting a casino link. It just doesn’t make sense normally.
    I honestly don’t think it’s going to affect everyone. I feel it’ll affect affiliates more than anything. On these pages you’ll see there’s no author, no facts behind it, it’s literally built for promoting a link and manipulating the authority of the site.
    Thankfully, Google has graciously given us a two-month notice (isn’t that nice of them) and then May 5 it will start to take manual and automated actions against this abuse.
    Illustrative examples of site reputation abuse include, but are not limited to:

    • An educational site hosting a page about reviews of payday loans written by a third-party that distributes the same page to other sites across the web, with the main purpose of manipulating search rankings
    • A medical site hosting a third-party page about “best casinos” that’s designed primarily to manipulate search rankings, with little to no involvement from the medical site
    • A movie review site hosting third-party pages about topics that would be confusing to users to find on a movie review site (such as “ways to buy followers on social media sites”, the “best fortune teller sites”, and the “best essay writing services”), where the purpose is to manipulate search rankings
    • A sports site hosting a page written by a third-party about “workout supplements reviews”, where the sports site’s editorial staff had little to no involvement in the content and the main purpose of hosting the page is to manipulate search rankings
    • A news site hosting coupons provided by a third-party with little to no oversight or involvement from the hosting site, and where the main purpose is to manipulate search rankings
  3. Scaled Content Abuse Search Spam: This update is for the spammy automatically generated content policy which goes beyond targeting spammy auto-generated content. This update now includes any and all methods which produce content in bulk and for the only purpose of ranking in search. Bulk content production at scale to boost and manipulate rankings is now against Googles Guidelines.

    Examples of scaled content abuse include, but are not limited to:

    • Using generative Al tools or other similar tools to generate many pages without adding value for users
    • Scraping feeds, search results, or other content to generate many pages (including through automated transformations like synonymizing, translating, or other obfuscation techniques), where little value is provided to users
    • Stitching or combining content from different web pages without adding value
    • Creating multiple sites with the intent of hiding the scaled nature of the content
    • Creating many pages where the content makes little or no sense to a reader but contains search keywords
  4. Expired Domain Abuse: This one is where people buy expired domains to intentionally boost search rankings of low-quality content. This is now in Google’s eyes considered as spam and will be on their radar.

I’m Impacted What Do I Do?

Wait. Remember roll out will happen over two months. And you have to remember core updates go through different phases. There’s going to be ups and downs before the correction.

You’ll see several changes across the two months in rankings before everything settles – stay the course for the time being. Once Google is finished it’s roll out, then it’s time to pick up the pieces and analyse where your site got hit the most.

I would also be mindful to rush and make changes as the changes you make, may cause your rankings to go backwards before the roll out is complete. You also won’t know for sure which changes you make will positively affect your rankings with so many updates happening.

Final Thoughts

While we knew something was coming, I don’t think we’ve yet realised the gravity of what this new update is going to bring. For many people it’ll be a hell storm, for others it’ll boost their rankings naturally.

I think we’ll start to see websites who actually deserve rankings being rewarded for their efforts. I think the spam update on scaled content will cause a major shift in a lot of websites who know what they’ve been doing for years is wrong.

My opinion is that out of this whole update authority sites will come out strongest, and my hope is that legit business websites will also benefit the most too. Some of our internal research has shown that when a website increases in their brand terms, the whole site’s rankings increase as well. This is because it’s an easy metric for Google to measure.

Here’s some extra reading from google itself on the new changes and announcements:

Not sure about you but for one, I’ll be keeping a close eye on everything and adjusting our approaches where needed to continue to grow our client’s rankings now and in the future.

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