[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


Google Releases Massive March Core Algorithm Update

Google’s March algorithm update has been launched with the aim of improving the quality of search results available to users by reducing unhelpful content by up to 40% and improving quality ranking to help users see the most helpful information.

More quality, less spam

Elizabeth Tucker, Director, Product Management

“We’re making algorithmic enhancements to our core ranking systems to ensure we surface the most helpful information on the web and reduce unoriginal content in search results.”

To accomplish its goals, Google aims to understand which web pages could be more helpful and have a better user experience, rather than being created with the sole purpose of ranking highly in Google search. Essentially, Google will look kinder on well written, well researched work that brings real value to users.

Linked to this is an updated spam policy that will remove low quality content from search results.

Elizabeth Tucker, Director, Product Management

“We’re updating our spam policies to keep the lowest-quality content out of Search, like expired websites repurposed as spam repositories by new owners and obituary spam.”

The impact of the change

Businesses who had previously looked to game the system to earn more traffic via organic search might want to take a look at some of their content, and tweak it to make sure it sits in the ‘high quality’ bracket that Google wants. Otherwise, they could see a drop in traffic as Google begins to penalise that type of content.

As you probably gathered, Google is trying to target people who are creating content to manipulate Search results. The update expressly states it will take action on “manipulative behaviours” that lead to unoriginal, low-quality content showing up on Search.

Be careful with AI content

Google’s new stance could have impacts for anyone using AI to create website content at scale with the objective of boosting rankings.

Elizabeth Tucker, Director, Product Management

“To better address these techniques, we’re strengthening our policy to focus on this abusive behavior — producing content at scale to boost search ranking — whether automation, humans or a combination are involved.”

No more spam

One of these is reputational spam. That means if you’re a brand that has a strong reputation, but accepts affiliate, third-party content hosted on your site then Google will look to crack down on you. For example, you could have a trusted B2B site but accept third-party content from finance companies to help them gain a ranking benefit, Google may now consider this spam and penalise the host website for it. 

Another form of abuse that Google is cracking down on is expired domain abuse. Every so often, expired domains are purchased with the intent of boosting search rankings of low-quality content. Google will now consider this spam.

What kind of content does Google want businesses to create?

The takeaway from these updates is that businesses need to be creating content for their users, not for Google Search. Content should be focused on what it can do for anyone reading it – it needs to be high-quality, informative and provide a purpose.

Chris Nelson, Search Quality Team, Google, via Search Engine Land

“There’s nothing new or special that creators need to do for this update as long as they’ve been making satisfying content meant for people. For those that might not be ranking as well, we strongly encourage reading our creating helpful, reliable, people-first content help page.”

The updates are being rolled out now, and websites have a two-month window to comply with site reputation policies. Spam policies will come into place imminently. 

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