22 Mar, 2024

Google March Core Update Brings Stricter Policies vs Spam, Low-Quality Content

KT - March Core Update

Google frequently updates its search algorithms to improve user experience and provide more relevant search results. Recently, it started rolling out the latest changes to its policies to better combat spam and low-quality web content. The Google March core update requires website owners, including lawyers, to ensure their websites comply with new policies and standards now more than ever to maintain their visibility and search ranking. 

Just as lawyers in the UK are accustomed to staying abreast of changing laws and regulations to assist and represent their clients effectively, they must also stay informed about Google’s algorithm updates and how they may impact their online presence. Failure to adapt to these changes could reduce web traffic and visibility, ultimately affecting their ability to attract new clients and grow their legal practice.

Google Prioritises High-Quality and “Helpful” Content 

The March core update, Google’s first core algorithm update in 2024, marks a significant shift in the search engine’s approach to ranking web content. With an emphasis on enhancing user experience, Elizabeth Tucker, Google’s director of Product Management, revealed that the update aims to reduce the visibility of unhelpful content in search results by up to 40%. This update is notably more complex and extensive than previous alterations, as it involves refining Google’s understanding of what constitutes low-quality content and poor user experience on web pages. 

As part of this core update, Google has revamped its classifiers for assessing helpful content, integrating innovative signals and methodologies to prioritise high-quality content in search results. As a result, the search giant will stop announcing new helpful content updates, as the improved helpful content system has been fully integrated into its latest core update. 

Considering the scope and size of this update, Google anticipates it will take approximately a month to complete the rollout. During this period, site owners and administrators should expect fluctuations in search rankings as various systems undergo comprehensive modification and reinforcement. 

If your law firm’s website experiences a decline in rankings, Google advises against taking specific actions to recover, as fluctuating rankings do not necessarily indicate issues with your web pages.

New Spam Regulations Announced 

In addition to revamping its helpful content system, Google has announced a series of updates to fight spam, including the March 2024 spam update and policy adjustments. These updates entail immediate actions on two spam updates and the implementation of the site reputation abuse spam update on May 5, 2024. 

The scaled content abuse search spam update extends its focus beyond “spammy auto-generated content”, targeting any method of mass content creation intended to manipulate search rankings. This includes pages that promise answers to popular queries but lack substantive content. Google underscored that creating content at scale, whether through AI or human effort, violates guidelines if its purpose is to manipulate search rankings. Both algorithmic and manual actions will be taken against scaled content abuse. 

Moreover, Google now categorises the practice of purchasing and repurposing expired domains to boost the search ranking of low-quality content as spam. The search giant’s new site reputation abuse policy also addresses tactics such as “Parasite SEO,” wherein third-party sites host inferior content to exploit the ranking authority of reputable domains. 

However, note that publishing third-party content is not against Google’s spam regulations. Only web content without close oversight and designed to manipulate search rankings will receive penalties. The search giant will enforce harsher punishments for those committing site reputation abuse on May 5, 2024. As such, we encourage you to make the necessary adjustments if you have third-party content on your website.

The Update’s Impact So Far 

The ongoing Google March core update continues to disrupt search rankings for many marketers and site owners, with some reporting significant damage, including complete removal from the search engine.

1. De-indexing surge

In the wake of Google’s announcement, numerous low-quality spam sites have faced complete de-indexing from search result pages. Those spared removal were either relegated to obscure placements or hidden in filter=0 results. It’s worth noting that while de-indexing typically accompanies manual penalties, it’s a rarity following core algorithm updates. 

Many of the de-indexed sites featured subpar AI-generated content. While Google doesn’t explicitly prohibit AI use, site owners must ensure their content adheres to the search giant’s EEAT guidelines, maintaining freshness, quality, and relevance. Surviving previous core updates doesn’t shield sites from scrutiny; poorly crafted content remains at risk of de-indexing.

2. Rapid enforcement

Google didn’t spare a moment when penalising sites that violated its policies. Owners of de-indexed sites discovered their disappearance from search results overnight, with minimal communication from the search engine. 

To ascertain your site’s visibility, enter “site:yourwebsite.com” on Google. Given the automated nature of algorithmic updates, affected sites will receive no notifications through Google Search Console’s manual action viewer. Consequently, it falls upon site owners or administrators to conduct manual checks for visibility status.

Why It’s Crucial to Stay Updated 

At Kinetic Traffic, we understand that lawyers already have a lot on their plate. Because of your hectic schedules, it can be easy for you to overlook a thing or two, especially with Google announcing a series of essential updates in quick succession. However, we firmly believe that staying updated with Google’s policies is vital.

1. Ensuring compliance

Remaining up-to-date with Google’s ever-evolving policies is essential for lawyers and solicitors seeking to grow their legal practice. Given Google’s prominence as the leading search engine, its policies directly influence website visibility and traffic. Familiarity with these policies is crucial in maintaining compliance and avoiding penalties that could significantly impact your search rankings and online presence.

2. Adapting strategies

Being aware of Google’s policy adjustments enables you to adjust your strategies accordingly. Updates such as the recent Google March core update and accompanying spam policy revisions signify shifts in Google’s algorithmic priorities. By staying informed, you can anticipate how they can affect your website’s visibility and proactively implement measures to stay on the right side of Google.

3. Preserving online visibility

Keeping abreast of policy changes is instrumental in preserving a high-quality online presence. Google’s emphasis on combating spam and prioritising valuable, user-centric content means that outdated or manipulative tactics may lead to penalties. By remaining informed about policy updates, you can ensure your content adheres to current best practices.

Seek Expert Help 

As a lawyer, staying updated with Google’s policies might not be at the forefront of your priorities. Nonetheless, staying informed about Google’s policy changes and making the necessary adjustments to ensure your website maintains compliance and visibility in search results is crucial. 

At Kinetic Traffic, we fully understand the demanding nature of legal work. By partnering with us, you can navigate crucial Google updates seamlessly, allowing you to focus on serving your clients while we handle the complexities of optimising your online presence. Get in touch with us, and we’ll provide you with the expert SEO solutions you require.

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