Last month, Google rolled out two significant updates (core and spam), both happening on March 5th,
just one minute apart in the morning. These updates, focusing on core algorithms and spam detection,
represent a departure from Google’s typical update routine. They’re more intricate, involving tweaks
across various core systems and reflecting a shift in how Google evaluates content usefulness. Alongside
the updates’ rollout, Google’s Search Central shared detailed insights and guidance to help users navigate
these changes. Check them out here.

The post further explains that Google’s revamped spam detection systems aim to prioritize the visibility of
helpful content over spammy pages. This initiative addresses a longstanding issue that has subjected
Google Search to significant criticism over time.

A Surge of ‘Pure Spam’ Manual Action Notices
If you found a ‘Pure Spam’ Manual Action Notice waiting for you in Search Console, you weren’t alone.
Starting from March 7th, a multitude of these manual actions were reported. The issue became so
widespread that on March 11th, Google published a new help document titled: Received a ‘Pure Spam’
Manual Action Notice? Learn What It Implies for Your Site and How to Tackle It.

In the March 2024 Spam Update, several website categories experienced significant repercussions:

  • Low-Quality Content Farms: These websites churn out unoriginal, low-quality content in an attempt
    to manipulate search rankings.
  • Affiliate Marketing Sites: Websites heavily reliant on thin content or keyword stuffing, primarily for
    affiliate links, faced a substantial impact from the update.
  • Doorway Pages: Specifically targeted by the update, temporary pages designed to redirect users
    saw many of them removed from search results altogether.

If you find yourself among the unfortunate ones, make sure to thoroughly read through the ‘Pure Spam’
help document. Additionally, it’s worth noting that, as of now, there haven’t been any reports of individuals
recovering their rankings after receiving one of those Manual Actions. Keep that in mind.

Furthermore, here’s a compilation of other Google resources you should consider checking out:

As of March 20, 2024, in the evening (U.S. Pacific Time), the spam update was successfully concluded. If
your website wasn’t affected, you’re in the clear.

However, the core update is still in progress as of March 31st. According to Google’s Search Status
Dashboard, the rollout may take “up to a month” to finalize. If Google maintains its schedule, the update
should wrap up around April 5th.

The March 2024 core update zeroed in on websites featuring low-quality content and employing
manipulative tactics such as keyword stuffing, thin content, and unnatural link schemes. Its goal was to
enhance search results by eliminating unhelpful or irrelevant content.

This comprehensive update to Google’s core search algorithm prioritizes various factors contributing to a
webpage’s overall quality and usefulness to users. It appears to focus on the following elements:

  • Expertise & Authoritativeness of Content: Google seeks to acknowledge and elevate authors who
    exhibit expertise and credibility, while taking measures against those who don’t meet these
  • Value & Helpfulness of Content: Content that delivers valuable information, meeting users’ needs
    effectively, is given priority in ranking.
  • Readability & User Experience of Content: Google emphasizes content that is well-crafted, easily
    understandable, and engaging for users.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: Websites offering a smooth experience on mobile devices are favored over
    those lacking in mobile compatibility.

Website Categories Hit Hardest
To avoid redundancy while highlighting the obvious, here’s a rundown of the general website categories
facing significant challenges in the latest update:

  • Websites with Thin Content: Sites featuring scant or shallow content are facing penalties,
    particularly if they fail to offer substantial value to users.
  • “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) Websites: Platforms related to health, finance, and other crucial
    domains continue to undergo heightened scrutiny regarding content quality and factual
  • Websites with Unnatural Backlink Profiles: Platforms that utilized manipulative strategies to boost
    their rankings through unnatural backlinks are experiencing a decline in visibility.
  • Automatically Generated Content Sites: Platforms generating content solely through AI, without
    human review or editing, are being flagged as low-quality.
  • Websites with Poor User Experience: Sites plagued by slow loading times, lack of mobile-friendliness,
    or intrusive advertisements are also witnessing adverse effects from the update.