Google's March 2024 update: steering clear of low-quality content

Understanding Google's 2024 update: A closer look at the crackdown on low-quality content and the push for original, human-centered articles.

Google's March 2024 update: steering clear of low-quality content

Last week, Google announced that its March 2024 core updates will reduce the visibility of low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%. This effort focuses on eliminating "unhelpful content" from the search results. Content marketers, especially those who rely extensively on generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, should pay close attention to this news.

Here are the major changes happening in this core March 2024 update:

Google will prioritize content that provides original insights. If it merely summarizes existing web content or rephrases information from other pages, it will be considered unhelpful. This definition directly challenges the strengths of AI-generated content, which excels at summarizing web information to assist in creating content at scale.

This update is a response to widespread complaints about the deteriorating quality of Google search results, where websites with lower-quality texts and numerous affiliate links often rank higher.

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Additionally, Google is also addressing behaviors associated with spammy content creation. Previously, actions were taken primarily against clear automation processes (e.g., bots). Now, Google will also target behaviors indicative of mass content creation, regardless of whether it's produced by bots, humans, or a combination of both.

Another focus is on domain squatters—individuals or entities that purchase expired domains with good reputations, only to publish low-quality content at scale under new ownership, aiming to manipulate Google rankings. For instance, in 2019, the domain of the popular women's media outlet The Frisky was acquired by an individual who transformed it into a profit-making entity through sponsored posts and affiliate links, initially relying on human-written SEO posts before significantly reducing costs by adopting AI.

Google is also contemplating penalties for reputable websites that host questionable third-party content, often found on user-generated content channels like forums. This content, produced primarily for ranking purposes, is now considered spam, and website owners are given two months to comply with this new policy.

The search engine company notes that sponsored posts, which come with close oversight from their host (usually referred to as native advertising or advertorial), are exempt from this new policy because they usually won't confuse regular readers.

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More human-centered content, fewer bots

This initiative underscores Google’s long-term commitment to encouraging the creation of original, helpful content for human audiences. With the rise of AI-generated content, simply summarizing existing web content is no longer sufficient. The key is to produce genuinely original content, offering new insights and perspectives.

At ContentGrip, our focus remains on serving our audience of journalists, content marketers, and public relations specialists. We plan to enrich our content with more expert opinions, quotes, and examples from our direct networks, ensuring our readers access fresh insights and perspectives.

Contrary to the belief that providing backlinks to other sources is detrimental to SEO, Google maintains that it is a best practice for establishing trustworthiness. Therefore, we will continue to include helpful links and references in our stories.

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