Google Core Algorithm Updates: Do’s and Don’ts for 2024

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5 min read

Google is an invention without which most of us no longer feel that we could live our lives. As a business owner or marketing manager, that’s equally true… except you’re not a simple user looking for the best tacos in your area. You need Google to do the heavy lifting that ensures people see your website, blog posts, and ads.

Complicating matters is the fact that, just when it seems like you’ve got a handle on things, the algorithm changes again. The latest Google core algorithm update has particularly zeroed in on unhelpful content, AI, and other perceived website misbehaviour. If you want to ensure you escape Google’s wrath and keep getting returned in search results, you need to take heed.

The truth is, “mastering” Google updates is not something you can easily do – especially as they keep changing. It takes time, dedication, and expertise to get it right and future-proof your website.

Understanding the latest Google core algorithm updates

Google’s latest updates are geared toward “tackling spammy, low-quality content on Search,” explains the tech giant’s Director of Product Management Elizabeth Tucker. As always, their goal is to improve the results of a Google search by returning high-quality, trusted sites and reducing unoriginal, spammy mimics.

The March 2024 Google algorithm update is complete (or is it?)

The March 2024 Google core algorithm update plays on work that began in 2022 when Google began cracking down against AI-generated content as against its guidelines. Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller called AI content “spam,” saying that website owners shouldn’t use it on their sites.

Indeed, spam is the main target of this Google update. According to the same link above, Google expects “that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%.”

Manual actions and de-Indexing

This is especially true since tons of webmasters have reported manual actions against their sites, and many more have been deindexed (removed from rankings) completely. Usually, if this happens, Google will let you know either through an email or through a notification in Google Search Console – but the approach is reportedly inconsistent.

AI in the crosshairs

Google Core Algorithm update sketches of AI bots with different emotions

Websites that rely on unedited AI-generated content and lack human input are at risk of being penalized by Google. These penalties can result in a significant drop in website traffic and a loss of overall search engine ranking. However, the good news is that there are ways to avoid these penalties and repair your website’s search engine ranking if you do receive manual action. Let’s take a look.

Adapting your SEO strategies to Google algorithm updates

Obviously, your user experience has to reflect what you promise in your SEO (keywords, meta tags, and so on). However, the newest Google algorithm updates require that you avoid several formerly sound SEO strategies.

To be clear, these have never been recommended by Google nor endorsed by reliable SEO professionals. However, until now, many websites have been able to get away with them. That’s no longer true, so it’s time to abandon strategies that not only don’t work but can now earn extreme penalties.

These include:

  • Scaled content: Even if you can honourably produce content on a massive scale, you have to make sure it’s original and very high-quality. Otherwise, you run the risk of being de-indexed if Google thinks you’re just manipulating rankings.
  • Creating super-niche sites: Formerly, creating highly niched sites to attract very specific audiences might have proven sound, but Google now specifically says that its update to the core ranking systems will take a hard look at sites that “feel like they were created for search engines instead of people. This could include sites created primarily to match very specific search queries.”
  • Poor-quality link building: Publishing content on third-party websites purely to acquire a backlink or accepting such content on your own site has long been flagged as a violation of Google’s guidelines. This is particularly true when content does not provide additional value or showcase an expert opinion and, therefore, can be considered “spam.”
  • Using expired domains: Google is cracking down on buyers of expired domains who then start posting new content because this is often a lowbrow way to capitalize on former website success. It’s better to start fresh with a new domain.

The above strategies are closely related to user experience because Google’s focus is ensuring that once the user reaches the webpage, they get what they came for. If you have used these in past and have been hit by a Google algorithm update, then recovery may be difficult.

It’s not impossible, though. You probably just need some professional help, discussed more below.

Optimizing website performance for SEO success

The latest algorithm changes pose a special challenge to website owners.

Google has now stepped up its game when it comes to detecting spammy websites. Therefore, you need to update your SEO approach using the following strategies:

  • Don’t use AI without the human touch. All content needs to be valuable, unique and personalised to your specific audience.
  • Always align your content to your site. Don’t niche down too far, and don’t go too far afield.
  • Use HTTPS so users’ information is safe on your site (if they can even get to it).
  • Ensure a quick load time of all content.
  • Make your site mobile-friendly.
  • Remove any spammy-looking or disruptive advertising that could interrupt the flow of your content, either on mobile or desktop.
  • Always keep the reader in mind. Never use different content for humans and search bots, a practice known as cloaking.
  • Strive always for originality, accuracy, relevance, and comprehensive coverage of your topics.

And stay ahead of the competition by understanding where they and the algorithm are headed at all times.

Staying ahead of the competition with algorithm insights

The best place to start with algorithm insights is Google Analytics or Google Search Console. Both of these tools are offered by Google itself, meaning that they carry the best information about how well your site is doing and how a current update might have affected it. Make sure to:

  • Assess your site regularly.
  • Immediately make any fixes required by Google.
  • Ask for help from a professional if you need it.
  • Adhere to the best practices for the 2024 Google algorithm update, but watch out for new adjustments.

Of course, chances are you’re not an SEO expert. Your expertise likely lies in other areas, and it’s best to focus on those and get professional help keeping your website up-to-date and safe from algorithmic penalties. That starts with knowing your site’s health metrics.

Measuring the impact of Google algorithm updates on SEO

There are a number of considerations you need to take into account whether you were impacted by a Google algorithm update or not.

You should perform consistent site quality checks and fix any issues that surface. You can do this using a number of free and paid tools available online, such as SEMRush. Once you’ve done that, focus on your site’s authority. Do you have content that is engaging for your users from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel? How do you compare to competitors? What content are you missing? Where are you accidentally creating negative SEO for your site? How far is your reach? What is your link-building status and potential?

These are just some questions that you can ask to help you measure the health of your current site and its health following any future Google algorithm updates. This will keep your business safe and sound.

Understandably, it’s not always possible to do this without professional help such as managed SEO services. When you work with an agency like Lemon Pulse, you know your website is in the hands of people who understand the latest from Google and around the web and will work alongside you to ensure that your business can consistently be found organically by your target audience. If you’d like to learn more, we welcome you to get in touch!

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Gideon has over a decade of experience in internet marketing, working with globally recognised brands as well as small local business. With his knowledge of both worlds, it brings a competitive edge to the table, ensuring even the smallest business is taken care of like it was his own. Gideon's technical background ensures that each and every campaign has a strong foundation and key elements are in place for the success of whatever the goals are.
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