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Google March 2024 Core Update Finished April 19, 2024

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Bloddy Google Logo Core

The Google March 2024 core update finished a week ago and Google did not tell us until today. It finished officially on April 19, 2024, and took 45 days to roll out after starting on March 5, 2024. Google also said this helped reduce low-quality and unoriginal content in search results by 45%, which is up from their estimate of 40%.

Google posted the update saying, “The rollout was complete as of April 19, 2024.” Google added on X, “The March 2024 core update is complete, having ended on April 19. The ranking feedback form is now ready at forms.gle/SWN1sckmUfQR8k9a9 and will remain open through May 31. We’ve also updated our Debugging drops in Google Search traffic help page here.”

This must be soul-crushing for all those sites hit by the September 2023 helpful content update and did not recover. It may mean they won’t see a recovery anytime soon and the update they have been waiting for did not come with this core update.

Also the volatility we saw this week may be completely unrelated to this March 2024 core update. I do suspect the April 17th volatility was the last bit of volatility we saw, we also saw volatility on April 14th and also before that.

A Google spokesperson told me these points:

  • The March core update ranking improvements, which tackled spam and low quality content on Search, are now finished rolling out. As a reminder, on March 5th we launched a number of meaningful enhancements to our core systems, as well as several updates to our spam policies, to reduce content created for search engines on Search.
  • The updates led to larger quality improvements than we originally thought – you’ll now see 45% less low quality, unoriginal content in search results, versus the 40% improvement we expected across this work.
  • As the web and spam tactics continue to evolve, we’ll continue to work to reduce low quality, unoriginal content in Search. As always, we appreciate and encourage feedback from users and site owners alike.

Google March 2024 Core Update Quick Facts:

Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:

  • Name: Google March 2024 Broad Core Update
  • Launched: March 5, 2024 at around 12 pm ET
  • Rollout: Completed 45 days later on April 26, 2024 at around 4:09pm ET
  • Targets: It looks at all types of content
  • Penalty: It is not a penalty, it promotes or rewards great web pages
  • Global: This is a global update impacting all regions, in all languages.
  • Impact: Google said it will result in a 45% reduction in low-quality unoriginal and unhelpful content in its search results.
  • Discover: Core updates impact Google Discover and other features, also feature snippets and more.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google’s core update advice.
  • Refreshes: Google will do periodic refreshes to this algorithm but may not communicate those updates in the future. Maybe this is what we saw the past couple of weeks or all those unconfirmed Google updates.

Here is the post on X:

Debugging Search Traffic Drops Doc Changes

Also, in the updated debugging search traffic drops Google added a new section for Algorithmic update and made some other changes.

Here is the new Algorithmic update section:

Google is always improving how it assesses content and updating its search ranking and serving algorithms accordingly; core updates and other smaller updates may change how some pages perform in Google Search results. We post about notable improvements to our systems on our list of ranking updates page; check it to see if there’s anything that’s applicable to your site.

If you suspect a drop in traffic is due to an algorithmic update, it’s important to understand that there might not be anything fundamentally wrong with your content. To determine whether you need to make a change, review your top pages in Search Console and assess how they were ranking:

  • Small drop in position? For example, dropping from position 2 to 4.
  • Large drop in position? For example, dropping from position 4 to 29.

Keep in mind that positions aren’t static or fixed in place. Google’s search results are dynamic in nature because the open web itself is constantly changing with new and updated content. This constant change can cause both gains and drops in organic Search traffic.

Small drop in position:

A small drop in position is when there’s a small shift in position in the top results (for example, dropping from position 2 to 4 for a search query). In Search Console, you might see a noticeable drop in traffic without a big change in impressions.

Small fluctuations in position can happen at any time (including moving back up in position, without you needing to do anything). In fact, we recommend avoiding making radical changes if your page is already performing well.

Large drop in position:

A large drop in position is when you see a notable drop out of the top results for a wide range of terms (for example, dropping from the top 10 results to position 29).

In cases like this, self-assess your whole website overall (not just individual pages) to make sure it’s helpful, reliable and people-first. If you’ve made changes to your site, it may take time to see an effect: some changes can take effect in a few days, while others could take several months. For example, it may take months before our systems determine that a site is now producing helpful content in the long term. In general, you’ll likely want to wait a few weeks to analyze your site in Search Console again to see if your efforts had a beneficial effect on ranking position.

Google also changed the “Policy violations and Manual Actions” to “Spam issues.”

It used to read:

Policy violations and Manual Actions

If your site does not comply with the Google Search Essentials, some of your pages or the entire site may be omitted from Google Search results.

Check the Google Search spam policies and the Manual Actions report on Search Console to find if this applies to your website. Keep in mind that Google’s algorithms may also take policy violations into account even without a manual action.

Now it reads:

Spam issues

Google detects practices that violate Google Search spam policies both through automated systems and, as needed, human review that can result in a manual action. If your site doesn’t comply with the Spam policies for Google web search, your content might rank lower in results or not appear in results at all.

If you suspect a drop due to a spam violation, review our spam policies to ensure you’re not engaging in spam practices that our automated systems would detect. Also, check the Manual Actions report on Search Console to see if any have been issued to your website.

Google also made some other small changes, you can compare the old version here to the new version here.

Here is some reminder details from our original story:

March 2024 Core Update Details

I spoke with a few people at Google about this, including Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product at Google Search. I will say Elizabeth Tucker really knew this update inside and out and it was refreshing talking with her.

This core update is unlike most previous core updates in that Google will push this update out over three to four weeks. There will be multiple updates to the core ranking system within this timeframe. Elizabeth Tucker told me that several core ranking systems will be updated in this time frame, they are all part of the overall core ranking system but each one will be updated within that system. So you might think you are fine and not hit by this core update today, but next week, you might get hit by another core system update to this March 2024 core update. Google will let us know when this update is done rolling out but until then, you may be hit by something core update related during this 3-4 week period.

Elizabeth said, “This update involves refining some of our core ranking systems to help us better understand if webpages are unhelpful, have a poor user experience or feel like they were created for search engines instead of people. This could include sites created primarily to match very specific search queries.”

“We believe these updates will reduce the amount of low-quality content in Search and send more traffic to helpful and high-quality sites. Based on our evaluations, we expect that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%,” she wrote.

Chris Nelson from the Search Quality team added, “The March 2024 core update is a more complex update than our usual core updates, involving changes to multiple core systems. It also marks an evolution in how we identify the helpfulness of content.” “As this is a complex update, the rollout may take up to a month. It’s likely there will be more fluctuations in rankings than with a regular core update, as different systems get fully updated and reinforce each other,” he added.

Also, Chirs Nelson added that there is “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.”

Helpful Content Update Now Part Of The Core Updates

You read that right, there is no more standalone Helpful content update – it is now incorporated into the core ranking system. If you read what Elizabeth Tucker wrote, she said, “This update involves refining some of our core ranking systems to help us better understand if webpages are unhelpful, have a poor user experience or feel like they were created for search engines instead of people.” She referenced the first efforts of the 2022 helpful content update and says “we began tuning our ranking systems to reduce unhelpful, unoriginal content on Search and keep it at very low levels. We’re bringing what we learned from that work into the March 2024 core update.”

So yea, the helpful content system is now part of the core ranking system – no more updates on that going forward. I do wonder how many of you may recover with this March 2024 core update from the Septmeber 2023 helpful content update – time will tell…

Previous Broad Core Updates

Here is a list of the most recent core updates we’ve seen since Google started to confirm them. Previously we nicknamed them Phantom updates or unconfirmed updates.

Previous Helpful Content Update Impact

Here is the list of the previous Google helpful content updates:

Google Tracking Tools

Here is how the third-party tracking tools showed the volatility:

SimilarWeb:

Similarweb

Semrush:

Semrush

Advanced Web Rankings:

Advancedwebranking

Mozcast:

Mozcast

SERPmetrics:

Serpmetrics

Accuranker:

Accuranker

Mangools:

Mangools

Wincher:

Wincher

SERPstat:

Serpstat

Algoroo:

Algoroo

Cognitive SEO:

Cognitiveseo

I am so sorry for those who got hit by the September 2023 helpful content and did not recover. This has to be really hard to take.

Normally I would wait to write about this until the next day but I will be offline for Passover on Monday and Tuesday, plus since it has been done for a week, the tracking tools and chatter won’t show anything new…

Forum discussion at X.



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Daily Search Forum Recap: June 21, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google unleashed a new spam update – the June 2024 spam update – here is what we know. Google had a big indexing issue last night, that lasted several hours. Google spoke more about the images not showing up in search and that it is more likely a quality issue with your site. Google Local Service Ads will soon show on Google Maps. Google Discover is testing a floating search bar. Google Safe Search has a new set of FAQs. Plus I posted the SEO video recap – it was a busy week!

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google June 2024 Spam Update Takes Target


    Google has released a new algorithm update the search company is naming the Google June 2024 Spam Update. This update does not have anything new specific changes that we are aware of, like some previous updates. Google just wrote, “Today we released the June 2024 spam update. It may take up to 1 week to complete, and we’ll post on the Google Search Status Dashboard when the rollout is done.”

  • Google Search Bug: Not Indexing or Serving New Content


    Google Search may be having a new indexing or serving (or both) bug where it is now showing new content from sites that are creating new content. Sites like the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, CNN, Forbes, and others are showing very few new pages being indexed in the past hour by Google Search.

  • Local Service Ads Coming To Google Maps On iOS


    Google is notifying some advertisers that use Google’s Local Service Ads program that soon their ads will be shown on Google Maps. It will start with the iOS version of the Google Maps app and then expand to other platforms and surfaces from there.

  • Google Search Images Go Missing? Might Be A Quality Issue.


    For the past several months, generally around the helpful content update in September and the various core updates we had over the past several months, there have been complaints with image thumbnails for some sites not appearing in the Google Search result listings. Google responded again to the issue, saying it is not a technical thing for most sites but rather a quality issue.

  • Search News Buzz Video Recap: Google Spam Update, Volatility & Indexing Bug, AI Overviews Tracking & FAQs, Google Maps Exploit, Google Ads, AppleBot & More


    We had a new Google spam update, the June 2024 spam update and what would be an SEO video recap within Google Search ranking volatility, at least this time it was on Father’s Day weekend. Google Search seemed to have an indexing bug last night. If your image snippets disappeared from Google months ago, it is likely a quality…

  • Google Posts Safe Search FAQs


    Ashwarya, the Community Manager for Google Search, posted a bunch of resources around Google Safe Search. He wrote, “We are going to help you out in every way possible. Here are a few articles to get you started on Safe Search.”



  • Google Tests Floating Search Bar In Google Discover


    Google is testing a floating search bar in the Google Discover results. So when you load up the Google home page on your mobile device and scroll through some Discover stories, the search bar sticks to the stop and floats over the stories.


  • Google Dublin Whiteboard Signage


    Here is a Google sign that is at the Google Dublin office which also is a whiteboard. You can write messages on the Google logo. I think this is old but I found it on Instagram recently.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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Google Search Not Indexing & Serving New Content?

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Google Logo Burning Ashes

Google Search may be having a new indexing or serving (or both) bug where it is now showing new content from sites that are creating new content. Sites like the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, CNN, Forbes, and others are showing very few new pages being indexed in the past hour by Google Search.

While all of these sites have produced dozens of stories in the past hour, most are showing 0 to 10 new content (URLs) in the Google Search index in the past hour.

Google has not posted any issue yet in its Search Status Dashboard and I do not see massive complaints yet but I received a notice on X about this (that post was deleted) but I still see the issue.

Here are some examples:

site:cnn.com – within hour – 2 results:

Google Cnn Index

site:wsj.com – within hour 2 results:

Google Wsj Index

WSJ down to nothing:

Wsj Hour

site:nytimes.com – within hour 10 results:

Google Nytimes Index

site:hollywoodreporter.com – within hour – 2 results:

Google Hollywood Index

site:forbes.com – within hour 0 results:

Google Forbes Index

Here are more examples of massive news sites not seeing much content in the Google index in the past hour:

Foxnews Google Index

Nbcnews Google Index

Apnews Google Index

Reuters Google Index

Cnbc Google Index

I often see indexing complaints about Google Search but I rarely see it on sites this big that produce a lot of content.

We last had a larger issue like this in January 2024, then in December 2023, October 2023 and then many more over the years.

Are any of you seeing this?

Update at 7:30pm ET: I waited over 30 minutes for this story to be indexed by Google and it was not. Normally this site is indexed within minutes of a story going live.

Ser Google Index Hour

So I checked Google Search Console and it said the page was crawled on Jun 20, 2024, 7:14:49 PM but the page was not in the Google index:

Gsc Not Indexed

Meanwhile, the live URL inspection tool says there is nothing preventing it from being indexed:

Gsc Can Be Indexed

I did request indexing manually to be sure – but still, not indexed.

Forum discussion at X.

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Daily Search Forum Recap: June 19, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google posted its FAQs on AI Overviews, asking why you can’t disable then. Google may be showing fewer Reddit links. Google explains when it is not a good thing when Googlebot is crawling you more. Google is testing 6 people also ask by default. Google launched menu buttons in the Google Maps results. Google AdSense has a new privacy and messaging feature for privacy rules.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google AI Overviews FAQs Including Why You Can’t Disable AI Overviews


    Google has posted a new document in its forums named frequently asked questions about AI Overviews. In this document it has a section named “why can’t I disable AI Overviews?” The answer is that Google’s “goal is to help people find the information they’re looking for quickly and reliably.”

  • Report On If Google Showing Fewer Reddit Links In Search?


    Some in the SEO industry have been asking if Google has been showing fewer links in its search results to Reddit over the past several weeks. So Mordy Obserstein pulled some Semrush data that showed a slight downtick in Reddit results in Google’s Discussion and Forums section.

  • Google: Two Common Reasons When A Spike In Crawling Is Bad


    Google’s Gary Illyes posted on LinkedIn with two common examples of when a spike in Googlebot activity, crawling, is a bad thing. The short answer is when Googlebot gets to crawling an infinite section of your site (like calendar pages that goes on forever) and when your site is hacked with a ton of new hacked pages.

  • Google Tests Two More People Also Ask Results (6 PPA)


    Google is testing showing two more people also ask results, by default, which is a total of six people also ask, instead of the typical four people also ask that Google would show in its search results.



  • Google Local Panels Gains Menu Button


    Google seems to be adding a “menu” button to the Google Business Profiles, the local panels, in the web search results. I think Google has tested this one and off over the years, but as Marcin Karwowski noted, it seems to be rolling out now to some businesses.



  • New Google AdSense Privacy & Messaging For Users To Opt Out


    Google has begun rolling out a new privacy and messaging feature for AdSense ads in some US states. This is to comply with California, Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia, and Utah privacy laws. The feature allows the site to communicate to the user about opting out of the sale or sharing of their personal information.



  • Google Japanese Circular Keyboard


    Here is a photo from Daniel Waisberg’s trip to the Google Japan office, and it shows these circular Japanese keyboards on display. There are other items on display.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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