What we’re seeing a week into the Google March 2024 core and spam updates

Ranking volatility hit on Friday and Saturday, with limited reversals on Monday after a storm of manual actions last Thursday.

Article source material [Searchengineland] Written by Barry Schwartz

Google's March 2024 Core and Spam Updates: A Busy Week

It's been a whirlwind week since Google rolled out its March 2024 core and spam updates. We've seen a fair bit of volatility in search rankings, with some caused by the algorithmic changes and others due to Google taking manual action to enforce their updated spam policies.

There's More to Come

It's important to emphasise that these updates are far from over. Google has indicated the core update will take roughly a month to fully implement, with various systems being tweaked throughout that period. The spam update is expected to take a fortnight to roll out completely. As we're only a week in, expect further ranking shifts in the search results over the coming weeks.

Timeline of Changes

Here's a quick rundown of what we've seen unfold this past week:

  • 5th March: Google announced the March 2024 core and spam updates.
  • 6th & 7th March: Google issued a significant number of manual actions for violations of their updated spam policies, resulting in several websites being delisted from Google Search.
  • 8th & 9th March: We may have witnessed the initial signs of the core and/or spam update impacting website rankings through Google's algorithms.
  • 10th & 11th March: While things seemed to settle down with Google a little, there were reports (though not widespread) of some websites that were hit by both the algorithmic changes and manual actions experiencing some reversals (at least temporarily).

Overlapping updates and confusion. With so many changes happening simultaneously in Google Search, it is hard to keep track of what is impacting what. We have a core update, a spam update, manual actions and also the Core Web Vitals change today. The impact of overlapping changes is likely to confuse SEOs and site owners.

In fact, Google is deviating from its stated goal of limiting overlapping updates. In 2021, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan said they try not to overlap update. He repeated that in 2022 saying, “We’ve worked very hard to keep updates separated from each other, or as little overlap as possible, to help creators understand more.”

He reiterated that with this past update, adding, “We do generally try to avoid this, but we had both the core update and the spam update ready, and ultimately, we’re going to push updates we think will improve the quality of search results. Manual actions aren’t an update. New spam policies aren’t an algorithmic update. So those aren’t “updates” that “overlap” with the core and spam updates.”

Why we care. For SEOs and site owners, it can be very stressful. It probably makes sense to wait for these various updates to complete and see where the dust settles.

Until then, you can continue to take Google’s advice and improve your site’s content quality and user experience. That is never a bad thing to focus on at any time.

Stay tuned for the status of all these Google search algorithm update rollouts.