Google March 2024 Core Update: Bad News for Low-Quality Content

Google March 2024 Core Update: Bad News for Low-Quality Content

The March 2024 Core Update from Google is upon us and with it, sweeping updates to their algorithms and policies that aim at reducing low-quality content by penalizing manipulative practices that abuse AI and churn out unhelpful content. Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product for Search at Google states “We expect that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%”.

As of right now, there is not a lot of noticeable overall volatility in the SERPs, but the image below shows which industries have been impacted by the update so far:

Screenshot showing which industries have been impacted the most

Using the image as a loose reference, we can discern that these verticals, especially publishing sites, tend to contain more content that Google has deemed spammy or unhelpful. Let’s take a closer look at what this update entails and how these changes impact websites.

A Stronger Focus on Quality Ranking

In a somewhat rare move, Google has stated that this update is more complex than a typical core update, which is a big statement for them to openly highlight. The March 2024 Core Update implements the “helpful content” system directly into its core ranking system. The goal of this integration is to drastically decrease unhelpful content appearing in search results and punish sites that have been creating spam content. 

New spam policies were also introduced that target certain manipulative tactics such as site reputation, expired domain, and scaled content abuse. Google states:

“We’ll take action on more types of these manipulative behaviors starting today. While our ranking systems keep many types of low-quality content from ranking highly on Search, these updates allow us to take more targeted action under our spam policies.”

They also encourage content creators to review their spam policies to ensure they are adhering to Google’s standards. It is interesting to note that they used the term ‘creators’ here, which indicates that they are thinking beyond the webmaster.

One more key item to highlight regarding spam is that Google calls out a “spam manual action” in their core update notice. This means that one way Google is responding to automated abuse of systems by AI solutions is by relying more on human solutions.

By launching this multi-pronged update, Google hopes to improve the user experience by enhancing the quality of the search results they offer as well as demotivate site owners from trying to game their system. Some specific areas they are focusing on include:

Site Reputation Abuse

Site reputation abuse occurs when trusted sites publish third-party content without any oversight to take advantage of the first-party site’s ranking signals and good standing with Google. This doesn’t mean that all third-party content is in violation. It means that the content posted must provide value to the site’s users and not be produced solely to manipulate search rankings.

Expired Domain Abuse

Another area Google addresses in the March 2024 Core Update is expired domain abuse. This is when an expired domain is purchased and is then used to boost the ranking of low-quality content by essentially tricking users into believing that the new content is from the older site.

Scaled Content Abuse

Scaled content abuse happens when numerous pages are created with the primary goal of increasing the site’s position in the search rankings as opposed to helping users. Google stated that this measure is set to address content created by humans as well as AI to push more unhelpful content down the SERPs (thus raising sites that host helpful content closer to the top). 

What This All Means 

While this update presents challenges for site owners and SEO professionals alike, there are some benefits gifted to those who have been adhering to Google’s guidelines and not trying to game their system. 

Let’s take a step back and read between the lines a bit: Google can’t/won’t call AI content bad, but instead, they will use jargon such as “scaled content abuse”. Even if this update isn’t technically aimed at AI content, there is an extremely high chance that the majority of sites impacted by the update are going to have used AI-generated content.

Lots of SEO agencies like to believe that Google won’t take action against AI content due to their prior announcements, but as people in the industry know, nothing is ever that clear when it comes to Google. 

The March 2024 Google Core Update’s Big Winners

Quora has firmly established itself as a platform built around unique user-generated content, powered by thousands of subject experts and enthusiasts. 

  • Stronger Moderation: AI-generated answers and spam are still issues for Quora users, but the platform has stepped up its moderation policy to combat duplicate content. This move may have also played a role in the website’s performance gains.
  • Engagement: High user engagement is often a great indicator of organic content. Quora’s interface encourages constant engagement through likes, comments, and a dynamic home feed. 

The update’s focus on original, helpful, and relevant content aligned perfectly with Quora’s ethos. Web traffic surged from 159,701,008 sessions in February to 173,573,771 in March—an impressive monthly increase of 8.69%.

a graph showing Quora’s monthly traffic

Reddit benefits from the new update in all of the same ways Quora does. This platform’s traffic figures are multitudes larger than Quora’s, since Reddit offers even more ways for users to engage with the platform and submit original content. Reddit also gets a ton of backlinks from high authority sources, boosting its visibility even further. 

a graph showing Reddit’s web traffic

As we can see in the graph, Reddit traffic has been trending upward steadily since July 2023, however, the platform experienced one of its biggest recent traffic surges between February and March. Sessions increased by 10.86% after the update, going from 299,904,032 in February, to 332,471,457 in March. is one of the biggest winners on our list, managing to double their traffic after the update–and then some. From their original, curated recipes for thousands of dishes, to a longstanding reputation built by hosting talented chefs, this website ticks all of the right boxes for the new update. 

Aside from text-based recipes, has integrated social features directly into every page. Users can rate and comment on recipes and blogs without having to click off to another platform, allowing for higher engagement rates. As a result of all this,’s traffic increased by 111.41% after the update, reaching 16,878,325 sessions in March from just 7,983,534 in February.

a graph showing’s organic traffic

Pinch of Yum takes a page out of’s book and puts a new spin on it. This popular food blog exudes passion, from its clean design to its engaging copy. Interestingly, Pinch of Yum features social media integration wherever possible to invite engagement. Users can pin recipes to their Pinterest boards with a click, or share posts to their Instagram story just as easily.’s emphasis on personality and engagement played a huge part in its performance after the March core update, increasing organic traffic by 59.18%.

a graph showing Pinch of Yum’s organic traffic has been fully optimized to meet the strictest search engine standards, so the huge surge in organic traffic after the update isn’t much of a surprise. 

Many websites in the tech space resort to AI-generated content to publish numerous blogs as quickly as possible. Geeksonsite prioritizes quality instead, publishing authentic and unique content that passes Google’s new gauntlet with ease. This is why the website’s traffic increased by 74.94% to reach 39,155 sessions after the update.

a graph showing organic traffic for Geeksonsite

Modern Aquarium is geared towards hobbyists, selling aquatic plants and materials for aquascaping. Like Geeksonsite, Modern Aquarium’s decision to focus on expertly curated original content earned them a massive boost in organic traffic after the update. Most of their blogs are longer and more detailed than average, and they are also enriched with well-researched statistics.

The result?’s organic traffic increased from 36,504 sessions in February to 53,548 sessions in March, an increase of 46.69%.

a graph showing Modern Aquarium’s  organic traffic

Losing Websites After The March 2024 Google Core Update

It wasn’t all rosy for webmasters after the update. Many websites went from receiving millions of clicks a day to zero clicks right after the update. It’s worth pointing out that many of these websites cover Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) topics like finance, health, and general safety. These topics can potentially harm readers, so while YMYL isn’t an explicit ranking factor, Google does stress the importance of quality content on YMYL pages for quality evaluators.

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Launched in November 2023, this website covers YMYL topics like affiliate marketing and finance. experienced meteoric growth, bringing in millions of visitors every month, only to get deindexed after the update. The biggest factor here is the presence of repetitive and lazy AI-generated content that was flagged by Google.

a graph of’s organic traffic

A quick look at this health and wellness blog is sufficient to reveal that each of its 12 articles has been poorly generated with AI. Beingselfish also suffers on other SEO fronts, featuring a junky design with images that fail to load. It’s unsurprising to see their already minor monthly traffic tank, but it does serve as a cautionary tale against lazy content.

a graph showing beingselfish’s organic traffic

Who Else Got Deindexed?

Here’s a brief list of other websites that were completely deindexed after the core update.


Is It Possible To Bounce Back?

Take a look at FreshersLIVE. Prior to this update, they were ranking for 3.8 million keywords according to SEMRush. The site had roughly 10 million organic visitors last month. As of a week ago at the time of writing, the site was COMPLETELY DEINDEXED and received 0 organic visitors.

Google search results page showing the site has been deindexed

Next Steps

Like with every update, many websites can experience ranking fluctuations. It is important to give Google some time to complete the rollout and tweak some of the finer details of the update. There is a two-month grace period for sites to comply with the site reputation policy introduced in this update, but the other changes are going into effect this week. 

If you have been following Google’s best practices and you see a dip, don’t panic. Refrain from any major, sweeping changes. If your site was affected and was posting low-quality, spammy content, it’s time to pivot your strategy and realign your content with Google’s best practices.

Speak with the Experts

Did this update impact your site, and you’re not sure where to start? Reach out to the experts at Coalition Technologies. We put your site’s health first and always ensure that it follows the guidelines set out by Google. Get your free proposal now!

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