BITESIZE: Google SEO News – March 2024

Latest Google news including a new core algorithm update that aims to reduce low-quality content in search results, Google's expanding partnership with Reddit and changes to Core Web Vitals.

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Some big things are happening at the moment that warrant keeping an eye on your stats and traffic levels. As you may be aware there has been a fair amount of interest, news and studies of how, arguably, Google’s search listings have diminished in quality. We believe, as a reaction to this, Google has launched a large core update along with spam updates this month which are more significant than usual.

March core update and spam policies

Google announced the core update on 5th March 2024 was beginning to roll out and focuses on reducing ‘low-quality’ content in search. This is closely related to the ‘helpful content update’ originally released in August 2022. Google believes this will result in a 40% reduction in unoriginal content in search results. There is a two-pronged approach with one focusing on quality and the other on spam policies:

  • Refined core systems to reduce unoriginal content in search and keep it at low levels through better understanding if webpages have unhelpful content, poor user experience or were created specifically for search engines
  • New spam policies targeting scaled content (AI generated content at scale), websites which have great content but also host low-quality content provided by 3rd parties (being enforced 5th May) and finally the repurposing of expired domains.

What do you need to do? 

Check the performance of your website to ensure there are no traffic reductions which appear to correspond with these updates. If they appear to then further analysis should be done. However, this update may take a month to roll out and there may fluctuations in visibility. More information specifically for ‘web creators’ can be found here.

Google expands partnership with Reddit

Back in January I updated everyone on the growth of Reddit or forum-based results being noticed in search results. There are several trends and notable points about this but at the end of February Rajan Patel, Google VP, announced that their partnership with Reddit is expanding. This gives Google access to Reddit’s data API enabling them to expand how deeply Reddit-based content reaches throughout Google products. This is tied with the unconfirmed suspicion that Google was the unnamed AI company it made a $60 million deal with ahead of their IPO. Reddit is set to start trading on March 21st.

How does this impact you?

It’s likely we’ll see more forum-based content reaching search result pages. You should think about how you can take advantage of that and how you can help influence the brand narrative on those platforms.

Changes to Google’s Core Web Vitals metrics

Google is releasing a change to standard Core Web Vitals metrics as of today (Tuesday 12th March 2024) whereby the responsiveness of a website will carry greater weight.

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that can measure real-world user experiences across websites looking at loading performance, interactivity and visual stability. These are considered key to a ‘good’ guest experience on a website and yes, they do have an influence on visibility in search results. Also important to note is that there is no relationship between this CWV change and the recent March updates.

The metrics that form CWV are:

A little more about INP: This metric assesses the responsiveness of a webpage. An interaction which causes a page to become unresponsive results in a poorer guest experience. The metric looks at the latency of all interactions a guest has made with a page and reports a single metric value. Here’s a visual example of this and there’s some good information on how to optimise for INP here.  

Need help?

If you need help with anything covered in this round-up, drop us an email to [email protected] or submit your details here and we’ll be in touch.

Dave Colgate profile picture
Dave Colgate

Dave is head of SEO at Vertical Leap. He joined in 2010 as an SEO specialist and prior to that worked with international companies delivering successful search marketing campaigns. Dave works with many of our largest customers spanning many household names and global brands such as P&O Cruises and Harvester. Outside of work, Dave previously spent many years providing charity work as a Sergeant under the Royal Air Force Reserves in the Air Cadets sharing his passion for aviation with young minds. He can often be found in the skies above the south coast enjoying his private pilot licence.

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