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Google Core Update March 2024: Our Thoughts

It’s here. Month 3 of 2024 and we’ve got our first core update.  

With Google announcing a ‘complex’ update with a month-long roll-out there are plenty of unknowns, but that hasn’t stopped the world of SEO from speculating that this update could have a cataclysmic effect.  

Without further ado, here are a few musings from the CreativeRace Performance team… 

Digital PR

Matt Jones, Head of Digital PR 

This is one of those updates that hopefully strikes fear in those who have been doing link acquisition work with an old-school mindset, of ‘it works right now’ without any thought about futureproofing. There is no doubt we will see big winners and losers from this update, and once the month is out, we’ll be able to see who they really are. 

We’ve seen the impact of Digital PR done right on our own clients, seeing a true increase on bottom lines, and helping hit commercial goals in key and complex areas, especially when dealing with sensitive or difficult topics.  

It’s a lot more difficult to execute Digital PR properly than buying links, often from low quality or irrelevant sites. It can seem like a “quick win”, but the long terms effects can be devastating. There are sites that are going to really feel this update due to poor “DPR” strategy, and if you have been hit, or are worried that you may have not been quite in-keeping with Google guidelines, send us a message where our expert DPR team can help. 

We’ve seen first-hand that applying a strategic lens to our campaigns and, taking into consideration the quality of the coverage we were getting, that it had a direct impact. For one of our clients, we saw keywords increase in a hyper-competitive field to position #1 based on our DPR work. 

However, I also believe that it is too early to know right now and we’re about to see the Google dance across the next month or so… 

Content Marketing 

Helen Hargreave, Head of Content Strategy 

For content, our prediction for the future is, well, business as usual. By not trying to dupe or manipulate rankings and instead, focus on continuing to create great content that is crafted for people, and not for search engines, is the only way forwards.  

The key takeout for me, though, is the implied role of AI-produced content. Will Google penalise sites that are using AI to produce their site copy? If they did, this would mean backtracking on September 2023’s update to the Helpful Content System with new nuanced language that suggested content should be created ‘for people’ and not necessarily ‘by people’. At the time, this opened the floodgates and potential ‘green-light’ of web creators to rely more heavily on AI-content – because Google was fine with it, right? 

The updated helpful content guidelines outlined: 

Many types of content may have a “How” component to them. That can include automated, AI-generated, and AI-assisted content. Sharing details about the processes involved can help readers and visitors better understand any unique and useful role automation may have served. 

If automation is used to substantially generate content, here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • Is the use of automation, including AI-generation, self-evident to visitors through disclosures or in other ways? 
  • Are you providing background about how automation or AI-generation was used to create content? 
  • Are you explaining why automation or AI was seen as useful to produce content? 

With the March 2024 core update repeatedly outlining that this is a ‘complex’ update and there is no one system used for identifying helpful content, what factors are Google looking to bear in mind when deeming content helpfulness? Only time will tell!  

For us, we’ll be continuing to lean on industry expertise and developing content formats in line with customer needs.  


Adam Tudor, Head of SEO 

For me, this is a promising sign that search continues to refine and evolve many of the HCU updates that arrived in Q4 last year, that impacted a massive number of sites across many industries and topics.  At times, the fallout from these updates has felt like a return to the Panda & Penguin updates of the past, where the repercussions were felt many months (and even years) after. 

Ensuring that content is unique, purposeful, valuable and engaging remains our primary purpose to maximise visibility and engagement for our clients, and this feels like a bold update as search continues to develop these measures. Publishers and webmasters that prioritise these elements are seeing great returns in many sectors, in some cases from months of hard work last year that’s now being realised, delivering  impression, clicks and conversions. 

We’ve heard in recent weeks rumours resurfacing around content engagement as a contributing ranking factor, something that has been leaked with discussion and continues to be a hot topic in search. Regardless of the ranking impact, implementing and monitoring clear measures of content performance to ensure high quality, engaging content surfaces should be paramount. It’s here where we consistently see the greatest visibility and is where the most value can be given to users, something we continue to deliver for all our clients. 

I’m also happy to see continued adjustments in indexing to tackle the turbo-charged rise of AI content that has grown many brands and sites on the back of large scale, generic content that’s been repurposed and reworded from other areas. This is all moving in the right direction to deliver higher quality outcomes for users of search.  

A robust SEO strategy takes stock of all ranking components – be it technical SEO, content marketing or link acquisition, our expert and experienced team are ready and raring to help support with your organic needs. Contact us today.