Welcome to our April 2024 SEO News Recap! This month, we cover the end of the March core algorithm update, an important tip for site migrations, Google’s response to the Reddit controversy, and more.

Jump to each April 2024 SEO News Recap news topic using the links below:

Google March 2024 Update Ends with a Whimper

When Google announced the March 2024 Core Algorithm Update on March 5th, it warned that the update would be big – rolling the Helpful Content System into the core algorithm and updating other systems at the same time. On the same day, Google also announced the March 2024 Spam Update and new documentation for what is considered spam, adding a warning that the new rules for site reputation abuse would go into effect on May 5, 2024. Within days, a flurry of manual actions hit sites across the web for violating existing spam policies.

The March Core Update ended on April 19, but the official updates status page (and RSS feed) didn’t report until April 26 that it was over. The delay upset many SEOs who rely on that feed for timely information. Some even started new conspiracy theories on social media. Rather than assuming the worst, maybe someone just forgot to push a button.

Throughout the 45-day core update, questions arose about what makes content spammy and whether websites hit by the Helpful Content Update last September would recover. Here are some of the highlights of that period:

  • Googler John Mueller clarified in a thread on X that Google does not consider publishing content in bulk a spammy practice if the content is good quality.
  • Forbes, a website that was once well respected for financial news, initially added a noindex directive to its Coupons page, presumably to avoid being hit with the new spam policy on May 5. Then, on May 2, Search Engine Roundtable reported that Forbes had completely removed the page from the site with a 410 status code.
  • Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan told Lily Ray that Google will enforce the new spam policy algorithmically and with manual actions.
  • Google promised to accept feedback after the core update ended.
  • Glen Gabe and Lily Ray posted regular updates on X about sites that were hit by the Helpful Content Update last fall, and none of the sites they monitored recovered during this update.

Days after the end of the update was announced, Google made good on its promise of accepting feedback by adding “site reputation abuse” as an option to its Spam Reporting Tool.

If you feel your website might have been affected by the March 2024 Core Algorithm Update or the March Spam Update, get in touch with our SEO team to discuss your options.

The Perspectives Filter Is Now Forums

On March 15, Google changed the name of the Perspectives filter on mobile to Forums, noting that the new name should be more intuitive for users who are looking for that kind of content. When Perspectives was rolled out last year, Google touted it as a way for more diverse voices to be heard on a variety of topics. You will still see Perspectives in carousels, clusters, and regular search result listings, but to find that content more easily, just tap on the Forums button on mobile search.

Google: Links Are Less Important

Speaking at SERP Conf. on April 19, Googler Gary Illyes said once again that links are not as valuable to search as they once were. In the early days of search, links to a website were taken as signs by the algorithm that the website had useful, important information. This fact led to abuses like link farms. Google’s systems have since become much better at judging the value of websites without looking at the number of links. However, high-quality backlinks may still be helpful in showing that a website is trustworthy and authoritative. We’ve said it before and we’ll continue to say it: when it comes to links and content, quality is much more important than quantity.

Evaluate Site Migration Options Carefully

Thinking about migrating your site? If you want Google to find and index it as quickly as possible, stay away from splitting it into multiple subdomains or sites, especially with different intents. John Mueller said, “Splitting & merging tend to take much longer than a normal site migration. There’s not much you can do other than to be patient – it just takes time.” When possible, it may be a better idea to migrate and redirect domain1.com to domain2.com, and then make additional changes once that process is complete.

Speed Up Your WordPress Site with the Speculation Rules API

Are you a WordPress user looking to improve your site speed? WordPress recently released a plugin for “speculative loading” (prerendering a page that a user is likely to navigate to next) to improve site performance and UX. The WordPress team says this can lead to “near-instant load times” when the browser prerenders links that a user hovers over, for example, though that’s just one scenario of how it could be used. Get all the details here.

Google Responds to SEO Concerns of Reddit Threads Appearing in SERPs

Danny Sullivan, Google Search Liaison, responded to claims from SEOs that forums like Reddit surfacing in Google results may contain harmful information. Lily Ray, VP of SEO Strategy & Research at Amsive, pointed out that Google has been emphasizing for years that SEOs should focus on E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness), particularly when it comes to YMYL (your money, your life) content, but now Google is ranking Reddit forum results for YMYL topics, like weight loss, which could be harmful or misleading.

Sullivan clarified that Google aims to provide relevant and useful content and argued that searchers find forums helpful. However, SEOs have taken issue with forum results that rank higher on SERPs than authoritative pages like the CDC for health-related queries.

Don’t Remove Contact Us & About Us Pages

Google’s John Mueller was asked if not listing a Contact Us and About Us page on a website would be okay. He responded, “I can think of good reasons for some sites to have these kinds of pages, but, after double-checking, there’s nothing in our search developer documentation that suggests this is needed.” Although there is nothing in Google’s developer documentation requiring about us pages, they are a great place to improve your brand’s overall visibility for search engines. About Us pages can boost your brand’s visibility in several ways:

  • Brand Trust & Authority: The About Us page gives the brand a place to talk about the history of the site, the reason or purpose behind it, and any credentials or experiences that build trust or expertise.
  • Relevance and Context: They provide valuable context about the website’s purpose, mission, and offerings, helping search engines understand the content and relevance of the site.
  • User Experience: Ultimately, About Us pages contribute to a positive user experience by providing transparency and helping visitors understand the website’s purpose and goals, which can indirectly impact metrics like bounce rate and average session duration.

Want to catch up with last month’s news? We shared the latest news on Google’s March core algorithm and spam updates, page experience, structured data markup, and more. Check out March’s recap here.


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