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Welcome to your March 2024 SEO News Recap! This month, we have the latest news on algorithm updates, spam policy, ChatGPT, carousel rich results, and more.

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

Want to catch up with last month’s news? We shared the latest on TikTok SEO, a new name for Google’s AI, residual impacts from last year’s Helpful Content Update, and much more. Check out February’s recap here.

Key Takeaways from the March Algo Updates

Google shared insights about the March 2024 Core and Spam updates in a recent blog post.

The Core Algorithm Update “marks an evolution in how we identify the helpfulness of content” as the Helpful Content System was integrated into Google’s core search algorithm.

This update is notably complex, with the changes affecting multiple core systems, is why they stated that it may take up to a month to fully roll out. We’re also likely to see more fluctuation and ranking volatility than normal during this time.

In a statement by Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Google’s Search Product, we learned that this update is meant to reduce unhelpful content in Google Search by 40%.

If your site is suffering or you’re not sure how to move forward, the blog said: “We strongly encourage reading our creating helpful, reliable, people-first content help page.”

The Spam Policy Update targeted three specific practices:

  1. Expired domain abuse: Purchasing and repurposing an expired domain name primarily to manipulate search results by taking advantage of the domain’s reputation, without providing content that is valuable to users.
  2. Scaled content abuse: Generating pages, often utilizing large amounts of unoriginal content, to manipulate search rankings. Beware of any tools or recommendations to use AI to generate large amounts of new pages, categories, or content without human intervention or your users in mind!
  3. Site reputation abuse: Also known as “parasite SEO,” this practice involves publishing third-party pages on a domain with little to no first-party oversight or involvement. Google elaborated: “Such third-party pages include sponsored advertising, partner, or other third-party pages that are typically independent of a host site’s main purpose or produced without close oversight or involvement of the host site, and provide little to no value to users.”

Google’s algorithm updates usually come with no forewarning. But luckily, there is a place where you can find a list of every documented Google algorithm update. We’ve collected all the details for you in this blog: Google Algorithm Updates: History & Latest Changes.

Manual Actions Hit Websites After Google Spam Policy Updates

Just a day after Google announced the March core algorithm and spam updates, websites across the internet were hit with pure spam manual actions. Many affected sites were reportedly deindexed as a result.

A manual action is different from a hit caused by an algorithm update because it requires human intervention. Manual actions will show up in Google Search Console under the Manual Actions Report, usually with a description of the cause, which can include any number of ways a site violates Google’s spam policies.

Google Community Manager, Ryan T, posted advice in the support forum for how to recover from a manual action based on Google’s documentation.

In a strange coincidence, Google liaison John Mueller’s personal website was also deindexed within days of the spam update’s rollout, leading to a rash of rumors and speculation on social media. He responded on X with tongue-in-cheek comments on posts about his dilemma, and he posted on LinkedIn about how it feels to have the world sharing your robots.txt file.

In the end, he was testing something in that file, tweaked it, and then waited to see how long his site would show in Google SERPs again. It didn’t take long because by the time the news hit Search Engine Roundtable, Mueller’s site was already indexed again.

We include Mueller’s story here because the timing of his deindexation was uncanny and a good reminder that if your website is suddenly missing from the index without a notification in GSC, you should check your technical SEO before jumping to any conclusions about algorithmic hits or manual actions!

Which Aspects of Page Experience Are Used in Rankings?

Google recently updated its page experience documentation to clarify that Core Web Vitals (CWVs) are used when determining a website’s rankings since they help determine the likelihood of a great experience on a website, but other page experience aspects do not directly affect your SEO.

However, it’s important to note that the performance metrics and diagnostics from Pagespeed Insights, for example, can help your users have a better experience on your site, which is what Google’s ranking systems are looking for. So, these metrics are still important because they indirectly affect your SEO.

Additionally, the documentation mentioned that striving to “get a perfect score just for SEO reasons” is not the best use of time.

Long story short: Improve your site per CWV and performance metric recommendations to ensure everyone on your site has a great experience!

New Schema Markup for Product Variants

If you use configurable products on your ecommerce site to allow users to select a variety of options on a product page (color, size, etc.), Google just announced new Schema markup you can take advantage of.

It now supports “Product Variant” markup, with three new properties: hasVariant, variesBy, and productGroupID (parent URL SKU), in addition to “isVariantOf” in case you use distinct URLs for your variants.

Several guidelines must be met to properly use the new markup, so be sure to check them out here and review Google’s documentation.

Carousel Structured Data Markup in Beta

Google has started supporting (in beta) structured data markup for carousel rich results.

When properly configured, each tile in the carousel will contain information from your site about a list of items. These carousels are especially useful for site ranking lists (e.g. Top 5 Restaurants or Our 3 Favorite Resorts in the Caribbean) but may also be helpful for websites displaying events and things to do or products.

These carousel rich results can contain information related to ratings, images, amenities, price or price ranges, cuisine served, and more.

See Google’s documentation and examples for more information.

Copilot’s New Settings in Bing Search & GPT-4 Turbo

Copilot has rolled out two new settings for Bing Search users:

  1. Choose if you want the copilot response to show on the SERP
  2. Scroll up to open Copilot at the top of the page

These settings primarily affect how users interact with Copilot in Bing Search.

Copilot also announced that GPT-4 Turbo has officially replaced GPT-4 in the Copilot free tier and is integrated into all three models of chat. Pro users can still access the older model.

Tying It All Together: March 2024 SEO News

SEO is always changing. The amount of SEO changes we saw in March 2024 is to be expected. It’s important to keep a pulse on the everchanging organic search landscape because if you fall behind in organic listings, you sacrifice awareness and sales.

The good news is, you don’t have to go it alone. The experts at ROI Revolution are dedicated to staying up to date with all the latest and greatest SEO news. Ready to discover the difference that comes with having an SEO guide you can trust? Book a meeting with our team today.