Google’s March 2024 Core Update: Impacts & Insights

by travelboom

Google released a core update in March 2024 designed to address spammy, low-quality content, and hoteliers and hospitality content creators should take note. These algorithm changes, which happen several times per year, are implemented to update how the search engine evaluates and ranks content. If shortcuts to creating content for your hotel property haven’t gotten you in trouble with Google before, they likely will now. Explore the highlights of Google’s March 2024 core update below to understand how these changes might be impacting your rankings and your future content development plan.

Understanding Google's March 2024 core update

Overview of Google’s March 2024 Core Update

The March 2024 core update refined Google’s ranking system, evolving how the search engine identifies—and boosts—helpful content versus content designed to attract clicks. Work on the “helpful content system” began in 2022, and was updated fully by March 2024. This gave Google’s ranking system a variety of signals to rate the helpfulness of content so users are served informative, useful web pages first, thus improving their search experience.

Key Changes and Focus Areas

According to Google, the March 2024 core update was designed to reduce the volume of unhelpful, irrelevant, and unoriginal content on search engine results pages (SERPs). This update has focused on two areas—site content and spam. If you’ve followed our tips and trends for hotel SEO that call for helpful, people-first content, you have a good start on meeting Google’s current standards. Along with content parameters, the core update included revised spam policies to address the increasingly sophisticated, targeted approaches some marketers are taking to deceive search engines. The spam policies were designed to rally against these bad practices:

  • Expired Domain Abuse: An example of this would be purchasing an expired domain, such as a hair care site, and repurposing it to promote an unrelated product or service, like a cruise line, using the reputation of the old domain to manipulate search rankings.
  • Scaled Content Abuse: Scaling content refers to creating and publishing large volumes of unoriginal content that is of little value to searchers to manipulate search rankings.
  • Site Reputation Abuse: This involves publishing third-party pages without first-party oversight or involvement to manipulate search rankings, such as a chiropractor’s site hosting a coupon page from a sports drink site to attract clicks.

Impacts on Search Results

The core update in March of this year originally aimed at removing 40% of low-quality websites from search results. Now that it is complete, 45% of web pages deemed as subpar have been removed or demoted on the SERPs. Hoteliers who have been creating content for people (rather than search engines), and that offers helpful travel tips, event updates, and other guest-centric information, should see minimal negative impacts. Those who have been relying on machine-generated content or focused solely on satisfying keyword quotas may need to review, and in some instances, remove content to avoid negative rankings.

User Experience and Quality Signals

This core ranking system applies to content at the page level rather than site-wide and focuses on the helpfulness of each piece of content. The system has evolved since it began two years ago and now uses a variety of signals to determine which content to show and which to demote. While Google does not offer exact details about the algorithm changes, most marketers agree that Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) will be more important now than ever. 

Strategies for Adapting to the Update

Most pages with content Google deems unhelpful have likely already taken a hit to their rankings, but you should still be monitoring your website periodically to identify any lingering repercussions of this update. Use these ‘people-first’ content parameters from Google to evaluate your site pages and determine whether page updates or removal is necessary. If your site’s content is designed to attract visits from search engines and considers its human users second, it is time to refocus your efforts on prioritizing people first and search engines second. If you’re wondering what you should make the subjects of your hotel’s blog, focus on the topics that interest guests, and on areas where you have expertise, such as the travel destination.

Long-Term SEO Considerations

Core updates aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean your hotel’s website will be derailed every time new protocols pop up. The best way to build sustainable content development practices is to focus on your guests’ experience on your site, from the topics you write about to the behind-the-scenes technical optimization. The latest core update means that writing original content your readers find interesting and worthwhile will satisfy users and search engines. And following search engine optimization (SEO) basics for hotels, like including—but not overusing—keywords, offering engaging content, structuring information on pages in a rational  hierarchy, and making sure your site offers a technically sound booking experience, can also help set you up for long-term success. 

Expert Opinions and Recommendations

Marketers will tell you that by following SEO best practices and maintaining high-quality content, most core updates will not derail your rankings. But engaging with industry blogs by hotel marketers and Google’s Search Central blog can help you stay informed of upcoming core updates. If you’ve discovered pages have been demoted in the SERPs due to the March 2024 core updates or other ranking factor changes, contact TravelBoom Marketing today for a website evaluation. Our comprehensive hotel marketing services for SEO and content development can help you get back to offering the worthwhile articles and seamless reservation experience your guests appreciate.

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