Google March 2024 Core Update: Finally Done

Hey folks. We had to completely rewrite this newsletter because of new information that got published just before we sent it out. The original version focused on Google’s March 2024 core update, mainly discussing the fact that it was still rolling out and therefore the “biggest algorithm update in the history of Google.” We have since learned new information.

We had good reason to think the first draft of today’s newsletter was accurate. There’s a Search Engine Roundtable article from yesterday called Google March Core Update Still Rolling Out. We had a great quote from someone predicting when the core update would be finished (when Reddit, Quora, forums, Youtube, TikTok, Linkedin, Twitter, advertisements and big brands are all that is left in the rankings. That will take a bit more time. I give it until the end of this year).

That’s a tweet from one of the editors of Search Engine Land. It’s too late in the day to write an entirely new newsletter. Here are some quick takeaways.

Google is claiming this update reduced “unhelpful content” by 45%. We haven’t had time to evaluate that. Anecdotally, we can point out that there are nothing but negative responses to Google’s tweet that officially announced the end of the core update. That’s a change from the past. It was always a mixed bag after previous core updates.

The general consensus, if such a thing is possible to summarize after ten minutes of scanning, is that this looks like a rent seeking update. Large brands and publishers are gaining visibility at the expense of everyone else. This sentiment fits with a local search trend that many of you have likely noticed this year– that Google is crippling organic traffic in order to incentivize businesses to buy ads for visibility. Businesses that formerly had no trouble ranking one or two towns over are no longer doing so. The best response we’ve seen to the end-of-core-update tweet we linked to in the previous paragraph is “Serious Question – Will anyone be investigating Google for investing over $60 million into Reddit? How convenient that these latest algorithm updates have skyrocketed Reddit’s traffic/revenue, while destroying smaller sites with content that is actually helpful. And right on queue Reddit is going public. How is this legal?

Good question.

To be clear, Local Viking isn’t leveling any accusations. We’re under time pressure, shooting from the hip, and just passing along the fact that more-negative-than-usual responses are the only ones we can find so far.

We’ve got an update for Local Viking and Local Brand Manager users. There’s a new share button on every GeoGrid search result. Clicking it will give you a way to copy the public link (which can be viewed by anyone, with or without an account), open the public link, or embed the result in an inline frame on a web page. Enjoy.

Also, you’ll notice a new section at the bottom of the newsletter. We’re officially plugging The SEO Mad Scientist because he’s awesome.

A few links before we go. Up first: Jeff Lawson, a Twilio cofounder, just bought The Onion (which still exists and is still funny). Next, we have a Time article about Google’s concept of “prebunking,” which is their way of trying to educate people in such a way that reduces their chances of believing misinformation. Our third link shines a light on the revamped practice of co-branding credit cards. American Express and Delta will be issuing metal SkyMiles cards made out of 747s until June 5 (which is probably a safer practice than allowing those Boeing planes to fly these days). The last link is from The New Yorker. It’s called Why You Can’t Get A Restaurant Reservation. It’s an interesting deep dive into the practices of reservation bidding and customer data-sharing that is taking place behind closed doors in big cities.

That’s it. Take care.

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