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Google has finished rolling out the March 2024 spam update, which began rolling out on March 5th, about 15 days ago. Keep in mind, the March 2024 core update is still rolling out and will likely continue to roll out for the next couple of weeks. The spam update took 14 days and 21 hours to roll out, starting on March 5, 2024, and ending on March 20, 2024.

Google wrote this morning, “The rollout was complete as of March 20, 2024.”

March 2024 spam update. Google did not say anything specifically new when it came to announcing the spam update. Chris Nelson from Google wrote on March 5, “Along with our new spam policies, we are also launching the March 2024 spam update today.”

Here is Google’s spam update documentation:

While Google’s automated systems to detect search spam are constantly operating, we occasionally make notable improvements to how they work. When we do, we refer to this as a spam update and share when they happen on our list of Google Search ranking updates.

For example, SpamBrain is our AI-based spam-prevention system. From time-to-time, we improve that system to make it better at spotting spam and to help ensure it catches new types of spam.

Sites that see a change after a spam update should review our spam policies to ensure they are complying with those. Sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all. Making changes may help a site improve if our automated systems learn over a period of months that the site complies with our spam policies.

In the case of a link spam update (an update that specifically deals with link spam), making changes might not generate an improvement. This is because when our systems remove the effects spammy links may have, any ranking benefit the links may have previously generated for your site is lost. Any potential ranking benefits generated by those links cannot be regained.

Previous spam updates. Before this, the most recent confirmed Google spam update was the October 2023 spam update, then the October 2022 spam update and the  December 2022 link spam update. Before that was the  November 2021 spam update. Google also released a two-part Spam Update – on June 23 and June 28 in 2021, as well as the July 2021 link spam update.

New spam policies. As we covered earlier, Google introduced three new spam policies including:

  • Scaled content abuse
  • Expired domain abuse
  • Site reputation abuse

The first two went into effect immediately, but the site reputation abuse will not go into effect until May.

We did see a swarm of manual actions related to pure spam issues right after Google introduced these spam policies. The manual actions are not directly related to the spam update, which would not result in getting a manual action but an algorithmic demotion.

Manual actions vs algorithmic updates. It is important to note that manual actions are done by humans at Google. Humans review your site and determines the site is in violation of a spam policy. Google may automated some of the processes around finding these violations but they are considered “manual” by Google.

Algorithm updates, like the March 2024 core update or spam update would not get notified of a ranking decline through Google Search Console’s manual action viewer. Algorithmic updates are automated and Google does not not notify the site owner when a site is negatively (or positively) impacted by an algorithm update. Of course, a site can both be impacted by a manual action and an algorithm update.

Why we care. Between the core update, spam update and the manual actions, with the new spam policies, a lot has changes with Google’s search results.

The core update is not done yet and Google urges patience before making changes, so wait until the core update is done before making any drastic changes. We are still expecting changes related to the core update and who knows where your site will end up.

The March 2024 spam update is done but it is not the last spam update Google unleashes. Plus the core update is still running, so buckle-up, we’re not done yet.

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