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  • Writer's pictureCarli Van Stolk

Google's March 2024 Update: What You Need to Know

Updated: Mar 26

Google’s latest March update, dubbed the “Helpful Content Update,” marks a massive shift in the SEO landscape.


The underpinnings of it? Addressing AI-generated content. While the initial Helpful Content Update (HCU) rolled out in 2022, this month’s update is significantly targeted towards combatting spammy, AI-generated content.


And this can have stark implications on your website traffic. Here’s what you need to know about the latest update and how to take action.


Stop Creating Content Exclusively With AI


Are you using ChatGPT to write your blogs—without editing them? If so, then stop. ASAP.


The update specifically targeted websites relying heavily on AI-generated content. While AI-tools have their strengths—and you should definitely be using them to support your content efforts—Google's algorithm can now effectively identify content lacking the depth, originality, and human touch that users crave. Something it wasn't targeting beforehand.


This is a huge step forward for human writers and content creators—like myself—who invest serious time in crafting helpful, engaging content. 


But What Does "Helpful" Really Mean to Google?


“Helpful” seems vague, right? Well, the update emphasizes several key factors that define what this means to Google:


  • Expertise. Content should be created by individuals with demonstrable expertise in the subject matter. Yes, continue to source insights from subject matter experts!

  • Authority. The website itself should establish authority and credibility within its niche. Volume of content still matters.

  • Trustworthiness. Content should be accurate, verifiable, and free from misleading information or biases. Don't stretch the truth.

  • Originality. Content should offer a unique perspective or valuable insights beyond simply regurgitating existing information. What else can you offer in your content that your competitors aren't?

  • Readability. Content should be clear, concise, and well-structured for optimal user experience. Sound unique, but not overly complex. Make it easy for readers to, well, read.


Don't Want To Lose Traffic? Here's What You Should Do


For content managers and website owners, the message is clear: quality over quantity. 


Here are some actionable steps to take:


  • Conduct a content audit. Audit your existing content, identifying areas for improvement based on the "helpful content" criteria.

  • Utilize human expertise. Invest in content creation by qualified and knowledgeable individuals who can provide valuable insights for your audience.

  • Stop writing exclusively for search engines. Prioritize creating content that truly adds value to your audience, addressing their needs and solving their problems. And definitely do not keyword stuff—you’ll get penalized.

  • Optimize the user experience. Ensure your content is well-organized, easy to read, and visually appealing with strong imagery.

  • Get better backlinks. Build high-quality backlinks from reputable websites to demonstrate trust and authority.

  • Stay up-to-date. The next update is set to hit on May 5th. Don’t get caught off guard. Make sure your content is helpful now—and then—to avoid being impacted again. 


The Future of SEO: Key Takeaways


The latest HCU marks a dramatic shift towards a "human-first" content strategy. From here on out, you need to create content written for humans, by humans. By all means get support from AI. Just don't rely exclusively on it.


By prioritizing in-depth knowledge and genuine value for your readers, you can engage your audience, appease Google’s algorithm, and see promising SEO results for the long-term.

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