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Why Did The March 2024 Google Algorithm Update Take So Long?

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If you’ve been staying up to date with Google’s latest algorithm update, you’ll know that it took a whopping 45 days to roll out. It began on the 5th of March 2024 and completed on the 19th of April, but the completion wasn’t announced until the 26th of April, a week later. But why did it take so long?

Google, as usual, have been pretty tight-lipped about the exact reasons why this update needed so much time. They have announced that it reduces the amount of low-quality content in the search results, and prevents manipulative spam practices.

We’ve got a few ideas at Search4Local as to why this update might have taken longer than usual. Keep reading to find out what our experts think.

AI Content Means More Spam

There’s no denying that increased access to AI content generators is going to mean there’s more spammy content out there. While AI can be used to create helpful content, it can also be used to generate large amounts of text which are only designed to manipulate search results and algorithms.

AI content has developed hugely in a relatively short space of time. We think Google have had to dramatically change how their algorithms deal with this kind of content. It’s very possible that the changes they made took longer to roll out, test and produce the desired results. With AI becoming more sophisticated, it’s probably getting harder and harder to distinguish between content which is compliant with Google guidelines, and content which is not.

Defining Quality Content

It’s not just AI content that runs the risk of being low quality. Google now also regards all low quality content as low quality, no matter where it’s hosted. This should put an end to webmasters of high quality websites abusing their good reputation by promoting low quality, third party content. No matter how brilliant and trusted a website is, if they’re posting low value content that’s focused on ranking and search crawlers over users, it should no longer rank well. This change is being enforced on the 5th of May, so there’s still some alterations to come in the very near future.

We think this part of the update is taking a little longer because Google want to give high quality websites a fair chance at redemption. It’s possible that they already know exactly what effect this part of the update will have, and they expect it to be quite detrimental to some big, well-known websites.

User-Centric Updates

Google are always striving to ensure that search results are best suited to what the user wants. We’re seeing a significant increase in the amount of forum links on page one. This means that Reddit, Quora and similar sites are being featured a lot more than before. Google may have decided to do this because users frequently tack ‘reddit’ onto their searches when they want to see user-generated content and opinions.

However, there are a few arguments out there that claim Google have the wrong end of the stick. Reddit users frequently complain about the poor quality of Reddit’s own internal search engine. Therefore, it’s possible that users who add ‘reddit’ onto the end of their searches aren’t necessarily representative of what most other searchers are looking for. This could be an update which Google reverses if it begins to decrease the quality of search results, but for now it looks to be staying.

Manual Website Reviews

Google do sometimes manually review websites. This, especially on a large scale, will take much longer than leaving machines to do the job. With such a massive increase in AI generated content in recent months, it’s becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful content. To ensure that the new algorithm is working correctly, more manual website reviews could have taken place.

Something Went Wrong With The Google Update

Look, we’re not saying it definitely happened, but it’s possible that something went wrong. If Google began rolling out the update and something unexpected happened, they’d want to implement a fix and ensure it was working properly before calling the update complete. Most updates take about half the time that the March 2024 one did, so it’s possible that Google realised something was going wrong early on and had to roll out some additional changes.

Final Thoughts On The March 2024 Google Update

Google are notoriously secretive about the inner workings of their search engine, so we’ll probably never really know if something went wrong or not. Equally, we probably won’t know if there was an increase in manual reviews, or if anything else went on behind the scenes. What we do know is that they announced that there is now 45% less low quality, unoriginal content in search results. This is a pretty big deal, and goes to show that Google are working hard to combat spam and unhelpful content.

Written by Alice Farley

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