March SEO Google Update News
Written by Aaron Rain April 03th 2023
March has finished, and with it comes another recap of Google's monthly updates.
So, what happened in March?
Well, If you noticed significant changes in your traffic over the last month, there is a strong possibility that it is related toGoogle’s helpful content system. We are going to look at this change in depth to help you get your traffic back on track.
Another major update is thatGoogle’s AI chat Bard is live, keep reading to see why it has been so disappointing…
Lastly, we are going to look at potentially the biggest news in the SEO world for March - the arrival of the March core update. We will discuss the effects it will have on your traffic and what we learned from Google about the changes.
February Product Reviews Update
Before we get into the March updates, I want to follow up on what we discussed in February regarding the product reviews update.
The February Product Reviews Update, which rolled out from February 21 to March 7, 2023, has now finished.
This update affected many languages other than English, and the SEO community reported various levels of impact on different sites. Here's a deeper look at the February algorithm update.
From what I have seen so far, it feels to me like this update was not as impactful as other product reviews updates in the past, but Barry Schwartz is reporting it was significant for quite a few sites.
What Google Said: Google announced that this update affects many languages other than English.
What the SEO community has noticed: There are reports of sites dropping, but not as many as with other updates.
What my data shows: Most sites that I monitor are showing no obvious impact from this update. I will keep you posted about this as it progresses.
Helpful Content System: A Game Changer
The March algorithm update continued with the introduction of the Helpful Content System.
According to SEO experts, this system has significantly impacted website rankings. To stay competitive, businesses must focus on creating helpful content, prioritize content quality and E-A-T, and invest in authors' online reputation.
Impact on website rankings
The Helpful Content system has recently been making waves in the world of SEO, with many websites experiencing significant ranking changes.
According to Lily Ray, this update has led to site-wide ranking demotions for some websites offering low-value and unhelpful content.
As a result, businesses need to prioritize content quality and expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) to prepare for upcoming Google ranking system updates.
Strategies for optimizing content quality, E-A-T, and author reputation
To adapt to the Helpful Content system, businesses should focus on the following strategies:
- Plan and strategize around helpful content: Ensure your content serves users' needs and aligns with search intent.
- Prioritize content quality and E-A-T: Invest in creating high-quality, authoritative, and trustworthy content. Check out our on-page SEO checklist for tips on optimizing your content.
- Build authors' online reputation and knowledge graphs: Connect with expert authors to strengthen your website's authority and relevance for expert-level queries.
Helpful Content Insights from Gary Illyes at Pubcon
At a recent Pubcon event, Gary Illyes from Google shared insights on helpful content, authorship, and the diminishing importance of links in SEO. His advice is especially relevant in the wake of the latest March SEO update.
- Helpful Content: Google's deep learning algorithms have improved in determining relevant content based on the concepts and intent of the query. The Helpful Content System rewards content that helps users get their answers quickly. Learn more about writing high-traffic SEO articles.
- Authorship: While the "authorship" feature on Google is no longer used, having authoritative authors can still benefit your content. It can strengthen your knowledge graph connections with Google and potentially improve your content's relevance for queries requiring expert-level answers. Discover what an SEO consultant does and how they can help you.
- Links: Links are still important, but not as crucial as they once were. With each AI advancement, Google's ability to find relevant and helpful content gets better, reducing the need for PageRank as a proxy. Content that contains relevant concepts and satisfies search intent is more important for ranking than the number of inbound links.
To succeed in the era of the Helpful Content system, businesses must focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that meets user needs, invest in expert authors, and stay up to date with the latest trends and insights from industry professionals like Gary Illyes.
Google's AI Chat Bard: A Mixed Reception
Google's AI chat Bard has been met with mixed reviews. While it has the potential to revolutionize SEO, there are concerns about inaccuracies and outdated information.
Overview and current limitations
Although it's an exciting new addition to the world of search and AI, Mikhail Parakhin, CEO of Bing, suggests that Google is about six months behind the current state of the art. With Bing potentially challenging Google's dominance, the future of AI-driven search is more competitive than ever.
As of now, Bard is only available to users in the US and UK and is not accessible through workspace accounts. Although I haven't had the chance to test Bard personally, the limitations and concerns raised by the SEO community provide valuable insights into its current state.
Concerns in the SEO community: inaccuracies, outdated information, and YMYL topics
Several issues have been raised by the SEO community regarding Bard's performance:
- Inaccuracies: Bard has been reported to make inaccurate claims, such as having access to Ahrefs Keyword Explorer Tool for search volume data.
- Outdated information: Bard has provided answers with dated, inaccurate data and even recommended contacting John Mueller on Google+ (which no longer exists).
- YMYL topics: Bard currently does not provide answers for "Your Money Your Life" (YMYL) topics, though this may change in the future.
- Misconceptions: Bard has confidently stated that Click Through Rate (CTR) is an important ranking factor, which contradicts current SEO understanding.
- Privacy concerns: Bard claimed that Google's language model was trained on Gmail data, prompting a response from Gmail denying the claim.
- Lack of attribution: Bard has been criticized for not linking to websites as sources and for plagiarizing content from other sources without proper attribution.
- Basic math errors: Bard has demonstrated difficulty with basic math problems that ChatGPT can easily handle.
Future potential and implications for SEO professionals
Despite the mixed reception and current limitations, Bard has the potential to improve and become a valuable tool for SEO professionals. As AI continues to develop and integrate into search, SEO experts need to adapt to these changes and leverage new tools like Bard to stay ahead of the competition.
For now, SEO professionals should monitor Bard's progress and be prepared to adjust their strategies accordingly. In the meantime, it's crucial to focus on creating high-quality, helpful content that serves users' needs and aligns with search engine guidelines to maintain and improve rankings in an ever-evolving SEO landscape.
Google’s March Core Update is here!
The March Core Update is still rolling out, and it's already having a significant impact on many websites.
Some of my clients have experienced traffic fluctuations due to this update, but it's essential to wait for the update to fully roll out before making any drastic changes. However, I have noticed a few changes that we can discuss below.
March Core Updates Observations
The core update didn't officially roll out until March the 15th, but many sites seem to have seen movement before the update. We have seen this before. If your traffic changed dramatically, even before the update started on March 15, it will be due to this update.
Below you will see a few sites that I have been monitoring that are seeing nice traffic increases on March the 13th:
Quick tip: Analyzing traffic changes across multiple search engines
If you're unsure whether your website's traffic changes are due to a core update, adjustments you made to your site, or seasonal fluctuations, it's helpful to examine traffic patterns across multiple search engines. By comparing traffic from Bing or other search engines with Google, you can gain a better understanding of the causes behind any shifts in your site's performance.
Here's how to analyze traffic changes across multiple search engines:
- Use web analytics tools: Utilize web analytics tools like Google Analytics, Bing Webmaster Tools, or other third-party analytics platforms to gather data on your website's traffic from different search engines.
- Compare traffic patterns: Analyze the data to identify any significant changes in traffic patterns from various search engines. Look for similarities or differences in trends between Google, Bing, and other search engines.
- Evaluate the impact of updates: If you notice traffic losses or gains that are consistent across all search engines, it's more likely that the changes are due to your website adjustments or seasonal fluctuations. On the other hand, if the traffic changes are exclusive to Google, it could indicate that your site has been affected by a core update.
- Consider additional factors: Keep in mind other factors that could influence traffic patterns, such as marketing campaigns, social media promotions, or news events related to your industry. These external factors may also affect your website's traffic across multiple search engines.
By examining traffic changes across various search engines, you can gain a clearer understanding of how your website's performance is influenced by different factors, allowing you to make more informed decisions when optimizing your content and SEO strategy.
The March Core Update has been impactful so far and I will continue to share more about the updates once the rollout finishes.
Below you will see one of the sites that I track that had a significant increase in traffic following the rollout. They have a strong focus on helpful, relevant content and Google has rewarded them well so far.
If you were affected by the March Core Update, here's what you should do:
- Wait: The update is still rolling out and will take up to 2 weeks to complete. There may be turbulence during this period, so it's best to wait before making any changes.
- Analyze: Look closely at pages that Google elevated above yours and consider their content in the context of Google's guidelines on creating helpful, reliable, people-first content
- Optimize: If you notice a drop in organic traffic, review your content and make improvements to better align with search intent and user needs. Focus on delivering high-quality, helpful content that answers users' questions quickly and efficiently.
As we continue to monitor the March Google update, it's crucial to stay agile and adapt our strategies to the ever-evolving SEO landscape. Here are some additional tips to help you navigate the changes:
- Keep your content fresh by updating old content for SEO.
- Ensure your website's technical SEO is up to par. Pay attention to site speed, mobile-friendliness, and the importance of structured data in SEO.
- Develop a strong backlink profile by creating high-quality, shareable content and forging relationships with authoritative websites in your niche.
In summary, the March SEO update has brought several changes to the SEO landscape. By staying informed and adapting our strategies, we can make sure our websites maintain and improve their rankings despite these algorithm updates.
Remember, the key to thriving in the world of SEO is to focus on creating high-quality, helpful content that genuinely serves your audience's needs.
For more information on the latest SEO news, stay tuned for the April Google Update.
Finally, If your site has been hit by the March Core Update and your traffic is dropping, book a free consultation with me and I can work with you to develop a plan moving forward.