B2B content marketer frustrated by Google's March 2024 update
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Google’s March 2024 update: 3 things you need to know if you’re in B2B content marketing

Google is tanking AI-written content and sites are being de-indexed overnight. What's changed and what B2B content marketers needs to know?

This post is risky for me. It’s only been a few weeks since I wrote about Google’s last major update…I don’t want to sound like a broken record. But this one is just too important for B2B content marketers to ignore.

Has your content tanked recently?

Maybe you’ve noticed pages that used to own a piece of the internet’s most valuable real estate (Google page 1) suddenly aren’t getting any traffic…

Or maybe you’re about to publish a batch of optimised articles designed to get you ranking. You want to know if you’ve wasted your time and money.

Google’s March 2024 core update has been heralded a “blood bath” by those in the B2B content writing world. It’s definitely the most impactful I’ve seen.  

Big sites with high DAs have been de-indexed overnight, hit with manual penalties and their organic traffic has been completely wiped out.

Brands that have built inbound marketing strategies around SEO face thousands of dollars in lost revenue. They’ll have to work hard (and spend money) to start ranking again.  

So, what’s happened and has SEO best practice changed?

In this post, I’m going to share what Google’s March 2024 core update is and the three things all B2B content marketers need to know to avoid plummeting SERPs.

What is Google’s March 2024 core update?

In a nutshell, Google is tanking AI-written content. 

Why? It’s part of the search engine’s ongoing mission to be as helpful as possible to its users by spotlighting authentic, valuable content.

Sounds great, right? Yes, it is. Unless you’ve recently hammered ChatGPT to publish as many blogs, articles and pages as possible to skyrocket your ranking. 

This update isn’t just a tweak or a minor adjustment — it's a comprehensive overhaul that’s affecting business owners and B2B content marketers worldwide. 

We’re in the early stages of the update and over 800 websites have already been de-indexed. I couldn’t find any stats on how many pieces of content have decreased rankings, but by all accounts it is much higher.

What has actually changed? Google has confirmed it has:

  • Updated its algorithm to reduce unoriginal, poor quality content by 40%
  • A zero-tolerance policy towards scaled, AI-generated content that lacks human insight
  • Cracked down on duplicated third-party content designed to boost rankings
  • Introduced new policies that see expired and repurposed domains as spam.

Websites that violate these guidelines or are using sneaky, underhand SEO tactics will be penalised. Some changes have already been enforced, while others like the expired domain policy will be enforced by 5 May.

The speed of enforcement of the March core update has been extraordinary.

Usually, things take time in the SEO world. Not anymore. Penalties have been issued hard and fast, with a lot of people waking up and finding their content de-indexed overnight. 

Hot tip: you can find out if your site was affected by typing “site:website.com” and into Google and seeing if you show up in the search results.

What is a core update?

Google rolls out core updates every year to improve the quality and relevance of search results. They keep the search engine working as it should.

Recently, Google had been copping a lot of flak for the rise in useless, obviously-AI-generated content that was designed to get page 1 rankings. Users weren’t happy with the amount of spam showing up on SERPs.

The internet (especially B2B content marketing and SEO communities) was alight with conversation about the quality of SERPs plummeting and no doubt the Google gods heard. The company wants to win back users’ trust.

Since AI became commonplace for content creation, Google updates have become more frequent. 

There were four in 2023, compared with two the year before. This update is a core update, but the search engine has also been testing out a number of smaller SERP changes recently. I wrote about this on LinkedIn.

Core updates mark a major change Google had made to its ranking algorithm that impacts a large number of indexed web pages. Each core update tweaks the formula by which Google ranks web pages, meaning some that ranked high for their target keywords may rank lower afterwards. The reverse is also possible.

What do I need to know if I’m a B2B content marketer?

  1. Publishing large volumes of low-quality content won’t get you anywhere
  2. Small sites are just as vulnerable as big ones
  3. Sites with “some articles” generated by AI are being hit too

Is your content driving results? Find out how a laser focused B2B content strategy gives you a competitive edge today.

Can I use AI for B2B content writing?  

The short answer is yes.

But in the right way.

Google isn’t targeting all AI content; it’s targeting unhelpful, unoriginal content. It just so happens a lot of repetitive, useless content is now AI generated.

Using AI to churn out 100 articles a day might seem like a quick way to boost your site's rankings, but frankly, it's a strategy doomed to fail.

More importantly, it's a poor, unsustainable and ineffective B2B content marketing strategy. 

So far, the websites feeling the brunt of Google's crackdown are those laden with low-quality, AI-generated content.

One way the search engine is finding this content is by targeting websites with terms of use pages that state “some articles on this website might have been partially generated by an AI…the information provided may not be entirely error-free or up-to-date”. So, it’s specifically looking for expired, inaccurate AI generated content, not AI content on the whole.

The good news? We received quite a lot of information from Google about this update.

The company has released blogs and policy documents that are more transparent than usual and offer valuable insights into how Google now evaluates content, particularly regarding the principles of E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).

So how do you use AI ‘in the right way’? Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts:

  • Use it as an assistant, not a writer:
    • Brainstorming and ideas: using AI to get your creative juices flowing: think angles, headlines, content ideas and analogies. Take the foundations of an idea then infuse it with your unique insights and expertise.
    • Research: use it to gather data and statistics for your content that supports your narrative (but make sure you fact check anything you end up using).
    • Avoid paragraphs: even if you tweak a few words here and there, I’d avoid using AI to generate whole paragraphs of text to use verbatim. Even if you think it’s great content, you’re putting your site at risk given Google’s crackdown.
  • Stick to fundamental content principles:
    • Demonstrate E-E-A-T: Google has prioritised E-E-A-T forever. This update highlights the importance of ensuring your content reflects genuine expertise and authority and offers tangible benefits and insights to your audience.
    • Maintain authenticity: the search engine values content that stems from real experiences and firsthand expertise. Incorporate personal anecdotes or case studies that add to your content narrative.
    • Regular content audits: with stricter guidelines in place, periodically review your site and content for anything that might fall afoul of Google’s updated policies. This is particularly crucial for third-party contributions, which should be vetted rigorously to avoid penalties.

How can I avoid my B2B content being impacted?

There are two ways your content could be impacted by the Google March 2024 core update. Either by Google’s human reviewers or algorithmic ranking updates.

A negative human review should result in a manual penalty and notification of de-indexing, while an algorithm will slash your content ranking without telling you.

For human reviews, a recent study by originality.ai showed 100% of the de-indexed websites showed signs of AI-generated content, with half the sites having 90-100% of their posts created by AI.

So, if you’re using ChatGPT to help write the occasional blog post, or you’re not using content generated verbatim, you shouldn’t have a problem.

But less is known about the algorithm updates (at the time of writing, they are still ongoing). There have been reports of sites with no AI content incorrectly being impacted, but it’s hard to verify those claims.

My advice?

  1. Check your rankings and if you’ve been in de-indexed.

2.     If you’re worried you might be in the future, evaluate your content strategy and/or your SEO or B2B content marketing agency. You need to know how your results are being generated and focus on intent-led, helpful content.

3.     Limit the use of automated tools for content generation.

4.     Invest time and money in producing content that offers value and insight.

5.     Don’t mess around with expired domains – if you use them, ensure they are home to high quality content.

6.     If you use AI, balance it with human insight and ensure any content generated is reviewed by a real person.

This update is a big one. It’s a core update, a helpful content update and a spam update rolled into one. SERPs are volatile right now, but you don’t need to panic.

Be honest with yourself: are you creating helpful, valuable, human-led content? If you are, you don’t need to worry about being de-indexed.

Ultimately, there is no silver bullet in SEO…even with the advancement of AI. Two high quality blogs per week are still more valuable and less risky than 10 AI-generated pieces.

What next for B2B marketing content + SEO?

If this update has taught us anything, it’s that content marketers and businesses cannot rely on AI to scale content production.

There are no shortcuts to creating great blogs, articles or case studies that help acquire customers online.

It can be tempting to get hooked in by graphs showing crazy traffic increases in two months online…but my advice? Tread carefully. 

Without any proof or context, I wouldn’t be handing over my money to anyone who claims they can get you to page 1 overnight. They’re either lying or using sneaky methods that will most likely get you caught out.

Instead, focus on building a site with good UX, lower funnel pages that are valuable and target intent, and creating helpful educational content about your product or service. 

Stuck with SEO? Schedule a free 30-minute call today to find out how your website could convert more visitors into paying customers. No strings attached.

Written by

Caroline Voaden
B2B content marketer frustrated by Google's March 2024 update
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