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Google’s March Core Update and What it Means for SEO

We all know SEO is constantly evolving. At the forefront of this evolution is Google, the undisputed king of search engines, whose frequent algorithm updates keep website owners, SEO experts, content creators, and digital marketers on their toes. Navigating Google’s updates can sometimes feel like trying to solve a complex puzzle where the pieces keep shifting and changing shape. And, with the unveiling of the March 2024 Core Update, those same puzzle pieces take on new forms and configurations for those who want to increase their search rankings. From the Panda update that weeded out poor-quality content to the latest March Core update prioritizing human-crafted over AI-generated content, Google’s changes seem to demand both excellence and adaptability. And let’s face it: when it comes to Google, change is the only constant.

 

Why Does Google Keep Changing its Algorithm?

Google constantly refines and updates its search algorithms to provide users with the most relevant and high-quality search results. Over the years, Google has introduced several major algorithm updates to improve the user experience and promote better web content.

 

Panda

One of the most significant updates was the Panda update, launched in 2011. This update targeted low-quality content and aimed to demote websites with thin, duplicate, or poorly written content from search results. The Panda update emphasized the importance of creating original, informative, and well-written content for websites.

 

Penguin

Another notable update was the Penguin update, introduced in 2012. This update focused on webspam and targeted websites that engaged in manipulative link-building practices, such as buying links or participating in link schemes. The Penguin update aimed to penalize websites that used unethical tactics to inflate their search rankings artificially.

 

Core Web Vitals

In 2015, Google introduced the Core Web Vitals update, which focused on providing users a better browsing experience. This update evaluated website performance metrics like loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability and prioritized websites that offered a smooth and responsive user experience.

 

Helpful Content

More recently, in 2022, Google rolled out the Helpful Content update to prioritize content that provides a satisfying and comprehensive user experience. This update targeted websites that produce content solely to rank well in search engines rather than provide genuine value to users. The Helpful Content update encouraged website owners to create informative, well-researched content that meets the specific needs and interests of their target audience. It basically focuses on providing helpful content written by people. For example, at Gargle, we want to ensure that patients who visit our client’s website can easily find the answers they need. To do this, we write content with the needs of potential patients in mind. It focuses on answering questions commonly googled by those patients.

Staying ahead in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) requires constant vigilance and adaptation to Google’s evolving algorithm updates. At Gargle, our SEO strategists and content team are dedicated to navigating these changes effectively, ensuring our clients remain in Google’s favor by adhering to the latest best practices and guidelines.

 

What is the March 2024 Update, and What Does it Mean for You?

It’s no surprise that AI-generated content has become a hot topic in SEO and content marketing. While AI-powered writing tools can undoubtedly help create content quickly and at scale, they also raise concerns about quality, originality, and the potential for abuse.

So, in March, in response to these concerns, Google (enter drumroll) unveiled its latest algorithm update (March 2024 Core Update). This update will better identify and prioritize high-quality, human-crafted content over AI-generated or low-quality content that lacks depth, originality, or true value for users. The March Core Update serves as a wake-up call to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to content production. While AI writing tools can be useful for generating initial drafts or outlines, relying too heavily on them without substantial human editing and enhancement could potentially lead to low rankings and traffic declines.

Google stated, “We believe these updates will reduce the amount of low-quality content on Search and send more traffic to helpful and high-quality sites. Based on our evaluations, we expect that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%.”

With all this being said, did you know that Google places higher stakes on your website because you are in the medical field? This translates to an even higher standard for content quality and accuracy. Think of it as Google setting the bar higher and asking you to E-A-T up!

 

Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

Google’s E-A-T framework, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is particularly significant for medical content. As a dentist, your content is evaluated based on these criteria. Demonstrating your expertise in dental care, establishing your authority through credentials, and maintaining trustworthiness through accurate and ethical content practices are crucial to ranking well.

When users search for medical advice, including dental health, they rely on accurate, evidence-based information to make informed decisions about their health. Incorrect or misleading content can have serious consequences. Therefore, Google prioritizes credible and trustworthy content, often relying on sources with proven medical expertise.

Remember, the March Core update reminds us that quality should always take precedence over quantity in medical and dental content. Invest in creating exceptional, human-crafted content, and your website will be better positioned to rank well and provide a superior user experience for your patients.

 

But Wait…Are We Getting Mixed Messages From Google?

It has to beg the question: Did Google just contradict itself by prioritizing human-crafted content over AI-generated content with Google’s Gemini feature? The introduction of Google’s Gemini AI and the latest updates in their search algorithms have sparked a lively debate among SEO professionals and content creators.

 

Google’s Gemini

So, first things first. What is Gemini? In 2023, Google introduced Gemini. Gemini allows Google to generate AI-written content summaries and place them at the top of search results, effectively outranking websites that have organically earned those top spots through good SEO practices.

This juxtaposition highlights an interesting tension within Google’s strategy. On the one hand, the March Core update seeks to promote trustworthy, expertly crafted content and discourage overreliance on AI writing tools. On the other hand, Gemini directly generates AI-written content summaries and displays them prominently in search results, potentially overshadowing websites with high-quality, human-authored content.

 

The Potential Contradiction

Google’s Gemini AI represents a leap forward in integrating artificial intelligence with search capabilities. Designed to offer more conversational, context-aware interactions, Gemini can potentially revolutionize how users engage with search engines. It leverages advancements in natural language processing (NLP) and generative AI to deliver more intuitive search experiences, providing answers that are not only relevant but also nuanced and contextually appropriate.

Automation vs. Human-Led Expertise: Gemini’s AI capabilities enable it to generate answers and content based on vast datasets. The latest update continues to prioritize content created by humans with proven expertise. This focus on human-led content appears to conflict with the generative AI’s ability to provide instant responses that may not always be grounded in expert-level understanding.

Contextual Understanding vs. Structured Quality: Gemini excels at understanding and responding to user queries in a context-aware manner, providing conversational and adaptive answers. However, the search update enforces a structured approach to content quality, emphasizing thorough research, accuracy, and compliance with E-A-T standards. This structured approach may sometimes be at odds with Gemini’s more flexible, context-driven responses.

 

Reconciling the Differences

Despite these apparent contradictions, viewing Gemini and the latest search update as complementary rather than conflicting is important. Here’s how they can work together:

Enhancing User Experience:
  • Gemini’s Strength: Gemini enhances user experience by providing quick, conversational responses that can guide users to more detailed information.
  • March Update: Google views Gemini’s summaries as a way to quickly provide users with concise, relevant information upfront while still linking to authoritative websites for more in-depth content.

 

 

Leveraging AI for Context and Transparency:
  • Gemini’s Contribution: Gemini can better interpret and contextualize queries, understand user intent, and offer initial guidance. Plus, Gemini’s AI-generated summaries are clearly labeled as such, providing transparency to users. This differs from websites attempting to pass off AI-generated content as human-written without proper attribution.
  • Update’s Verification: The search update then comes into play to verify and rank the subsequent detailed content, ensuring that users receive accurate and reliable information after their initial AI-driven query.

 

So, Did Google Contradict Itself?

No! The advancements brought by Google’s Gemini AI and the latest search update reflect the dynamic evolution of search technology. While at first glance, they may seem to contradict each other, in practice, they complement one another, providing both the immediacy of AI-driven responses and the reliability of human-verified content. This combination delivers a richer, more trustworthy search experience.

 

The Future of SEO is Leveraging Both AI and Human Expertise

Now that the dust has settled after Google’s March 2024 Core Update and the rollout of Gemini, one thing is crystal clear: the future of search lies not in an either-or dichotomy between AI and human expertise. It’s about striking the perfect balance and combining the best of both worlds. Google has one goal, which is to deliver a search experience that is both efficient and reliable. For dentists, this means focusing on creating authoritative, trustworthy content. By balancing these approaches, you can ensure your website meets Google’s evolving standards and continues to attract and retain patients.

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