When to fix affected sites before the March 2024 core update

When to fix affected sites before the March 2024 core update

Google’s John Mueller answered a question about whether the March Core Update was over and whether it’s OK to start fixing things in response to the update.

Basic update question on reddit

The person who asked the question wanted to know if the core upgrade was finished because they have experienced a 60% loss in traffic and were waiting for the upgrade to finish before fixing things to reclassify.

“People advised me not to make drastic changes to my blogs while the core upgrade was in progress. Unfortunately, I’ve suffered a significant loss, about 60% of my traffic, and now I’m determined to restore those numbers.
Do you have any advice for me? My pages, including backlinks (purchased), seem to be more affected!”

The advice the Redditor got about waiting until an update is finished before trying to fix things is good advice… most of the time.

The March 2024 Core Algorithm Update is not finished

Major algorithm updates are changes to the entire range of algorithms that are part of search. The ranking part of the algorithm is a part of what makes up Google’s core algorithm. And the ranking system itself is made up of many other components related to understanding search queries and web pages, weighing different factors based on the context and meaning of the search query, relevance, quality and experience of the page, among many other factors.

There are also spam related systems like RankBrain. The core algorithm consists of many things and the March 2024 core update is particularly complex which may explain why it is taking so long.

John Mueller responded by first acknowledging that the March Core Update isn’t over yet.


“No, it’s not complete. It will be labeled as complete when it’s finished deploying.”

Do you have to wait until the update finishes?

Mueller then addresses the part of the question that is about whether the person should wait until the update is finished to fix their site.

He answered:

“In any case, if you’ve noticed things worth improving on your site, I’d go ahead and do those things. The idea isn’t to make changes just for search engines, right? Your users will be happy if you can improve things even if the search engines haven’t updated their view of your site yet.”

John Mueller makes a valid point that anytime is the right time to correct deficiencies that are discovered after a website’s self-assessment.

I’ve been working as a search marketer for 25 years, much longer than John Mueller, so I know from that perspective that rankings tend to change over the course of an algorithm update. It’s not uncommon for catastrophic ranking changes to be reversed when an update ends. “Fixing” something before the update has finished runs the risk of changing something that isn’t broken or needs to be fixed.

However, in this particular case, John Mueller’s advice to go ahead and fix what’s broken is absolutely correct because an issue that Redditor mentioned, paid links, is likely a contributing factor to the negative change in your classification

Optimization for people

Mueller’s next tip is to focus on optimizing your website for people, not search engines. The emphasis of Mueller’s response was to encourage optimization for “users,” meaning site visitors.

The rest of Mueller’s response:

“Also, even though I don’t know your site, one thing you can do regardless of anything is figure out how you can grow alternative sources of traffic so that when the search engines renew their opinion of your site, you will have less strong fluctuations (make things more independent of search engines).

And once you go down this path, you’ll probably also notice that you focus more on creating value for users (because you want them to come, visit and recommend themselves), which is ultimately what search engines want too. “

Mueller’s answer has a lot of merit because optimizing for people will align with how Google ranks websites. It’s an approach to SEO that I call User Experience SEO. User Experience SEO is anticipating how content affects user experience and satisfaction.

Using these principles, I was able to predict for several years everything that was in the Google Review Update. My customers with review websites were not surprised by this update because I had anticipated everything in that update so they were ready for it when it happened.

Optimizing for people isn’t a superficial “make your site look great” or “content is king” slogan. People optimization is an actionable strategy on how to create and optimize websites with strong ranking power.

The US government’s recent antitrust lawsuit against Google made it clear that the Navboost signal that tracks user interaction signals is a powerful ranking factor. Google responds to user interaction signals, and one of the best ways to create user interaction signals (as described in the Navboost patent) is to create websites that cultivate positive responses.

Read the discussion on Reddit:

Is the March Core Update finished yet?

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About the Author: Ted Simmons

I follow and report the current news trends on Google news.

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