The Impact of Google’s March 2024 Core Algorithm Update on Law Firms

Date: May 16, 2024

The March 2024 core algorithm update began its rollout on March 5th and finally concluded on April 19th, although Google did not inform the public of the completed rollout until April 26th. In this article we will dive into what algorithm updates are and the impact the most recent March 2024 core algorithm update had on law firms. 

What Is an Algorithm Update? 

15% of searches that Google receives are brand new, which means that Google needs to test and update the results it shows for each search query to figure out what results provide users with the most helpful information for their request. This is done via algorithm updates. There are a variety of different updates that Google releases on a yearly basis including: 

  • Core Algorithm Updates – Core updates target primary search algorithms to improve results and demote low-quality sites. These updates now incorporate Helpful Content Updates within them as well, which used to be separate updates.  
  • Spam Updates – Spam updates are intended to detect spam across the web, and to improve their spam detectors, Google will release spam updates to refine how they work. For example, the most recent spam update which occurred in March targeted the following:
    • Scaled content abuse
    • Site reputation abuse
    • Expired domain abuse
  • Review Updates – Review updates are intended to reward high-quality reviews that provide original research and insightful analysis. Because Google’s review system is updated regularly and continuously, they will no longer be announcing these updates like they have in the past. 

To learn more about Google’s algorithm updates, check out 9Sail’s April webinar on the topic – Breaking Down Algorithm Updates: What Do They Mean For Your Law Firm.

All About Google’s March 2024 Core Algorithm Update 

The March 2024 core algorithm update was incredibly complex and packed quite the punch across various industries. This update took 45 days to fully roll out which is the longest rollout we’ve seen in a very long time. To put it in perspective, most algorithm updates take about two weeks to roll out, while this one took a month and a half. The reason for this? Well, this algorithm update was a combination of a typical core algorithm update and a helpful content update. In short, Google gave us a two-for-one deal with this update and, to make things a little bit more fun, Google also decided to release a separate spam update that was also released on March 5th but completed rollout much quicker on March 20th. 

How the March Core Algorithm Update Impacted Law Firms 

This update caused many disruptions within search results due to all of the factors at play. The main goal of the update was to substantially reduce websites with unhelpful content and poor user experiences that were created solely for the purpose of appeasing search engines. According to Google, you will now see 45% less low-quality, unoriginal content in search results. With that said, the firms that were hit the hardest were those that Google deemed to have unhelpful and ‘spammy’ content. This has become especially prevalent due to the sudden influx of AI-generated content thanks to the rise of tools such as ChatGPT. 

TLDR; Google has been heavily focusing on high-quality content in its algorithm updates, cracking down on thin, unoriginal, and AI-generated pieces. High-quality content should be comprehensive, speak to user intent, and read like it was written by an expert.

What to Do If The Core Algorithm Update Has Impacted Your Firm

Getting impacted by a core algorithm update can be scary due to Google’s vague answers about what the update entailed. First things first– do not panic! Everything will be okay, I promise. It may take some time and extra effort to recover, but it will all be okay. 

So, what can you do if you’ve been impacted by a core algorithm update? Well, I always suggest looking at the data. Google Analytics (GA4) and Google Search Console are two free tools that you can use to diagnose the pages that have been affected. When looking at the data, it’s best to begin monitoring your performance once the update begins, and I highly recommend not taking any action until the update is fully rolled out. This is because throughout the rollout process, search results are incredibly volatile as Google is testing new things. For example, one day you could see a sudden drop-off, and by the end of the week, you can see things recover. Again, don’t panic. 

Once the update is fully rolled out, that is when you should really dive into the data and see if you can identify any trends. For example, if you’re an elder law firm and you noticed that the content on your website surrounding estate planning saw a large drop off in traffic, that can give you a good indication of where to start in the recovery process. In this case, you’ll want to start by refreshing, updating, or removing the affected content. 

It is also worth noting that during this time, it is also beneficial to conduct a technical audit of your website, as technical issues could be hindering your website’s performance. With the vagueness around what core algorithm update truly entails, it’s important to thoroughly research and identify the pages on your website that have been impacted and make a recovery plan from there. This is where it can be incredibly helpful to have an SEO professional on your team whether you outsource or have a person in-house. 

Stay On Top of Algorithm Updates With Guidance From Law Firm SEO Experts 

The world of SEO is constantly changing and evolving, especially with the rapid rise of artificial intelligence it can be hard for someone not constantly in the know of SEO to keep up. As I’ve mentioned before, this is why it’s incredibly valuable to have a dedicated SEO professional in your corner. At 9Sail, our SEO professionals are available to answer any questions you have, keep you informed of any relevant updates, and monitor your website to see if you’ve been impacted by recent Google updates. If you have been impacted, our team is prepared to diagnose the issues and help your firm fix what has been impacted to improve your rankings once again. 

If you’re interested in how SEO or our team could be of value to your law firm contact our team today!