Google update March 2024 by Merge Media

If you’re a business owner with a website, but not up to date with all things Google, this is what you need to know about the latest update which rolled out over March/April this year.

Google’s March 2024 Core Update

What You Need to Know

The latest Google update was quite significant, and if you’ve noticed some shifts in your site’s performance, this update might be the reason why.

There was a lot that was involved, so we have broken it down into what you really need to know!

The Rollout Recap

So, what’s the story? Google kicked off this core update on March 5, 2024, and wrapped it up 45 days later, on April 19, 2024. But here’s the kicker: they didn’t tell us it was done until April 26.

Sneaky, right? Anyway, this update is a big one; Google themselves said it’s more complex and touches multiple core systems. Plus, it marks the end of the standalone helpful content updates.

What’s the Big Deal?

You might be wondering, “Why should I care about this core update?” Well, this Google update wasn’t just a tweak here or there; it was a full-on revamp aimed at reducing low-quality, unoriginal content in search results. Originally, Google predicted a 40% reduction in such content, but they overachieved and hit a 45% reduction. That’s huge!

A Google spokesperson put it simply: “As the web and spam tactics continue to evolve, we’ll continue to work to reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in Search.”

Translation: Google is getting even better at filtering out the junk to give us the good stuff.

The Impact on Rankings

Now, if you’ve seen a drop (or a rise) in your rankings, this update could be the reason.  Google’s updates didn’t just target low-quality content; they also updated their spam policies and tackled sites created solely to rank in search engines rather than to provide value to users. It’s all about making the web a better place.

Elizabeth Tucker, Director of Product, Search at Google, noted that this update would help reduce unhelpful content by 40%, but with the final tweaks, it ended up being 45%. She said, “We expect that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 45%.”

Overlapping Changes

This update wasn’t working solo. Google also rolled out a March 2024 spam update, which finished on March 20, and a bunch of manual actions related to spam issues. Plus, they switched up their core web vitals, replacing FID with INP. With so many changes happening at once, it’s tricky to pinpoint which specific update might have hit your site.

What Should You Do?

First off, don’t panic! If your site’s rankings have taken a hit, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with your pages. Google has reiterated their usual advice: focus on creating helpful, reliable, people-first content. They’ve even got a handy help page dedicated to this.

Here are a few steps you can take if you’ve been impacted:

  • Review Google’s Guidelines: Google’s got a list of questions to consider if your site is hit by a core update. It’s a good idea to review these and see where you can improve.
  • Keep Producing Quality Content: There’s no quick fix. Consistently producing high-quality, helpful content is your best bet for recovery.
  • Stay Patient: Sometimes, you might see a bit of a recovery between core updates, but the most significant changes will come with the next core update.
  • Google spokesperson Chris Nelson said it best: “There’s nothing new or special that creators need to do for this update as long as they’ve been making satisfying content meant for people.”

Feedback and Support

Luckily, Google’s not just making changes and leaving us in the dark. They’ve updated their help centre page to help site owners debug drops in rankings and even created a new feedback form for any ranking changes you think the Google Search team should take a closer look at. They’re encouraging feedback from users and site owners alike, which is a positive step.

Final Thoughts

The March 2024 core update is a significant milestone in Google’s ongoing battle against low-quality content and spam. By refining how they identify helpful content and incorporating the helpful content system into the core update, Google is making strides towards a cleaner, more valuable web experience for all of us.

For all the webmasters and content creators out there, the takeaway is clear: keep focusing on quality. Write for people, not for search engines, and you’ll be in good shape.

And remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint!

Keep an eye on your analytics, stay informed about updates, and keep producing the best content you can.

If you need some help with your website rankings or quality content production, get in touch!

If you’re diving into the business world for the first time, the amount decisions you need to make can feel overwhelming. Where do you start?!

As a web and graphic designer passionate about helping my clients bring their visions to life, I’ve curated a list of 10 essential considerations to ensure your venture starts off the right way. From defining your brand identity to establishing a solid online presence, each step is crucial to laying the groundwork for your success.

When starting your business journey, here are a few things you need to do:



  1. Define Your Identity: Whether it’s choosing a business name or refining your brand identity, clarity is key. Reach out to Miranda at [email protected] for expert marketing guidance if you’re having trouble!

  2. Check the Companies Office Register: Ensure your chosen business name is available, distinct, and not too similar to your competitors. Click here to check now. If it’s available, register it!

  3. Is your domain name available? Check availability on Discount Domains and secure your online presence. Make sure it’s not too long so it’s easy to fit on your marketing collateral. If it’s available, buy it!

  4. Set up your email address: Now that you’ve purchased your domain name, it’s time to set up your business email address. If this sounds too technical, get in touch and our team can help!

  5. Decide on your budget: We have a range of customisable packages available, check them out here or contact us for a free consultation to discuss your individual requirements.

  6. Gather inspiration: Have a look around at brands and logos you like. What do your competitors look like? While we may be great graphic designers, we are terrible mind readers! It’s our job to find out your likes and dislikes, so we’re heading down the right track from the start. Compile and share a Pinterest board with us or gather images from Google so we can see your preferences and brand vision. Find out more about briefing a graphic designer here.

  7. Do you have a memorable brand and logo? Complete our branding brief form here so we have all the information about your business we need to start. Once that’s designed and finalised, we’ll supply your logo guideline you need for signage and documentation.

  8. Get your website up and running: Starting with your key words in mind, we’ll create a site plan and website that becomes your #1 salesperson. Fill in our website brief form so we’ve got all the info we need!

  9. Write great content: You have the option of either writing web copy yourself, or if you don’t have time (the the know-how), our expert copywriter can help with Google-friendly content.

  10. Set up a Google My Business listing: This allows you to feature on Google Maps and gather client reviews. This is important for search engine optimisation purposes.


We’ve done it all before and helped many business owners get set up and on their way to business success!

If you need further guidance, get in touch with Renee for a free consultation.

Merge Media Ultimate Website Checklist

A Website Lead Generation Document is a strategically designed digital asset on a company’s website, with the primary goal of capturing visitor information, such as names and email addresses.

Typically, these documents take the form of downloadable resources, such as eBooks, whitepapers, checklists, or guides, offering valuable content to visitors in exchange for their contact details.

Merge Media Ultimate Website Checklist

How does it work?

  • By Offering Value: The document serves as a valuable resource related to the business’s niche. It could be industry insights, how-to guides, or expert tips that address common pain points of the target audience.
  • Prominent Placement: The document is strategically placed on the website, often through eye-catching call-to-action buttons or pop-ups, enticing visitors to download the resource.
  • Opt-in Form: To access the document, visitors are prompted to fill out a short opt-in form, providing their contact information. This information is then stored in a database for future communication.
  • Automated Follow-ups: Once the information is collected, businesses can leverage automated email marketing campaigns to nurture leads, providing additional value and guiding them through the sales funnel.

What are the benefits of website lead generation?

  1. Builds Credibility: Offering valuable content positions your business as an authority in your industry, enhancing credibility and trust among your audience.
  2. Generates Quality Leads: By attracting visitors genuinely interested in your content, you’re more likely to capture high-quality leads who are potentially interested in your products or services.
  3. Nurtures Relationships: Automated follow-up emails enable ongoing communication, allowing businesses to nurture relationships with leads over time, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
  4. Data Collection: Gathering contact information provides valuable data for understanding your audience, enabling more targeted marketing efforts and personalized communication.
  5. Boosts Conversion Rates: Providing a tangible benefit in the form of a valuable resource increases the chances of visitors taking the desired action, whether it’s making a purchase or requesting more information.
  6. Enhances Marketing ROI: Targeted lead generation efforts contribute to a more efficient use of marketing resources, ensuring that efforts are focused on individuals genuinely interested in your offerings.
  7. Supports Content Marketing Strategy: The document becomes a cornerstone of your content marketing strategy, attracting and engaging your target audience while supporting your overall marketing goals.

In the era of digital marketing, a Website Lead Generation Document is a powerful tool for businesses looking to expand their online reach, capture high-quality leads, and nurture meaningful relationships with their audience.

By strategically implementing and promoting these documents, businesses can unlock a wealth of opportunities and take a significant step towards sustained success in the digital realm.

Want help to get more quality leads from your site?

We’ll help you plan, design, content write and implement your website lead generation document.

Check out our our own Merge Media Lead Generation page and get in touch if you need help with yours!



Clear the cobwebs from your website. Here's why!
  • Is your website is still your top salesperson or have enquiries slowly started dropping?
  • Are customers getting frustrated because your contact details, products, services or prices are out of date?
  • Do your competitors now have a more exciting site than you?

In the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, maintaining a vibrant and up-to-date website is crucial for so many reasons. Here’s a breakdown of why regular updates matter:

1. If you forget about your site, so will Google!

Google favours regularly updated sites and will boost a well maintained website’s visibility in search results. Regular updates signal to search engines that your site is active and relevant, positively impacting your SEO ranking.

2. Industries adapt and evolve, and so should your website

Regular updates reflect your commitment to staying current with trends, technologies, and best practices.

3. Give your customers a reason to return

No-one wants to see the same old thing every time they visit! Fresh content and updated images keep visitors engaged, interested and coming back again, fostering a loyal audience. Outdated information can also lead to confusion and frustration for potential customers. Are you prices, project pages and contact details up to date?

4. Updates keep your site secure

Regular updates include software patches and security measures, safeguarding your website against potential threats and vulnerabilities.

An outdated website is more susceptible to hacking and other security breaches.

5. Increased brand image and credibility

A well-maintained website with updated visuals and content contribute to a professional and trustworthy image…which reflects positively on your brand. It shows that you care about your online presence and value your audience’s experience.

6. Better Social Media integration

Updated content provides fresh material for sharing on social media platforms, driving traffic back to your website. Social media traffic is increasingly influential in search engine algorithms so making a strong social media presence beneficial for SEO.

7. Updates maintain your competitive edge

Staying ahead of competitors requires continuous improvement to ensure you’re staying ahead of them. Regular updates demonstrate your commitment to being a leader in your industry.

A modern and dynamic website is more likely to attract and retain users compared to a stagnant or outdated one.

8. It saves you money in the long run

Updating small bits and pieces regularly means you won’t be left behind or need to spend hundreds on a massive overhaul further down the track. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and do small tweaks regularly.

In conclusion, online digital marketing is dynamic and always changing so maintaining an up-to-date website is essential for success.

Regular updates not only improve user experience but also contribute to improved SEO, security, and overall brand credibility. By investing time and resources in keeping your website current, your business will stay in position for sustained growth and relevance in the online world.

We’re the experts in making your site your top salesperson so book your free 30 minute website content review with us here.

A plug-in, put simply, is a piece of software that adds new features or extends functionality on an existing application.

When it comes to websites, these are paramount to ensuring functionality, improving speed and efficiency, and maximizing your customer’s experience. They can help your website be unique in the way it appears, ie the ability to use certain fonts that relate to your brand, help maintain your site’s security, ensure your site has the ability to be backed up and/or restored (god forbid your site ever gets hacked) and provide your website with great SEO solutions, plus much more.

How did plugins come about?

Early on in the timeline of the Internet, websites offered visitors a very limited experience. Most websites could only display simple text, a few still images and links. Plugins were born as a solution to overcome the limitations of early HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the standard coding language programmers use to create webpages. They very much helped to create a more engaging experience for site visitors. Since then, plugin usage has become a very important aspect of web design. There are now thousands of plugins that people can easily install and use on their websites.

Why you should use plugins

If you want the ability to expand the functionality of your website quickly and easily, then plugins are a no-brainer. Web designers can usually download and install them within minutes. Plugins are also need to be updated frequently, often several times per year, as they regularly offer performance and security improvements.

Some things to consider, if you are creating your own site…

When you download and install a plugin, you are relying on the third-party developer that created the program, to be legit. Some plugins are excellent and function exactly as described, while others are buggy, redundant, or lacking in security.

Security issues– Platforms like WordPress are widely regarded to being very secure, but when external sources – like plugins – are invited in, security can be compromised and leave the website vulnerable to hacking. Even some of the most widely used WordPress plugins, have suffered security flaws in the past.

Drain on resources – Every plugin you install adds “weight” to your website. Plugins consume processing power which can slow down your website and even cause it crash.

Conflicts – Sometimes plug-ins react badly with certain websites. They can clash with a CMS, website theme or even other plug-ins, particularly after the user processes an update.

Paid versus free plug-ins
Thousands of free plugins are available for download, however, they don’t offer much support to the user. Web designers that use paid plugins are more invested in providing good customer service and try to keep the programs bug-free and compatible with the platform they were designed for. It can take many hours of research to make sure that the plugins you’re thinking of downloading have good reviews and are not likely to cause you any headaches down the road.

That’s why at Merge Media, we are the best option for ensuring your website runs smoothly, with no major issues for you, as we have created numerous websites over the years with our clients’ trust, happiness and stress levels in mind!

Quality design sub-contractors are worth their weight in gold…

Here at Merge Media we are proud to say that we work closely with a wide range of professional and quality sub-contractors for many, if not most, of our web and graphic design clients.

We can either work directly with them or can refer them onto our clients, whatever is preferred. Interested in learning more? We’ve put together below, 4 important reasons why we use and refer to quality sub-contractors as part of our business:

1. Skilled sub-contractors provide the best expertise

Skilled sub-contractors will offer a superior service and provide expert advice and services, such as our SEO expert, David Partis from Website Optimisers. Furthermore, they have been working in a specific field for a number of years and have had ample opportunity to hone their skills. With there being so many aspects to website optimisation for example, such as SEO/Adwords etc, having an expert in this field to refer to, is paramount. We want to make sure that your website can not only look its best, but rank well in Google too.

Over the years, we have come to know our sub-contractors personally and we are proud of the amazing work they do, which in turn, has helped our business grow and achieve excellent results for our clients.

2. Increased productivity

Increasing productivity is one of the biggest positives of working with quality and trusted sub-contractors. Our time is therefore increased – being able to focus on what Merge Media does best – creating stunning websites, branding and graphic design. We can get your job done faster for you, without compromising on quality.

3. It is cost efficient & risk adverse

Hiring the best sub-contractors is often much more cost effective than bringing on new, full-time employees – so these cost savings also get passed onto our clients. Even more importantly, it also helps avoid risk by hiring a reliable and safe sub-contractor, with substantial, specialised, experience.

4. We love to support local, skilled sub-contractors

Being actively involved in our local BNI group, we love to support our local, professional sub-contractors where we can – it helps them out, as well as us. Being able to get to know some of our highly skilled local sub-contractors has been valuable to our business, as we can be confident going forward using their services, knowing that our clients will be receiving only the best and in turn, achieving excellent results for their own businesses.

What sub-contractors do we use?

Here are Merge Media, our main sub-contractors we work with are photographers, signwriters, SEO consultants, marketing consultants, copywriters and web developers to name a few. These are all highly important people that we refer to for our projects, ensuring they are also adding value to your brand.

Click below, to find out more about our latest project for Pohutukawa Coast Vets – where we have utilised our amazing sub-contractors to achieve stunning signage, photography and a well optimised website.


Website builders – what you should know…

Are you thinking of creating your own website using one of the many DIY website builders out there? If so, you’ll need to read this, as it may save you from any headaches down the line…

Your head may be swimming with all the different choices out there… so let’s get to the nitty gritty of it. It could ultimately save you time, money and stress by doing a little bit of research first, before you go diving headfirst into your web project.

Pros of using a DIY website builder:

  • SOME plans are free
  • Different plans & pricing to choose from (simple site to e-commerce options)
  • Responsive (easy to view on multiple devices) templates
  • Easy to build including ‘drag & drop templates

Cons of using a DIY website builder:

  • Free plans often have too many limitations to really be used as a proper working website
  • Your domain name may still have the web builder’s name in it. ie:
  • You may have their ads on every page
  • You may have the web builder’s logo on your site
  • The site may not support third-party apps, plugins or extensions (this limits you customising your site to how you want it to look and function)
  • Unless you are wanting to pay a similar amount per month to sites like Shopify, you will be limited with your site’s storage – ie some cheaper plans still only offer limited storage, so would only be appropriate for say showing off a student portfolio/blog/passion project etc
  • You may not have the option of moving to a faster server, if your website is loading too slowly

So putting it simply, it comes down to a few things…

  • Do you have a service-based or e-commerce site?
  • How simple or complicated is your site likely to be with regard to functionality?
  • How much time can you afford to spend creating your site?
  • Are you certain that your content is the best it can be (including copy writing, basic and more involved SEO)?
  • How confident are you that you have excellent quality, web-ready photographs and the appropriate digital web files to use (ie logos and other branding elements).

If you are adamant that you can build yourself a site from scratch, that is fast loading, easy to navigate, ranks well in Google and looks beautiful, then you probably don’t need to be reading this post!

However, if you are not 100% certain you can pull it off and quite frankly, don’t have the time, let the Merge Media team do what we do best – by building you an amazing website that will knock your socks off!

We are the experts… we have helped countless poor souls out there who have unfortunately run into trouble with building their own websites and have needed help to get back on track, and quickly!

Our custom built, WordPress websites not only have a versatile and easy to use theme, but they get results. We even offer basic training so you can hit the ground running and make any basic tweaks to your site, yourself (or you can let us take care of this).

Websites that work – what does that mean?

If you’re wondering what aspects are vital for a well built and engaging website, keep reading!

Read more

Introducing David, our Google guru! We are firm believers that there’s no point in having a great looking website if no one can find it. Before starting our sites David does our keyword analysis and from that he builds a site map of all the pages that should be on your website.

Read more