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April 10, 2024

5 Digital Marketing & SEO Updates to Know From Q1 2024

There was no shortage of evolutions in digital marketing during 2023, and 2024 is off to a hot start as well. 

From an unusually complex Google core update to the imminent loss of robust user data that marketers have come to depend on, 2024 is sure to be another transformative year. 

Here’s a look at the most significant digital marketing and SEO updates from Q1 2024. 

Google Starts Deprecating Third-Party Cookie Support in Chrome 

No matter your role in the online marketplace, data is at the core of everything you do. That’s why there’s so much trepidation about Google’s deprecation of third-party cookie support in Chrome. 

The process is already underway, with third-party cookies removed for 1% of Chrome users in January. Google intends to entirely remove support for third-party cookies in Chrome by the start of Q3. 

The phase-out is intended to enhance user privacy online by reducing or eliminating cross-site tracking. Chrome certainly isn’t the first browser to remove support for third-party cookies—Firefox and Safari took this step years ago. 

For digital marketers, this change will result in the loss of user data that has been crucial for personalizing site experiences, serving relevant ads, and targeting or retargeting users at the bottom of the funnel. 

Google’s open-source Privacy Sandbox APIs are intended to replace this functionality for marketers in a manner that preserves user privacy. 

Circle to Search Released in January

In 2023, we saw AI drive monumental shifts in how we search. This year, when they hear the acronym AI, many marketers think about Google Search Generative Experience and how it could reduce visibility for their brands’ revenue-driving pages. 

More on SGE in a moment.

But Google is doing far more with AI, including Circle to Search. Without switching apps, Circle to Search allows Android users to circle, highlight, or tap whatever they’re interested in to learn more about it. 

Meanwhile, Google’s multisearch lets users search with images and text simultaneously to gain a deeper understanding of whatever piques their interest. 

Circle to Search launched at the end of January on certain Android smartphones. It’s just one way Google is working to enhance Search to provide the most valuable, useful experience possible to users.

SGE’s End Date Disappears

As mentioned above, Google Search Generative Experience has a lot of digital marketers on edge. 

The potential for a new AI snapshot to occupy so much valuable SERP real estate raises all kinds of troubling questions. For instance:

  • What will happen to the click-through rates for the pages I worked so hard to push into the top organic rankings?
  • Will the SGE overview box out Google Ads, causing my ROAS to nosedive?
  • I just invested considerable resources optimizing my site in the wake of the Helpful Content Update. Now I have to redo all that work to optimize for SGE?

Speculation is rampant, because Google has released so little information about SGE. 

Yes, were it to be released in the version we’ve seen in some screenshots floating around SEO forums, SGE could have an enormous impact on the Search ecosystem. 

But Google hasn’t confirmed that’s going to happen. In fact, Google has hardly confirmed anything about SGE, other than the fact that it exists as an experiment in Search Labs. 

So what do we really know about SGE? For starters, it’s still in the ALPHA/BETA phase, and it’s not even available to Google Workspace users. That means it’s a long way from being a finished product. 

Previously, SGE had a Google Labs end date of December 2023. That date came and went, and instead of seeing a roll out, the end date was simply removed without comment. 

Based on Google’s January 2024 overview of the SGE project, we know that there’s still a huge amount of development and testing ongoing. 

Google’s the only entity that knows anything concrete about SGE, and they’ve said very little about it. Don’t expect a full rollout anytime soon. 

Because there’s so much behind-the-scenes work going on, it currently doesn’t make any sense to start optimizing your site for SGE, because no one knows anything about it. 

If you want to improve your site, the best place to start is Google’s existing guidance. Focus on UX, site performance, and high-quality, helpful content. 

These improvements will help your site now and in the future, so drill down on these elements instead of worrying about what SGE could look like when—and if—it fully rolls out. 

Google Bard is Now Gemini, and Gemini Isn’t Finished

Remember Google Bard? It’s now Gemini: a next-gen family of generative AI models trained to be natively multimodal, meaning Gemini can work with text, audio, images, and videos. 

Gemini is available in three sizes: Ultra, Pro, and Nano. Gemini can generate art, transcribe speech, caption videos, help with homework, and more.

Bard’s launch fell on its face, sharing inaccurate information in a promo video. That move caused Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to lose $100 billion in market value in a single day. 

Gemini holds more promise, according to Google. It was designed to compete with OpenAI’s GPT-4 and move the benchmark for “state-of-the-art.”

Of course, Gemini has had its own flubs already in 2024, leading Google to put Gemini’s image generation feature on pause back in February. 

Google’s March 2024 Core Update + Spam Updates

In March, Google began rolling out its first core update of 2024. But this isn’t just any core update—it’s a combination of several updates to multiple core systems. 

The March 2024 Google Core Update is unusually complex, so the rollout has been taking longer than previous rollouts. After a month since it began, the March 2024 rollout still was not complete. 

This latest core update is aimed at reducing the effectiveness of recent tactics being used to push low-quality content up into search results. According to Google, the update also marks an inflection point “in how we identify the helpfulness of content.”

At the same time, Google rolled out a spam update along with three new spam policies. The policies target three bad practices:

  • Scaled Content Abuse
  • Site Reputation Abuse
  • Expired Domain Abuse

These types of abuse typically don’t occur by accident, so digital marketers who are designing people-first websites and content don’t need to worry. 

Still, it’s worth learning about these types of spam—as well as the other practices prohibited by Google—to ensure your site isn’t penalized. 

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Google’s March 2024 Core Update and New Spam Policies

Achieve Sustained Search Dominance with VELOX Media

For all the questions about how digital marketing and SEO will change in 2024, one thing is for certain: Those who aren’t evolving risk being left behind. Instead of looking back to see what caused conversions and revenue to drop last quarter, businesses must work proactively to capitalize on each growth opportunity. 

At VELOX, exponential growth is what we do. We’re a Google Premier Partner, among the top 3% of agencies worldwide, because of our cutting-edge research, drive to innovate, and expert implementation that delivers the results our clients need to scale. 

Don’t let 2024 be a year of should have, could have, would have. Contact VELOX today and see how an ROI-focused, customized campaign will help you exceed your goals.

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