March 7 2024

Google Core Update of March 2024, GTranslate, Automatic Translations and SEO Penalties

How GTranslate can make your site completely disappear from the Google SERP after the March 2024 Google Core Update

March 2024 marked a significant moment in the world of SEO and online content management with the latest Google Core Update. This update brought Google's ongoing fight against low-quality content to mainstream attention, placing a heightened focus on AI-generated content, on expired domains and on sites recognized as SPAM. Among the various implications of this update, particular attention has been paid to the use of AI generation systems, as well as indirectly automatic translations, such as Gtranslate, which have proven to have a significant impact on the ranking of websites up to leading, in some cases, to complete ban and deletion from the SERP.

The Mission of the March 2024 Google Core Update

Google said:

We believe these updates will reduce the amount of low-quality content in 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%.

Translated:

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

The intention is clear: to improve the general quality of the content available online, rewarding useful and high-quality content and penalizing those that do not meet these criteria.

You can read more on Search Engine Journal at this article: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-march-2024-core-update/510243/

The impact on AI-Generated Content and Machine Translations

One of the main areas of intervention of the Google Core Update of March 2024 was that relating to artificially generated content and automatic translations. The proliferation of AI-generated content, without adequate quality control, together with the spread of inaccurate machine translations, has contributed to saturating the web with often irrelevant or misleading information. This update aims to counter this trend by incentivizing content creators to produce high-quality, original material and to use accurate, humanly reviewed translations. Google's move highlights the importance of a balanced approach to the use of translation and content generation technologies, promoting the integrity and relevance of information available online.

GTranslate: Operation and Translation Issues

GTranslate should not be confused with Google Translate. Gtranslate and Google Translate are two distinct translation services. While Google Translate is a popular service offered by Google that allows you to translate texts, web pages and documents between various languages, GTranslate is a third-party proprietary solution that integrates with websites to offer multilingual automatic translations, acting in reverse proxy mode to make content accessible in multiple languages. It is important not to confuse them, as they serve different purposes and are implemented in different ways within web projects.

Gtranslate-WordPress-Plugin

For more information about GTranslate, you can visit their official website: GTranslate.

Gtranslate has revolutionized the way websites approach multilingualism, offering a seemingly simple and straightforward solution to making content accessible to a global audience. However, its implementation and the challenges it brings are more complex than it might seem at first glance. One of the most interesting technical aspects of Gtranslate is its operation in reverse proxy mode, similar to a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This feature is fundamental to understanding both the potential and the limits of Gtranslate.

Operation in Reverse Proxy Mode

Reverse Proxy

In reverse proxy mode, Gtranslate acts as an intermediary between the original website and the end user. When a user accesses a translated version of the site (perhaps in a third-level domain such as en.nomesito.it), he is not interacting directly with the original site. Instead, the user's request is sent to Gtranslate, which fetches the original version of the content, performs the translation in real time, and then serves the translated version to the user. This approach offers some significant advantages:

  • Loading speed: Just like a CDN, the ability to serve content from servers geographically close to users can reduce load times.
  • Scalability: By spreading the load across multiple servers, Gtranslate can handle a high volume of requests without placing a burden on the website's original server.
  • Improved Security: By acting as an intermediary, Gtranslate can offer an additional layer of protection against DDoS attacks and other online security threats.

Features and Challenges of Gtranslate

Despite the benefits, there are aspects of Gtranslate that can present challenges:

  • Translations Not Always Accurate: Automating the translation process can result in inaccuracies, especially with complex languages ​​or content that requires in-depth contextual understanding.
  • Content Potentially Considered Duplicate: Google may interpret translated versions of content as duplicates, especially if the translations do not add significant value or are very similar to the original content in other languages.
  • SEO Query Management: Machine translation can alter the accuracy of keywords and phrases used for SEO, potentially impacting your site's visibility in foreign language searches.
  • Costs and Logistics: While Gtranslate offers free plans, more advanced, ad-free versions require a paid subscription. Additionally, managing third-level domains for each language can complicate site management.

The Consequences of Machine Translation

The implications of using tools like Gtranslate can be serious. We have observed that some of our customers have suffered significant penalties due to the use of these technologies. Translations that are inaccurate or deemed non-original by Google can lead to a downgrading in search results or, in the most serious cases, a complete ban of the site from the SERP. This Core update highlighted the importance of investing in quality translations and avoiding the indiscriminate use of automatic systems if you want to maintain or improve your online visibility.

Below you can see the real case of one of our clients who was banned after 13 years of blogging and over 3 million page views per month for using (for many years now) GTranslate:

Google Manual Action

 

Gtranslate Ban Google

 

Further confirmation of what was suspected regarding the problems of sites automatically translated by GTranslate comes today March 9th from the BlackHatWorld Forum from the user Zocx who in simple words confirms Google's review activities at the time of deactivation of the GTranslate plugin after also the his site was deleted from the SERP due to the exact same manual penalty we saw above:

GTranslate SEO BlackHatWorld

 

User Zocx found that, After receiving a spam notification from Google affecting all pages of his site, Google's crawler activity focused on the translated pages of his site. In response to the notification, he requested a review, but despite removing the translation plugin, he observed that crawl activity on these pages did not decrease.

After a second review request to Google, the user has not yet received a response, but is sharing his experience in the hope that it will be useful to other webmasters facing similar problems.

Recommendations for Website Managers

In light of the March 2024 Google Core Update, here are some recommendations for website managers looking to successfully navigate the current SEO landscape:

  • Evaluating the Use of Automatic Translations: Before implementing systems like Gtranslate, consider the accuracy and quality of the translations. If possible, invest in professional translations for the most important markets.
  • Monitor the Quality of Content: Ensure that all content, both original and translated, is high quality, relevant and useful to the user. Avoid posting automatically generated content without human review.
  • Follow Google Guidelines: Always maintain an up-to-date knowledge of Google's webmaster guidelines and adapt your content strategies accordingly.
  • Focus on Original and Valuable Content: Produce content that offers added value to users, standing out for its originality and relevance.

Fix Google penalty resulting from automatically translated subdomains

To address Google penalties related to the use of subdomains automatically translated through GTranslate, the most effective and immediate strategy is to disable these automatic translations, especially when they are implemented via third-level domains. A recommended action is to redirect third-level domains, such as en.nomesimo.it for English and es.nomesimo.it for Spanish, to the main second-level domain, nomesito.it.

Subsequently, on the main site, you can opt for the integration of a plugin that performs local translations, taking advantage of the Google Translate functionality. This approach not only helps resolve issues related to Google penalization, but also improves the user experience on the site, ensuring more accurate translations and more intuitive navigation, while maintaining optimal SEO consistency for the main domain.

Obviously, once everything is finished, remember to subject the site to analysis again in the Google Webmaster tools section, keeping in mind that in the case of manual actions, the reconsideration could take up to two weeks.

Conclusion

The March 2024 Google Core Update marks another step forward in Google's commitment to better quality online content. The penalties for using Gtranslate and similar machine translation systems highlight the importance of a thoughtful, high-quality content strategy. As we adapt to these new challenges, it's critical to remember that the end goal is always to provide our site visitors with rich, informative and, above all, useful experiences. If you are using GTranslate, consider deactivating it immediately to avoid this annoying problem or further penalties from Google.

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