PubCon 2024 Minicap

May Rowland
May Rowland Senior SEO Manager

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but not when it comes to all the digital marketing insights from PubCon. The search marketing conference was held in Las Vegas from March 4th – 6th, at an incredible time with all the current AI buzz and a major Google algorithm update being announced in the middle of it all. With presentations from some of the OGs of SEO, this is where marketers went to learn. I’ll provide a digestible recap what went down for all the SEOs with crippling FOMO.

AI is Center Stage

It should come as a shock to no one that AI took the spotlight throughout the conference. Experts dug into how AI is shaking up countless aspects of SEO – from how Google uses AI, how SEOs can compete in a SERP powered by AI, and how we can use AI tools to our advantage.

Speakers highlighted how AI can be used for topic research, persona identification, and content creation. Popular tools like ChatGPT, Gemini, Copilot and more were mentioned for their ability to help us help our clients increase their visibility. There was also talk of AI in ecommerce SEO, PPC advertising, and WordPress AI plugins.

Of course, there was plenty of emphasis that SEOs need to continuously adapt and learn to harness AI’s full potential. They stressed that while AI tools are powerful, they require humans to be truly effective and responsible.

Google’s March 2024 Update Steals the Show

The latest Google update might as well be called The AI Reckoning. Marie Haynes predicted during her presentation on March 4th that Google would announce an update the next day, and she was right. I give major props to the speakers who ripped up their presentations to include this one about new ways Google is tackling spammy, low-quality content on search. Definitely a unique experience to be at a conference with SEOs during such a major shakeup of SEO.

What Does the Algorithm Target?

It’s no secret that Google’s search results have not been the best quality lately, especially in the wake of AI generated content. For some, generating buckets of content with AI was a viable strategy (for the record, we at Arc Intermedia knew much better than that). These sites may have seen success initially before tanking. Google doesn’t like this content because users don’t like this content – it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. Without human intervention, AI just regurgitates information that already exists, which is not helpful. Some sites that publish high amounts of AI content have already been harshly penalized by being completely de-indexed, as in the site is no longer visible on Google.

The update also addresses:

Scaled content abuse

As taken directly from Google:

“We’ve long had a policy against using automation to generate low-quality or unoriginal content at scale with the goal of manipulating search rankings. This policy was originally designed to address instances of content being generated at scale where it was clear that automation was involved.

“Today, scaled content creation methods are more sophisticated, and whether content is created purely through automation isn’t always as clear. To better address these techniques, we’re strengthening our policy to focus on this abusive behavior — producing content at scale to boost search ranking — whether automation, humans or a combination are involved. This will allow us to take action on more types of content with little to no value created at scale, like pages that pretend to have answers to popular searches but fail to deliver helpful content.”

Site reputation abuse

Again from Google:

“Sometimes, websites that have their own great content may also host low-quality content provided by third parties with the goal of capitalizing on the hosting site’s strong reputation. For example, a third party might publish payday loan reviews on a trusted educational website to gain ranking benefits from the site. Such content ranking highly on Search can confuse or mislead visitors who may have vastly different expectations for the content on a given website.

“We’ll now consider very low-value, third-party content produced primarily for ranking purposes and without close oversight of a website owner to be spam. We’re publishing this policy two months in advance of enforcement on May 5, to give site owners time to make any needed changes.”

Expired domain abuse


“Occasionally, expired domains are purchased and repurposed with the primary intention of boosting search ranking of low-quality or unoriginal content. This can mislead users into thinking the new content is part of the older site, which may not be the case. Expired domains that are purchased and repurposed with the intention of boosting the search ranking of low-quality content are now considered spam.”


How rare for Google to provide such detailed information of what’s no longer admissible. And rarer still to actually give a two-month heads up to site owners to address some of these issues.


PubCon Vegas 2024 was an invaluable event for digital marketers and SEOs, offering actionable recommendations and practical tools. The insights gained from expert speakers and real-world case studies not only highlighted the current cabilities of AI but also outlined a course for its future in the digital realm, as well as how we can adjust our strategies post March 2024 update.

Arc Intermedia has of course already been implementing AI into our strategies, and also strategizing for AI in search. We are keeping at the edge of everything that is happening and how it can impact our clients’ websites. If you want some insights into AI SEO or would like help in these unchartered waters, contact us for guidance in all things AI, SEO, and digital marketing.