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A Quick Look at the New Google Passage Ranking

It’s nothing new for Google to make ranking signal updates. Behold its latest development: passage ranking or indexing. So what exactly is the new Google passage ranking?...

Fiona Gurtiza
Fiona Gurtiza April 23, 2021

It’s nothing new for Google to make ranking signal updates. Behold its latest development: passage ranking or indexing.

So what exactly is the new Google passage ranking? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Passage Indexing?

Sometimes, making specific searches on Google is hard to get right. After all, finding the relevant answer requires sifting through answers buried deep within a page’s content. 

But thanks to the introduction of the new Google passage ranking, search engines can start ranking individual passages from the pages themselves. 

But what does this mean, exactly?

Here’s an example. Let’s say you wrote a blog post about social media marketing. Some subtopics you may have discussed may include how to get started with social media marketing, the benefits of social media marketing, and how to make a social media marketing plan. But even though you’ve discussed social media marketing in detail, you may not rank for search terms like “social media marketing tools” because you only touched on it on your blog post.

With passage indexing, Google can pull relevant sections of your content and rank it independently from the rest of the content on your page. 

Passage Rankings vs Featured Snippets

Here’s a question you might have: what’s the difference between passage rankings and featured snippets?

Featured snippets serve up instant answers to short questions. For example, if you search “How old is Brad Pitt” you’ll get an answer without having to click on any of the search results. And that’s because a snippet considers the overall topic relevance of a page.

On the other hand, passage rankings only consider the relevance of certain parts of a page to the search query. 

How Will the Passage Ranking Affect my Site?

It helps to think of passage ranking as a way to help bring greater traffic to web pages Google might consider irrelevant if it was being analyzed as a whole. This means some web pages may benefit more from passage ranking than others. These include:

Some examples of these websites include travel blogs run by an individual or health websites that cover various topics and publish general guides. 

In other words, passage ranking is a way for sites that aren’t fully optimized for SEO to get a solid rankings boost. 

But even if your site doesn’t meet these guidelines, it’s still possible to optimize your site’s content for the new passage ranking. Here’s how:

Publish more long-form content

Thanks to the passage ranking, long-form content will get a small boost in rankings. Just make sure your content includes relevant keywords and provides value.

Answer user queries

Relevance matters. By producing well-researched, in-depth content, you can cover as many user queries as you can. 

Incorporate voice search

Long-tail keywords are going to be more important than ever because of its ability to target user intent with better accuracy. Keep in mind that 20% of Google searches are performed using voice searches.

So keep your content conversational. Consider that the way a person types a query on the search box is different from how they perform a voice search.

Optimize headings

Optimizing headings can help Google understand specific sections of your page and how it relates to the query of a user. Better site structure and organization, after all, can make it better for bots to identify relevant bits and pieces of your content.

Re-optimize existing pages

Apart from published long-form content, update other sections of your blog that cover similar topics. Re-optimizing previous content can also help improve organic traffic to your site.

How Will the Google Passage Ranking Affect SEO?

Google reports that the Google passage ranking will affect 7% of all search queries. However, the search engine giant has clarified that websites don’t need to make any huge changes to their website to adapt to the change. 

Our key takeaway from the passage ranking is that Google wants to understand the intent behind a user’s query better. So optimize your site by providing valuable, in-depth content.

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