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The Impact of Google Passage Ranking on Your Pages

The Impact of Google Passage Ranking on Your Pages.

Google Passage Ranking went live on SERPs of the USA on 10th February 2021. What will be the impact of it on your webpage- Good or Bad? That's one of the hottest questions now.

The announcement of 10th February about the rollout of passage indexing was not unexpected. From October 2020, most webmasters are thinking of its impact on SEO. Google confirms its impact in Q4 OF 2020.

Before changing any SEO component of existing content, you should have an in-depth understanding of what passage ranking is and how it can affect SEO.

This article would provide insight into passage ranking to build the new SEO strategies in 2021. 

Table of Content
  • What's Passage Ranking?
  •  The Purposes of Passage Ranking?
  • What will Google passage ranking looks like in SERP?
  •  Passage Ranking or Passage Indexing?
  • How Does Passage Ranking Works?
  • Will the new bloggers get benefit from it?
  • Is passage ranking is similar to the featured snippet?
  • Impact of Passage Ranking
  • Which algorithms can identify the relevant passages?
  • Summary of Facts of Passage Ranking
  • Google Passage Rankings Updates
  • Final Thoughts

What's Passage Ranking? 

Passage ranking, aka passage indexing, is a new approach of ranking that Google introduced recently. Google will show the relevant passages in response to specific search queries.

According to SEJ (Search Engine Journal), passages will help long webpages.
Publishers who have long-form content on their site with multiple subheadings, subheadings, and passages will benefit.

Check out these conversations with Martin Splitt and his team to understand better what Google passage ranking is.

Google passage ranking

What are the Purposes of Passage Ranking?

The main purpose of passage ranking is to deliver the best possible answers to the search queries by analyzing relevant passages.

''We’ve made tremendous progress over the past 22 years, making Google Search work better for you every day. With recent advancements in AI, we’re making bigger leaps forward in improvements to Google than we’ve seen over the last decade, so it’s even easier for you to find just what you’re looking for''.


''...We’ve recently made a breakthrough in ranking and are now able to better understand the relevancy of specific passages. By understanding passages in addition to the relevancy of the overall page, we can find that needle-in-a-haystack information you’re looking for. This technology will improve 7 percent of search queries across all languages as we roll it out globally''.

So the ultimate goal of passage ranking is to improve the search results.


What will Google passage ranking looks like in SERP?

Look at the visuals that google provided. In SERP, Google passage ranking looks like the following-

Google Passage Ranking Looks Like This

Is it Passage Ranking or Passage Indexing?

The confusion arises because of the term ''Passage indexing'' that Google used first time in 2020. 

Since then, people have been thinking that Google will be indexing the individual passages of a webpage.

Based on the in-depth study of the available online information, I can say it is Passage Ranking. Google has not changed the ways of indexing a page. Google still indexes the full pages. 

They've changed the way to use an indexed page in response to the specific search queries. 

Google can now detect relevant passage buried deep in your pages with improved algorithms. 

So, it has nothing to do with indexing. It's all about the ranking. 

How Does Passage Ranking Works?

The working process of crawling and indexing is the same as before. But for some specific search queries, Google will return with relevant passages instead of the whole page.

For example, you have an article ''Blog Commenting'' on your site. This article covers different subheadings like the following:
  • meaning of blog commenting
  • types of comments
  • importance of blog commenting
  • the relevance of blog commenting
  • modern techniques of blog commenting
  • and so on.
Look at the passage below-

  • modern techniques of blog commenting

The modern techniques of blog commenting don't rely on the automated comment as it is spam. The best practice of 'white hat SEO' is to comment manually on relevant and trusted commenting sites. 

Find tons of relevant commenting sites with the help of ''Drop My Link'' or Google Search. Check the authority of the sites, then comment.

This passage is highly relevant for the specific search ''modern blog commenting''. In the search results, you may dominate other excellent pages that don't include the search terms ''modern blog commenting''.

Will the new bloggers get benefit from it?

The publisher like You and me, and the users, will get benefits from passage ranking.

The new and old publishers- both will get benefits from it. A Section or passage with highly relevant information to the search queries can now rank higher in Google SERPs. 

A passage will rank because it's relevant to search queries even if the rest of the content is not highly relevant.

Wow! It's a great advantage for new bloggers.

Pages that are not well-structured and with poor SEO will get the benefits of it. New bloggers who are not SEO experts may smile.

Is passage ranking is similar to the featured snippet?

No. Don't confuse passage ranking with a featured snippet. Although it looks like a featured snippet, the passage ranking is different from it.

A featured snippet maybe is a passage that has an overall topic relevance of a page. A featured snippet offers a quick answer to a search query. 

Passage ranking doesn't consider the page- relevance /topic- relevance as a whole but the relevance of a passage with a specific search query.

In a Tweet, Danny Sullivan confirms that the featured snippet is a system and not about the display, but passage ranking is a new system to understand the context and relevance of a passage to the search queries.

Tweet of Danny Sullivan about passage index

So, featured snippets and passage ranking are two separate systems. 

The former displays the instant short answers to certain specific queries, whereas the latter is not limited to quick short answers. 

Passage ranking will appear on the Search page as a typical blue link search result.

Impact of Passage Ranking

Google said the impact of passage-based ranking would be 7% of search queries after the rollover is complete worldwide.

Some people say the impact will be nominal, some say huge.

Remember, whatever the intensity, the impact can be positive or negative.

According to SMA marketing,
''Looking at all the languages, when you consider the fact that they look at billions and billions of searches per day, this is a significant impact and can either help a lot of sites or maybe even hurt sites that don't have the specific answers to their users' problems''.
So it's undeniable that the future of blogging will depend, to some extent, on the impact of Google passage ranking. 

Which algorithms can identify the relevant passages? 

As Google crawlers begin to understand the relevance of specific passages in your content, passage indexing will have a similar effect on search results pages.

BERT is already there that can understand the queries in search as well as within the page. 

Now, SMITH, the new natural language processing system will further strengthen the understanding of the relevance of passages within the page.

SMITH stands for Siamese Multi-depth Transformer-based Hierarchical (SMITH) Encoder. 

It is stronger than the earlier versions like BERT and RankBrain. SMITH will find out the hidden passages within the page.

What should you do for passage optimization?

Google's Martin Splitt said SEOs or webmasters have to do nothing about it as it is a small internal change. 

Here is the significant quote of Martin Splitt.
 “It is just a smaller change where we try to help those who are not necessarily familiar with SEO or how to structure the content or a content strategy because lots of people end up creating these long-winded pages that are having a really hard time ranking for anything really because everything is so diluted in this long-form content”.

Google will never tell you about the individual ranking factors. If you understood the goal of launching passage ranking, you've got the hints of what to do.

Search queries relevant passages will now rank even if the rest of your content is not well-optimized- Does it mean no need to have SEO-optimized content?. Nope!

If you're thinking of focussing entirely on passages, ignoring On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO, you're still in confusion. Go to read again ''indexing vs ranking''.

Before ranking on SERPs, Google indexes your pages. To get your page indexed, you need to focus on SEO. Otherwise, Google may not index your page.

The hidden truth is the passage of a non-indexed page will not appear on the result page of Google.

Suppose you have a passage in poorly optimized content that is relevant to a specific search query.

Now, compare it with well-established, SEO-optimized content with the relevant passage.

Which one will rank? Of course, the second.

So, you have to go the extra mile to grab the benefits of search ranks.

After the rollout of Youtube Shorts in India (beta) and its positive response, the rollout of Google passage in the USA in English is undoubtedly another exciting news.

  • Header Tags

Craft the catchy and keyword-rich headlines for each blog post. The header tags may be more significant in the days to come. 
  • Long-Form Content
Creating Long-Form pieces of content now onward since it becomes essential.
  • Single Topic
If the content is king, then context is queen. Yes, Context has been gaining importance day by day. So, avoid multi-topic content, focus on the main topic. 
  • Shorts within the long
 Focus on creating several ''shorts'' within the long. Let me explain a bit about it.
Create several short passages within a piece of long-form content. 

The long-form content may contain dozens of passages with many potential search phrases under a single topic. 
  • Updating content
  1. If your site contains thin content, convert them into long pieces.
  2. If your site contains pages with ordinary titles, convert them into compelling titles.
  3. If the existing articles are not structured properly, do it.
  4. If you don't have long-tail keywords, insert a few. Start from keyword research and insert some LSI keywords.
  5. If existing pages have lack internal and external links, update them.
Updating existing content is the only solution to the above issues.

Keep learning: 

Summary of Facts of Passage Ranking

  • Passage ranking was announced by Google in October 2020.
  • The Purpose of passage rank is to identify relevant passages buried within your pages.
  • Webpages that have poorly structured content will benefit.
  • It will help webpages that aren't SEO-optimized well.
  • As these are small internal changes, it needs little or no effort on the part of webmasters.
  • Once the worldwide rollout is complete, passage ranking will affect 7% of search queries.
  • Apart from other factors, passage ranking helps Google understand the context and relevance of the page.
  • If you create long-form content with several subheadings, you can grab the benefits of it.
  • Google will not index individual passages. The Crawler will index the whole page as before.

Google Passage Rankings Updates

Google just rolled out passage ranking in the USA. You might be eagerly waiting to get information about its rollout in other countries.

In this space, I'll update the news of the rollout of the Google Passage Index in other markets as soon as Google announces.   

Final Thoughts

Passage ranking is a new system and now live in the US in English. There is no point in jumping for passage ranking right now. 

Create long-form content and break it down into many subheadings, sub subheadings, and different passages.

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