Google likes to make changes to its ranking algorithm for a better search experience. And, Google Passage Ranking or Passage Indexing is one of the recent announcements that search engine giant has made as an additional ranking factor. There is a lot of discussion and misconception around this ranking factor because of the phrase ‘passage indexing’.
So, what is passage indexing? What does it actually mean? How big or small is the update? Is it a significant algorithm update to affect your website traffic or ranking? Let’s discuss it in detail.
The word ‘indexing’ is creating all the speculation and confusion. The Google Passage Ranking is referred to as Passage Indexing, but it has nothing to do with indexing. It just talks about individual passages of a web page and their ranking.
So, take a deep breath and relax; it is only a small ranking change in Google. There is no reason to stress about it; it is only a ranking change, not an indexing change. However, we will not say that this update doesn’t matter at all, and you shouldn’t know about it. It will have a similar ripple effect as BERT in September 2019 to impact search results based on search queries.
What is Google Passage Ranking or Passage Indexing?
With the passage indexing update, Google will start to understand the relevancy of specific passages on web pages to find the most appropriate answer for users’ queries. It is an automated feature that Google has added to its search algorithm that ranks sections within your content into search engine results for a better user experience.
Google will now pull out specific passages from web pages to answer user’s queries even if the content as a whole, talks about a slightly different topic from the search query. It will now encourage webmasters to create more informative content.
To understand it much better, take a look at the official word from Google about Passage Indexing:
“So, for example, let’s say you search for something pretty niche like ‘how can I determine if my house windows are UV glass.’ This is a pretty tricky query, and we get lots of webpages that talk about UV glass and how you need a special film, but none of this really helps the layperson take action. Our new algorithm can zoom right into this one passage on a DIY forum that answers the question. Apparently, you can use the reflection of a flame to tell and ignores the rest of the posts on the page that aren’t quite as helpful.”
What does it actually mean?
Passage ranking is more sorts of a ranking change, not an indexing change in terms of deciding whether or not a section of the page can be helpful for the user’s query. In simple words, Google can now rank a specific passage independently within your content to answer a question.
It is like another ranking factor for a better understanding of the context of passages on a page to help users with the most relevant search results. It doesn’t affect your indexing in search engine result pages for keywords you have optimized for; instead, it can rank your page for additional queries if Google finds that a section of your content can be useful for users.
For example, if you are writing about your eCommerce success story and the article has a small passage about how to establish an eCommerce business within the context, Google can pick it up for users and display it on the search for a related query on eCommerce business establishment.
Google says that passage indexing is now capable of finding “that needle in a haystack.” Google Passage ranking will help the search engine giant better understand content deeply including all sub-topics, headings, and sections, even when you have not optimized your content for those specific search queries.