Towards the end of 2020, Google shared changes to how it would index website content called passage ranking. The update has an obvious effect on how SEO agencies and webmasters will approach content and page optimisation in the future. Following the announcement, Google officially started rolling out passage ranking last month and SEO experts are analysing the impact of this change.
Google have stated that passage ranking with affect around 7% of searches across all languages when it is eventually introduced world-wide. The update, which Google have classed as a “breakthrough” in how they analyse and rank pages, is focused on searches for specific information. Answers to precise questions may be found buried deep within page content and, in fact, a small paragraph or sentence is the most relevant information for the query.
SEO trends lean towards content-heavy strategies – with long-form content often being the most effective method to rank for particular searches. The introduction of passage ranking may drastically change that practice and we’re interested to fully understand how it might change the shape of SEO going forward.
Google originally referred to the update as passage indexing, which led to some confusion around how the search engine would crawl and index pages. However, Google have since clarified that the change will be related to how pages are ranked based on what it finds. Essentially, digging deeper into page content and making quality decisions based on specific information. This new method is similar but unrelated to featured snippets which instead identify the most relevant passage within a page rather than affecting ranking.
From an SEO perspective, the number of searches this update will affect appears to be low. However, in certain industries and topics, where searches are looking for precise answers, passage ranking is expected to shake up results. Google’s aim is clearly to improve the quality of results for users which puts the emphasis on making sure information provided is unique, useful and accurate.
We’ll be closely monitoring passage ranking as it rolls out and adapting our SEO strategies to ensure we’re always delivering the best results. If you’re interested in learning more about our marketing services, please get in touch.