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Everything You Need to Know About Google Passage Ranking

Everything You Need to Know About Google Passage Ranking

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In 2021, Google announced a new algorithm called “passage ranking” via a tweet. This statement caused quite a stir in the world of digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). Even the slightest change can affect how a website ranks on Google. But how will the Google Passage Ranking affect SEO? What is Passage Indexing? What exactly does it do, and what do these changes mean for your website?

Google Passage Ranking is often used and interchanged with passage indexing, although Google’s Martin Splitt insists that the correct term is Google Passage Ranking. But, regardless of the semantics, digital marketers and SEO analysts are more concerned about the changes this new algorithm can bring.

As SEO becomes more complex, Google aims to simplify the process of searching content for casual users, and passage indexing was developed for that purpose. Google updates Google search from time to time, providing a rundown of additional algorithms. These developments aim to help users have a smooth search engine experience with accurate search results.

In their announcement, Google’s algorithm updates involved an artificial intelligence (AI) system called BERT language systems that updates Google search to bring more relevant results to their search engine. The algorithm updates include helping the search engine understand misspelled words and Google passage indexing.

Google Passage Ranking and SEO

Understanding algorithm updates like passage ranking can be overwhelmingly complex. But passage indexing and ranking are more straightforward concepts compared to other algorithm updates. Passage indexing works as an automated feature that will show users different sections from pages into a single search result. Even though the topic is slightly different from the main topic that the user inputs into the search engine, passage indexing will still include that topic.

What Is a Passage?

Experts define passages as excerpts that provide direct answers to a user’s query. Take, for example, a user searching for content regarding digital marketing. Google will automatically give all results that use “digital marketing” as their primary keyword. With the addition of passage indexing, Google can rank long-form content that use synonymous keywords or passages independently.

In much simpler terms, passage indexing allows Google to rank the different content sections independently according to the keywords used in those particular sections. Passage examples include searching for data and information on a specific topic, and Google will come up with a direct answer using different formats.

Users can now get a general idea of the content as a whole, through this additional feature. Even though the changes do not have a significant effect on a website’s traffic and overall ranking, the Google passage index is still a factor for consideration when creating content that will undergo search engine optimization.

How Will the Passage Ranking Affect My Site?

You are probably thinking: “how will passage ranking affect my site?” Digital marketing experts and SEO analysts say that there is no need to panic and that the addition of these new features will not, in any way, affect website traffic for now.

What’s the Difference Between Passage Rankings vs. Featured Snippets?

If you are an online content creator, you might have encountered the term “featured snippets.” For starters, featured snippets are Google’s way of giving an instant answer to specific questions. Adding featured snippets is the tech giant’s way of refining search results displays. It is understandable to mistake passage rankings for featured snippets. However, the passage index is an entirely different feature. Google passages deal with the entire page’s content while featured snippets provide quick, straightforward answers.

Featured snippets are helpful for search engine optimization because it helps a website appear at the topmost part of the search results even if the website itself does not have a high ranking score. This means that if a featured snippet appears on the search results, it will provide a higher chance of people clicking that particular website.

Different Formats of Featured Snippets

As a web developer, you have to consider grabbing the opportunity of featured snippets. Even without a high ranking on search engines, your website can still harvest organic traffic and rank scores when you have featured snippets. The secret to creating a successful snippet is well-written content that answers most of the questions people usually search online. Luckily, there are online applications that can help formulate popular questions that can aid content creators in making featured snippets.

Web developers should also consider the format of the snippet to be able to be featured on Google passages. Here are the seven formats or types of snippets often used in the search engine:

Paragraph or Definition Box

This is probably the most popular and most commonly used type of featured snippet. Paragraph-formatted snippets are also called definition box because it provides a concise and direct answer to the query. Snippets in paragraph format encompass 50% of search results and often answers the question “what is” and contain an average of 40 to 60 words. The most common passage examples appear in paragraph format.


The list format is the most common snippet used if the query is process-driven or requires enumeration. You can use lists to organize things, identify products, and show the steps involved in a process.

List-formatted snippets often come in numbered or bulleted forms and are arranged according to the process’s order of importance. Bulleted lists are usually available for both ranked and non-ranked items, features, and “best of” lists.

Table Format

This snippet allows users to visualize data for different types and comparisons. Tables make up a large portion of Google’s Featured Snippets. Featured snippets that use table formatting usually answer queries looking for data. For instance, questions about statistics or comparisons are answered in table form. Unlike the paragraph format or the list format, the table format is specific only for these kinds of information.


Nowadays, instructions and tutorials often come with video. You can rank on a featured snippet with a video if it answers a query in the best way. Videos as featured snippets are useful for answering “how to” questions. Since people prefer to see the process of a task immediately without reading a whole article first, websites often add a video to aid their written content. Instructional videos are popular for people who need visual aids in doing a specific task. This featured snippet contains one or two videos embedded in the content.

Interactive Tool

This specific featured snippet is perfect when you need an immediate answer on calculation, conversion, and translation. When people want to translate foreign words, the search engine will appear with a box where users can type the word they want to be translated, and Google will automatically provide the translation.

Meanwhile, if people search for measurement conversions, the search result will also include an interactive box where the initial answer to the question will be displayed.

How to Optimize Your Website for Passage Indexing and Google Ranking Changes

How will the Google passage ranking affect SEO of a website? Although it is still too early to see whether or not passage ranking will have a considerable effect on your website’s search engine optimization and overall ranking, digital marketing strategies nowadays are considering passage indexing.

Long-Form Content

Given that the Google passage indexing will rank different keywords from across content sections, having long articles will help your website have a high ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). The longer the written content, the more keywords you will have to use, and this means Google will rank these different keywords separately.

You might be thinking: how long is a passage before Google considers it for indexing? The answer to this question depends not precisely on the length but on how organized the content is with the information and the keywords it uses. It can be a bit of a trial-and-error because there are cases where content is too long and overshadows actual relevant information.

The most important aspect to remember is to strategize and make good, authoritative content, and only then will Google passage ranking consider your blog.

Passage Length

If you want Google to consider your content for passage optimization, your search engine optimization expert and content creators must be aware of the overall length of the passage or content. For instance, a 3000-word article should segregate 1-2% of its passages. Your website’s Google ranking change with passages, and will depend on its length.

Passage Word Count

The average word count for Google passage indexing is 40 to 60 words. Content creators should be mindful of making the passage understandable because it can be an advantage when Google starts ranking the page.

Use More Images and Videos

SEO experts recommend putting at least one image below the passage that you plan to optimize. Adding images or videos increases the chance of Google indexing your website. Adding images or videos has been the norm for modern-day blogging, especially when the website offers tutorials or reviews. This year, Google will have to include images and videos in its indexing and ranking.

Target Questions

In creating content for SEO, using target questions are highly encouraged. Target questions are the most basic questions – the specific topic’s who, what, when, where, and why. Nowadays, there are online applications that one can consult to create target pages or understand how to generate one.

Maximize H Tags

Heading tags, most commonly known in the world of web development as “H tags,” are helpful in optimizing a website for passage ranking. H tags are responsible for getting the attention of search engines. Heading tags are important, especially if your content has a higher search engine rank.

It comes as basic knowledge now, but it is worth remembering that “Heading 1” needs to be given the utmost importance. “Heading 1” should contain the main keyword and be used once per page. “Heading 2” is another element you should be careful with if you want to have your content considered for passage indexing.

When using H2 for a passage, ensure that it contains latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. Adding LSI keywords will help Google understand the context of your content thoroughly.

Create Good Content

There is one acronym you should remember when creating content: EAT. Creating top-notch, optimized content is an essential SEO rule – passage indexing included. After all, it is the content that Google ranks for its search results.

EAT stands for “expert, authoritative, and trustworthy.” Your content should first be informative and answer all the basic questions people may ask. All content should be factual, and you, as a content producer, should be well-versed and concise with the information you are sharing with people.

Google cannot rank a website full of confusing and disorganized content. Before you create your content, make sure to do an outline and conduct intensive research regarding your topic. It would be best if you always thought that your website should be considered the authority for a particular topic. The more organized and informative your content, the more you’ll see a positive Google ranking change.

Create a content strategy complete with target questions and the proper use of keywords and H-tags. This will heighten the possibility of Google giving your blog a high passage ranking.

The secret to creating good content for SEO is doing adequate research. Research should not be limited to the topic at hand. Your team should also search for common strategies that can help boost website traffic for a particular post. Observe the older posts that have high stats in terms of website traffic. Find out the tone that was used or the approach to the topic. This will give you an idea of what your demographic likes.

Other Forms of Google SEO Changes that You Should Watch Out For

Focusing on Google passages and Google passage ranking is not the only thing search engine optimization experts should do. Google aims to provide the best search engine experience to users. They provide a subtle Google SEO change that everyone should consider the next time they create a content calendar.

Image and Videos for Optimization

A significant Google SEO change that everyone should be mindful of is optimizing images and videos. Now, this is not new information. Images and videos have long been used to add traction and website traffic. Starting this year, ensure optimizing your images and videos to prepare for any Google SEO change that may affect your website ranking.

Voice Search and Inquiry

More tech companies employ voice recognition on smartphones or tablets, and Google considers this change when developing new updates for their search engine. For this feature, a more direct query is needed.

Points for Reiteration

Passage indexing or passage ranking will not make major changes in terms of the traffic on your website. However, the team that handles your search engine optimization strategies should be mindful of the tweaks and adjustments that Google needs to feature your content and in case of a Google ranking change.

It is still quite early to tell if a significant effect is brought by adding the passage indexing feature. On the other hand, Google is quite confident that this will make searching for specific topics more accessible.

Passage indexing can also help people who are not particularly well-versed with search engine optimization. There are cases where blog posts with too many words do not rank high because it overshadows the relevant content. The addition of this feature gives a general idea of how to design or structure the content.

Consult experts if you are still unsure how search engine optimization and passage indexing work. Professionals in digital marketing and search engine optimization strategies always consider these minor changes in the feature of every search engine.

It will be wise to hire a search engine optimization expert to make sure that your website will rank high on search engines and become the authority in your specific field.

Advanced Digital Media Services Helps You Maximize Google Passage Indexing

Search engine optimization is an essential tool for digital marketing as businesses aim to improve their user experience and market visibility. Creating an SEO-friendly website with top-ranking content can be overwhelming and intimidating, which is why it is best if you have professional help in launching your brand or business online.

If you are looking for SEO Services in Denver, Advanced Digital Media Services can help you. ADMS can provide professional help in web development, Google passage ranking, content creation, and ensuring that your website is positioned for a good search ranking.

Call us now to get the full details of our services.

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ADMS Paul Donahue

About Paul Donahue

Paul Donahue has been in the digital marketing realm since 2009. He has an intense passion for creating a dynamic digital presence for his clients through modern websites that rank well on Google. His company’s website is Colorado’s top-ranked SEO company. Author of three books published on Amazon, he is particular about staying abreast with the constantly changing SEO and digital marketing industry trends.

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