Google Announces Passage Ranking

Last week, Google confirmed that ‘passage ranking,’ originally announced in October 2020 as ‘passage indexing’, is now live for English-language searches in the United States. According to the company’s Google Search Liaison Twitter account, it’s only a matter of time before the change comes to Canada.

“Passage ranking launched yesterday afternoon Pacific Time for queries in the US in English,” @searchliaison tweeted out. “It will come for more countries in English in the near future, then to other countries and languages after that.”

What is ‘Passage Ranking’? Great question! Passage ranking is essentially Google’s attempt to deliver more accurate search results to highly specific queries. Here’s how they described it in a blog entry:

“Very specific searches can be the hardest to get right, since sometimes the single sentence that answers your question might be buried deep in a web page. We’ve recently made a breakthrough in ranking and are now able to not just index web pages, but individual passages from the pages. By better understanding the relevancy of specific passages, not just the overall page, we can find that needle-in-the-haystack information you’re looking for.”

Will the Change Affect my Search Rankings? It is entirely possible that you may notice some ranking fluctuations as a result of the change. Google predicts that around 7 per cent of all searches will be affected when the update rolls out globally. The good news is that websites with useful, clearly articulated information on their pages will benefit, while those populated with opaque, keyword-stuffed language are likely to become less visible.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency, GrowthEngine Media has unique insights into Google’s preferred practices. Our content development team understands the importance of crafting clear, simple text that delivers website visitors the information they need to know. Bloated, keyword-heavy content is a relic of SEO’s past, and the passage ranking update is another clear indication of Google’s emphasis on great user experiences.


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