Industry News

SEO News: Google Will Start Ranking Passages

  • October 27, 2020
  • Steven van Vessum

At Search On 2020, Google announced: (opens in a new tab):

We’ve recently made another breakthrough, and are now able to not just index webpages, but individual passages from those pages.

Right off the bat, this announcement felt strange to us, so we’ve dug into the matter. Soon enough, we learned that Google will actually start ranking passages better. Once they roll out this update later this year, they’ll be able to better extract and rank relevant passages from long pages.

So it’s not that Google will start indexing parts of pages. They’ll still index full pages, but they’ll do it slightly differently, as they need to be able to serve up the relevant passages.

This is big, as Google said it will impact 7% of search queries worldwide.

Here’s what this may look like:

How will this impact you?

Let’s explain this with an example: imagine having one FAQ page covering twenty different topics.

Currently, this FAQ page isn’t likely to rank for all of those twenty topics. But once this update rolls out, Google will get better at ranking each of the different topics that’s covered on this FAQ page, resulting in less need for you to create separate FAQ pages.

What else?

  • We think a page’s structure will become even more important. For example, it will become more important to have proper headings (opens in a new tab) and in-page links: if certain passages are what people are after, these passages should be easy to discover.
  • This may lead to more zero-click searches as Google becomes better at ranking passages.
Start preparing now

Do content inventory to get a full picture of all of your content so you can start preparing for this update!

Is this a ranking change, or an indexing change?

Technically, it’s both—because in order to rank passages better, you also need to handle page indexing differently.

Come to think of it, the addition (opens in a new tab) of the ScrollToText feature in Google Chrome may have been a precursor to this.

Check out the resources below if you want to dig in deeper.

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Steven is ContentKing's VP of Community. This means he's involved in everything community and content marketing related. Right where he wants to be. He gets a huge kick out of letting websites rank and loves to talk SEO, content marketing and growth.