Google’s Passage Ranking Launched in February: Here’s What That Means

Quietly announced via the Google Search Liaison Twitter account, Google’s passage ranking launched in the US on February 11th, 2021. This isn’t a ranking factor that will drastically impact your traffic, but it certainly pertains to SEO and is something to be informed about. Below, we’ll go over what passage ranking is and what you can do to be considered for this feature in the SERPs.

What Is Passage Ranking and Indexing?

Passage ranking is all about content. Google will take specific passages from longer form copy on a web page and display the passage if it pertains to a searcher’s specific query. The entirety of the copy from which the passage is pulled may not always be about that specific query (hence where “passage” comes in). If a part of your copy is targeting a search-relevant keyword, Google will take that small portion of text and create a featured snippet in the SERPs for the searchers’ convenience. This has been described by Google as finding “that needle-in-a-haystack information you’re looking for.” The overall goal of passage ranking is to improve results for the ever-evolving and specific queries people ask every day. Google has said passage ranking will improve 7% of all search queries once this feature has been launched on a global scale.

Passages will not be indexed individually from the web page where they are located. Information from an entire page is still considered in the indexing process, with passage ranking now deemed as an additional factor within the overall process.

Passage indexing featured snippet

Do I Need to Do Anything for This Ranking Method?

Passage ranking in the SERPs is determined by BERT language processing and Google Search AI advancements. It is different from structured data because you don’t need to add any code for a portion of your web page to be highlighted in the SERPs. The only thing you need to do to be eligible for passage ranking is to create web pages featuring relevant and useful information. Most content creators won’t have any changes to make at all.

Where Is Passage Indexing Available?

As of right now, passage ranking is available for US queries in English. It will later be available for additional countries in English and then rolled out to more countries with search queries in other languages.

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