Beginning in 2021, the search engine giant will introduce a new ranking factor called Passage Indexing, enhancing your Google search experience.

On February 11, 2021, the new ranking technology was officially launched. The Google Search Liaison Twitter account provided official confirmation of the rollout:

What is the Algorithm for Passage Indexing?

Passage indexing is a new technology that Google’s algorithm uses to rank individual passages within a page in search results based on the user’s search query.

Remember Google’s announcement about BERT in September 2019? 

They say BERT will affect 10% of English-language search queries. Believe it or not, it affects more than 99% of queries. As Google Crawlers understand the relevance of specific passages within your content, Passage Indexing will have a similar ripple effect on the search results page.

Despite the name Passage Indexing, Google’s current indexing process remains the same. On the other hand, the new technology is more concerned with ranking.

So, if you have long-form content about Off-Page SEO with individual passages about each off-page SEO strategy, Google will know to rank your individual sections of content that match the search query.

Since its inception, Google has been striving for improved relevancy and context in search results. As you can see, the two core ranking factors – content and links – are only valuable when combined with relevance.

What is the Passage Indexing Algorithm?

Passage Indexing does not affect the crawling and indexing process, but it does assist Google in understanding the meaning of the passages on the page.

It means that Google will not index individual passages separately. When a query is entered, Google will display the most relevant passages in the results based on relevance and meaning. If you conduct a quick Google search for a long-tail question-based search query, you may receive results that include a list of websites. But you want a specific answer to your question, which Google still needs to provide.

Google search, on the other hand, will return the most relevant answer for your query thanks to the Passage Indexing algorithm.

Interestingly, the page that provides the answer may contain long-form content, but Google saves you time by displaying the most contextually relevant answer.

Is Google only going to index sections of pages?

Google officials have confirmed that the Passage Index will not replace traditional page indexing. It means that Google’s crawlers will continue to index pages completely, but they will try to understand the content and the meaning of each passage within the content as they do so.

It does not indicate a change in the way Google indexes pages. Still, it adds another layer to the existing process, which will, of course, affect page rankings.

It is significant for SEOs because, rather than a change in indexing, the Passage Indexing algorithm will result in a paradigm shift in rankings and the way results are displayed. 

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