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New for ’22: Passage Indexing

Passage Indexing

Google announced a new algorithm called Passage Indexing recently. If you haven’t heard about it, listen up!

You can benefit from using Passage Indexing if you’re like us and have written long-form content that failed to get traction in the past.

According to Google, it is now attempting to understand the meaning of each passage within a web page while indexing web pages and using the natural language processing feature.

Here’s an example of how passage indexing impacts search results:

Natural Language Processing

Essentially, a section (passages) covered inside your article will now appear in search results for relevant search queries, even if it’s buried within the vastness of the primary topic.

Google’s Cathay Edwards said Passage Indexing will affect 7% of all search queries in all languages by the end of 2020. A similar announcement was made in 2018 for the BERT update. According to the announcement, BERT will affect 10% of all search queries. Google’s Prabhakar Raghavan confirmed in the same video that BERT is now used to deliver results for almost all search queries.

In other words, Passage Indexing is more of an internal ranking system, and it has a greater impact on the SERP results.

Passage Indexing Ranking Algorithm will benefit web pages with highly structured content, it’s more or less confirmed. Google will also place greater emphasis on improving the ranking of holistic content in 2022. Content strategies that address the pressing questions that are asked by users generally take an in-depth look at a topic.

In addition, Passage Indexing will have a major impact on the search results for long-tail and question-based searches. A pinpointed question requires a needle in a haystack approach to find the right answer. Passage indexing is exactly what Google aims to accomplish.

How does it work?

Google reported finding 15% of new search queries every day that had never been searched before. In most cases, long-tail and question-based queries account for the majority of these searches.

Google Search QueriesWith passage indexing, people will be able to find the most relevant answers from a variety of legitimate sources.

Google is displaying a forum page as a result of a query rather than a result that points to a broader page, as you can see in the example above.

As a result, the current indexing pattern looks at the context and relevance of the entire page, but with Passage Indexing, Google looks at the context and relevance of individual passages of a page for more relevant answers.

Passage Indexing, however, won’t be a separate process. Thanks to Google’s Advance Natural Language Processing algorithms, individual passages will be understood as and when Google crawls and indexes the pages.

Google about Passage Indexing:

“So, for example, let’s say you search for something pretty niche like ‘how can I determine if my house windows are UV glass.’ This is a pretty tricky query, and we get lots of web pages that talk about UV glass and how you need a special film, but none of this really helps the layperson take action. Our new algorithm can zoom right into this one passage on a DIY forum that answers the question. Apparently, you can use the reflection of a flame to tell and ignores the rest of the posts on the page that aren’t quite as helpful.”

Importance of Structuring Your Content

After Passage Indexing goes live, your content’s structure will be as important as its quality.

The content should be divided into sections, and each section should discuss a different sub-topic. In this way, you let Google know how deep your content is and how it will satisfy users’ search intent.

At this point, I would recommend making good use of heading tags in order to organize your content.

Passage indexing may not be as useful if you are writing a short article. Websites that have valuable content buried inside will benefit from Passage Indexing, according to Google.

In short content, however, it is less likely that you will cover subtopics and smaller passages, so Google will naturally rank your content for the core topic, but not for queries that require granular answers. For highly competitive search queries, 9 out of 10 top-ranking pages have more than 2000 words of long-form content. Make sure that you include a table of content at the top or sticky of long-form content to ensure a good user experience.

You cannot force users to read the entire content since they do not link to wait. Login-form pages with poor navigation cause users to abandon them, since finding the information is difficult and time-consuming.


What Are the Benefits of Passage Indexing?

Let’s talk about why you should care for passage indexing now that we’ve discussed what it is, how it works, and how it could impact our SEO. Is this change beneficial or can you ignore it?

There are a few benefits of passage indexing:

  1. Longer form content gets a boost: Content with a longer form will rank higher for more specific keywords as a result of this shift.
  2. Focus on users rather than Google bots: Put users first rather than Google bots: Google is showing us, once again, that it wants site owners to focus more on creating content that users find useful rather than what the search bots want.
  3. Long-tail keywords are more important than ever: Make sure to include long-tail keywords and related terms, just like you would for voice search, to trigger passage indexing.
  4. Could (slightly) reduce the importance of on-page SEO factors: Change could (slightly) reduce the importance of on-page SEO factors: Google’s Martin Splitt explained that this change is meant to help pages with great content that aren’t optimized perfectly. It doesn’t matter what the content on those pages is, as long as it’s great. However, don’t completely ignore on-page. Content and on-page optimization will make highly competitive niches stand out.

How Can You Optimize for Passage Indexing?

Keep in mind this is a small change to Google’s ranking system, so if you already have content that users want, you are doing good. But as with any update, it’s important to be aware and make any necessary changes where necessary.

  • Update your long-form posts with new stats, links, and resources.
  • Use clear, keyword-rich (but not overly optimized) headings for each section to help Google better understand what each section covers.
  • It’s time to start creating long-form content if you don’t have it yet. Make sure to cover all aspects of the topic, answer common questions, and use long-tail keywords.
  • Make sure any pages on your website that have a slightly different section related to the main topic are clearly written and optimized for the search terms users use to find that information.
  • Research long-tail keywords and incorporate them into long-form content.


Keep in mind in most cases, website owners won’t need to make any changes and will not be penalized by Google. There may be a slight boost in traffic and rankings for sites with long-form content.

In addition to providing some insight into Google’s future, this ranking change provides some insight into its future direction. Search engines are focused on providing users with the best possible user experience, which means marketers also need to focus on users.

Give our team a hollar if you need help with SEO and providing a better user experience.


We live in SEOville, USA, drink only from the fountains that produce the highest ROI, and dine on warm leads. Our goal is to help Optimizers, Agency Owners, Freelancers, Single Moms, Corporation Owners, and you through the complex world of internet marketing.

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