Google Passage Ranking Is Live In The US English Results

Feb 12, 2021 - 8:01 am 6 by
Filed Under Google Updates

Google Passage Indexing Clarify

The day we have been waiting for has come on Wednesday, February 10th - passage ranking (formerly known as passage indexing) is live in the US English search results. Google confirmed this after I pinged Danny Sullivan of Google about the status the other day.

Danny Sullivan said on Twitter that passage ranking went live "about two hours after" I asked about it. Danny shared "passage ranking launched yesterday afternoon Pacific Time for queries in the US in English. It will come for more countries in English in the near future, then to other countries and languages after that. We'll update this thread as those further launches happen."

In short passage ranking is Google's way of algorithmically sifting through a long piece of content and being able to understand that a specific passage or set of passages is about query X, while another specific passage or set of passages in that same document can be about query Y. Google is able to rank the same piece of content but different passages within that content separately and for different queries. Google is not indexing them separately but ranking them separately.

I thought it might be live because we saw another unconfirmed update a few days ago but Danny Sullivan from Google said no, this is not that. He said "That's before we launched passage ranking." Yes, the February 8th or so update was before February 10th, so they are unrelated.

I have a ton of stories on this topic, here are most (if not all) of them:

This should be a big update, Google said it would impact about 7% of search queries when it was first announced back in October. Google said then "this will be a global change improving 7% of queries." Well, it was not a global change, right now it is just US/English but I assume it had somewhat of a big impact in the US/English results.

The funny thing is that all of the automated tracking tools and the SEO community chatter is pretty low in terms of search volatility since after the launch of passage ranking. Meaning, if you look at the data they plot on or after February 11th (reminder, this launched February 10th at night, so you'd see the data the day after), the plotted volatility and the chatter are way calmer than the days prior due to the February 8th update. But it kind of makes sense, since SEO optimized sites would really not be impacted by this update anyway.

One important point, I see a lot of SEOs saying they "see" passage ranking in the search results. You cannot see them, they don't look any different, they likely do not have the scroll-to-text feature because Google has said they won't look or behave different from the other search result snippets.

Did you notice any big ranking changes for your sites around February 10th in the afternoon Pacific time?

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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