How Google Indexes Passages of a Page and What it Means for SEO

You need to consider all of Google’s algorithm changes and how they will affect your small business SEO. Google is going to index the English language passages on your website and this will result in a ranking change. This is only one of the many changes that were recently announced by Google and below is everything that you need to know.

What is Passage Based Indexing

When you are doing small business SEO, you must know what passage based indexing means. Google said it the best when they stated, “Very specific searches can be the hardest to get right since sometimes the single sentence that answers your question might be buried deep in a web page. We’ve recently made a breakthrough in ranking and are now able to not just index web pages, but individual passages from the pages. By better understanding the relevancy of specific passages, not just the overall page, we can find that needle-in-a-haystack information you’re looking for.”

Google stated that this type of indexing will affect some 7% of all of the search queries in all the languages when it is rolled out all over the globe. Google will be able to find a specific passage that is much more relevant to a query than the broader text that might be found elsewhere.

Google also stated, “We’ve recently made another breakthrough, and are now able to not just index webpages, but individual passages from those pages. This helps us find that needle in a haystack because now the whole of that one passage is relevant. 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 ignore the rest of the posts on the page that aren’t quite as helpful. Now, you’re not gonna do this query necessarily, but we all look for very specific things sometimes. And starting next month, this technology will improve 7% of search queries across all languages, and that’s just the beginning.”

Will Google Index Parts of Pages or Sections

Google was asked if this means they are going to be indexing sections of pages or passages, but they said they are still indexing entire pages. However, the system is now going to consider the meaning that these passages have along with the content to determine which is going to be the most relevant. This means that you are going to want to ensure that the content you are putting up on your page is going to be more relevant and detailed than anything else.

Ranking Change and Not Indexing Change

Another thing that you need to know is that indexing hasn’t changed. This will be a change in ranking and how the content is ranked by Google, depending on what they find on your site. Google isn’t going to be indexing any individual passages on pages. Google will, however, become better at locating what is exactly on the page and locating those passages when it comes to ranking.

Signals Google Looks At

Earlier the systems run by Google would look at the “stronger signals about a page– for example, page titles or headings– to understand what results were most relevant to a query. While those are still important factors, this new system is helpful for identifying pages that have one individual section that matches particularly well to your query, even if the rest of the page is about a slightly different or overall less relevant topic.” This means that they aren’t looking at everything, but rather trying to find the content that will make the page relevant.

Are Header Tags Becoming More Important?

You might also want to know if header tags or similar items are going to be more important from now on. Google, however, hasn’t really said anything about this so far, but title tags are going to be vital signals and headers might become more and more important as well. Google stated that it “always had an understanding of keywords and phrases in documents, but often things like page titles were very strong signals that helped us provide the best overall pages.” It is still going to be hard to determine what parts of a website and the headers will be more important than others.

Isn’t This Similar to Featured Snippets?

Google uses some of your content as featured snippets and when asked about this they said that their “systems determine the relevance of any web document via understanding of passages. 

Featured snippets, on the other hand, identifies the most relevant passage in a document we’ve overall determined to be relevant to the query.”

It is extremely important as a small business seo company that you keep up with all of this and that means knowing when the algorithm is going into effect and how it works. Make sure that you are creating content that is going to answer questions that readers have and that will be indexed. This is going to help change your current ranking, so make sure that you are optimizing for it now.


With over 13 years experience as a leader in digital marketing, Mansi Rana is Managing Director of EZ Rankings – SEO Company India. Passionate about all things data; providing actionable business intelligence in digital, future tech; and venture bubbles categories for everyone, everywhere.

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