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Google’s Passage Ranking Update: What Does it Mean for My Site?

Last updated on February 24, 2022
5 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Google ranks specific passages of content in addition to entire web pages.
  • Use long-tail keywords and write long-form content to take advantage of this update.

Skill Level


An update from Google in 2021 changed how the search engine indexes and ranks web pages. Known as the Passage Ranking update, this change means that Google now ranks specific passages of content in addition to entire web pages.

When a user clicks on the Google result, they’ll find that the search engine has highlighted the exact passage of content that matches the query and best answers the user’s question. 

Not only is this better for users, but it’s better for website owners, too! Passage ranking gives you more opportunities to rank for multiple queries with one piece of content. Let’s take a look at how to optimize for passage ranking with strategic use of on-page elements.

Why Should You Care About Passage Ranking?

There are so many perks of optimizing your content for passage ranking! And this update is awesome for both search intent and user experience as well as SEO.

Long form content will greatly benefit from passage ranking. Web pages with 1,000 to 2,000 words have more opportunities for passages to get ranked, and the highlighted ranking directs users to the place on the page that best matches their query. You might see a lower bounce rate or other improved metrics as a result of passage ranking. 

Passage ranking also gives Google a better understanding of content meaning and the purpose of your web page. It allows the search engine to differentiate multiple topics on the same page and rank them separately, which can help you better serve your audience and the users that are searching queries directly answered on your website.

How Can You Take Advantage of Passage Ranking?

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One of the best parts of this update is that you don’t have to make any big changes to your existing content.

In fact, there is no direct action you can take to instantly improve rankings based on this update.

However, if you’ve been looking for a reason to update content or make some overall improvements, passage ranking could be the push you need to set aside some time for your content strategy.

All of the usual SEO content best practices still apply with passage ranking, like keyword research, title tag and meta description optimization as well as link building. But passage ranking also offers the opportunity to write longer content, use niche long-tail keywords, and make strategic use of headings to signify what the main passages of your content are all about. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to use proper header tag formatting and schema markup so that Google knows the correct order of your content sections. Learn more about schema markup here and on-page elements like headings here. 

User experience is at the core of this update, so be sure to continue writing for your audience and their specific search intent. 

Remember, this is a Google algorithm update, so there’s not much you can do for an SEO boost. However, if you focus on good content practices, you have a better chance of benefiting from the Passage Ranking update. Plus, by getting your passages to rank, you’ll build brand awareness and drive more bookings.

Feeling a little rusty when it comes to content creation? Browse our content marketing guides.

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