SEO Company Passage Indexing Guide
In this SEO Company Passage Indexing Guide we look at how specific Google has become with indexing content. Google has recently made its indexing far more advanced by announcing a passage indexing feature; here, you will find out how this works, as well as how you can benefit from them.
For an SEO company, the primary goal is to improve the searchability of a specific site page. Google has used some of the most advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to help answer user queries more efficiently. An SEO company needs to be aware of this mechanism in order to take advantage of this new technology, but so can you.
SEO Company Guide: What is passage indexing?
In October 2020, Google announced its latest developments, including using a passage indexing feature. Passage indexing allows Google to index particular sections of an entire webpage, rather than indexing the whole web page. Google has stated that this new development will affect 7% of searches by ranking sites more accurately to the needs of the user.
What does this mean from an SEO perspective? First, let’s take a look at how Google has been using indexing technology up to this point.
Before now, Google used whole page indexing to rank search results. Whole page indexing assigns a subject or meaning to an entire page of content, only allowing the user to find more precise features by clicking on the site and seeing for themselves. Whole page indexing can be challenging for users because it makes search result ranking occasionally misleading as you the user cannot find the specific section within the page.
Google has made multiple statements on this new announcement, which is set to be implemented by the end of 2020. In one interview, a Google spokesperson, Cathy Edwards said:
“So previously, Google’s systems would look at some of 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.”
What Cathy has pinpointed here is that using passage indexing, site content that covers a wide range of topics, not just one overall point, can be ranked according to its specifics.
For example, if a client had a page dedicated to answering FAQs about diabetes, with passages about diet, exercise, diabetes medications, access to treatments and other topics; a Google search about diabetes medications could rank this whole FAQ page highly.
These changes are set to vastly improve the user experience of the already titanous Google search engine. For website developers, writers and owners, passage indexing will change the game when it comes to how content is laid out and thus SEO services.
For the average SEO company, working with the whole page indexing that Google has used up until now meant using snippets, headers, keywords, backlinks and more in an attempt to get the site page indexed as accurately as possible. Now, the process has changed. How will we cope with the new passage indexing technology?
How will passage indexing affect SEO?
For those who work in the SEO industry, be it writers, leaders or website developers, Google’s new passage indexing feature is huge news. This is because passage indexing will alter the way Google ranks sites, making the ranking more specific to the query of the user.
The average site won’t be affected largely depending on the type of content a page has. Certain sites who produce focused, short, single-subject content will likely not be affected. However, there are some styles of content creation that will be helped by passage indexing. In this section you will find out what type of content will be affected and why.
Passage indexing gives particular sites, who know how to optimise for it, more of a chance to be ranked highly. Certain types of content pages will be most highly affected; these include:
Long-form articles are important. A short, snappy article is bound to only cover one subject in detail. This means that it would be easier for the page to be indexed accurately using the original whole page indexing tools.
However, long-form articles are likely to cover a range of topics in a complex, detailed way; using passage indexing will allow small sections of long-form pages to be listed accurately in accordance to a Google search.
Information pages, such as FAQs. The other type of content that will be most heavily affected by Google’s passage indexing are information pages. These could be FAQ pages, or a list of varying services offered by one company.
These information pages are often very long and cover a vast range of topics that are less likely to be correctly indexed using whole page indexing. Passage indexing will allow any particular section of this content to be found more easily.
If you feel a little anxious about these changes, don’t worry: Google is not swapping its whole page indexing functions for an entirely passage indexing based service. No, Google has assured its users on both sides that it will be continuing to index whole pages, while implementing passage indexing as an additional service to aid query specificity. On Twitter, the official Google Search Liaison stated:
“This change doesn’t mean we’re indexing individual passages independently of pages. We’re still indexing pages and considering info about entire pages for ranking. But now we can also consider passages from pages as an additional ranking factor…”
This clarity of statement from Google has helped developers to feel assured that their entire modus operandi will not be thrown out of the window at the end of the year. Whole page indexing was working very well for clients who produce short, snappy, hyper focused content; this will still be the case. For an sites that produces the longer form content described above, however, their rankings are likely to improve.
What changes should an SEO company make to benefit from passage indexing?
For an SEO company, the idea is to think: granulated content. While some industry leaders may say that an SEO company need not change their tactics or services to benefit from Google’s passage indexing features, others are looking for ways to monopolise on these changes.
The crucial thing for to remember when preparing for passage indexing to go live is to focus on how it can and will affect not just your content, but the content of competitors. Indeed, if an SEO company is advising businesses to only produce shorter, focused pages in order to work with the whole page indexing system, it should perhaps be thinking about varying this. Once passage indexing goes live on Google, buried sites that have never been able to surface to page one rankings may do so just like how featured snippets afforded some sites this opportunity.
Passage indexing will level the playing field. This is excellent news for smaller blogs and companies that have been failing to see the light of day, but for sites that are currently getting the lion’s share, passage indexing could dilute the concentrated results these clients have been seeing. By allowing passages within longer, less focused pieces to be found, passage indexing will witness a systemic change in how user queries are ranked.
This systemic change could also help less professional, messy websites to see higher rankings. Passage indexing can help Google’s algorithm understand complex content that is not necessarily well-organised or succinct. For some content creators, this might be worrying; however, the actual ramifications of passage indexing cannot be known until the feature is actually launched, so these worries are purely hypothetical.
Do not fear, though: Google’s new feature is not necessarily bad news. Passage indexing will certainly shake things up when it comes to rankings, but this isn’t a negative thing overall. In fact, many online content creators who were shackled to creating formulaic content in order to be ranked highly by whole page indexing, might now be able to vary the content they create while maintaining high rankings.
Overall, the search engine user experience will be greatly fortified by the passage indexing feature. While there will be some change for many websites’ rankings, passage indexing will enable queries to be solved more quickly and more accurately than ever before.
When can an SEO company expect to see results from passage indexing?
Now that you are aware of how passage indexing will work and what it might mean for SEO in the future, you might be wondering: when will I be seeing results? The answer is simply that it is not apparent that Google’s passage indexing is going live in 2020. Google stated that the new feature will be up and running by the end of 2020; the SEO world is waiting with bated breath for this feature to go live. It is not clear when results will be seen.
Despite the lack of clarity on the situation, this question is on many an SEO’s lips, especially due to the fact that on December 3rd 2020, Google announced its Core Algorithm Update. This led many people to believe that the passage indexing rollout was being bundled with this update. However, it doesn’t appear that this is the case. For an SEO company, following the release of passage indexing closely is important in order to mark any changes in their clients’ ranking analytics.
For the moment, though, the vital steps that one must take to prepare for passage indexing, is to stay up to date with Google’s announcements. In addition, an SEO company must work closely with high ranking clients to prepare for any negative impact the rollout could have, although for certain verticles more than others. Conversely, low ranking page operators and creators should pay close attention to the rollout; passage indexing could have a wickedly brilliant effect for them.
The more closely this enigmatic feature release is monitored, the better any SEO company can measure accurate data as it happens. As mentioned previously, Google stated that passage indexing will affect approximately 7% of Google searches. There is quite a high possibility, then, that a client will not see any changes at all to their clicks, interactions or rankings after passage indexing goes live.
Nevertheless, large companies that monopolise the top ranking positions may take a hit to their rankings as their meticulously designed content is thwarted by passage indexing’s powers of pinpoint specificity. No doubt these sites are already working with their chosen SEO company to try to combat any prospective drop in their ratings, but in actual fact, nobody really knows how passage indexing will affect their company until it goes live.
When passage indexing does launch, however, the ranking impact could be almost immediate. Just like implementing effective tools onto a blank website will boost its ranking in an almost immediate time frame, it seems that passage indexing could do the same.
Ultimately, any site should be waiting in keen anticipation to see what passage indexing could do for their rankings. Google’s newest feature could be polarising for the clients of the average SEO company, but whatever your take, its impact will not be comprehensively felt across all sites and businesses.
The pinpoint specificity of passage indexing will allow users to navigate Google more efficiently, helping them to get to the crux of the query they have. The job of the SEO company is to work with this new feature, not against it, to create meaningful and effective user experiences for all clients.