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What is Passage Indexing Algorithm from Google

Google always keeps on changing its SEO strategy. In October 2020, Google announced passage indexing which is the new ranking technology. The Google SearchLiason Twitter account rolled out the official confirmation regarding this on February 11, 2021.  

Passage Indexing Algorithm

Google- “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.” 

The name itself says a lot. Passage indexing is the Google algorithm in which search results will be based on the individual passages from the web page when users make any query.

You might remember the announcement of Google done in September 2019 related to BERT. It stated that there would be a 10% influence of BERT on English search queries. But in reality (maybe you are going to believe it or not), there is an impact on 99% of queries.

The same impact will be considered from the passage indexing algorithm. The Google bots will start recognizing the relevant passages from website content. The good point is that there will be no impact on the current process of indexing. But this algorithm will have a great impact on the ranking of web pages.

So what it actually implies. Let us clear it with an example. Suppose you have long content written for On-page SEO and have different passages for each of the best strategies. In that case, Google will start matching the individual section of the webpage content according to the search query and then will display the most suitable passage to users.

From its origin, Google has worked in the direction of the relevancy and context of search results. You must have understood till now that content and links are only valuable when you are providing them in a relevant manner.

Passage index says that now search engines will check out the website content’s relevance with more details. It implies that now Google will take out the deeply buried answer from the webpage content on behalf of the user search query. 

Google says that there will be a 7% impact on search queries, but we have very well seen the example of BERT, so definitely its impact will reach a great level in the coming time.  

Passage Indexing is for Ranking

Let us make this clear to you with simple sentences. This passage indexing does not focus on the way of display of content; else it focuses on ranking. It doesn’t consider where Google is going to display the content. As a result, it has become an additional ranking factor for Google.

So is it similar to BERT or Link Analysis Algorithm?

The passage indexing algorithm works with additional ranking factors for providing a better experience to the searchers. However, it does not make any change in the feel and look of SERP.

Also, there was some confusion because of the bad example given from the side of Google, and they also confirmed that the tweet was theirs.

Let us clear the confusion with an example.

You can consider your web page as a book with multiple chapters. Till now, Google was ranking the book according to the main topics that were covered in that book. But after the indexing update, Google now checks each individual chapter of the book and displays the most relevant chapter or section when the query is made from the user side.

It implies that there is no need to make web pages passage index friendly as it is related to the ranking.

Anyway, if you organize your web page content, then the Google passage indexing algorithm will understand the meaning of the words easily.

It is very helpful for the digital marketers who have long-form content and not getting organic traction. Previously granular content was not able to rank as the main topic was extensive. After passage indexing, these long-form content started ranking for the related queries.

Working Procedure Of Passage Indexing Algorithm

This algorithm has nothing to do with the normal crawling and indexing process. However, it helps search engines to understand the meaning of webpage content easily. As per Google, they are not going to index every passage individually. Instead, depending upon the query of the user, Google will show the most relevant passage to the users that can satisfy their demands and requirements.

Previously if you type any long-tailed keyword question on Google, then you will be getting a number of websites in the search result. But this is not the desired result. Instead, you want a specific answer to the question that Google was not previously able to deliver.

But after this update, Google now delivers the most relevant answer for the searched query. Also, your time would be saved as Google will show you the most relatable answer from the long-form content.

Official Wording From Google Team- 

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.

Does Google Will Start Indexing The Section Of Webpage

Google has said this many times that there will be no changes in the normal indexing of the web pages. It implies that bots of Google will index the complete webpage as they were doing previously. Bots will try to understand the meaning of each section of content. There is no indication of a shift in Google page indexing. However, it is the additional layer that will change the ranking of pages. It is an important factor from the SEO perspective as it will change the ranking and way results display.

Is The Featured Snippet And Passage Indexing The Same?

No, there is a small line of difference between these two. The paragraph that you see in the snippet result is displayed according to the overall relevance of the webpage. Whereas in passage indexing, there is no consideration of the overall page. Only relevant action from the web page is displayed to users.

There is also a supporting statement from Google’s Danny Sullivan.

Is SMITH Language Processing for Passage Indexing?

We all are familiar with the BERT that is capable of understanding both long queries in individual pages and search. But currently, Google is using a Megalodon which is shortly known as SMITH.

SMITH stands for Siamese Multi-depth Transformer-based Hierarchical Encoder which is a type of natural language.

This model is suitable for making Google algorithms acknowledge paragraphs within the webpage. Now we are familiar with the roadmap of Google passage indexing.

The language processing system recommends articles, news articles and cluster documents. Out of them, the cluster document has a direct connection with the passage indexing.

The working process of SMITH is similar to BERT. Masked words are used in BERT, and SMITH makes sentence blocks.

SMITH Action Plan

  • The desired document is broken into several blocks of sentences.
  • Language Processing Transformers will look after every contextual sentence block.
  • Contextual representation of sentence blocks is done with a similar BERT practice.
  • Transformers from the document level understand the contextual representation for each block of sentences, and the final document is prepared. 

Is This The Beginning Of The Content Optimization 2. O?

With the passage indexing algorithm, the way of search results will change. And that will result in lots of work for SEOs in the upcoming time.

Before launching the passage indexing algorithm, Google was considering the meta title and heading of the web page as the way to understand the content context.

But now, Google has started indexing the web pages after recognizing the meaning of every paragraph. Because of that, now individual pages can also rank in the search result. The more amazing thing is that if the answer is deeply buried in the content, the paragraph will also appear on the search result as per the user query. These all things indicate that there will be a great impact on the passage index algorithm.

John statement:

So it might be that we start showing these in the featured snippets first because I don’t know if we showed that example, or maybe that’s the clearest way we can check this. And then, at some point, we start showing them more in the normal search results as well.  


Passage ranking is one more signal that signifies that Google focuses on quality and well-arranged content. If you are not arranging your website content in such a manner, then you will definitely experience a loss in ranking. It is better to update your website according to the latest changes of Google.

Need more help with Google updates? Contact SEO experts of Marketing Sweets. Our professionals keep an eye on all the latest changes done by Google so that the website can be designed and optimized according to that. 

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