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How To Optimize For Google Passage Ranking?

All websites want their content to be top-notch. Infact, they develop content with this particular aim.

But the sad truth is, that most websites fail to achieve it. That is why Google fetches only a few blue links on their search results pages, satisfying your query from 1.13 billion websites.

However, that does not mean all those web pages appearing on search result pages offer valuable information.

The web pages on the SERP are the best content satisfying that specific search query.

It also happens that only a part of a web page’s content can give you the best answer to what you are looking for, but the rest of the content is not helpful for you.

In such scenarios, Google only highlights or displays that specific portion of the content through Google passage ranking.

What Is Google Passage Ranking?

Google passage ranking is a Google update announced on October 20, 2020, and finally rolled out on February 10, 2021.

The update ensured that if a specific passage of a web page offers the best answer to a search query, then Google will deliver only that portion to the searcher through its SERP, even if the rest of the content of that web page is not of top-notch level.

For example, I searched for data of the total number of websites to include in the introduction of this article.

Google provided me with the following result.

Google ranked the passage from the Forbes web page containing data for the total number of websites at the top of the SERP and then the web page link.

Besides, I didn’t have to read the entire web page for that specific data.

The Confusion About Google Passage Ranking

The term ‘Passage indexing,’ initially used by Google for passage ranking, created a huge fuss among SEO professionals.

However, passage ranking, aka passage indexing, has nothing to do with Google’s indexing. You need to remember the following essential points about passage ranking,

  1. Passage ranking or passage indexing does not mean Google will index specific passages of a web page. It will index the entire web page like before.
  2. Passage ranking will not affect Google indexing by any means.

Passage Ranking Vs Featured Snippets

Google featured snippets initially known as ‘quick answers’ have been available since 2013. They appear at the top of the SERP above the blue links. 

Following is an example of a Google-featured snippet for the search query “vegan alternatives to chicken”.

Whereas, Google passage ranking shows the most relevant passage of a web page in the meta description that satisfies the search query along with the link for the broader article, as shown below,

The Best Ways To Optimize Content For Google Passage Ranking

Google has clearly stated that no action needs to be taken by publishers for their Google passage ranking update except to concentrate on creating valuable content.

However, here are some ways through which you can curate content for Google passage indexing.

Generate Long-Form Content

Generally speaking, long-form content is more likely to appear in search results because it offers more detailed information to the searcher’s query ensuring a better user experience.

You must include the primary and secondary keywords naturally within the content. That will help your content rank better in SERPs.

You must detect those keywords by performing a detailed keyword search using a reliable tool like RankWatch.

Just follow the below steps for your keyword research,

  1. Log in to your RankWatch account and go to the dashboard.
  2. Go to keyword research and enter the primary keyword.
  3. Select the location and hit the ‘Search’ Button.
  4. The tool will provide you with an entire list of keyword suggestions along with their search volume, competition, and CPC.

  5. The tool also suggests keyword-based questions mostly used by the searchers in their queries. Using those suggestions can effectively increase your SERP rankings.

You can check the keyword usage in the body of the content and the images using the SEO IQ feature of RankWatch.

Long-form content has a better chance of containing a passage Google may rank in its passage ranking as it covers more subtopics.

Create SEO-friendly Headings And Subheadings

Headings and subheadings describe crawlers and what the topic is about. It played an essential role in SEO long before the implementation of Google passage ranking.

Moreover, the heading or the title is the first thing a searcher will see about your web page on the SERP. That’s why:

  1. It must be enticing enough for the user to click on your content.
  2. Your heading must include the primary keyword at the beginning.
  3. Your subheadings must also include secondary keywords.

Basically, you need to curate your subheadings in a way that they clearly state to Google what topics they are covering. That, in turn, shall boost your chances of ranking in Google passage indexing.

RankWatch SEO IQ provides you with the details of the usage of exact keywords in your title and also suggests if it requires any further improvements.

RankWatch SEO IQ also suggests the changes your sub-headers require.

Target Multiple Search Queries

As passage ranking allows a specific portion of your content to rank, targeting multiple search queries within your content has become more essential to rank for Google passages.

You should think about search queries related to the main topic that a searcher can perform. You must cover them within the content under subheadings. That will significantly boost your chances of ranking for Google Passages.

It will be beneficial to know the most popular search queries frequently used by the searchers and include them in your subheadings or FAQ section.

Clicking on the ‘Questions’ tab of the RankWatch SEO IQ content editor will provide you with the most popular search queries often used by searchers.

Prioritize Relevance And User Experience

Google’s primary goal is to provide the most relevant content to the users satisfying their queries.

Passage ranking is one more step towards that. It ensures users get their answers even without clicking on any of those blue links.

Hence, you must write your content keeping in mind the relevancy of the topic and the user experience it will offer.

Unless your content provides valuable information to the user, Google will never rank it anywhere.


It is a thumb rule to design your content that offers valuable information to users to get it ranked.

Google passage ranking is a boon to those websites that do not rank in general but have valuable content in specific portions of web pages. They can rank for that in passage ranking.

It also helps web pages that are ranking for a specific search query to rank for other related queries covered within subtopics.

Google suggests publishers just concentrate on creating high-quality content and no need to do anything specific to optimize for passage ranking.

However, forming long-form content targeting the right keywords, curating SEO-friendly headers & subheaders covering multiple search queries, and prioritizing relevance will offer a better user experience and boost your chances of passage ranking.

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