Jun 28, 2012
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Passage based rankings, core web vitals and responsive search ads; Friday's daily brief

by Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land
Feb 19, 2021

Here comes an SEO rant for you.

As you know, Google launched passage based ranking in the afternoon of February 10 (PST time if you want to be exact). As you may also know, I am obsessed with watching Google organic rankings, the chatter in the SEO community and the tracking tools. And I have to say, there was minimal impact with this update. Google touted the update, when they first disclosed it last year, as being big, impacting 7% of queries globally.

But, no. First, when it launched last week, it only launched in the US English results, it did not launch globally. Second, the SEO chatter in the community and the tracking tools almost all show little to no impact from this update. If you’ve been looking at the Search Shorts below, you know about the unconfirmed February 8 update and the unconfirmed February 17 update but those updates were not related to the passage-based ranking release on February 10 in the afternoon. They are different updates that happened before and after the passage ranking update was released.

To make matters worse, you have some SEOs thinking they can see this update because of some scroll-to-text filter in Search Console. Those are not passage ranking results, those are likely featured snippets. Plus, the horrid communication from Google made things worse. Google first called it “passage indexing,” when it had nothing to do with indexing. Then Google showed a screenshot of a featured snippet as an example of passage ranking, when it later said passage ranking results won’t look different.

Passage ranking helps pages that are not well optimized rank for content deep within the page of content. Most SEOs would not notice this update because the sites are well optimized and structured well for search engines. This is about Google ranking content within pages that are not well optimized for search and unlike with Panda or Penguin updates, SEOs wouldn’t take much notice of this update. I guess I’d say passage ranking is more like a BERT or RankBrain update than anything else.

So there is my rant, I dig a bit more into this on my personal blog if you want more of this rambling.

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