An upcoming change announced by Google sheds some light on how the search engine identifies individual passages of text on a web page. On 20th October 2020, Danny Sullivan, Google’s public Search Liaison, shared more detail about a change that is coming soon, aiming to improve around 7% of search queries worldwide.

This change will mean that soon Google will be able to more accurately identify and understand individual sections of text on a web page, allowing the search engine to have more control and understanding when it comes to determining how relevant a page is to a given search query.

Danny Sullivan took to Twitter after the official announcement to clear things up for webmasters and SEOs:

“Last week, we shared about how we will soon identify individual passages of a web page to better understand how relevant a page is to a search. This will be a global change improving 7% of queries:
In this thread, more about how it works…

Typically, we evaluate all content on a web page to determine if it is relevant to a query. But sometimes web pages can be very long, or on multiple topics, which might dilute how parts of a page are relevant for particular queries….

With our new technology, we’ll be able to better identify and understand key passages on a web page. This will help us surface content that might otherwise not be seen as relevant when considering a page only as a whole….

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….

There’s nothing special creators need to do here. Continue to focus on great content, with all the advice we offer:

It just means in some cases, we may now do a better job of surfacing content, no work required on the part of creators.”

How does Passage Identification Work?

Currently, Google assesses a web page as a whole and will use all of the information to work out how relevant it is to a query. However, this does prove tricky when the web page contains a lot of information making it long, or if the information is about multiple topics.

Unfortunately, a web page that has a wealth of information might risk diluting the one part of the page that is particularly relevant to a search query.

However, Google’s new technology will allow the search engine to identify and understand better than ever before the key passages of text within a page.

This will then have the potential to allow pages to show in search results that previously, may not have been deemed as relevant to the query by Google.

According to Sullivan, this update doesn’t mean that Google will now start to index individual passages rather than the pages they belong to. Instead, when this update is rolled out, Google will still index pages as it does but will now consider the entire page when it comes to ranking consideration.

Although Google says that there is nothing extra or special that site webmasters need to do before this update is launched, we think it is always a good idea to review on-page text regularly to make sure that it still serves its purpose, as well as updating text when required as your business/market changes. At Seriously Helpful, it’s one of the things we do so if you’d like us to review your web page text, get in touch on today!

As of yet, there is no date announced for this update, however, Danny Sullivan did say that there would be further information on this before the rollout, so watch this space…!

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