With Google’s recent announcement that it will “consider passages from pages as an additional ranking factor”, the industry went wild with chatter. What does this mean for small businesses or for any business really? What changes should you make to your content to better optimize for the “passage era” of the Google algorithm that is about to start?
Wait, They Weren’t Reading Passages Before?
So that was my first question and maybe some of yours. In SEO, they have said since I started nearly 15 years ago that “Content is King” and we should have thorough content. We have seen algorithm updates that addressed “thin content” issues and we know Google sees duplicate content, so clearly they are looking at all of the content on our pages right? The simple answer is yes and I believe this algorithm adjustment is simply going to change how content is considered and presented to the user. We know Google tells us that UX is the number one ranking factor. I believe with this latest update they are simply telling us they may present some of this information a bit differently.
Specific Passages are a Better User Experience (UX)
That being said, if you answer a very specific question perfectly in the third paragraph of a detailed page, and a user asks that question, it is a better experience for the Google user to be pointed directly to that information. We already know that Google doesn’t always use our meta descriptions. We may see Google present our content a bit differently to better show the user that the answer to their question is there. They have always indexed and used this content for rankings, but I think they will now be able to show the specifics a little bit better. Google has been steadily been moving to present more accurate and specific answers for years and this is a logical next step.
I have joked in the past while presenting that users want all of the information on the page, but they only want to read the few sentences that apply to their specific issue. Will this lead to Google opening up a bit more to shorter and specific answers ranking better and not rewarding poor long content like we have all seen with those horrible recipe pages that tell the whole life story of the person providing their recipe. It should all depend on what the searcher is looking for, but this adjustment to me shows that they can pluck out the individual answer, but still reward the page with the thorough supporting information. In other words, keep proving good thorough and useful content in a digestible form that makes it easy for the user to find what they need and act upon it.
Beware of The Sleazy Passage SEO Company
This is not a new tactic. Every time Google makes an algorithm adjustment, sketchy companies come out with plans targeting it and presenting just a piece of a headline to scare business owners into hiring them. As with all Google adjustments, it is a natural progression and not an overhaul of your tactics. The ABC’s of SEO have stayed the same forever. The DEF’s change every day. If you didn’t have good, user-friendly, and thorough content before, then you need to get it now. However, you needed that before this tweak to the algorithm, not because of it.