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Google Passage Indexing Won’t Look Different From Normal Search Result Snippets

Since Google announced passage indexing (ranking) many assumed they would look different in the search results. But no, they won’t look any different according to Danny Sullivan of Google. Danny told me on Twitter that passage indexing “doesn’t change the look of results.”

Why did some of us, including me at some point, think the passage indexing based results would look different? Well, the original Google announcement shared this screen shot of what it will look like:

click for full size

This is how Google captioned it, “with new passage understanding capabilities, Google can understand that the specific passage (R) is a lot more relevant to a specific query than a broader page on that topic (L).”

I asked Danny about that and he said “that’s a bad illustration because it compares a regular snippet with a featured snippet. Any regular listing that becomes a featured snippet right now — without passage ranking — looks like that.”

In short, passage indexing is purely about ranking. It won’t look or appear different, it just will rank pages that previously Google did not rank because Google is able to understand content better deeper within the content of longer web pages. And no, passage indexing is not yet live and probably won’t be in 2020.

Here is the stream of tweets about how passage indexing won’t look or feel different in the search results interface than normal snippets:

This is all why the nosnippet tag won’t influence passage indexing results.

Also, so you know, there has been speculation about the scroll to text and highlight feature that we see on featured snippets would be a good place for this to work on passage indexing. Yes, we know it is just about ranking but if Google shows a result and links the searcher to a page with a huge amount of content, it would make sense for the searcher to be anchored to the right place on the page. This is how Danny responded to me on that question:

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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