Passage based rankings, core web vitals and responsive search ads; Friday’s daily brief

Feb 19, 2021 | Search Engine Optimization News

Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, and 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.

Barry Schwartz,

SEO Editor and disgruntled search algorithm watcher

Google core web vitals boundaries in Search Console

passage-based-rankings-core-web-vitals-and-responsive-search-ads-fridays-daily-brief Passage based rankings, core web vitals and responsive search ads; Friday’s daily brief

You might soon see more green in your Google Search Console core web vitals report. Google said the metrics defining the boundaries for LCP, FID, CLS, which used to be < (less than), are now defined as <= (less than or equal to). So you might see a change in statuses, for the better, in this specific report.

Why we care. With the Google Page Experience Update coming in May, we are all getting ready to ensure our sites fare green with this update. We are not sure how big of a ranking factor this will be, but even if this is a small ranking factor, making these user experience changes to your site can help make users happier and potentially increase site conversion rates and performance.

Read the announcement here.

Responsive search ads now the default

passage-based-rankings-core-web-vitals-and-responsive-search-ads-fridays-daily-brief Passage based rankings, core web vitals and responsive search ads; Friday’s daily brief

Google announced today that responsive search ads will officially become the default ad type for Search campaigns in Google Ads, though expanded text ads can still be created.

RSAs allow advertisers to input multiple headlines and ad copy variations, and Google Ads uses machine learning to determine which variations to use based on what queries people are searching for. The variations are tested to determine which combinations perform best. The Ad strength score lets search marketers understand how to improve their RSAs for better performance.

Marketers like Frederick Vallaeys say that RSAs can outperform ETAs when optimized correctly, while other ads managers believe that the move toward automation clouds their view of the data that helps them improve their ad performance manually.

Read the announcement here.

Display ads now available in Google Ads attribution reports

passage-based-rankings-core-web-vitals-and-responsive-search-ads-fridays-daily-brief-1 Passage based rankings, core web vitals and responsive search ads; Friday’s daily brief

Google added Display ads to Google Ads attribution reports, which are now available alongside Search (including Shopping) and YouTube ads to give advertisers a more holistic view of their Google media.  Both Display and YouTube ads in attribution reports are now in beta. Attribution reports include Top Paths, Assisted Conversions, Path Metics, and Model Comparison reports.

The Top Paths report, shown above, can help you identify the most common paths customers take to complete a conversion, based on the ads they’ve interacted with. This can give you a more holistic view of how your Display ads are working together with your ads in search (including Shopping) and/or YouTube to drive conversions.

Why we care. Display ads within attribution reporting can help you see how your campaigns across different channels complement each other and move customers along their journey. You can also use that information to help you make better campaign and budget decisions.

Read the announcement here.

JavaScript redirects, domain privacy and thin content.

JavaScript redirects. Google’s Gary Illyes recommends avoiding JavaScript redirects. He told Redditors that if they have to use them, “it [JavaScript redirects] works on Google, but I see other search engines are having a tougher time picking them up.”

WhoisGuard and Google rankings. John Mueller of Google said using WhoIsGuard or other domain privacy settings won’t have a positive or negative impact on your rankings in Google or your SEO.

Thin content video. Google’s Aurora Morales posted a new video on the Google Search Central YouTube channel on thin content and why quality content matters. It is mostly just information from the Google help documents but this one is fun to watch.

We’ve curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader.


About The Author

passage-based-rankings-core-web-vitals-and-responsive-search-ads-fridays-daily-brief-1 Passage based rankings, core web vitals and responsive search ads; Friday’s daily brief
Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

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