A couple of days ago, we broke the news, that many are noticing a change where Google is using the header tag over the title tag more often these days for the Google search result snippet link. Some are suggesting that this change (which is not that huge right now) is related to passage ranking – it is not.
Marie Haynes tweeted about this theory, but it was not just her, it was a nice number of people asking me if the two are related. The theory is Google is looking to a specific passage and how it relates to the query and then pulling the header from that passage and not the title. I get the logic here but my initial thought was no, this is not related at all. Why? Well, again, passaging indexing is about pages that are not well organized, super long and likely do not have header tags on them.
Anyway, here is Marie’s tweet:
I wonder if all this talk about Google rewriting title and h tags is connected to this tweet from Oct.
Could this be a form of passage based ranking?
I’ll go back to fishing now. Discuss amongst yourselves:https://t.co/uNGsfH3jNu
— Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes) August 18, 2021
I looped in Danny Sullivan of Google to confirm the two are unrelated:
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) August 18, 2021
So no, passaging ranking and this header/title change are not associated.
It does appear to be a real and intentional change on Google’s part, as John Mueller of Google commented as such on Twitter:
I’d love to see examples where things go horribly wrong with recent changes, but most of the ones I’ve seen so far look pretty reasonable. (Also, I love seeing analyses like yours about these changes!)
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) August 18, 2021
But again, not related to passages.
Forum discussion at Twitter.