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Google is in the process of creating a new index for mobile devices, which will become the "primary" index for search, according to Google webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes. This means searches from mobile devices will serve up the freshest results as Google will update its mobile index more frequently.
Google has previously discussed such plans but Illyes' comments, which were reported bySearch Engine Land, are the first indication that the company plans to roll this out fairly soon.
A quick refresher on how Google Search works: Google's bots crawl the web tracking more than 60 trillion web pages and the links within them. These pages are then categorized into a massive index based on hundreds of different factors. This index, along with a series of algorithms, enables Google to turn up relevant search results when you enter a query into the search box.
Right now, Google only uses one such index for all its searches, regardless of platform. Under the upcoming update Illyes detailed, though, Google will create a separate mobile-only index that will serve as the "primary" index for search. As Search Engine Land points out, it's unclear exactly how this will work or what the impact will be, but at a basic level it means desktop and mobile users will see different search results and Google will put more resources into those surfaced on mobile.
While some have interpreted this to mean that Google is "downgrading" desktop in some way, there are practical reasons why Google would want to prioritize mobile for updates. For one, mobile now accounts for the majority of all Google searches, so using an index that was created primarily for desktop no longer makes sense.
Think of your own search habits: When you use Google from your phone, chances are, you're looking for an immediate answer to a question you have in the moment. Likewise, if you want to research a topic more deeply — something that requires combing through several pages of results — you probably save that for desktop. So, it follows that Google would want to make its "freshest" results mobile-first.
The change also stands to drastically improve the user experience for mobile users. Think of how frustrating it is to search for something on your phone only to land on a link that is virtually unreadable because the website isn't optimized for mobile.
This update, in theory, helps guard against that since Google could prioritize content that's optimized for mobile devices even more than it already does. We've seen signs of this already, particularly with Google accelerated mobile pages (AMP), which allows publishers and others to create ultra-fast loading versions of articles to display in search results.
While we'll have to wait for further details from Google to find out what the implications of the change will be (Google didn't respond to Mashable's request for comment on the update), it does sound like we'll find out sooner rather than later. The new index should be rolling out "within months," Illyes told Search Engine Land.