Google is now starting to experiment with one of its biggest changes to search. The company is beginning to test a new “mobile first” version of its search index, meaning the company will prioritize mobile content in its search results.
First, a refresher on how Google Search works: Google’s bots crawl the web tracking more than 60 trillion web pages and the links within them. Google then categorizes them into a massive index based on hundreds of different factors. This index, along with a series of algorithms, is what enables Google to return relevant search results that list of blue links when you enter a query into the search box.
With the new update, Google will determine the rankings of pages based on their mobile content. (While it was previously reported that Google was creating an entirely separate mobile index, the company says it will be using the same index as before but that it will use mobile sites for its page ranking.)
Google’s message is very clear: The time to adapt to mobile is now.
“Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a sites content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results,” writes Google product manager Doantam Phan.
There are a lot of implications to this change, but the most obvious one is that sites that don’t have functional mobile versions will likely lose out, and turn up farther down in search results. With this move, Google’s message is very clear: The time to adapt to mobile is now.
This is a big change and one that “will take some time” to be implemented fully, according to Phan, but for users this means mobile search results will get a lot better. That’s good news for users since the majority of Google searches now come from mobile devices the impetus behind Google’s desire to optimize its core product for that audience.
Though Google is still only testing the change, the company offers a few suggestions to those who want to make sure their sites are ready for the change. You can take a look at them over at Google’s Webmaster blog.