Apple SEO may be coming soon!
Apple is reportedly starting to hire search engineers.
And when / if Apple launches their own search engine, this will create a new SEO arms race to get clients found in the top Apple search results.
I say let’s do it!
‘Just google it.’
Google is the only search engine whose brand name is now being widely used as a verb.
This is not surprising considering that Google has a market share of over 86 percent.
Google has dominated the internet search market since its introduction in 1997 and has since expanded its services to other offerings including email, mobile devices, enterprise products and much more.
The company’s revenues in 2019 were at a high of $160.74 billion with a majority of this coming from advertising.
However, things may change for Google with the launch of Apple’s search engine.
Why Apple’s Launch of a Search Engine is a Real Possibility
There has been a lot of speculation about Apple launching a search engine that competes against other tech giants Microsoft (Bing) and Alphabet, Inc. (Google).
Recent activities by Apple are now showing that this is now more than just hearsay and is actually a real possibility.
Here’s why Apple will most likely launch a search engine and soon.
- Apple is hiring search engineers
- Apple launched iOS 14
- Apple published new guidance on Applebot
- Applebot is actively crawling sites
Apple is hiring search engineers
This is probably one of the most obvious signs that the tech giant is working on a search engine.
The company recently posted various openings for search engineers with a focus on artificial intelligence, natural language processing and machine learning.
These are all key elements for building a successful search engine.
The tech company is clearly investing a lot of money towards the search engine development.
Apple launched iOS 14
The launch of iOS 14 introduced a new search feature to iOS.
While it isn’t clear whether Apple is still using Bing for searches in addition to Google, it is clear the changes to Spotlight Search have resulted in the bypassing of Google.
Spotlight Search essentially helps users to find files or apps.
It can also provide them with search results from the web which may also include Google search results.
Recent updates have seen Spotlight Search return results and allowing users to navigate directly to the content without using Google Search.
Apple published new guidance on Applebot
Apple published updated guidelines on the About Applebot page in July, 2020.
The updates provide information on recent changes made to Apple’s webcrawler.
The details published highlighted areas that were discussed by Google to webmasters a few days prior.
The changes made to the Applebot support page include:
- Apple added details on how traffic from Applebot can be verified
- Robtos.txt rules were expanded
- Details on the user agent were expanded. This includes differences between the mobile and desktop versions
- A section stating that Applebot doesn’t just crawl HTML but also renders pages similar to Google was added
- A section on how Applebot determines search rankings and the factors that affect ranking of web search results was added
Applebot has been actively crawling sites
Another factor that has raised speculation over the launch of a search engine by Apple is the increased activity of Applebot over the past few months.
Web tracking tools have noted an increase in the activity of the web crawler.
The web crawler has been crawling sites more frequently.
4 Ways Apple Benefits By Launching A Search Engine
Here’s 4 ways Apple can benefit from launching the Apple search engine:
- Gain independence from other search engine
- Provide a better user experience to iDevice users
- Create a new profit stream
- End Google’s monopoly on search
Is there anything to be gained by going up against established search engines such as Bing, Google and DuckDuckGo?
A recent Hitwise report showed that nearly 60 percent of online searches are done on mobile devices.
Search engines have responded to this by making ‘mobile friendliness’ a major factor in search engine rankings.
Apple has dominated the mobile device and mobile operating system market for many years.
It makes sense for the tech giant to launch a search engine of their own as search becomes more mobile focused.
Apple can gain independence from Google search.
One of the biggest benefits that Apple will gain from launching its own search engine is gaining independence from third party search engines.
Google has been the default search engine on Safari, the web browser used on iPad, Mac and iPhone.
The search engine has come under repeated fire with antitrust allegations against it.
The search engine is alleged to show a preference for the company’s own properties in search results.
This has meant that other businesses are unable to compete.
Independence would mean that Apple can promote its own content, apps and other products freely.
They will therefore possibly see greater growth in the future for their products and services.
Apple would provide a better user experience.
Apple has focused for years been building an ecosystem for their products.
Launching their own search engine would mean the company will gain even more control and lock down on their product ecosystem.
Their users will become more dependent on personalized search results and product integrations which will only be possible through Apple’s search engine.
The company will have direct control over providing users with a personalized search by obtaining data from other products that users own.
Apple can create new profit streams and enjoy greater profitability in the long term.
Google has had an agreement with Apple for several years.
This agreement has seen Google pay billions of dollars to Apple in order to remain the default search engine on Safari.
This deal ensures that Google is the default search engine for anyone that uses Safari to search on iPad, Mac or iPhone. Users have to manually change this in Safari’s preferences if they want to use a different search engine.
These payments from Google make up a bulk of Apple’s revenue.
Launching a search engine would mean forgoing these payments which would result in a significant drop in revenue for the tech company.
However, Apple’s search engine will provide app developers and webmasters with a platform to promote their products and services.
This will help Apple extend their ad serving platform which means more advertising revenue.
Apple’s search engine could be the answer to ending Google’s monopoly.
Google has for a long time been at the forefront of search.
In fact, search engine optimizers have over the years worked to optimize content for Google and not other search engines.
This is because Google is considered the most important and progressive search engine currently available.
However, this could change with the introduction of Apple’s search engine.
Judging from its dominance in other tech areas, Apple isn’t likely to lag behind in search.
It may even become the preferred search engine if the company stays true to its stand on protecting user data.
What would Apple’s Search Engine look like?
While a lot of the hype around Apple’s search engine is all still pure speculation, there’s a good chance that Apple won’t create a search engine like those that are currently available.
The company has a long history of doing things differently.
They aren’t likely to launch a search engine that looks or functions like Google, DuckDuckGo or Bing.
A good clue into what to expect from Apple is that they seem to be focusing a lot of their effort on Spotlight Search and Siri.
This suggests that they will use their experience with these products on the development of a new feature down the line.
Apple search engine users are likely to have the benefit of a highly personalized experience.
While this will be similar to what users get with Android’s Google Assistant, the difference is that they won’t have to deal with ads.
Searches will be completely private and have deeper integrations with the operating system.
Users can benefit from seamless integration of their iCloud data.
Using ML and AI, Apple can deliver search results that are based on user data including email, reminders, events, files, photos, documents, music, news and much more without users worrying about compromising their privacy.
Another major feature that is likely to make Apple search a hit will be the integration of voice search.
Through Siri, Apple has been pushing for voice assistance on mobile devices.
Siri is becoming synonymous with searching on iPad and iPhone. Apple will more than likely continue to reinforce its market share of voice assistance technology with the launching of its search engine.
Voice search is likely to be one of the most attractive features of the new search engine especially for mobile device users.
What does an Apple search engine mean for Apple SEO?
What is Apple SEO?
Apple SEO is the practice and art of optimizing web pages to achieve top search results in Apple’s search engine.
And the launch of a new Apple search engine would, I believe, create a new Apple SEO arms race in the search engine optimization industry.
SEO as an industry has for a long time focused mainly on Google.
This is because the search engine continues dominate search.
SEO strategies over the years have been based on how Google’s algorithms have ranked pages.
Changes made to Google’s algorithms have guided the changes made to the practice of SEO.
The entry of a search engine that could have an impact on Google’s search engine position in the market could therefore lead to major changes in the SEO industry.
There have been many other search engines introduced in the market before, why is Apple’s search engine such a big deal?
Apple’s search engine could have a significant impact because of Apple’s dominance in the mobile device market.
Safari is currently the most popular mobile browser in the US.
Google’s chrome comes in second.
The launch of a native search engine will mean that Google will no longer be the default search engine on Safari.
A battle between Apple and Google for search engine dominance will of course shake up the SEO industry.
It is also important to note that the battle between Apple and Google isn’t just about the number of users.
Apple SEO would also be all about adding value to Apple customers.
Historically, Apple users have represented greater value than Android users.
A recent survey revealed that iPhone users have greater spending power than Android users.
Clicks from Apple device users are therefore more valuable to advertisers than those from Android device users.
Businesses hoping to remain profitable after the launch of Apple’s search engine would therefore be more eager to achieve better ranking on the search engine.
Of course building a search engine is no small feat.
For Apple, building a search engine that can rival Google is probably something that only a company like Apple can do.
You can therefore be sure that if Apple do launch a search engine, it will most likely be successful.
This will mean that SEO experts will have to adapt to the requirements of the new search engine and optimize their websites in line with these requirements.
What Should You Do as a Digital Marketer?
As an SEO expert or digital marketer, you probably have your ear on the ground for any changes that may affect the SEO landscape and many be wondering if you should be worried about the possible launch of a search engine by Apple.
Because the launch of a search engine by Apple is still hypothetical, it is difficult to speculate about what changes it would bring to the practice of SEO.
However, if Applebot’s current documentation is anything to go by, the fundamentals of SEO practice are likely to remain consistent even with the new Apple search engine.
Updated tech support notes for Applebot reveal that the web crawler uses the following factors in ranking search results:
- Design characteristics of web pages
- Quality and number of links from other pages to a webpage
- Location of the user
- Aggregated user engagement with results
- Matching and relevancy of search terms to web page content
These factors are similar to those used by Google and other search engines.
Therefore sticking to current search optimization strategies would be beneficial for digital marketers even after the launch of Apple’s search engine.
Apple states that the factors are not listed according to importance for ranking.
However, one thing that SEOs can be sure of is that there will be a greater emphasis from the search engine on user engagement with content.
Engagement is currently one of Apple’s most important ranking factors and is only set to become even more important with time.
For example, Apple can not only provide you with results for content that is clicked on the most but also content that users spend the most time viewing/reading.
This means that the best content will win with the launch of Apple’s new search engine.
Therefore startups with innovative products can have a better chance at competing against larger companies with bigger marketing budgets.
That said, just like with anything new in SEO, testing and discovery will reveal the truth about changes that need to be made in tactics.
It is likely that the SEO experts and digital marketers will discover new opportunities that currently aren’t possible with Google or other modern search engines.
It is therefore be important for SEOs to keep a watchful eye on the performance of their content once the search engine is launched.
There is actually no reason for SEOs to panic.
If anything, changes have already started taking place with the introduction of iOS 14.
The best approach any SEO expert can take is to stay up to date with news on Apple’s upcoming search engine and continue to tweak their SEO strategies in line with algorithm changes.
There’s a good chance that the launch of the search engine on Apple’s devices will be done quietly.
After all, bypassing of Google for web results by Spotlight Search was not announced before implementation.
It was done without anyone knowing about it.
With the current bypassing of Google, Apple users may end up not needing Google altogether and never notice the change to a native search engine.
It is also a good idea to keep track of Applebot’s crawl frequency.
Search for ‘Applebot’ in your server logs to see how often the bot has been crawling your content.
Check to see if the frequency has increased or decreased when you make changes to the content of your website.
This could give you some insight into changes that would be beneficial if Apple launches a search engine.
The launching of a search engine by Apple still remains hypothetical.
It is therefore difficult to predict how such a search engine would impact the SEO landscape.
However, signs such as the hiring of search engineers and increased web crawling by Applebot indicate that the tech giant is most likely planning the launch of a search engine soon.
With Google’s current dominance of the market, you can be sure Apple’s search engine would be designed to take on Google in a head to head battle.
With Apple’s commitment to the development of privacy-focused products and its approach to providing unique solutions, it is safe to say that the new search engine will provide functionality and features that Google and other modern search engines don’t currently offer.
This will provide SEOs many new opportunities for optimization.
A look at Apple’s web crawler, Applebot, shows that the fundamentals of SEO will most likely still apply to Apple’s search engine.
So there is no need to worry just keep improving your SEO strategy and adapt to the changes as they come.