Insight, SEO

Apple’s [Potential] New Search Engine

Rumour has it…

Tuesday the 15th of September was a big night for anyone working in digital and tech – the 2020 Apple event. With announcements of a new iPad, iWatch, and Apple One there was one thing that had been rumoured that was missing: the new Apple search engine. 

Across the SEO sphere (and especially Twitter) there has been a rise in people seeing an increase of activity from ‘AppleBot’ – a crawling bot similar to the Google Bot that identifies and indexes content on pages to serve the best results to users. The bots from Google and Bing have always been seen in search engine reports, but SEO’s are reporting a sharp increase from this new Apple bot suggesting Apple have their own indexing system and search engine in the works.

Apple and Luxury Marketing

According to Ecommerce Times, Safari (Apple’s browser) users tend to be more affluent than other internet browser users, therefore we can surmise that an Apple user is more likely to consume luxury goods. Furthermore, the typical Apple consumer tends to be between the ages of 18-39; the demographic of people who are leading the consumption of luxury goods online and are expected to lead the online luxury market in the coming years

There is no specific number on how much of the internet is ‘consumed’ on Apple devices, but looking at across VERB’s biggest luxury clients we can see that typically 55%~ of their online organic traffic is from Apple devices; a share that cannot be ignored.

Should the search engine come to fruition, it should be something that luxury marketers monitor and take seriously. 

How this would impact SEO?

Ironically, the data on our clients comes from one of the most used SEO tools in the market – Google Analytics – which brings us on to whether Apple and Google would play alongside, or against each other. The two key queries here are whether Apple would make its search engine exclusive for Apple devices and if Apple decides to share its data with Google. 

Marketer’s are very reliant on Google to report on cross-platform data. Apple is famously not the biggest fan of Google, as demonstrated in the big Apple Maps vs Google Maps showdown of 2012. There is speculation as to whether Apple may decide to not share the data from its devices with Google (Analytics). If the new search engine is exclusively used on Apple devices, and Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo can’t be installed, marketers may struggle to align search marketing when analysing/reporting. 

Another theory is that this data could come at a cost. In the current situation with such a high percentage of traffic coming from Apple devices, agencies and marketers would have to pay up or completely adopt the learnings they have from Google, to start from square one with Apple’s version. This also means we could need to learn a completely new way of acquiring organic traffic. 

Google’s products are popular for a reason and have been updated to better resonate with the marketer’s needs for years. Apple may gamble with creating a whole new ranking system to innovate the search market but it’s likely they would model their ranking system similar to Google. In the same way that Apple looked to Google Maps and launched Apple Maps; the search engine could see a similar scenario. In essence, it was not as popular with the user and people continued to use Google Maps instead. If this is the case then this would only make the Apple search engine traffic a minor stream. 

In summary: for SEO’s a potential Apple search engine would lead to a completely new way of acquiring organic traffic as the current traffic from Apple devices represents such a big share, possibly splitting out SEO into ‘Google SEO’ and ‘Apple SEO’. Secondly, should the search engine be exclusive on Apple devices, the availability of data, which is currently all available through Google, could mean that agencies and SEOs may have to pay up to access Apple’s data.

How this would impact PPC?

If the move does go ahead, and with Apple’s recent introduction of ITP 2.3, advertisers may find it more difficult to reach their target audiences via an Apple search engine. We’d expect privacy to be at the forefront of the potential search engine. This means, the presence of ads, initially at least, won’t be a factor. However, as we know, Apple does have its own ad-serving platform, primarily focusing on apps – could there be an integration with their new search engine? Quite possibly.