A number of mobile app developers and industry observers recently noticed a significant change in the way the Apple App Store’s search algorithms are returning results. Developers say that, following a series of shifts that took place beginning on November 3, app search results now appear to be more intelligent and far more relevant especially among the top results than in previous months.
Apple is continually working to improve its algorithms, as the way apps are ranked and surfaced plays a large role in the overall success of the App Store. If Apple points consumers to apps that don’t make sense or offer a poor experience when compared to others, users could become wary of Apple’s suggestions, and even of apps themselves.
However, many of the App Store algorithms in the past have focused on changes to the way that apps are ranked in its Top Charts, meaning the Top Free, Paid and Grossing apps on the App Store overall, and by category.
This new change is focused more on how apps are returned when users type in keywords to find an app something that’s becoming a more common way to find apps in a crowded app store featuring over a million mobile applications. According to studies, at least half of iOS apps are found through search.
About the Changes
According to multiple sources, including developers who tracked their own rankings, as well as app store analytics firms, the change that began November 3 included several adjustments. Apps are now ranking in search results on a mix of contextual keywords for the app, including partial keyword matches, along with competitor brand names and other matches.
It’s also the first time the App Store has ranked apps for keywords that are not in the title or the “keyword” slot.For developers searching against their own app name, what this change means is that they’ll now see a number of competing apps that didn’t show up before, and an overall expanded list of matches.
At first, results appeared to be weighted more toward historical downloads, meaning free apps were ranking higher than paid applications. However, following the initial November 3 adjustment, Apple made another sizable change this week which went even further to increase the relevancy of search results.