What is Applebot and what does it do?
Apple recently published new information concerning its own in-house web crawler that it uses to support Siri and Spotlight based web searches.
What is Applebot?
Applebot is the web crawler for Apple.
What does Applebot do?
The bot is used to rank search results in order to deliver higher quality results. Products like Siri and Spotlight Suggestions use it.
What criteria does Applebot use?
The updated tech support note reveals Apple Search may take the following into account when ranking search results:
- Aggregated user engagement with search results
- Relevancy and matching of search terms to webpage topics and content
- Number and quality of links from other pages on the web
- User location based signals (approximate data)
- Webpage design characteristics
What does this mean?
A report on SEORoundTable claims this means Apple does use aggregated user engagement derived from search.
Conceivably, this means that if you run a site and your site is the one that is often selected when someone searches for a particular term then that information informs the search results. Content, topic, links, location and website design also contribute to the search engine’s decision.
When did we first hear about Applebot?
Apple first revealed the existence of its own search agent in 2015.
So, does this mean Apple is providing search results?
At present the original search results are provided by a range of providers, including Google. Applebot simply adds another layer of critical intelligence to those results, attempting to deliver results most suitable to your needs.
What about robots instructions on sites?
Apple’s tech note confirms that if robots instructions on a website make no mention of Applebot but domention Googlebot, the Apple robot will follow Googlebot instructions.
What about privacy?
Will Apple build its own search engine?
Not unless it thinks it can make a difference.
The company will be concerned around regulation, data privacy and potential abuse of anti-trust, so it will need to have a very good product before it would consider doing so.
The existence of Applebot does, however, suggest the company is gathering valuable information (in aggregate) concerning what people are searching for and what results they find.