Apple has updated the “about Applebot” help documentation page the other day and in that document it lists information about how Apple ranks web results. It also updated information around Applebot.
Apple wrote that Apple Search may take the following into account when ranking web search results:
Apple said that its “search results may use the above factors with no (pre-determined) importance of ranking.”
So here Apple is saying for ranking, it does use user engagement with its search results, like CTR, pogosticking, etc. Bing does this too, but Google does not. Apple also uses the content and topic of your pages for ranking, it looks at links, user location and even the design characteristics of the page.
The document also greatly expanded on the Applebot details, which was first published in 2015. As Justin Mosebach said on Twitter, the before and after of the doc has been updated:
— Justin Mosebach (@jlmosebach) July 17, 2020
In any event, this is not saying Apple does generic web search like Google does. Apple says “Siri and Spotlight Suggestions use Applebot” and based on some testing when writing this story, Google powers Siri’s web results.
It would be super fun if Apple goes into making its own search engine that directly competed with Google and Bing.
Forum discussion at Twitter.