iOS 9 Search

iOS 9 Search

iOS 9 is the latest Apple mobile operating system and is changing the way people search. Find out how Yext makes your business easier to find on Apple devices!

It is no longer an exaggeration to say that there is literally an app for everything. Apps connect us to our friends, guide us around the world, and allow us to learn, share, and create from the palm of our hand. Smartphone users now spend about 88% of mobile internet time in apps, a trend that Apple, with its iOS 9 Search, hopes to perpetuate as part of its quest to make iOS and apps the primary way to connect users to the local offline world.

Apple’s current mobile operating system, iOS 9, is changing how smartphone users search on their phones and online with iOS 9 Search. This feature allows users to view search results on iOS devices indexed from the web and from apps, even if those apps aren’t downloaded on that specific device.

No longer will mobile users need to rely on a browser search engine for answers with iOS 9 Search. Apple has built its search engine into its iOS operating system and is now focusing on content that customers everywhere have shown to value most: app content. For example, Apple Maps will serve as the destination of any query for local information or results, no matter if you ask Siri, use Spotlight search, or type questions into Safari.

iOS 9 Search introduces a variety of APIs to enable indexing of user-generated content, features in a brand app, and public website content. This indexed content is accessible to people in iOS 9 Search and Safari, and can be divided into two categories:

  • Public Content: Content that comes from a brand’s website. Apple gathers this information using their Applebot web crawler to gather publicly available content that has been marked up using standard web markup techniques.

  • Private Content: Content that is indexed directly by a brand’s app. Private content remains solely on the user’s devices and is only searchable locally as a branded app indexes content that the user has created or specific points of interest within the app.

The value of iOS 9 Search in comparison to its predecessors is that all of a business’ website and app content can be available to all iOS users via search.

With over 84% of current iPhone owners upgrading to the iOS 9 software, it is increasingly important for business to understand iOS best search practices:

  • Drive interactions with search results to improve rankings on search engines. Rich search results, which include images, ratings, and actions, is the ideal way to foster engagement with a brand’s site and improve search results

  • Respond straight to the content within an app when responding to search result engagements in order to avoid any middle steps

  • Index user-generated content

  • Use the same identifier when indexing the same item with multiple APIs to avoid duplicates and help an app rank higher

  • Markup a brand website using Schema.org best practices

  • Provide rich results to drive engagement, such as always including a relevant thumbnail, title, and description. Also add metadata for ratings and actions, such as adding a phone number to call or directions to an address. It is critical to only bring users to an app if that content is relevant to their search, and if it is relevant, get consumers there as quickly as possible

As Apple continues to redefine the world of mobile search, it is even more critical for businesses to optimize their local listings in order to rank higher in search. Hugely applicable to local brands, iOS 9 Search offers the opportunity to quickly drive consumers in store because it presents valuable user engagement on both public and private platforms.

In order to do this effectively, brands should consider the following best practices when optimizing their website, content, and listings for iOS 9 search:

  • Include a full store locator feature within an iOS app or use universal linking to ensure that business locations appear in search results

  • Make sure data is visible to Applebot (Apple’s web crawler) and is always up to date. As with any search engine, but especially with iOS 9 Search, consistent, visible data is critical to brand visibility

  • Focus on indexing only the best content to improve the “engagement-to-shown” ratio, and avoid indexing content that could be duplicative from a keyword basis

  • Use <description> tags on web pages to target popular keyword variations of page’s main target keyword

  • Invest in acquiring local user-generated content both within a branded app and on a brand’s website

iOS 9 Search is taking consumer searches from the public web to the private domain occupied by mobile apps, a transition that is increasingly capturing consumers’ attention and dominating all other forms of media engagement. The key to capitalizing on this transition, and on captivating its audience, lies in the quality of a brand’s content. A business’ website and app should understand and use the keywords that its target demographic are searching for, and all of its content should be accessible to Applebots. Quality of content is not limited to its accuracy, but spans to its relevancy and engageability.

Increase your search engine visibility on the web and on iOS 9 with Yext Pages and Screens. With Screens, businesses can add detailed information about each location to its mobile app, optimized for iOS 9 search. Designed to boost App SEO, Screens send activity signals to the Apple Cloud Index every time a user engages with them. Learn how to drive app downloads from search traffic by seamlessly linking your Yext Pages and Screens.