Apple, after unveiling a new Shopping category last week, appears to have now made more enhancements to the App Store. According to a report out of TechCrunch, Apple has improved its search algorithms to return more relevant and intelligent results when a keyword search is performed.
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The change in algorithms appears to have begun on November 3rd, with the most notable changes being noticed yesterday and today. While Apple in the past has focused most on algorithms for the Top Free, Paid, and Grossing apps, these changes affect how apps are returned when a user performs a search.
Apps that are returned in search results are now ranked based on a mix of contextual keywords for the apps, including partial keyword matches as well as competitor brand names. With these changes, this is the first time the App Store has ranked apps for keywords not found in the title or the “keyword” field, TechCrunch reports. For developers, this means that when a user searches for their app, a handful of competing apps will now appear.
One example TechCrunch points to is of searching for Twitter. Now, when you search for Twitter, third-party apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific are more prevalent in the results, ranking at numbers four and five, respectively. Instagram, the seemingly unrelated app to Twitter, finally no longer appears in search results for Twitter.
Dan Held, founder of mobile growth consulting firm Analytica, told TechCrunch that he believes these changes could suggest that Apple is beginning development of its own version of the PageRank algorithm:
“It’s their attempt at understanding how different apps rank relative to each other. I think this is an attempt to move in that direction…the first step would probably be to benchmark where you rank compared to your competitors.”
Apple has not commented on these algorithm changes as of yet.