Apple’s launch of iOS 9 has sparked renewed attention on Apple Search, including the way Apple places more importance on app content in search results on iPhones.
In an iOS 9 world, the more you interact with an app on your iPhone, the more likely it is for that app to appear higher in iOS Spotlight, Siri and Safari search results on your iPhone. So how should brands think about Apple Search? The answer hinges on how you use search to acquire and service customers.
With iOS 9, Apple Search has become a far more powerful tool for “recovery search” by drawing upon a number of local data sources, including app content. Author John Battelle introduced the concept of recovery search in his book, “The Search.”
When consumers conduct recovery searches, they already know about your brand, are more likely to be doing business with you and seek to recover information such as your street address to contact or visit you. “Janet Smith, Chicago cardiologist” or “Burger King, Western Avenue” would be considered recovery searches.
Battelle contrasted recovery search with “discovery search,” which consists of initial searches for businesses in a category, such as “cardiologist near me” or “restaurants near me.” Discovery searches are more likely to be conducted by someone who is not yet a customer of a particular establishment.
To help customers find the location of a company they’ve done business with, it is important that enterprises improve the recovery search experience by making their location data accurate and easily findable.
iOS 9 has taken some big steps to make business location data more findable by casting its search net more broadly across multiple data sources. In doing so, Apple has become a stronger tool for recovery search.
Businesses that wish to improve the user experience for their customers need to make sure they are present for recovery searches conducted via Apple Search.
For your brand to be findable via recovery searches in the Apple Search universe, you should ensure that your location data is present and accurate on the following data sources, which I have ranked by how likely each source is to appear in a recovery search:
These data sources underscore how iOS 9 is designed more to enable recovery searches than discovery searches. So how should digital marketers be thinking about iOS 9 and Apple Search? I recommend that brands do the following:
Apple clearly wants to call the shots when consumers use iPhones to conduct searches. To improve your brand visibility in an Apple world, understand first how your customers are using Apple Search to recover information about you. Focus on people first, apps second.
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