Google’s Market Share is decreasing
Google will not admit it, but changes made to iOS, on Mobile in particular, is having quite significant effects on Google Search volumes. And that is just a beginning of it. Search volumes, and not just Google but any search engine such as Bing or Yahoo will continue to decrease. And why is that? That is because Apple is step-by-step creating its own search engine, intuitively built into their devices (iPhones and Macs) and without many users even realising about the shift taking place. It is a very smart strategy by Apple. Apple is, very quietly but undoubtedly taking users away from Google Search. Marketers will see over time significant decrease in Search traffic, and will be wondering how come Direct traffic is growing so fast. Growing Paid Search (PPC) volumes will be increasingly hard. Same with also SEO traffic. More generic and longer tail search queries will not be affected as much, but so called navigational queries or in other words brand search queries will see very strong decrease over time.
So what changes is Apple implementing
There are a number of changes being made by Apple and they all (to varying extends) are having negative impact on Search trends.
1. Safari Autosuggested Websites
Safari Autosuggested Websites, also known as Siri Suggested Websites are taking users directly to the intended (or sometimes not so intended) websites. Apple’s strategy is to provide best user experience, and one of the ways of doing that is taking users directly to the site they intended to visit, bypassing the need to land on Google’s Search results. So there is nothing so clever about it, it is really quite simple, and it is a great user experience and undoubtedly is eating a lot of Google’s traffic.
In the below example, the moment you type “ama” in the url bar, Safari immediately suggests you to visit amazon.co.uk website, without the need of landing on Google results first.
Now, moving onto more Generic Search Queries, such as “business cards printing”. As you are typing in the query it is not quite clear at this point on which website you would like to land, as probably you do not even know yet yourself. But as you can see in the example below, the moment you type in the query on your iPhone, Safari autosuggests in this example to visit websites “zazzle.co.uk” website. These type of Safari autosuggestions will have significant effect on SEO non-brand query volumes, and equally also on Paid Search. It will be increasingly harder and harder to grow Search Non-Brand traffic, unless you get lucky enough to be included in Safari’s autosuggestions.
2. Siri Knowledge
Siri Knowledge is yet another type of Autosuggestion, and that is having impact on informational type of queries, as in the example below. Try typing in “wall of China”, and Safari will immediately suggest you to visit Wikipedia page.
News autosuggestions on iOS is yet another example of users quite unintentionally bypassing Goole Search. But clearly some websites will greatly benefit. Now everyone will wonder what this whole new concept of “iOS Search Optimisation” is all about. It is definitely time to start taking it very seriously.
4. Spotlight Search (aka Universal Search)
Currently not so many people actually uses Spotlight Search to then visit the Web. But with the many improvements being made to Spotlight Search results we should expect more and more people landing on websites from Spotlight results. Spotlight is increasingly becoming the so-called Universal Search, where users are now able to use Spotlight to search across all of their iPhone (or Mac) content, but at the same time also including Web search results and suggested websites too. In other words, Spotlight is becoming the new search engine for all digital, including your Mail, Contacts, Messages, Apps, and now increasingly also any relevant websites. Companies will have to put a lot more effort in making sure that their Websites and Apps are well optimised for Spotlight Search.
Worth also pointing that any traffic that you will get to your site from these iOS Website suggestions, will show up in your Web Analytics tool (like Google Analytics) as Direct. So if you are seeing an unexpected and lasting increase in your Direct traffic, this might be why.