Jun 26, 2013

Say Hello to Bing - iOS 7 SEO Implications

When iOS 6 was released few SEO’s thought it would have the affect that is has had.  A week after it’s release, many SEO professionals began to realize that organic and direct traffic wasn’t tracking correctly.  Overnight websites began tracking iOS 6 search traffic as direct.  Organic month over month statistics declined.  Sites that had 10,000 visitors still had 10,000 visitors because of a secure browser issue Google Analytics was unable to give accurate reports. 

With Apple iOS 7 just around the corner (coming fall 2013), what can SEO professionals expect?  No one truly knows yet.  But what we do know are a few interesting things that Apple is doing with search functions and design.  The biggest development is Bing. 

Siri Uses Bing

Microsoft recently announced:

“Starting this fall with iOS 7, Bing will power Siri’s new integrated web search.  When users ask Siri a question either the specific answer or web search links will now be delivered automatically so users can find information...on Bing.“

This is a big deal.  Currently if you ask Siri to ‘search the web for computers’ she will open up Google with search results for computers.  This is now changing with iOS 7.  Bing will now be the default search engine for Siri. 

Siri will now be able to search directly on the web, just like Google Now, ‘conversational search.’

Default Search Engine May No Longer Be Google

iPhone Default SearchFor years, the default search engine within the iPhone’s native Internet browser, Safari, was Google.  If you searched for something, Google displayed the results.  Although a user can change the default, the majority of users choose not to.  Apple has hinted and a few blogs have also surmised that Apple is planning to change the default search engine from Google to Bing. 

When iOS 6 came out last year, Apple made significant changes to its relationship with Google.  It removed YouTube from its home screen.  It also removed Google Maps and replaced it with Apple Maps, widely regarded as an inferior product, and made Siri integrated with Apple Maps.   

So the next big move Apple is most likely making with iOS 7 is making Bing (or Yahoo!) the default search engine for Safari.  I am confident that Apple will make this move.  They no longer want to continue to empower a strong competitor, which makes a competing device, Android.  Bing and Yahoo! are also increasing their search market share, with Bing hitting records in in April while Google is slowly sinking.  This would indicate Bing search is truly ready for prime time (unlike Apple Maps) and Apple will make the switch.

New Unified Search Field in Safari

iPhone Unified SearchThe new unified search field in Safari is another big deal in mobile search.  My hope is that Safari will begin to start correctly reporting to Google Analytics with this change.  Apple knows of the direct traffic reporting issue and has been made aware of it by thousands of people.  With a new unified search field, (similar to many desktop browsers) my hope is that we will see better tracking from mobile traffic using iOS 7. 

Stay tuned to the blog for a post-release update!

[Contributed by Nathan Engels, search specialist]

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