Have you heard of Apple’s Spotlight? If not, you’re not alone, but rest assured, that will soon change. The new Apple search engine is poised to make big waves, both among searchers and marketers who are used to spending their ad dollars on Google. This new search engine from Apple has been whispered about for a while now, and various forms have been available on Apple products for quite some time. However, it wasn’t until recently that the tech giant revealed Spotlight’s ability to query web results and the local files, texts, and apps it’s previously been known to search.
As Spotlight transitions from its infancy into a maturing algorithmic state of normalcy for Apple users everywhere, marketing professionals should prepare, as many consumers are anticipated to switch their search methods (meaning their eyes may be more focused on Spotlight and less on Google).
What is Spotlight Search?
For starters, Spotlight doesn’t need a browser to search. This tool showcases a truly universal search that’s perfectly integrated into the iOS world. While it’s similar to Android and Windows search boxes, it does vary in certain ways. For example, Spotlight doesn’t force it into view the same way Google and Microsoft do. Instead, users must take an action to make the search bar appear on their phones or Macs.
Among other things, Spotlight gives users the ability to:
- View web results on their phones without ever needing Google.
- Use a section called “Siri Knowledge” to see snippets of articles that might be of interest.
- Obtain personalized search results through the “Siri Suggest Web Results” feature.
- Access Spotlight via both the lock and unlocked screens of users’ phones.
Search Engine Rivalry: Google vs. Apple
When put next to each other, there are quite a few things that distinguish Spotlight from Google. The following are some fundamental differences between the two search engines:
Google has been the top platform for digital advertisers for over a decade. In Google’s universe, advertisements are featured largely at top-of-the-fold positions on its search engine results pages (SERPs), offering a placement that’s difficult to discern organic results from paid advertisements.
Spotlight, on the other hand, is notably ad-free (at least for the time being). Spotlight’s SERPs are ranked by what’s already on users’ devices, rather than displaying paid versus organic search results. In other words, app makers aren’t paying Apple extra cash to be displayed as a top result.
2. Organic Results
Google utilizes automated web crawlers that go out into cyberspace and look for new or modified webpages. These crawlers then index the URLs based on the content contained on these new (or newly modified) pages and sorts them into categories. This is where the PageRank algorithm comes into play. PageRank uses over 200 ranking factors to match search results to users’ intents. Each Google SERP tailors personalized elements into searchers’ results, such as:
- Physical location
- Search history
- Browsing history
- Social connections
Spotlight is a selection-based search platform tasked with creating and indexing all the files and metadata on users’ iPhones or Mac computers. Spotlight’s bots take in basic information about files, updating them regularly to ensure users are getting the most up-to-date and relevant search results. However, unlike Google, Spotlight isn’t solely focused on search results centered around the web. This platform was built to search local, cloud-based results, as well as web results. To say it another way, when someone searches through Spotlight, they’re searching everything from YouTube videos to their own personal photos to Wikipedia articles and even personal text messages.
People who are looking for a Google search alternative will likely find this Apple search to be a good investment once they learn how to use the tool.
3. User Interface
Internet users have long become accustomed to Google’s minimalist UI. The search giant does periodically undergo modifications, but often, only a trained SEO pro can spot these changes. In the end, Google is easy to use, and even beginners can figure out how to find what they’re looking for.
Spotlight does require a bit more of a learning curve. However, that’s not to say it can’t be done, and as with most things Apple-related, a little time investment is all it takes to adopt the ways of this search method.
Because of its design, Spotlight’s SERPs do tend to get a little cluttered, considering it’s delivering information from a large range of sources. Although users might have to scan through multiple results to find the type of content they’re searching for, Spotlight then comes through with easy-to-perform functions in fewer taps, such as installing apps, visiting articles online, and accessing emails or other files directly.
Should You Know About Alternative Search Engines to Google?
In short: absolutely! If you’re trying to figure out what to know about Spotlight search (or any other alternative search engines to Google), our team at Zero Gravity Marketing is here to help you understand. Email us to connect with an SEO pro who can walk you through everything you need to know today!