Recent reports are pointing to a possible “de-ranking” of direct iTunes App Store links in Google’s search results, with some titles not showing up for six or more pages unless the word “iTunes” is entered in the text box. Originally spotted by TechCrunch, the recent change in operating seems to affect apps differently and is not a wholesale downgrading of URLs leading to iTunes. A number of variables, including app popularity and whether a user is logged in with their Google account still factor into the search engine’s results.
Interestingly enough, time seemed to also play a factor in Google’s algorithm, as a repeated test of different searches yielded different results just within minutes of each other. Although the exact nature of Google’s search algorithm is largely a mastery and the company has been known to modify the code, the “de-ranking” of direct iTunes links has raised quite a few eyebrows.
Hours after media outlets caught wind of a potential search issue relating to direct iTunes App Store links, Google issued a statement saying the problem has to do with fetching pages from iTunes’ web servers. The search giant ended up telling The Verge that a server issue is to blame for a problem in which searches for iOS apps buried direct iTunes links in pages of results. Google’s statement mentioned the following:
We've been having some issues fetching pages from the iTunes web servers, and as a result some people may have had problems finding iTunes apps in search easily. We're working with the team there to ensure search users can find what they're looking for.
With duplicate content, you have two or more pages that are virtually identical to each other," Sullivan said. "That can confuse search engines and sometimes have the effect of 'splitting the vote' when it comes to ranking, so that neither page wins.
Source: TechCrunch, Search Engine Land, The Verge