16 Nov

How does the new Mac App Store search algorithm work?

Mac App Store

It’s been widely reported that Apple have changed the way that they process search requests when you search for an app in the Mac App Store. We welcome the change because searching for stuff on the App Store has always felt like a bit of pot luck. Even searching for an app by name didn’t necessarily work unless you spelled the name exactly right.

So what’s changed? Apparently Apple have a new search algorithm which takes into account more than just the app’s name and a handful of keywords. It apparently takes into account things like whether the app has been featured by Apple in the past, partial keyword matches and prioritises keywords found in the text of the app’s description over keywords entered directly by the developer.

If it seems like I’m using the word ‘apparently’ a lot, it’s because Apple doesn’t publish details of how its algorithm works. So there’s going to be a lot of furious tweaking and experimenting from developers trying to optimise their app’s info to get higher up in the searches.

What’s it been like for us? Here at Ghostotter we’ve noticed that some of our apps are doing noticeably better (e.g. our Mac barcode software, Barcode Basics), although a small number are doing noticeably worse. On the whole things seem positive though so it seems like Apple’s algorithm is doing a better job of directing customers to apps they actually want to buy.

Now for some furious tweaking…