iTunes links mysteriously began disappearing from Google search results earlier this month, and Google was quick to confirm that a technical issue was the cause — and not that it was pulling them intentionally. As it turns out, the problem may have actually been Apple’s fault.
According to a report from search engine experts SISTRIX, Apple may have been blocking Google’s crawlers accidentally.
SISTRIX claims that Apple begins blocking connections to its servers and serving up 403 errors after around 50,000 requests from the same IP address. Because of this, Google’s crawlers could gain access to iTunes pages, and this caused iTunes links to fall in its search rankings.
SISTRIX ran some tests of its own and had its own crawlers visit iTunes pages 100,000 times. Its results showed that 46,133 (46.1%) of the pages returned were 403 errors, because Apple began blocking the crawler’s connection.
SISTRIX notes that today, a Google search for “TomTom Europe” throws back TomTom’s iOS app as the first result. During the issues with iTunes links earlier this month, that same page fell to number 79 in the search results, and then again out of the top 100.
Fortunately for Google, TomTom’s Android app temporarily took first spot instead.