The ABCs of App Indexing for Small Business Apps


Avinash NairAbout the Author (Guest Post): 
Javinash Nair is a Digital Marketer at E2M, one of India’s fastest growing Digital Marketing Agency committed to meeting the highest ethical standards of digital marketing strategies and drive sustainable business growth.

He is responsible for SEO and Content Marketing Services. You can find him on Twitter: @AviNair52.

Most people were blissfully unaware of app indexing until Google unleashed its mobile-friendly update (which took the name of Mobilegeddon!) that went live from April 21, 2015. The announcement had essentially two parts.

One said that Google will be expanding their use of “mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” The other said that Google “will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed.”

mobile app image

Google would “surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.” Google then gave webmasters a detailed guide on app indexing.

What is App Indexing?

Google sends small programs called “spiders” to crawl all over the internet gathering new and updated information from websites and includes them in its library of web content or Index.

This index is accessed every time a user makes a search inquiry. Until Mobilegeddon, Google only indexed websites (desktop and mobile web), but after the announcement, Google started indexing content in apps.

According to Google, “App indexing lets Google index apps just like websites. Deep links to your Android app appear in Google Search results, letting users get to your native mobile experience quickly, landing exactly on the right content within your app.”

So, for instance if you query for a movie on your mobile device and the IMDb app has the most relevant content for your movie query, Google will show you the link to the IMDb website AND the IMDb app result, like this.

android phone

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What This Means for Small Business Apps

One thing is for certain – app indexing is playing a major role in the evolution of mobile searches. It helps Google broaden the scope of online searches. The more content indexed, the better will be the search experience.

If your business has an Android app, get it indexed. If you, well, don’t have a business app, it couldn’t have been a better time to get one made.

With more searches happening on mobile than on desktop, as a business, you should be obsessed to reach your audience through a mobile app. Mobile is the present and future of marketing.

smart phones

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Google’s ability to index apps has changed the dynamics of mobile SEO. Before this, Google missed out on a huge amount of data that remained un-indexed and unavailable to searches.

But with Google’s position as the number one search engine in the world, app indexing can expose all the app data to a large number of potential customers. With deep linking, app landing pages and internal app pages can now compete with mobile search result pages for the same rankings.

What is a Deep Link?

A deep link, in the context of mobile apps, is a link that takes the user to a page deep within the app, past its landing page.

For a mobile searcher, this is important as it directs him to a specific page, which is relevant to his search, inside the app, rather than taking him to the opening screen of the app.

How Do You Let Google Index Your App?

The basic implementation process is pretty easy and straightforward.

  • Set up support “Universal Links” for iOS. These are HTTP links with a single URL that can open both a specific webpage and a corresponding app view. Here, you will need to register your app with Google and associate it with your website. If you use the same URL for web and app content, Google will automatically set up crawl and indexing. If you want to set up comprehensive app indexing that allows you more control and additional benefits, you may follow the entire process.
  • Implement Google app indexing using the App Indexing API for Android, or by integrating the App Indexing SDK for iOS 9.
  • Explicitly map your web pages to their corresponding app screens using either a rel=alternate link element on the individual page, by referencing the app URLs in your XML sitemaps, or by using schema.org markup.

Let us look at the process for Android in detail.

  • Structure your website and app in such a way that they share a common set of links that both platforms can open and use. Once you add a matching view for each link type to your app, you need to configure your app to recognize and handle each type of link.
  • Connect your site with your app.
  • Receive incoming links in your app by adding intent filters.
  • Handle incoming URLs.
  • You can also control which app elements appear in Google Search. With Control Indexing (which is optional) you can exclude specific pages and real-time app notification from search results.
  • Add the App Indexing API.
  • Test your implementation.

A detailed process for iOS is also given.

To allow Google to index your app, you need to make sure that your app can manage deep links. Your app might be set up for deep links but not for Google indexing.

So you need to make sure that you reference deep links by adding codes to the relevant web pages.

Takeaway

Get you app indexed and grow your mobile presence. Google has the last word. If app results show up in mobile searches, businesses have a fantastic opportunity to be visible to a high number of potential customers through well optimized apps.

This is great for SEO and offers a great user experience too. Mobile search marketing is in a state of constant flux.

Marketers need to comprehend the fact that we are moving towards a bigger mobile universe where the need to optimize mobile in any and every possible way is a necessity.

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