The web is in flux, creating a window of opportunity for SEO-savvy businesses.
Some types of apps - hybrid web apps, for example - allow their data and content to be accessed by search engines. Aside from that, the vast majority of apps store data in device folders and servers locked away from search engine crawlers. This creates a divide between the mobile app web and the greater internet. Since Google relies on analyzing and integrating every bit of data they can get their hands on, this divide is losing them money; they aren’t able to combine app and web data into powerful, big-picture statistics.
Back in 2013, Google announced tools for indexing content deep within mobile apps, which gave businesses and developers a whole new data set to play with. In addition, web users were given the power to more easily search for and access in-app content.
By creating tools for HTTP indexing within apps, Google hopes to bridge this “app divide.” Allowing crawlers to access more in-app info allows developers to verify a relationship between an app and a website, resulting in higher SEO performance, increased conversions from install buttons on Google search results, and a more unified mobile web experience.
For businesses that have separate mobile apps and websites, this means that some changes will be necessary to create a consistent user experience across platforms. Google and Apple are both advocating for developers to create websites and apps that share pages and features. Using App Indexing, apps and web pages can become associated, meaning that if you index your apps well, they’ll show up alongside your website in search results. If you use keywords effectively in both your app and website, it will synergistically increase your SEO presence.
For businesses that only have a website or an app alone, some more drastic adaptations may be necessary. Because search results now display app pages, there’s a whole new wave of competition for those crucial “top ten” spots. Developers and SEO experts must have the knowledge to effectively index content and add keywords to app titles, descriptions, and metadata to make the app search-ready.
So, what does this mean for your business or website? In a word: opportunity.
Currently, only a small percentage of top SEO performers also have indexed apps. In fact, "70% of top ranking websites with an Android app, and 81% with an iOS app, are still not making use of App Indexing” (source: SearchMetrics). If you index your app, and index it well, your business has a chance to beat out the slow-to-react competition and earn a “top ten” spot. Once that happens, you can look forward to greatly increased traffic and more conversions from organic search.
How can your app or website become index-friendly? A logical place to start will be with Deep Linking; look out for our guide to Deep and Dynamic Linking soon.