Which mobile operating system has better creativity apps?

Better Google rankings through app indexing

More and more search queries are being made using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. For the search engine Google, the expansion of its index to include app content is the logical consequence. Google started indexing apps for the Android operating system back in October 2014. Since then, registered Google users have been able to access links to app content directly in the SERPs. In May 2015, Google finally extended app indexing to the iOS operating system.

The app contents are via so-called Deep links (or deep links) in the search results, similar to the normal search results. If users have already installed a certain app, they have the opportunity to use this app even more often, as it is offered to them directly when they search for a search result.

If the app has not yet been set up on the smartphone, Google will suggest that the user install it.

Illustration 1: The app is suggested for installation in the search results

But how can you attract more attention in the search results with your own app? These criteria can help:

Customize website to display app content

So that users can find and access your app in the mobile search results at all, you should make some adjustments within your app and in the source code of your website.

Technical requirement:

In order to have app content displayed in the search results, users should ideally have installed the Google Search app from version 2.8 or Chrome for Android from 4.1. Apple users are advised to install the Google app from version 5.3 and to be logged in with the Apple ID in order to find deep links to installed apps in the search results.

Adjustments in the app:

So that Google can also crawl your app content, you should specify so-called intent filters in the manifest file of your app. These filters enable deep linking to your app content. They are comparable to a message service that enables activities and services to be called up within the system. If core elements of Android are to be accessed, an intent object can be created, filled with information and then passed on to the context.

Google provides detailed instructions for integrating intent filters including code examples at the following link: https://developers.google.com/app-indexing/webmasters/app

Adjustments in the source code:

With the help of some adjustments within the source code of your site, you can link the respective areas of your app with your website. It can be specified separately for each sub-page whether the user should be directed to the app or the website when the search query is made.

Figure 2: The product category is opened directly in the app.

There are three easy ways to provide the search engine with app deeplinks for your page.

1. Specification of a element in the section of the page

Within the section of your website, the so-called element can be used to specify an alternative URL that can be used to open the content in your app.

These Deep links you can build up according to the following fixed scheme:

android-app: // {package_id} / {scheme} / {host_path}
ios-app: // {itunes_id} / {scheme} / {host_path}

  • The package_id / itunes_id is the ID that is stored for your app in the Google Play Store / iTunes Store.
  • With scheme the scheme that is transferred to the app is called, e.g. http or https.
  • over host_path you define the link target in your app. Reference is also made to the specific content.

A completed deep link looks like this, for example:

android-app://com.beispiel.android/http//beispiel.com/artikel/

You can then use this free Google tool to test whether the deep links you have created work.

Integrated into a element, you can then add the deep link to the HTML code of the http://example.com/article using the rel = "alternate" attribute:

<head>
<link rel="alternate" href="android-app://com.beispiel.android/http/beispiel.com/artikel" />
</head>

2. Specification of an element in the tag of the sitemap

Another possibility to integrate the deep links into your page is the integration via the sitemap. Using elements in the XML sitemap of your website, you can specify how the individual pages in your app should be opened.

Example for an Android app:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:xhtml="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<url> <loc>http://beispiel.com/artikel</loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" href="android-app://com.beispiel.android/http/beispiel.com/artikel" /> </url>
</urlset>

Important: In order for Google to be able to index your app content at all, you should allow Googlebot to crawl these directories. It is best to store the following entry in the robots.txt file:

User agent: Googlebot Allow: /

3. Via the App Indexing API

Alternatively, webmasters can also use the App Indexing API to inform Google about deep links to their apps. This variant enables quick and easy access to the app content with the help of the automatic completion of inquiries (only possible for the Google Search app from version 3.6).

You can find detailed instructions on how to integrate the App Indexing API into your app here.

Google does not guarantee that the app content will be displayed in search results. However, considering the above points significantly increases the chance that your app will be listed in the search results.

Tip for Android apps: After the successful implementation, you can link your app to your website via the Google Search Console. There you have the opportunity to track your app performance with Google Analytics.

With app indexing to better rankings?

The development shown could present SEOs and website operators with new tasks in the future. App indexing already requires a perfect correlation between mobile content and the desktop version of a website. The mobile-friendliness of a website and the associated app is becoming more and more important with the increasing mobile use of the Internet.

With the reference to the appropriate content in an app, Google ensures that mobile content comes even more into focus and that the Google search adapts to all devices. For owners of apps, this means additional traffic potential: With app indexing, there is an opportunity to enrich the mobile rankings of your website with your own app content and thus to attract even more users with suitable mobile search results.

You can also generate additional traffic by promoting your app via Google Adwords ads. With the so-called “App Install Ads” you can make your app stand out from the crowd in order to get even more downloads. In contrast to most AdWords campaigns, you do not need to write individual ads for the Install Ads app. Instead, it is possible to use the assets from the Google Play Store / iTunes Store to create different ads in multiple formats. You can find detailed instructions on how to create a campaign to promote your app here.

Figure 3: You can also advertise your app with AdWords campaigns.

Whereas previously it was only possible to advertise an app using app install ads via Google AdWords or Facebook, thanks to app indexing you now have the chance to draw the attention of additional users to your own app through good rankings in the mobile search results via organic search.

Conclusion

If your app has been indexed successfully and the first visitors come directly to your app content via the search results, the work is not done yet. In order to ensure that your users do not jump back directly to the search results, you should take care of constantly improving your app content and aligning it more precisely with the respective search queries.

In this way, you ensure that users increasingly stick to your offers and receive even better search results, because the app content means that these are increasingly context-related and thus serve user needs better and better. On the other hand, the user receives content on his search query via the app indexing, which he probably trusts more because he has already installed the app in his own interest. However, as is so often the case, the prerequisite for this is unique content with added value that meets the needs of the user.