In 2014 more than 1 million apps were registered in the Google Play Store. Without a doubt the final figure for this year will be higher. This however raises a first issue, how can users find relevant app they maybe don’t know of? Once a new gem of an app is found it joins a smartphone user’s app collection, which on average consists of 36 apps. Of these only 25% are used on daily base. Overall, less than 10 apps are frequently used. Thus bringing us to the second issue: How can the other 26 apps re-engage with the user?
To increase the discoverability of apps and to make users re-engage with them, Google introduced App Indexing in April 2015. This means that Google searches, on mobile devices, can show the content from indexed apps more clearly in the search result. Just take moment to thinks about this new opportunity before you read on how it is done.
To give you a better idea this video illustrates some good examples of apps that are indexed by the Google search engine.
(source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aISUYHTkTOU )
The two flavours of App indexing: Discovery & Re-Engagement
Once an app is indexed by Google, mobile device users can find its content among “regular search results” coming from websites.
If the app is not yet installed on the user’s mobile device, the search result indicates that an app with relevant content can be installed (Figure 1).
By exposing the contents of app in the search result, the chances to generate new app users becomes significantly higher.
Figure 1: List of Google search results and indicating that it can be installed (Source: https://developers.google.com/app-indexing/)
However if the user already has an app installed with relevant content, and the users selects the item in the search result, this selection will launch in the app and will present the contents directly from the app instead of presenting the contents in web browser.
This direct bridge between Google Search and app is realized by a technology called Deep Linking. (Figure 2)
Figure 2: From the search result, installed App can be opened from App (Source: https://developers.google.com/app-indexing/)
Deep Linking: Where the magic happens
Deep Linking is a protocol which indicates that the given link is connected to the app. Based on the package name of the distributed Android app package, it should be include in the Deep Link.
The scheme can be specified either http or custom scheme. Although there is no unified standard scheme, specifying http scheme is recommended by Google.
After specifying which scheme is used in Deep Link, the host path of web contents should be followed. The Deep Link is a format of address which is uniquely identifying the app. Figure 3 is an anatomy of deep link:
Figure 3: URI Format of Deep Link (Source: https://developers.google.com/app-indexing/android/app)
Deep Linking is a key enabler technology not only by Google search and apps in Google Play Store but also other major IT industry players like Facebook uses AppLinks to link between the contents of Facebook page and the installed app of Facebook users.
Success Stories: How App Indexing can be helpful for your clients
One of the great benefits of the deep linking technology is that app developers and marketers can bring app users directly to the specific contents within their app with a dedicated deep link. In this way, deep links make the Web more usable in terms of search not only Web contents but also the contents of apps.
There are many success stories from diverse business sectors who already use App Indexing technology.
The Guardian, one of the major British newspapers, wanted to offer their app users a seamless transition into the Guardian mobile app from Google Search. By using App Indexing, app users were referred to the news content in their Guardian app for 95% of their relevant searches, rather than to the mobile website. The results showed a click through rate (CTR) for deep links to app are 4.5 percentage points higher for search results going through to the app, rather than mobile web content. If the Guardian users read the news from its dedicated app, then users can have the best user experience possible on the device, therefore the Guardian can generate deeper engagement and further loyalty from their readers.
COOKPAD Inc., a recipe website and app, allows its users to upload and search any recipes that user created. COOKPAD has over 50 million users in total and it has over 2 million registered recipes. With app Indexing, the COOKPAD users are now offered a seamless transition from Search results to the relevant recipe page within the app. After COOKPAD had indexed 100% of the 2 million recipe pages, they are seeing 97% of search clicks going directly to the App they already installed. The statistics says that they are also getting a 24% increase in Google Search result impressions due to the addition of app Indexing as a ranking signal. Overall, COOKPAD Inc. increased dormant app user re-engagement by about 15% and the number of weekly sessions per active user by 10%.
As you can see the seamless transition from Google Search result to the content view in the dedicated app is possible by having deep link. App Indexing technology is beneficial for both app developers, marketers and all kinds of companies who would like to provide users the best dedicated content exploration experience, reactivate dormant app installations and offer a further entry point for new app users.
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