PMG Digital Made for Humans

Getting Started with App Search Indexing

3 MINUTE READ | November 25, 2015

Getting Started with App Search Indexing

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John Greer

John Greer has written this article. More details coming soon.

As a former web developer, I often think in terms of websites, even on my phone. Google app? I’ll just go to a browser and type in My app count has grown over time, but still, my kids seem to have more apps on my phone than I do.

I’m in the weird minority. According to Flurry, 90% of time on mobile is apps. And more teens aren’t opening a browser or an app to search, they’re just talking to ask Siri or Google.

To keep up with device behavior, both Apple and Google want to own search at the browser, app, and operating system level. This means new areas, such as app indexing, for marketers to act.

Google’s showing apps in search, and conversely, inserting search into apps. Getting your app included takes a bit of setup.

**Benefits of Google App Indexing**

  • Your app can appear in mobile Google search in new places.

  • Landing users inside your app instead of your website should mean better conversion rates.

  • Users can land on screens within the app, not just the app home screen.

  • A brand with an app gets a ranking boost over a regular site.

  • Google Now on Tap can send searchers into your app from another app.

How to Get Your App Indexed in Google

  1. Enable deep linking into your app that says which URLs will pull up which app content. You should create a URL structure that closely matches the structure on your website.

    • For Android, add intent filters detailing your URLs into your manifest (the AndroidManifest.xml file in the root directory).

    • For Apple, you will need to support Universal Links. These are URLs which can open both a specific website page or the matching app screen. These are unique addresses to your app screens.

  2. Add meta tags or XML sitemap alternate tags on the website pointing to the matching URL for the app. Make sure the content of the webpage and app screen match closely.

  3. Register with the Google Play API for your Android app, and install the Google SDK for your iOS app.

Apple, too, is working on integrating app search further into the iOS experience.

Benefit of Apple Search Indexing

Apple’s rolling deep indexing of apps into Spotlight search, Siri results, and Safari search results. This means more visibility for your app and a higher conversion rate by sending users deep into your app.

How to Get Your App Indexed in Apple

  1. If you haven’t, add your website into Apple iTunes connect as your app’s site.

  2. Add the deep link meta tags to your site (the same meta tags Google reads). Make sure to link to the app screen that matches your webpage.

  3. Support Universal Links. As above, these are URLs which can open both a specific website page or the matching app screen. These are unique addresses to your app screens.

  4. Upload an apple-app-site-association file to your site.


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As mobile continues to grow in usage over desktops/laptops and tablets, and apps continue to dominate mobile, app search should be a more vital part of your marketing strategy.

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