Apple app store and Google Play Store keep on filling up more and more every single day. Did you know there are more than 3.1 million apps right now? So how do you increase the visibility of your apps among tons of apps out there? It is not an easy job to stand out of the crowd, no matter how flawless your app may be. It is no wonder that app store optimization has taken the app world by storm over the last few years. Ever heard of App Indexing? No, then you should. App indexing is a very LESS costly system that small businesses in particular can profit from. All you have to do is give it a bit of your time and effort to complete all the stages needed to reach your goal.
What is App indexing?
A little introduction wouldn’t hurt. So what does app indexing really do? When people enter a keyword related to your app with their mobile phones, Google can show your app on the top along with other websites in the list. This is what app indexing basically does. This service of Google makes users find your app in search results when using their mobile phones with an install button.
Clicking on this button will lead users to Google Play or App Store in case the user has not installed it or the Android/iOS app in case it is already installed. It doesn’t matter whether it is from Google Play Store or App store. It will allow you to increase your retention rate of registered user and increase your installs volume.
A Bit of its History
Let’s go back in history and get to know where App Indexing really came from. It was in October 2013 that Google app indexing was first launched, but it was available to only very few developers. It was not until June 2015 that it became open to all. Then Google went on to include support for iOS via Chrome in May 2015 and further announced support for app indexing within Safari in October 2015. However, it is compatible solely in devices with either iOS9 or above. Its final transformation took place this year when Google indexing became Firebase App indexing available for Android and iOS applications.
App indexing is an evolved version of traditional SEO as it has quiet some streaks of SEO. What you have to do is index the content of your apps in Google search so that the traffic gets distributed to your app. To make that possible, it was necessary earlier to have your web and app similar. However, that’s not the case anymore. Since the mid of November, native apps can be indexed even if they have no similarity with the web. Yet another wow factor is the ability to see an ‘App Streaming’ feature with your app contents. That means users can preview the app before making a decision to download it.
Benefits of App Indexing
The benefits of app indexing are huge. All it requires is some effort and time from your side in order to implant app indexing to your app. Here are six major benefits:
1) Improves your visibility on Google Search Mobile
If you have app-indexed your app, it will end up on the first page of search results and become easily discoverable to your users. Google displays your app description along with the app icon.
2) Improves advertising revenues
App Indexing and AdMob can go hand in hand to enhance the quality of targeted ads and increase your advertising revenue. If you have implemented app indexing strategy properly, you are bound to get better revenues. Usually, average app’s CPMs are more than web’s CPMs.
3) Increases browsing time
User experience is better in app compared to mobile web which translates into longer sessions.
4) Increases traffic of active users to the app
When app indexing causes users who have already installed the app return to your app, it actually means your brand has been reinforced. Your app usage has increased.
5) Increases CTR on Google search mobile results
What happens is when your user has installed your app and they attempt a search on google search, the result will be icon of the app. It is true that visual results only increase the chances of getting it clicked.
6) Increases amount of organic installs
If app indexing results in your user install the app, it only increases your installs and such cases result in high satisfaction. The install button for the app is displayed right beside the homepage search result giving the user the access to install your app.
How to Index Your iOS App On Google
1) App indexing service uses HTTP URL for iOS9. What does this mean? This means the developer has to follow some step in order to implement this support into his app. The developer needs to use UIApplicationDelegate protocol in order to open the right content of the app in cases user clicks a link that is displayed by Google in search results. In case you have already followed the steps to support universal links to your app, then you can skip this part. If not, then you have to add handling for universal links and make an app-to-site connection.
2) Now you need to form association between your app and the website. The Xcode requires apple-developer-associated domains entitlement for the purpose of listing every single domain associated with the app. Next, you have to make a file called apple-app-site associated for every single associated domain.
3) After completing the setup for app indexing, you can test and check if you have successfully completed the steps. You can easily preview the search result on iOS. However, remember you cannot test universal links in Xcode simulator. In that case, you need to tap a universal link in Safari on your mobile device.
4) Now it is time to improve your app’s ranking. For that you need to offer high quality content in your app. Make sure you follow all the guidelines from google to come up with a well-designed app and have a responsive website. Only then, go on to measure the performance of your app.
How to Index Your Android App On Google
1) App Indexing for androids make use of HTTP URLs in order to display your users the content of your app. If you want to give your users a great experience, then you need to focus on the content that your user is likely to search.
2) Secondly, connect your app with your website. To do this, you have two options. You can either use Digital Asset Links that needs at least How To Index Your Android App On Google Android 6.0 Marshmallow or you can use Search Console. Google announced that you can make use of this service even if you don’t have a website provided you have a great content inside your app. In case you don’t have website that you can associate with your but you want to utilize App Indexing, you can simply fill a form and make a request for App Indexing solely for the app. It is known as Indexing App-Only content.
3) Now add intents to your android app. All you have to do is open your app in Android Studio and go to AndroidManifest.xml in order to add the intent filter for HTTP URL. You need to create intent filters and logic in order to handle deep link intents. In case you are confused, you can check out the well explained tutorial from Google for a better understanding.
4) Now you can give your user good content considering his search. It will be handy for developers to skim through samples from Google.
5) Your app is now ready to be uploaded on Google Play Store.
6) As an added step, you can make a noindex.xml file so that you can choose some pages of your app that you don’t want to be displayed in search results. Make sure you add its reference to AndroidManifest.xml.
7) If you want your already visited app pages in search autocomplete list, you are required to add the App Indexing API to your app. This comes with some steps that an android developer can easily handle, but in case of any confusion there is a complete tutorial provided by Google.
8) Testing your procedures is very important. Check out the official page which consists of a variety of testing methods.
9) Analyzing your performance is also a crucial step. For this, search analytics serves as an extraordinary tool
10) The best part is that Google offers its assistance on every single step and lets all the developer know how to create high quality content by providing them with important guidelines.
Common mistakes to avoid when implementing app indexing
Do you want everything to come out well? Then make sure you set up app indexing properly. Here are some common mistakes that you should avoid at all costs:
- As soon as the user reaches a content driven for app indexing strategy, make sure he has the freedom to step back without much hassle. Let things be easy for your users.
- Make sure that the content you show in your app and the web should be either similar or identical. If they don’t go with each other, things can go awry. Remember you can fix it directly on the search console of your app.
- The results page of Google’s autocomplete system displays a list containing titles about the content of apps. Do you want your app to appear in one of those titles? Then you need to make titles that are directly associated with the web content. If you don’t follow the guidelines properly, google may stop displaying your results in the autocomplete system.
- Another thing you should be careful about is that if a user visits from app indexing, then that should take him directly to some content within your app. Make sure users don’t reach to an advertising message before they see your content.