Mobile Apps: A Future SEO Specialty?

Google indexing is exciting for our industry – long hours of hard work can pay off by a simple crawl and new index implemented by the search engine giant. Search Engine Watch recently reported on a new development at Google.

With the app industry still in a major boom, Google has released app indexing by using an API* called Mobile App Indexing. This sets the ball in motion for mobile apps to become a new commodity in the SEO world. By releasing the API, Google is allowing developers to notify them of where the content lives within their app, and what URL is used for their website linking to the app. As mentioned in the App Indexing for Google Search article, “The deep links reported using the App Indexing API are also used by Google to index app content and are surfaced in Google Search results.”

This begs the question, why make the effort and why is it important to get your app into the Google index? First and foremost, you can drive up engagement when indexing your app. If you’re an eCommerce or business looking to make sales, your app can point people in the right direction to end up clicking “Buy.” The deep links to your app can appear in relevant search results – ultimately allowing users to get to your mobile app quickly and landing on preferred content.

SEO & Apps – Today

Scott Keever from SEO Coral Gables, recently said, “As marketing professionals, we need to know what Google is doing for SEO and apps at the present moment. We are adapting to user experience with apps. The fact is this API is helping users navigate to content in the app that they already know exists, as opposed to Google discerning and examining content in the app. At this current moment, Google is not able to determine if an app should outrank a competing services Web page. But if Google knows about the content already on a Web page, it can redirect a user to the app because the API knows the app is a better experience.”

As a result, Web pages and apps will now be competing for ranking and traffic at the same level. When this begins to take form, it is obvious that brands need to understand their own apps and optimize the content to prepare for Google’s search results. Even during this exciting time, there a few things to keep in mind as Google is ironing out the details and attempting to see what works, and what doesn’t when it comes to crawling apps. Ranking is still primarily based off of Web content. There is not a way to measure app success in terms of downloads and time spent on apps (yet). Google is unable to look at crawlable content with apps – links, user behavior, social activity, page structure, and other indications sent from the app content. These don’t exist with apps at the moment, but could in the future.

SEO & Apps – Looking to the Future

Dan Cristo of Search Engine Watch has brainstormed ideas for how Google will maneuver the future of analyzing SEO for apps to benefit both brands and the search engine giant.

  • Instead of submitting app content to Google, developers can submit app content and Meta data through the Indexing API. By doing this, Google will be able to determine ranking for an app separate from a Web page.
  • Locating an app would be an obstacle for developers to face considering the functionality of mobile app store search functions (or lack thereof). Companies could be discouraged to invest time into their apps because of lack of discovery.

Imagine optimizing title, description and content for mobile apps. Dan Cristo stated it best, “There will be new tactics, metrics, tools, andreports. In many ways, it’s the beginning of a new generation of SEO.”

*What is an API? An API is a term used in computer programming which stands for application programming interface. It has a set of routines, protocols, and tools for use when building software applications. An API sets standards for accessing a web-based software application or tool.)