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Google Rolls Out App Install Button in Search Results


Amidst the ado, hubbub, and general hullabaloo concerning Mobilegeddon, Mopocalypse, or whatever you want to call it, Google quietly rolled out a smaller, separate mobile update a week prior to April 21st. Well, “smaller” in terms of scope, but perhaps not in terms of importance. Google’s App Indexing specifications have been around for some time now, but they’ve never been as impactful as they are now. Back in February, Google announced that information from indexed apps was a ranking factor for signed-in Android users with the app already installed. Then, on April 16th, Google took this even further, announcing that…

  1. App Indexing is now a ranking signal for all Android users, not just those who have the app installed.
  2. When App Indexing is implemented, app install buttons may now appear in search results for Android users who do not have the app installed.

That’s right, you can now drive app installs from Google search results through App Indexing. This means you can actually acquire new users and drive even more engagement with your app right from Google search results. Once the app is installed, users will be taken directly to the app content that is relevant to their search.


Coming Soon to iOS?


So Android users are covered, but what about iOS users? While Android has a much larger market share than iOS, iOS does come in second, and together they made up 96.3% of the smartphone OS market in 2014. Is it only a matter of time before Google supports App Indexing for iOS apps? A couple of signs indicate that this may be on the horizon. The first, a response from the Google’s Mariya M. on the Google Webmaster Help Forum, feels like a strong hint. She writes, “Indeed, as has already been mentioned, app indexing is supported only for Android for now. Stay tuned for updates,” (emphasis mine).

Additionally, some larger sites have already gone as far as to add deep links to their iOS content. You can see this across The back end of their homepage boasts the following code,


Just below the deep link to their Android app, there is a deep link to their iOS app. While this snippet of code may serve no purpose yet, as far as I know, it seems likely that it will be the way to get iOS app content indexed in the future. HuffPo is including it to get a jump on the competition if/when Google does start supporting App Indexing for iOS apps. Google has not yet provided guidelines for deep linking to iOS app content, but progressive sites like HuffPo apparently feel it is worth taking the initiative to get a head start on this.


What About Apps Without Corresponding Web Pages?


In June of 2014, without much fanfare, Google introduced its new App Indexing API. One feature of the API is that it allows apps without corresponding web pages to notify Google of their deep links, allowing that content to be indexed and surface in Google search results.

Taken together, all of this means that Google is equipped to be your app search engine, even without the formality of a website as a middleman. App content can rank even if the user does not have that app installed and there is no website associated with that app. Add iOS App Indexing and the service will be even more complete. In a way, the level of engagement could be even deeper than what comes out of app store searches, because the actual in-app content will ideally line up exactly with user intent.


Brand Takeaways


If you’ve already implemented deep linking of app content on your site, you’re in good shape! That’s all Google needs to start displaying the app install button in search results. If your app does not have a corresponding website, you’ll need to use the App Indexing API to get your content indexed. It would also be prudent to start thinking about deep linking of your iOS app – being prepared will pay off if and when Google does start supporting this. You’ll be ahead of the curve.


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Jimmy is an Associate Director of Earned Media at The Search Agency, and has been involved in the world of SEO since 2005. Prior to that, he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Central Florida. With years of in-house and agency experience under his belt, he joined The Search Agency in 2012 as an Architecture Specialist, and currently heads up TSA’s Architecture department. He also fills the Account Manager role on a number of accounts. Jimmy is passionate about clean, logical site architecture, puzzle-solving and making impactful recommendations to his clients.

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