How brands are missing out by not allowing app indexing

A new study suggests that only 20% of iOS apps and 30% of Android apps are able to support app indexing.

Here’s a brief introduction on app indexing to get started…

What is app indexing?

When someone searches on Google from their mobile, results can now be served direct from an app they have installed. When they click on the result, they have the option of seeing the page either on the mobile web or within the app itself.

App-indexing has been around for a couple of years, but only available to every publisher (on both iOS and Android) in 2015.

In order to allow Google to index your app, you need to allow ‘deep linking’, which basically means giving each page within your app a specific crawlable link. So when the app opens, a searcher is served relevant content rather than just the first screen of the app.

At the moment Android users will see app results even if they don’t have the app. This will likely happen for iOS users too in the near future.

Implementing deep-linking is relatively straightforward, there’s a detailed guide on how to it available from Searchmetrics here (registration required) and any publishers that haven’t done this yet are missing out.

In a study of the 100 most visible websites in Google US searches, Searchmetrics found that although 84% offer an Android App, only 30% of these had implemented app-indexing.

app indexing for android

And then of the 88% that offer an iOS app, just 19% were found to be support app-indexing.

ios app indexing
The study also looked at which sectors were most likely to allow deep linking to their mobile apps. Retailers in the fashion industry came top on both Android and iOS…

app indexing by industry android

app indexing by industry ios

Most companies in this sector were found to offer some type of app, with just 5% of apparel sites not offering an iOS app and 9% not offering an Android app.

Among the apparel retail sites that offer an iOS app, 32% have enabled app indexing, while for Android apps this is 31%.

Why should you allow app-indexing?

  • At the moment, because only a third of (or fewer) visible sites are using app-indexing, you’ll have a competitive advantage.
  • Google has stated that it’s a ranking factor, “If your app is indexed, Google will use the content within your app as a signal in ranking, not just your web content.”
  • App-indexing can encourage searchers to install your app if they deem the content you provide useful enough, and apps can be an excellent customer retention tool.
  • Apps that are indexed properly can form the ‘missing piece’ from your complete customer journey, now that you can see exactly what content is being accessed directly from search.
  • On average 20% of the apps a person installs on their device are only ever opened once. As Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics states, “App indexing is a fantastic opportunity to maximize the investment in your app – by helping to drive more traffic and interaction and potentially even conversions.”

The full Searchmetrics report can be downloaded from here (registration required)

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