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The author

Mark Preston

SEO Strategy Manager

For many businesses who have invested time and resources into creating a smartphone app, the majority are missing out on the potential to drive increased traffic to a key customer touch point.

Google has been able to openly list apps in it’s search index for a little while now  - since June. For signed-in users of smartphones running Android 4.1 or higher, apps can appear as results listings within Google Search just like a normal website URL would. As of October 2014, Android OS equated to a 54% market share in the UK – that's a hefty portion of smartphone users.

An app that sits prominently within device dashboard follows prospective consumers almost everywhere they go. Driving new downloads of apps, as well as extending existing usage and reactivating users, is an increasingly important part of customer acquisition, conversion and retention. It's also fundamental to getting the most value out of a mobile application which, depending upon their complexity, can represent a significant investment.

In app analytics, encouraging download and sign-in represents a new facet to e-permission marketing, allowing marketers to collect greater and more acute insights into the behaviour of current and prospective consumers.

As Google puts more and more emphasis on mobile user experience, including the addition of mobile friendly site labels in search results as covered by my colleague Dom Barry, creating indexable apps is another means of streamlining the mobile journey for users.

If a company’s mobile site or responsive design based site offers a sub-optimal experience [or neither is present] app indexing could be a way of ensuring mobile users are able to discover and interact with businesses easily on their mobile device.

Good search marketing should be about considering the entire spectrum of customer touch points and business assets and optimising each of these areas to maximise user experience and grow affiliation with the brand – and apps are certainly part of this strategy.

Deep Linking

More recently Google has also announced the functionality to display deep links to mobile apps within search results (as opposed to just a general listing for the app).

For users who already have a given app installed – search queries carried out on their Android device that are relevant to the app can return search listings featuring deeper content and pages from within the mobile app.

An example could be a recipe app; where a user inputs a query pertaining to a specific recipe or set of ingredients e.g. ‘triple chocolate cookies’. Now, with app deep linking, individual pages within the app can rank just like website URLs.

Creating a better experience for mobile users

A guide to enabling apps to be indexed by Google can be found here within Google’s Codelab. [TECH ALERT] The process broadly involves making updates to the Android manifest.xml file to get ready to receive intents (messaging objects used to request actions from apps) and including calls to the app indexing API in you activity implementation which helps send users to the right area of your app straight from search results. A more specific guide to enabling deep links for your apps is also provided by Google here.

Businesses can notify Google of the content within their apps that is the equivalent of the pages on their website using the App Indexing API to ensure that you can track referrals from Google search results to your app marketers should also help pass referral information on to analytics systems by following Google’s guidelines.

Obviously, collecting performance data is key to any marketing process and to understand how people interact with an app it’s important that a Webmaster Tools profile is created. Google Analytics for apps can also be set up to track live and historical app data just as a business would for it’s website.

Some useful guides are available here -

Further technical support is also available in the Google Developers thread for App Indexing -



If you need some further guidance, or would like to discuss how you can get the most from apps, just get in touch.