Google enabled Android app indexing for more than 20 applications in April and has now expanded this utility to all Android apps and developers. As the app indexing is open to everyone, you can now connect your website and your Android application so that the users who search from their smartphones and tablets can find and reach your app quickly. This will enhance visibility for your app right content among mobile users. Hundreds of apps including Tumblr, SlideShare, Walmart, AOL.com and more have already implemented this feature.
The search engine giant made the announcement through its Webmaster Central blog post on June 25, 2014, saying that the process of getting your app deep links indexed has been greatly simplified. With app indexing, the Googlebot can index your Android app content so that the search engine can show up the deep links to your app in the mobile search results, provided the user has the app installed and your app content is relevant to the user query. If your app supports HTTP deep linking schemes, hereâ€™s what you should do:
- To get Google to index your app content and let users enter your app from search results, specify intent filters in your app that indicate how particular content in your app can be reached
- If you want Google to identify your app as the official application for your website, connect the app to the website through the Google Play Console and Webmaster Tools
Though Google can discover and index app deep links on their own, they recommend publishing the deep links. This is important in case your app only supports a custom deep link scheme. There are two ways in which you can publish the deep links
- Insert a rel=alternate <link> element in the <head> section of each web page, or in your sitemap in order to specify the corresponding app URI
- Use App indexing API
Google has added a new feature (Android Apps) in Webmaster Tools for tracking the issues that may arise during app indexing. This feature will show you the type of errors detected for app page-web page pairs along with example app URIs.
Detailed instructions on how to debug each issue will be provided together with a QR code for the app deep links to make it easier for you to open them on your smartphone or tablet. Google will also send Webmaster Tools error notifications to keep you informed.
Now that apps are indexed and connected, users are ensured of an optimal experience in search results and click through to your mobile website, which can, in turn, drive conversions.
Best Practices for Adding Deep Links
When adding deep links to your sitemap or website, consider the following:
- Include app deep links only for canonical web URLs
- Do not include app deep links not supported by your app
- If you are using News Sitemaps, include your deep link annotations in both News Sitemaps and general Sitemaps
- Do not provide annotations for deep links executing native ARM code so that app indexing will work in all platforms
Expertise in mobile site implementation and utilizing Google Webmaster Tools is crucial when it comes to adding deep links and exposing links in your app in search results.