Now Webmasters Have Google App Indexing To Think About

    November 3, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google announced on Thursday that it is testing app indexing with Android apps. This, the company says, will create a seamless user experience across mobile apps and websites, when it comes to search results pages. With more and more searches coming from mobile devices, the addition of app indexing is long overdue.

Do you expect Google’s new app indexing to change your search strategy? Do you intend to focus more on mobile apps? Let us know in the comments.

Googlebot will now crawl and index content within Android apps, meaning that Google searches from mobile devices can point users directly to relevant content in your app, as opposed to your website, when it makes sense to do so.

“Searchers on smartphones experience many speed bumps that can slow them down,” writes product manager Lawrence Chang in a blog post. “For example, any time they need to change context from a web page to an app, or vice versa, users are likely to encounter redirects, pop-up dialogs, and extra swipes and taps. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could give your users the choice of viewing your content either on the website or via your app, both straight from Google’s search results?”

App Indexing

“If both the webpage and the app contents are successfully indexed, Google will then try to show deep links to your app straight in our search results when we think they’re relevant for the user’s query and if the user has the app installed,” Chang explains. “When users tap on these deep links, your app will launch and take them directly to the content they need.”

Android users in the U.S. (with the Google Search App 2.8+ and Android 4.1+) will start seeing deep links from apps in their search results in the coming weeks. App indexing is still in the testing phase, however, and Google is starting out with apps from Allthecooks, AllTrails, Beautylish, Etsy, Expedia, Flixster, Healthtap, IMDB, Moviefone, Newegg, OpenTable, and Trulia.

Still, you can get the process started to enable Google to index content from your apps. Google has a form you can fill out if you want to get in on the testing.

Google says app indexing will not impact ranking. In a Q&A, the company says, “App indexing does not impact on your website’s ranking in the search results page. It does affect how a search result of your website is displayed, namely by adding a button to open the content in your app if the user has the app installed.”

While it may not have a direct effect on ranking in the sense that just because you’re pointing Google to app content rather than web content it will make a difference, apps are sometimes more user-friendly than web content, particularly on mobile devices, and it’s hard to see Google not taking that into account when ranking results.

In other words, if you are able to provide a better user experience from your mobile app than you are from your webpage, why wouldn’t Google rank it better? It’s something to think about, and could lead to more businesses placing more focus on mobile apps. The industry will no doubt be watching how the results appear as Google shows more of them.

Of course, the user has to have the app installed to access its content, which is obviously a significant barrier. Some will likely have more success if they have a presence in other popular apps. It will be especially interesting for Ecommerce merchants, for example, to see how content from apps like Etsy do in search results.

“Just like crawling a website, Google uses many signals to determine the frequency at which your app is crawled,” Google says in the Q&A. “As a rule of thumb, it will be a similar frequency at which your website is crawled.”

Good to know.

Google also notes that like web-only sitemaps, you can have more than one sitemap for your app content.

The company is working on surfacing relevant information in Webmaster Tools about letting webmasters know if their app indexing is actually working.

To get started, you’ll need to annotate app links for the pages on your site that can be opened in your app to specify how the content can be opened in the app, and add intent filters for deep linking. You can check out the documentation here.

It’s going to be interesting to see if this has any substantial impact on Android app development in general, and if Google starts indexing content in apps on other platforms.

Do you think Google’s new app indexing is a game changer? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.ofertazilei.ro Alexandrescu Vlad

    The apps are the new web.

    • Bill

      I don’t agree with you Vlad. Folks don’t want an app for every gosh darn thing they do. They don’t want an app for every site they wish to visit on the Internet. A responsive site is fine for most purposes except when a complex task is being performed where it makes more sense to use an app.

      • yosri

        I disagree. People only load the web apps that they need, the one they visited more that once a day, just like what you load in your phone today.

  • http://sjovt-latterkursus.dk Ejvind

    It’s mind blowing what you have to do to keep up these days. There is no sense in all that stuff coming from Google. I wish some other search engine makes it all much simpler.

  • http://psycho-drama.com Jed

    20% of my site’s visitors are already from mobile. I use Joomla! and the template was already equipped for mobile use. I think this is to be expected from Google, since android needs to maintain its supremacy and the search giant has to do something different in a sense.

  • http://www.interpretermployment.com Paul Harvie

    I think this is kind of interesting. I do have a question though. I don’t necessarily have an “app” per say, BUT I do have a mobile version of my website, which shows up in smart phone and tablet search results. Will THAT ranking be affected by app indexing?

    • http://www.flaminghotmedia.com FHM

      I agree Paul. We build and we own various websites that are always built with phone and tablet usability in mind, as well as other things. Does this count?

  • http://www.interpreteremployment.com Paul Harvie

    This idea of apps makes me wonder if I should turn my blog into an app as well? How does one do that? (forgive the second comment, I messed up my web address in my first comment)

  • Sabrina Walker

    just on

  • http://www.damirbodor.com Damir

    We are getting close to an era where NOTHING will be private. When will Google start crawling your data from apps like sms aps and use them to serve ads relevant to the conversations in sms threads.

  • http://gastricbandfrance.co.uk/gastric-sleeve/ Geoff Surgeon

    if you have Apps for your client base then that’s great that google will eventually start to index them in the search results, however we don’t need an app for every website in our portfolio. if your website is Mobile compliant it will be indexed by google normally so there is no need to panic for anyone, however if you do have an App then start the process as soon as possible as it certainly will not do any harm.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    So apps approved and licensed say by Google will eventually be the only ones indexed?
    Are we seeing the web on mobile been controlled by the search provider?