Google announced on Thursday that it has indexed 30 billion links within apps, and that it will now show Android users apps in search results even if the user hasn't already installed them. This is the latest move by the search engine to further integrate the app ecosystem into search and improve mobile results.
Are you taking advantage of Google's app indexing? If so, have you noticed a boost in your rankings? Let us know in the comments.
"You’ve invested time and effort into making your app an awesome experience, and we want to help people find the great content you’ve created," said product manager Lawrence Chang in a blog post. "App Indexing has already been helping people engage with your Android app after they’ve installed it — we now have 30 billion links within apps indexed. Starting this week, people searching on Google can also discover your app if they haven’t installed it yet. If you’ve implemented App Indexing, when indexed content from your app is relevant to a search done on Google on Android devices, people may start to see app install buttons for your app in search results. Tapping these buttons will take them to the Google Play store where they can install your app, then continue straight on to the right content within it."
"With the addition of these install links, we are starting to use App Indexing as a ranking signal for all users on Android, regardless of whether they have your app installed or not," he adds. "We hope that Search will now help you acquire new users, as well as re-engage your existing ones."
Google announced in February that it had already begun using app indexing as a ranking signal for signed in users who had the apps installed on their devices. They must have liked the results since they're expanding it into include apps that the user doesn't have installed.
This comes at an interesting time as the European Commission just announced that it has opened an investigation into Google's Android business. Complainants will no doubt point to this as a sign that Google is using its dominant search position to get people to focus more on Android as a development platform. Increased search visibility certainly seems like a pretty major plus.
The Commission said the investigation would "focus on whether Google has breached EU antitrust rules by hindering the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems, applications and services to the detriment of consumers and developers of innovative services and products.”
“Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company,” said EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager.
Google first began testing app indexing in the fall of 2013. Googlebot began indexing content in Android apps, and gave webmasters the ability to let Google know which app they’d like Google to index through their existing sitemaps file and through Webmaster tools.
At the time, app indexing had no effect on ranking. At first, Google only indexed a select few apps, including Allthecooks, AllTrails, Beautylish, Etsy, Expedia, Flixster, Healthtap, IMDB, Moviefone, Newegg, OpenTable, and Trulia. Last April, Google announced that it had enabled it for over 24 more applications, including: 500px, AOL, BigOven, Bleacher Report, Booking.com, Eventbrite, Glassdoor, Goodreads, Huffington Post, Merriam-Webster, Pinterest, Realtor.com, Seeking Alpha, TalkAndroid, TheFreeDictionary, The Journal, TripAdvisor, Tumblr, Urbanspoon, Wattpad, YP, Zagat, Zappos and Zillow.
They also made it available globally in English. The following month, they made it available in more languages. At Google I/O last year, they announced a slew of additional apps, and opened app indexing up to all Android developers. If you have an Android app, you can participate.
Also at Google I/O, the company held a session called “The Future of Apps and Search,” which discussed bringing search and apps together to give users a better experience. In light of the ranking news, you might want to give that a watch:
To get started, visit g.co/AppIndexing and to learn more about the other ways you can integrate with Google Search, visit g.co/DeveloperSearch."
In other mobile ranking signal news, Google is going to start using mobile-friendliness as a factor on April 21.
Do you expect to get more traffic from Google as a result of new mobile-related ranking signals? Discuss.
Images via Google