Do You Know How To Do App Indexing On Google?

In every article we highlight the huge number of active apps available, both on Google Play Store and Apple App Store, and the fact that it is constantly growing. But, in the same time we are bringing on your screens many solutions for increasing the visibility of your app. Now it is time to show you the benefits of App Indexing, a great system even without a great budget for mobile marketing, especially for small businesses. The trick is to invest a little more time and effort in completing all the stages required to reach your goal.
First, let’s explain in a proper manner what it actually is. For example, if somebody looks for something related to your app using his mobile phone, Google can suggest your app in its top results just like any other website that appears in that list. This is App Indexing, a service from Google that makes it easier for users to find your app in search results when they are using their mobile devices. This feature is showing a preview of the app along with a button that allows them to install your app from Apple App Store or from Google Play Store if it isn’t on their device or your app’s icon that helps him open it if they already installed it before the search.

Image Source: https://firebase.googleblog.com/2016/06/introducing-firebase-app-indexing.html

Image Source: https://firebase.googleblog.com/2016/06/introducing-firebase-app-indexing.html

Why Does It Matter?

Let’s start with a little history and some interesting facts about App Indexing to understand it better. The first signals of App Indexing from Google started in October 2013 but it was available only for a small number of developers. Later, Google added support for Android implementation in April 2015 and for iOS implementation in May 2015. Over the time this technique evolved until this year when Google App Indexing became Firebase App Indexing available for iOS and Android applications. Firebase is a company acquired by Google in 2014 and transformed in a free platform for developers with a lot of useful features for developing mobile applications. There are many reasons for a developer to make this transformation for his application. Some of them are the increasing traffic and conversions. As the following chart shows, in a typical workday, the preferred devices for work are desktops. But, for any other activities, online adepts prefer mobile devices. Indeed, phones are more practical to check the news and social media posts while commuting to work and tablets are easier to handle in the evening when each user is searching for a good movie or a great place to have dinner.

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It is essential to use App Indexing because it is free and it reaches two of the most important goals of mobile marketers: user acquisition and app retention. By indexing your app you will provide useful content for your current users or your future users when they are looking for it. So, timing makes the difference here. But, for this you have to make sure that your users are directed to what they are searching for not to the main page of the app or somewhere that is far from their needs. This means that you have to use deep linking inside your app. Now, it comes in handy our article about Deep Linking where we explain what is deep linking and all the benefits of using it.
The following snippet from Firebase page with the App Indexing description it is more than convincing:
Firebase App Indexing gets your app into Google Search. If your Android app is already installed when users search for related content, they will launch your app directly from Search results. If users don’t have your app yet, an install card shows up in Search results for Android. Adding App Indexing promotes both types of app results within Google Search and also provides query autocompletion.
On the same documentation page there are listed the key capabilities of App Indexing:

  • Search Results – Google shows the best of your app description including the app icon.
  • Installs – because of the association between your website and your app, the website card is listed near the app card on search results.
  • Autocompletion – if a developer chooses to implement App Indexing API into his code, then, Google offers for those who already used his app a list of terms related to that app for autocompleting.
  • Now on Tap – App Indexing strategy offers an improved experience while using Now on Tap feature which is integrated into Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Although the usual situation for implementing App Indexing is to have a website associated to a mobile app, the great news is that Google understands the needs of a developer that owns an amazing application without a website and allows him to take advantages of the great benefits of App Indexing.

How To Do iOS App Indexing On Google

  1. For iOS 9 or greater, App Indexing service is using HTTP URL which means that developer must follow some steps to implement this support into his app. He needs to use UIApplicationDelegate protocol to open the right content of his app when the user clicks a link showed by Google in search results.
  2. The next step is to make the association between app and website. For this, Xcode needs the apple.developer.associated-domains entitlement to list each domain associated with the app. After that, you need to create a file called apple-app-site-association for each associated domain.
  3. In order to test it and see if you successfully completed the steps above, you can Preview Search Result on iOS. Keep in mind that you can’t test universal links in Xcode simulator.
  4. Before you measure the performance of the app it is recommended to follow all the guidelines from Google to create a well-designed app with full contents and to create a responsive website.

How To Do Android App Indexing On Google

  1. First of all, we need to understand that App Indexing for Android uses HTTP URLs for showing users the content of your app. This is the reason why we mentioned that you have to be focused on the content searched by your users for providing them with a great experience.
  2. Next, you need to connect your app to a website. Here you have two solutions. The recommended one is using Digital Asset Links that requires minimum Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the other is using Search Console. As Google announced at Google I/O 2015 you can use this service even without a website but with amazing content inside your app. If you don’t have a website to connect your app to, but you still want to implement App Indexing you can complete a form to request App Indexing only for that app called Indexing App – Only Content.
  3. Add intents to Android application. Open your app in Android Studio and go to AndroidManifest.xml to add the intent filter for HTTP URL. You can follow a well-explained tutorial from Google to understand this step better.
  4. The most important step is to complete the activity added before in AndroidManifest.xml. Now it is your chance to offer your user a rich content according to his search. For developers, it is useful to take a look at one of many samples from Google.
Image Source: http://recipe-app.com/recipe/wedge-salad

Image Source: http://recipe-app.com/recipe/wedge-salad

  1. After that, you can upload your app to Google Play Store.
  2. Additionally, you can create a noindex.xml file to select some pages of your app that you want to be excluded from search results. Don’t forget to add its reference to AndroidManifest.xml.
  3. The next step, in order to show your already visited app pages by your users in Search Autocomplete list you need to add the App Indexing API to your app. This stage includes some steps easy to handle by an Android developer with a tutorial provided, as usual, by Google to figure things out faster.
  4. Our main advice in every situation is to test all your procedures. For this, you can follow official page with a lot of testing methods for every situation.
  5. Now you can measure your effort and enjoy the results. Search Analytics is an extraordinary tool to analyze your performances.
  6. Moreover, Google wants to make sure that every developer knows the best practices to create a high – quality content and offers a lot of guidelines for them to follow.

Now, nothing will stop you to have an amazing app available in Google search results to increase in the same time user retention and number of downloads.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

We all know that the supreme goals of mobile marketing campaigns are user acquisition and user retention. It is great that there are so many solutions to raise an app over the crowd and App Indexing is one of them. There are no reasons not to use this service, since it is free and it can redirect new users to your app page and, in the same time it can bring your current users back into your app. The best thing is that all the procedures are very well explained with tutorials and samples by Google. This is a proof of the great potential offered by these amazing features for the strategies in mobile marketing. So, let’s take advantage of them.

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