Google has been able to crawl and index app content and serve it in mobile search results for over a year now, but only for apps that are already installed on your device. The recent news that we mentioned in our previous post, which some are calling, "Mobilegeddon," includes the ability to search and serve content of apps NOT installed on your device. Of course, this only applies to those on Android devices...for now.
This is a huge announcement for a couple of reasons:
- Apps can now be a more effective tool in attracting NEW audience members to your content/organization versus it's traditional use of engaging with those who already know you.
- Google is acknowledging the importance of apps by investing in the ability to understand and deliver what's inside them. They've seen the numbers, and they know that's where people spend their time and prefer to receive their information. It's not in mobile browsers-it's in the mobile apps of the organizations and brands they trust.
But, there's always a catch. Google can't just see into your app content without you having the proper setup allowing it to do so. It's actually kind of complicated-but it's essentially accomplished by doing two things:
- Enabling Deep Links for App Content
This is on the mobile app side of the equation. Basically it's a mark-up and tagging of your app content that allows crawlers and users the ability to jump right to a specific part of your app. Think of it like a deep URL on a webpage-you need to establish that structure. Learning how to do this might be better left to the Android developer help page.
2. Specifying App Content for Indexing
These changes are more on the website side. Still, there's another catch. You must have equivalent app content in website form in order for it to be served in search results, because what you're going to need to do is give each URL on your website a rel=alternate and corresponding deep link (that you enabled in the first step) to map to. You'll need to add these rel=alternate tags to your XML sitemap and within the code of the web pages themselves. Again, reference the Android developer help page for further information.
The best thing about Google's "Mobilegeddon" is that it's further proof that the mobile revolution is here and forcing traditional dominate desktop services like search to comply with the new world. People like apps. Google is now confirming this by integrating app content, installed or not, into its core product, search results.