Apps in mobile search results are becoming a popular tool for developers because they allow Google to index their content from all over a smartphone.
The advantages of any web search you do on your mobile phone bringing results from online and also from apps stored on your device are plentiful, with apps opening automatically to serve content from elsewhere. However, it also raises questions for marketers and developers.
What is indexing?
The ever-increasing multi-platform world where everything connected to the internet is searchable will become even more crowded as the Internet of Things grows.
This is where indexing is important. Google has always automatically sent out “spiders” that “crawl” websites looking for updated information to keep search results current.
The information that is gathered is included in Google’s index, essentially a giant database that is referenced by each new search enquiry.
Web designers have always been able to hide a page or other content from spiders using a small file called “robots.txt”, which tells the indexing bot to stay away from named locations.
Google only indexed desktop and mobile web up until as recently as 2013 as apps were not included in their searching.
However, that began to gradually change as more app content was included in search results, although initially only for a select set of publishers and only for Android apps.
Last year, this process was expanded to any webmaster who wanted their Android app to be included, and this year Chrome on iOS and Safari have also been added.
If your app is being indexed, Google will use the content within it to decide on rankings, rather than just relying on content, so it can have a marked effect on presence in search results.
User experience can also be enhanced because as well as being a retention tool, they can help foster customer loyalty by being an extremely effective communication tool.
Google can index the content an app contains through a sitemap file or through Google’s Webmaster Tools. In practice, this means that if a user searches for content contained within an app that they have installed, there is the option to view it in that way rather than on a normal mobile webpage.