Needless to say, mobile is drastically changing the way people use search today. Mobile search is no longer just about listing the relevant websites to a particular query, but rather delivering the right content through structured data and markup. Whether the query relates to train schedules, pizza places nearby or identifying that song stuck in your head, the right answer needs to be available just one click away.
Today, through major technological improvements across devices, along with updates to search engine algorithms, mobile allows us to find everything we’re looking for in that very moment. At the same time, it also allows marketers to showcase how much their app/site is related to a certain query. However, most brands don’t even take into account the crucial necessity for app optimization. So what is the best manner to approach it? Here are three ways to increase the visibility of mobile apps within organic search results, thereby helping Google in its quest to provide the right content to its users.
1. App Indexation
Something that’s becoming more and more important for all brands that have their own application is ‘App Indexation’. This is the process that allows Google to index apps just like they do websites. Once complete, links to your app will begin to appear in search results, allowing users to reach your app quickly while also helping them find the exact content they’re looking for within the app itself.
Currently, apps are only visible if the brand also has a web presence, but Google is also starting to experiment with displaying app-only content in its search results. In order for this to happen, the search giant will rely on the integration of the App Indexing API (application programming interface), and is already working with a number of select partners to refine and test this process.
This API will link your app and Google together, gathering knowledge on all the actions users are taking while using the app. Therefore, this is an additional method for deep-link discovery that offers the benefit of appearing in autocomplete searches, which drives re-engagement through query auto-completions.
2. Ranking in Mobile App Search Results
In order to rank in mobile app search results, the importance of app store optimization (ASO) as well as traditional SEO techniques must be taken into account. The on-page factors are dependent on the mobile app listing itself, which goes back to having a strong ASO backbone. The app listings appear in universal search results rather than local, so it’s important to make full use of the common keyword research tools, such as AdWords and Google Trends.
Outside of content optimization, search engines look at the performance and ratings of the app itself. For those listed in the Android Play Store, they will automatically have access to the data required. However, for iOS listings, they will have to rely on any publicly available information, such as reviews, ranking charts and search results.
Finally, paid tactics are often a great way to drive download volumes. This is also an area where paid search budgets can directly influence organic results on Google. Additionally, both app stores use ratings to make decisions around promoting an app, either through merchandising or co-branded campaigns.
3. iOS Smart App Banners
With the launch of iOS 6, Apple introduced a feature on Safari called ‘smart app banners’, allowing users to view and download an app directly from the browser itself. If the user doesn’t already have it installed on their device, the banner will open the brand’s app entry in the App Store when clicked. However, if a user already has the app, then the banner has a slightly different purpose in that once it’s clicked, the banner will simply open the app.
Unfortunately, not all apps are supported by the banners, which is automatically determined once the banner begins to load. In this case, if the app is not supported, or not available in the user’s location, then the banner will simply not show up on the user’s device. Nevertheless, this feature will prove to be important for brands and will only help with the number of downloads, due to the shorter user journey and simplicity of the download process itself. In order to appear within these banners, the techniques mentioned above will also need to be executed correctly.
In summary, for brands that have apps, organic search plays a crucial role in ensuring its visibility. According to Forrester research, 63% of apps are discovered through search. In fact, by not tapping into app optimization, a brand misses out on the largest discovery channel available to its app. To learn more about mobile app optimization and how it relates to your particular app, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.