App Indexing lets Google index mobile apps just like websites and show your app’s content in mobile search results.
In other words, if you perform a Google search on a mobile device the search results will not only include the web pages, but also your mobile app, irrespective of whether or not the user has the app installed. This is when the search content is relevant to your app. This helps in increasing the app installs and keeps the customer base engaged.
The app indexing concept is outlined in the diagram below:
If the user has your app installed, it shows the app in the search results with an open in app link, else Google prompts the user to install the app.
Consider the scenario where the user is looking for some details of a movie. The user might have already installed some entertainment apps, but still relies on a Google search for the information. It would be convenient for the user to directly jump into the mobile app from those search results rather than browsing their website on the phone.
The screen capture below depicts one such scenario where the user searches for a movie trailer. Along with the websites, Google also lists the IMDb app and suggests the user to install the app.
In case the user has installed apps that have content relevant to his search, the app will be shown in the result and on click will take the user to the mobile app. The screenshot below depicts the same.
Indexing your mobile app requires that the app has the corresponding content on the website which is also indexed by Google.
There are a few steps required to implement App Indexing, and that has to be done with the support of both the mobile app and the website developers.
- Enable Deep linking within the native Android app:
Enabling deep links in the apps requires the addition of some code in the manifest file of the app. This code lets the app understand requests originating from Google’s search app or an Android browser and respond to them correctly. For more details, visit Google developer site.
- Connecting the app and the site:
The website and the accompanying app have to be connected through Google Play Console and Google Webmaster Tools, and the same has to be verified in order for the indexing to work as expected. For details follow this link.
- Annotate Deep Links in the Web Pages:
This step defines the relationships between specific pages on a website and the corresponding URIs (Deep links) within the app. Here you simply add link elements either to the existing sitemap file or within the <head> tag of each web page which you wish to index. Refer this link for more information on this.