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Google’s App Indexing Is Changing The Way We Interact With Apps

January 2, 2014 - Written By Jeremiah Nelson

One of the most helpful features of Android 4.4 KitKat is App Indexing.  We actually discussed KitKat’s new App Indexing a bit back in October when KitKat launched. It’s a really important new feature even though it tends to get glossed over. Because it’s something that happens behind the scenes, we don’t really notice it. App Indexing  uses deeplinks to pull content from apps and display it in Google searches. It’s a really powerful way for developers and marketers to reach users. Before we get in to why this is going to change the game in 2014, let’s recap what App Indexing is and what it does.

What is App Indexing and How Does It Work?

The new App Indexing built into 4.4 KitKat allows users to perform a Google search and have their apps listed in the search results. One of the examples Google uses is with movie results. If a user searches for a movie using their Android device running 4.4 KitKat, some of the search results may open the IMDB, Flixster, or Fandango apps that are installed on that device. If the app is not installed, the user will be prompted to install it. This is just an example, but it shows you the power that App Indexing can have.

What this means for developers and marketers is that they can use Google’s Web SEO to promote their apps. By enabling deeplinks and updating their site map to allow Google to index and rank the app, devs can gain exposure with every single Google search a user does. A major issue today is that devs aren’t always engaging with users the way they should. There are so many apps available in the Play Store that an app can easily get lost in the shuffle. Even if an app is installed, there’s no guarantee that users will open it more than a few times. App Indexing will help fix that.

Increasing Exposure and Engagement

More times than not, users still go to Google’s search function when they’re hunting for something. Even if you have several movie apps installed on your device, how often to do a Google search instead of opening an app? Before App Indexing, those searches meant lost interactions for developers and marketers. Now that apps can be indexed and searched just like websites, users will find themselves in apps far more than they used to. Apps also become infinitely more useful to users because they will appear in searches next to regular results. Information can be accessed much more quickly.

From a visibility standpoint, websites no longer hold exclusivity in searches over installed applications. App Indexing gives developers the opportunity to expand their marketing strategies and extend their reach. It also means that Google can tap into the advertising budgets of app developers, increasing ad revenues for the search giant.

Google wants developers to change their focus and market their apps differently. The opportunities increase exponentially when devs take advantage of the new deeplinking that Google is making available. It’s going to cause marketers to shift their SEO strategies and focus more on mobile search. This presents challenges though, mainly because App Indexing is only available on Android. iOS and other mobile platforms can’t take advantage of the feature yet. Many marketing companies won’t make full use of App Indexing because they can’t reach some or all of their target audience. Even so, Android App Indexing is going to change the way users interact with their apps. Developers and marketers need to pay attention and begin taking advantage of it as soon as possible.