There were many announcements at the Google I/O 2014 developers’ conference this morning. Among other developments, starting today, app indexing will be open to all Android apps and developers. According to a post by Mariya Moeva on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Google was ready to launch a new set of features that will “make it even easier to set up deep links in your app, connect your site to your app, and keep track of performance and potential errors.”
For webmasters that have corresponding apps, this latest development will allow them to get relevant content in their apps indexed and shown in mobile and tablet search results. Hence, if a user has an app installed (for instance that of Barnes & Noble or an Android app like Goodreads), and did a search for some of the latest book releases, the user would get relevant search results which directly link to installed apps [see Figure 1].
Prior to Google’s widespread indexing of in-app content, clicking on search results for mobile websites was often an awkward and complicated experience for users. This would lead users to abandon Google Search and switch to installed apps to discover certain types of content.
Not anymore; “App deep links in search results help your users find your content more easily and re-engage with your app after they’ve installed it. As a site owner, you can show your users the right content at the right time—by connecting pages of your website to the relevant parts of your app you control when your users are directed to your app and when they go to your website,” states Moeva.
Moeva also provided some simple instructions that will help webmasters get their app deep links indexed. (Instructions for apps that support HTTP deep linking schemes are included in Moeva’s post.) As URLs are indexed, Google will discover and index apps and site connections, and may begin to surface app deep links in its search results. While Google’s engineers can discover and index app deep links on their own, webmasters can publish their own deep links.
Google has also added a new feature in its Webmaster Tools that will help webmasters debug any issues that might arise when indexing apps [see Figure 2]. This new feature will show the types of errors that have been detected for the app page-web page pairs. Examples of app URIs that can be debugged are also included.
Detailed instructions are given on how to debug each issue, and QR codes for app deep links are also given. Finally, Webmaster Tools error notifications are sent to keep webmasters up-to-date.
App indexing was first announced in October 2013, but was only open to a small number of developers. These developments place Google once again at the forefront of content discovery on mobile and desktop platforms. As stressed by Google, the aim of indexing Android apps has always been “to show users the right content at the right time.”
Additional information about the Google I/O 2014 developers’ conference can be found here.
Have you developed an Android app to complement your website?
If yes, how will Google’s latest announcement benefit your websites and Android apps?
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