Over the last two years, Google has been offering Android users search results that link directly to an app they already have installed on their phones. Last month, they rolled out their latest mobile update, allowing search results to link to apps not currently installed on devices in order to access relevant in-app content. Now Google has announced that, in the next few weeks, it will be officially extending the service to include iOS apps, a major update that makes the feature much more viable. This opens an entirely new channel for Apple device owners to discover new apps.
Imagine trying to browse a store that has millions of products lining its shelves. This overwhelming experience has become the reality for Apple users as iTunes has become oversaturated with new apps. It is reported that, as of May 2015, there are nearly 1.5 million iOS apps available for download and only one platform that allows users to purchase, browse, and discover new apps for their Apple devices. Google’s incorporation of relevant app content into search results will allow users a new entry point into an app based on their search query.
In order to get your iOS app indexed, you need to fill out the following form and ensure the app abides by Google’s deep linking standards. Google’s Product Manager, Eli Wald, recently posted a blog article that lists how to prepare your app. In order for an iOS app to be eligible for indexation, it will need to:
- Support deep linking
- Feature an integrated “back” button to allow users to return to search results
- Link directly to relevant content within the app
In the near future, Google is planning only a limited release, meaning that submitting an interest form does not guarantee the app will appear in search results. It will also be available only to iOS users searching through the Google app or using Chrome as their browser. However, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes available to all eligible apps.
Allowing Apple users to open app content directly from Google search results will increase accessibility to specific app content and potentially create new ways to engage with searchers. For example, a search for allergies might directly link users to download the Zyrtec AllergyCast app to access a pollen forecast tool – an app the user may not have even known existed. More importantly, the tool itself offers a more interactive, engaging experience than a standard web landing page, and can also enable brands to connect to their users through push notification messaging. Essentially, Google’s announcement heralds an improvement in app discoverability, allowing app content to finally be just as accessible as a mobile website is today.