Despite the fact that approximately 8 out of every 10 of the world's 100 most popular websites offers a mobile app, a new study by Searchmetrics has found that only 30% have enabled Google App Indexing.

According to Google, App Indexing or "deep linking" is key to getting your app's content ranking in search. Unfortunately, if you don't have app indexing enabled, the best you can hope for in the SERPs is your app's home page.

According to Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics, enabling app indexing can offer a significant competitive advantage, especially if deployed now: "App indexing is a fantastic opportunity to maximize the investment in your app - by helping to drive more traffic and interaction and potentially even conversions.  On top of this, if your app supports app indexing, Google has indicated that it could potentially appear more prominently in searches...Anyone that offers an app should get on to this quickly while there is still a competitive advantage."

App indexing has many advantages, the most significant of which are:

  • Increased customer loyalty: When deep linking is enabled and someone who has installed your app performs a relevant search, Google will display your app icon next to your snippet in the SERPs. This can have a positive impact on click-through rates and can encourage re-engagement.
  • More app installations: When someone performs a search query, Google will suggest apps that match the topic of that query, provided deep linking has been enabled.
  • Ranking advantages: Since Google's April 2015 mobile update, apps that have deep linking enabled may see some benefit in terms of rankings.
  • Increased traffic and conversions: All of the advantages above, including more installations and more re-engagement, will naturally lead to these additional benefits.

Google has stated that App Indexing calls from within an app act as ranking signals for your URLs. In addition to potential increased rankings, enabling deep linking also means your app's content can show up in Now on Tap results and Android auto-completions.

Significant Findings from the Searchmetrics App Indexing Report

Searchmetrics analyzed the 100 most visible sites in Google US search to find out not only how many are utilizing deep linking, but also if and how these sites are using apps at all. Following are some of the most significant findings from the report.

App Distribution: Of the top 100 most visible sites in US search, 84% have an Android app and 88% have an iOS app. These numbers make sense given that the market share of mobile operating systems are evenly split between Apple and Google.

App Indexing: For sites that have an Android app, only 30% have integrated app deep linking. The situation is even more dismal for those with an iOS app, of whom only 19% have enabled app indexing.

Industries most likely to enable app indexing: Searchmetrics found a good deal of variance between industries in terms of utilizing deep linking. They found that apparel sites were most likely both to have a mobile app, and to enable deep linking within that app. 95% of all apparel sites offered an iOS app and 91% an Android app.

In terms of Android apps, sites in the finance sector were most likely to have enabled deep linking, followed by those in the apparel and then tourism industries.

The current app landscape

Searchmetrics has released a companion infographic which highlights the most important findings from the report, as well as provides important statistics related to the current app landscape. These statistics help us better understand the need for having a mobile app and for optimizing it for search.

  • 50% of all mobile operating systems are iOS, 47% are Android and the remaining 3% are split between Windows and Andere
  • 20% of apps are only ever opened once
  • While the average number of apps installed per person remained relatively stable between 2012 and 2014, time spent on each app has consistently increased. As of 2014, the average person spent 37.28 hours per month on mobile apps.
Given how integral search visibility is for app promotion, getting your app indexed now is your best chance at gaining a competitive advantage. And given that only 26% of people use their apps daily, deep linking is quite possibly the best strategy for re-engaging these users.

Interested in finding out more? Here are links to the Searchmetrics 2016 App Indexing Study and the App Indexing Infographic 2016.

If your company offers an app, you enabled app indexing yet? Why or why not? Share below!

April 1, 2016

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

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