Sara Cole, ASO manager at Moburst, asks whether your app should taking advantage of deep linking.
Anyone involved in the mobile world for the past few years will be familiar with the constantly on-going developments that occur on a seemingly daily basis. One of those recent developments is the emergence of deep linking, as a way to reengage with existing users and to get new ones.
So how did deep linking, which has existed for the best part of a decade but was mainly used as a mobile advertising platform, suddenly gain recognition and attention?
The answer is simple: Google. The company has made many changes in recent years towards mobile, and has done everything in its power to become as mobile-friendly as possible. On 21 April, Google's 'Mobilegeddon' update arrived, giving mobile-friendly pages a better ranking in mobile search. Earlier in the month, it released an app indexing update which enables Android apps with deep linking activated to appear in Google search results, whether or not they're installed on the device.
How does it work?
Deep linking itself isn't something which magically appears when searching for a website on mobile. If you're an app developer, you'll need to implement the code on both your app and the corresponding website in order to initiate the process. You can read more about the technical process here.
Once you have the code set up, if a user performs a Google search on a mobile device, the search results will include not just web pages but also relevant content within an app.
When someone who already has your app installed sees the results, this helps with reengagement, because they will be taken immediately to the page most relevant to the search query they were conducting. You can also implement the App Indexing API so that your app appears in auto-complete for existing users.
If someone who doesn't have your app installs sees the result, deferred deep linking occurs. This means that the user will first be taken to the install page, and only after they have installed the app will they be directed to the relevant inner page.
[caption id="attachment_55116" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The results of deeplinking, for existing (left) and new users (right)[/caption]
Which apps should use deep linking?
What kind of apps are fit for deep linking? Basically, just about every app around – but some apps will benefit deep linking than others.
Using deep linking to get your app indexed should always be included as part of your App Store Optimisation (ASO) strategy. ASO is a way to get your app ranking organically at the top of App Store or Google Play results, and deep linking allows you to expand your reach outside of the store to Google search.
Apps that have many pages and categories, like Yelp or Hotels.com, are the best for deep linking. This allows for an almost endless amount of long tail queries to target users and improves your user flow by taking people directly to the content that interests them.
Apps with only one or two pages, such as messaging apps like WhatsApp or mail exchange apps like MailWise, don't have the same amount of opportunities as larger apps. However, deep linking is still an important method to attract new users to the main pages. Developers could also create additional pages in these apps, corresponding to their website, in order to increase their opportunities.
Currently, deep linking Android apps has more ASO benefits than iOS apps, because Google has already implemented the app indexing and opened it up for all apps. Google has opened up a beta program for iOS apps, however, so it's recommended to prepare by implementing deep linking.
With mobile become bigger, and Google becoming friendlier towards it, apps will keep growing as well as all the fields surrounding them.
Deep linking is one of those fields, as it continues to emerge and establish itself as a great platform for bringing new users and reengaging the existing ones. Users, old and new alike, are always looking for quality content, especially when on mobile, and deep linking is a great way to provide that content.
Sara Cole is ASO manager at Moburst