How App Indexing And Deep Linking Helps App Developers

Find out why app indexing and deep linking are huge for Android mobile app developers and how to get started.

You may have heard about Google app indexing and are wondering exactly how it works. Does it help potential users find your app? What is deep linking?

In this post, we will break down how it benefits app developers, which developers will benefit from it and how to get started. This feature will not work for all apps, but if you have the right type of app, this can be huge.

How App Indexing Works

App Indexing basically gives Android users the option of visiting a website to get the information that they searched for or they can open the associated mobile app (if it installed on their device) to get access to the same content.

To take advantage of this as an app developer, you first have to have an app that delivers the same content that is on your website. Shopping websites, recipe websites and review websites like Yelp!, that have a corresponding app are good examples. Standalone apps or games will not work with app indexing.

If you have the right type of app, then the next step is to update your app so that it supports deep linking. Deep linking means that instead of linking to the description of your app on the Google Play store or simply opening your app to the default screen, a deep link will open your app and open the content relevant to the search, within your app.

Once you setup your app, it is time you update your website to handle the requests. The basic idea is that you have to tell Google web search that the relevant content that it found on your website can also be found within your Android app and give Google the deep link to get there. This can be done via HTML code in the header of your webpage or in your sitemap. The complete technical setup documentation can be found here.

How App Indexing Helps App Developers

This has obvious benefits for the right type of website/app. Since Google has been placing more emphasis on user interaction when it comes to Play app store rankings, this gives developers an opportunity to get users to interact with their app more and rise above competing apps in app store search. In addition, app indexing now allows Android developers to rely less on app discovery inside the app store and take advantage of web SEO to get people to their app.

If you think about the bigger picture, app indexing can also be seen as a key step in the migration from the general public using mobile devices as secondary computers, to using them as primary computers or even the only computers that some users will own. As a mobile app developer, this will continue to open up opportunities for you to create new and exciting apps that users cannot live without.


This feature is only available to a small number of developers at the moment, including OpenTable, Wikipedia, Expedia, Flixster, Etsy and a few more. But you can be sure that Google will roll it out to more developers very soon.

To be one of the first to find out when this will be ready for the public, sign up on the App Indexing for Google Search page. As you can see, it won't work for all apps out there, but if you have the right content driven app, it can be a great way to use the power of Google search to increase your Play app store rankings.

This also opens up a variety of options when it comes to marketing existing Android apps and creating new ones. It my be advantageous to design a new app with a corresponding website in mind to take advantage of app indexing. Existing apps may also consider creating or expanding their existing website to take advantage of this feature. We will explore some case studies as we find them.

What do you think about app indexing?

Photo Credit: Phone

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Hugh Kimura

Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content

Date: January 2014

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