For a long time, deep app content has been locked in app code, largely unindexed and inaccessible to search engine crawlers. The only content that crawlers could get was app titles and descriptions from the various app stores, and from company websites.
Apple and Google have announced methods for indexing deep content within apps. For those interested in the most cutting-edge digital marketing strategies, the concept of SEO will have to expand to include optimization of deep app content for inclusion in the Apple and Google indices.
Apple search, relies on multiple indices to organize the set of app screens that can be ranked in a search result. Apple refers to their indices and the software that interfaces with those indices collectively as, “Apple Search”.
Indexed app screens can be surfaced by executing a search in Spotlight, Siri or through a Spotlight Suggest result that appears when a user types in a query in the address bar of Safari (before hitting “enter”). This means that a user can start a search on Safari and end up being directed to a deep link without ever seeing a single Google result. Even when Google is the default search engine.
Apples new web-crawler, “Applebot,” indexes app content from the marketing and/or support URLs that are submitted with the app manifest. Applebot can crawl your website and index corresponding app screens based on the following markup protocols:
- App Links Protocol: App Links is an external deep linking standard that is also used by Facebook and Bing (and works on IOS and Android).
- Twitter Card Markup: Twitter card markup can include a protocol to reference deep links in app screens.
- Apple’s Smart App Banners: A protocol created by Apple that displays a special Apple banner on websites when they are accessed by IOS devices. The banner either prompts the user to open the app (if installed) or download it from the App Store.
Web Markup is great for SEO’s, because SEO’s can enable and control indexing and metadata by adding markup to the website as we are used to doing. IOS app developers need only generate and share the URI deep links with the SEO team. If app URIs are already in place, this can be a very fast and simple implementation that doesn’t require any development resources or an app update.
Read more at Search Engine Land.