App Indexing: An Untapped Channel for App Discovery by Cole Strehlow

app indexing

Cole Strehlow

Cole Strehlow is involved with content management and digital marketing at Mobilispot, a marketing service for apps. He works with experts to help identify app marketing trends, as well as, strategize ways to help apps succeed. Today he shares with us the importance of app indexing for app discovery.


If your app isn’t indexed and optimized for Google deep links, then you’re missing out on a goldmine of potential installs.

Most apps have a limited presence within Google results. Searches for the app itself—not the unique content within the app—can turn up links to dedicated app websites, reviews/blog features, and landing pages.

Not bad, but imagine this: what if your app’s individual pages could show up in search results? And what if those links included an “install” button—a direct CTA displayed to users who want to see something inside of your app?

That is exactly what App Indexing has to offer.

What is App Indexing?

A few years ago, Google began indexing apps for search results. In other words, Google figured out a way to crawl apps, find content that’s relevant to search queries and then include it in mobile search result pages via a deep link that transports users from web browsers to a mobile app.

It looks like this:

app indexing

Deep links break down the divide between mobile web content and app content. If you use your mobile device to Google something like “How big is the universe” then you may find, alongside the usual web results, a link to content within an educational app—such as Khan Academy.

This was an important step forward for developers, but it had a weak spot. When Google introduced this feature, users could only see deep links to apps already installed on their device. That form of deep linking is great for user retention (because it increases engagement with current users), but it doesn’t do much for app discovery.

But Google wasn’t finished. It announced that it would begin displaying deep links to apps that users did not already have installed: viewers can simply touch the “install” button and be directed to the app store landing page.

Like this:

app indexing

What does it mean for me?

With the updated form of App Indexing, your app can gain organic installs from deep link CTAs within Google results. And the searches don’t need to be closely related to your app’s name: individual pages within your app can turn up in search results (along with an install button for your app). This means that every content page within your app, if properly keyword optimized, can drive organic app installs.

This represents a massive opportunity for app discovery—especially for apps with lots of content.

Think about this: If you optimize all of your app’s content for Google search results, how many potent CTA’s can you display? App Indexing is blowing open limitations to app discovery; you can now build your app’s web presence with a data-driven keyword strategy—just as you would for a typical web page.

An unutilized resource

Despite this incredible potential, the majority of apps have not yet implemented App Indexing. Search Engine Land recently did a study on the top 100 websites that it monitors. Of the 88 that have a corresponding app, just 30% have indexed their Android apps with Google. And only 19% of the iOS apps are indexed.

This is not a trend that you should wait to jump on—you have the chance to get your app included in Google search results before they become saturated with deep links from competitors.

Here are instructions you’ll need to get your Android or iOs 9 app indexed.