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Companies Missing Opportunities Due to Lack of App Indexing

By Christopher Mohr
March 14, 2016

According to a recent study by Searchmetrics, most of the top websites that offer apps are not taking advantage of the facilities Google offers to index them and appear in search result pages. As a consequence, these companies are needlessly missing out on conversion opportunities and leaving money on the table.

A handful of results from the study illustrate how much of a problem unindexed apps have become. Eighty-four percent of the top 100 domains offer an Android app, while 88 percent offer an iOS app. Only 30 percent of those who offer an Android app use deep linking; for iOS apps, that total is only 19 percent.

When the numbers on the lack of app indexing are this dramatic, a likely reason is that the companies that offer apps are simply not seeing the capabilities. If you have a more traditional IT mindset, the tendency is to think of apps as binaries, which do not have the body text or links inside them, like HTML files have, which make search engines take notice.

However, Google has offered app indexing to the general public since 2014. If you aren’t a coder, the details will be anesthetizing. In a nutshell, Google uses a combination of what it calls ‘intent handlers’, script code, and a mechanism that associates a website with an app. These steps make it possible for apps to be searchable like web pages.

In understanding the problem it might be helpful to understand why there’s any point in even offering an app. Forbes contributor Melanie Haselmayr provides some good insight.

First of all, the app gives a business a captive audience. Everything the user sees can be limited to the context of what the business sells. They also lend themselves well to setting up accounts, which in turn lead to direct marketing channels, making it easy to implement loyalty programs.

Although the Searchmetrics study found that an overwhelming majority of over 80 percent of the top 100 domains (likely websites of major companies) offered apps, Haselmayr suggests this is not the case for SMBs. As a result, a smaller business that provides an app has a leg up on the competition.

Most apps in and of themselves probably don’t do anything too earth-shaking; they often simply allow users to do the same things they used to do through a browser on a PC. The business benefits are undeniable, and in extreme cases like Uber, they are a lifeline. It’s unfortunate that so many companies do not take advantage of app indexing, but at least for the time being, those who do use it will have a huge advantage when users search for the products and services they offer. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Writer

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