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Internet marketers and SEO experts know that SEO is a living thing: there are constant changes that those in the industry need to stay on top of. Optimizing a website for SEO is not a one-time deal; instead, it’s a continual process that requires a lot of hard work and creativity. This is because Google is constantly updating and changing its algorithm (in fact, there have been an estimated 500-600 changes) by altering the factors that it uses to sort websites.

One of the most recent changes was Google’s introduction of App Indexing, a system that shows apps alongside web pages in Google’s search results page. The system searches the content that is contained within apps, catalogs it and can retrieve it when users search via Google. If a user searches for a keyword relevant to the app on their mobile device, Google displays a link to access or download the app, and others like it.

“Google’s whole concept is we’re going to index the world’s information, but they’ve left out a whole lot of stuff: all the things that are inside apps,” Alex Austin, chief of Branch Metrics, told the New York Times in a recent interview.

That’s why the search engine giant began employing app indexing – to take advantage of all that information and include it in their search results. And it’s having a huge impact; for example, 27% of users now find apps via web searches in comparison to just 2-3% in 2014.

While app indexing has led to more changes that complicate the SEO process, the shift shouldn’t have been surprising given the fact that more searches are taking place on mobile than ever before. The introduction of app indexing was just another step towards a mobile-oriented world, and it’s now clear that mobile optimization is no longer a choice, but a must that every marketer and SEO expert must implement when working on a website.

The Nitty Gritty on App Indexing

“Firebase App Indexing gets your app into Google Search. If users have your app installed, they can launch your app and go directly to the content they searched for… If users don’t yet have your app, relevant queries trigger an install card for your app in Search results.”, says Google.

In practical terms, this means that when you search via Google on your smartphone or tablet, you will be directly able to access the apps and the content they contain. Google displays a link to apps that you already have installed on your device, as well as links to download new apps that may be relevant to what you searched for.

For example, let’s say you are searching for flights on your Android mobile device. When you search, Google will display links to apps available in the Google play store that have flight booking information. If you follow the links, they will take you directly to the app download page.

How is App Indexing Changing SEO?

So as you have probably gathered, app indexing is a pretty big change in the SEO world that forces us to ask the question: what does this mean for search engine optimization?

There are a few major advantages to using app indexing:

  1. More Exact Search Results: There are thousands of apps in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store; including content from these apps promotes more exact search results because Google has effectively increased the amount of information that it has at its disposal. The more information Google has to search, the more likely it is to find a match to what a user is searching for.
  1. A Boost in User Engagement: By exposing apps to a wider audience, Google is encouraging users to discover new apps which increase app engagement. App indexing makes apps more visible and easy to access, meaning users are more likely to engage with apps and take advantage of what they offer.
  1. A Better User Experience: Lastly, Google app indexing facilitates a better user experience thanks to the two previous points. More exact search results and more app visibility lead to a more efficient search engine and a better user experience.

By now it should be clear that app indexing is something that SEO experts can’t ignore and must incorporate into their SEO strategy. That means following Google’s app indexing standards and implementing them on every website that you want to promote. Similarly, marketers that want to take advantage of the SEO benefits that app indexing offers should think about increasing their mobile presence by developing a mobile app for their product or service.

Overall, successful SEO uses a mix of techniques and strategies that are consistently improved and adapted to changes in the industry. App indexing is just one small part of the big SEO-puzzle, but one that shouldn’t be ignored. The introduction and influence of app indexing should teach us about the overall movement towards a more mobile internet, and we should always keep that in mind when working on our future marketing and SEO efforts.