What is App SEO and Do You Need It?

You’ve been hearing about the increase in mobile online traffic for several years now. As we approach the end of 2015, we can see that the predictions were by and large correct. Mobile has indeed become a force to be reckoned with.

A 2015 report from KPCB shows us that 51% of consumers’ Internet time now happens on mobile devices. That is compared to 42% for desktops and laptops. Five years ago people spent less than 1 hour per day on mobile devices. That number has now jumped to 3 hours.

Evidence of mobile’s growing importance can be seen in other ways as well. This spring, Google launched Mobilegeddon which provides a clear signal to all of us that mobile’s place in the SEO landscape only continues to strengthen.

An Important Mobile Differentiator

Apart from the size and portability differences, mobile devices offer another key unique feature—the inclusion of apps. The KPCB report shows that as many as 26% of people initiate an “online” search directly from a branded app.

In addition, Google-initiated searches on mobile devices are returning an increasing number of apps indexed in results—including in cases where the search query was not at all app-related. A SERP can be a listing for an app with a direct prompt to download the app right there.

Do You Need an App?

I realize this information could make some businesses rush to create an app if they do not yet have one. However, I think a moment of caution is important here. Why would you be creating an app? Just for SEO purposes? If so, don’t do it.

Apps can serve truly useful functions and have a valuable place alongside your website as a way for customers and prospects to interact with your products and services. But that’s just it—an app needs to have a function, a purpose, a reason for being. Just like you should not create content for content’s sake, you should not create an app for app’s sake. Google—and your potential customers—will see right through you and your results will be anything but what you want them to be.

What if You Already Have an App?

If your business already has a mobile app, you should leverage this and play to Google’s Mobile App Indexing API or Apple’s new Search API for iOS9. Through these, you can direct mobile search traffic to areas deep within your app. In order to do this, your app will need to have deep linking functionality enabled. This can be cumbersome for some but is generally simple for an app developer. This process essentially gives Google more details about different areas of your app, like a Schema markup does for your website. This, in turn, allows Google to match your app to certain search queries and return it in a SERP.

Keep an Eye on the Future

By now, you know that SEO never stays the same. This ever-evolving landscape means that you must be prepared to be ever evolving as well. With that said, I recommend watching the progression of app indexing in mobile search results as the day may come when an app is right for your business.

Cody Jensen began his career with the corporate giant, Google Inc. He has been in Search Engine Marketing ever since, and has a specific acumen for paid advertising. As the Founder of Searchbloom, Cody leads the strategy and execution in providing world class digital marketing to small businesses across the country.

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