Firebase App-Indexing – SMX London 2016

I presented at SMX London on the topic of App-Indexing. Prior to Google I/O 2016 it was called Google App-Indexing but now known as Firebase App Indexing it revolves around getting your app into Google Search Results. If your app is already installed when users search for related content, they will launch your app directly from the search results. If users don’t have your app yet, an install card shows up in search results. Adding App Indexing promotes both types of app results within Google Search and also provides query autocompletions.

  1. Google App Indexing What you need to know about Google App- Indexing
  2. • Involved in search since 2007 • Focused on • App-Indexing • App-Store Optimisation • App Download Campaigns • Responsive Design • Technical SEO • SEO Product Manager since July 2013 Who is this guy?
  3. Joining BlueGlass London as Director of Services Who is this guy?
  4. • Introduction • Technical implementation • Meta tags • API • XML Sitemap • Common Pitfalls • Tracking is Tougher • Errors to expect • Results achieved with App-Indexing • Increased app activity • App-installs • Increased visibility • What’s next? App-Indexing topics covered in my session
  6. The current process for finding if your favourite web app often requires a search in the app store. Current Play Store experience sub optimal for discovery
  7. Often you can easily be confused when looking for the official app. It is not a bad thing to have multiple apps but often the distinction isn’t clear. Current Play Store search experience could be better
  8. Sometimes it’s just too much effort to work out which app you would need. Current Play Store search experience could be better
  9. Why I think it’s important Photo Credit: Mike Rastiello
  10. • Process for users is fairly simple for App-Indexing. • By encouraging users to re-engage with your app they are less likely to uninstall or use a competitor. • It takes about 48 hours for App- Indexing results to show once you have installed the app. • It can take 1-2 weeks for App- Indexing content to show in SERPs. What is the process? Do you have the app? Yes Open in App No Install App Open Website
  11. • If you rely a lot on branded traffic then App-Indexing can be a lifeline. • If app is installed they don’t see aggregators or affiliates as much on branded search. • The CTR is not as high as I would expect but it’s great for branding You can get these types of results
  12. The first result the website is 13th and the second result with app indexing the app result is 10th You can think of App-Indexing as personalised results on steroids! Which result would capture your attention?
  13. App Indexing Technical Implementation Guide TITLE SLIDE ALTERNATIVE LAYOUT w/ EXAMPLE IMAGE (SWAP IN YOUR OWN AS NEEDED) Photo Credit: James Marvin Phelps
  14. Pros: • See what pages you are trying to index & can be done easily without mobile app updates Cons: • Up to a 2 week delay in crawling and showing in SERPs • Your competitors can see what pages you are indexing • Custom scheme URLs are supported but are discouraged Meta Tags
  15. Pros: • Linked to user actions within your app (engagement) • Competitors can’t see what pages you are App indexing at scale • App shows in auto suggest • Can use Now on Tap Cons: • Support from your mobile developers to update your app App-Indexing API
  16. Pros: • All your URLs are in one place you want Google to crawl Cons: • You might have to rebuild your websites XML Sitemap logic Add Deep Links to your XML Sitemap
  17. • Google Suggests you want to do at least 2 out of 3 to get the most impact from App-Indexing. • My personal preference is using Meta Tags and supported by App- Indexing API • Diagnosing errors with API is tougher and if you screw up something you need to release an app update. Which option should you do? My perception on impact API Meta Tags XML Sitemap
  18. Common Pitfalls of App-Indexing TITLE SLIDE ALTERNATIVE LAYOUT w/ EXAMPLE IMAGE (SWAP IN YOUR OWN AS NEEDED) Photo Credit: James Marvin PhelpsPhoto Credit: Tim Green
  19. • When most apps were created they didn’t have to deal with Deep Linking or App-Indexing. • It was almost impossible to create a 404 error page so they may not have any logic built in yet…. • App-Indexing may surface issues previously ignored by your mobile team as an edge case App Indexing will create 404 pages
  20. • Your app probably doesn’t have a lot of pages your desktop site has? • Your app load time is now much more of an issue as it probably wasn’t optimise for deep linking • Consider how your site might deal with universal links Consider what is the user experience? Photo Credit: Don LaVange
  21. What crawl tools or crawl errors you can expect? TITLE SLIDE ALTERNATIVE LAYOUT w/ EXAMPLE IMAGE (SWAP IN YOUR OWN AS NEEDED) Photo Credit: James Marvin PhelpsPhoto Credit: strange little woman on stream
  22. Google has a custom search console for App Indexing that allows you to fetch deep links. You have two options for testing the links: 1) Google Play APK 2) Upload your APK Fetch as Google to Test your App Indexing
  23. As per desktop fetch as Google you can drill into your URL to see a more detailed report. You can see here is a successful crawl resulted in the page rendering correctly. Fetch as Google to Test your App Indexing
  24. Oh yeah you might want to actually see how Google views your app page. Triggering items such as popups for Googlebot will usually end in crawling issues. Googlebot is getting smarter but don’t make it too hard for them! Fetch as Google to Test your App Indexing
  25. • You can exclude specific pages from the App-Indexing or app notifications from showing in App search results • Create a noindex.xml file and reference the noindex.xml in your app’s AndroidManifest.xml file Control Indexing (advanced Android only option)
  26. • You can see from the chart the number of App-Indexing pages is continuing to grow. • It’s important you keep an eye on the pages with errors as that will hold your App-Indexing performance back. • Be aware the error reporting in the crawl dashboard is not the most accurate or current. Crawl Status Reports can help you understand traction
  27. • Your number of App Indexed Pages does have an impact on your App-Indexing performance • The number of pages with errors does have an impact on your App- Indexing performance Crawl Status Reports can help you understand failures
  28. • If you screw up your App-Indexing implementation you can expect to see a gradual decline in clicks showing in Search Analytics. • When you fix or improve your App- Indexing implementation you will usually see an improvement clicks first. Search Analytics can help you understand impact Source: Google Search Console (excludingTablets)
  29. • Package not found – Google couldn’t find your APK in Google Play Store • Url unsupported – failed to launch the application • Content mismatch – text doesn’t have to be identical but topic should be the same and user should be able to accomplish same task as on web • Overused URLs – you probably screwed up and mapped all the URLs to one page, easily done with App-Indexing API • Back button violation – requires that a user be able to click back to SERPs • Removed from index – pages in your app that don’t meet standards Major App Crawl Errors
  30. Tracking impacts of App-Indexing TITLE SLIDE ALTERNATIVE LAYOUT w/ EXAMPLE IMAGE (SWAP IN YOUR OWN AS NEEDED) Photo Credit: James Marvin PhelpsPhoto Credit: GLAS-8
  31. • Track app-indexing within Google Analytics is a bit of a difficult thing currently. • No official support for tracking Deep Links at this point, so you have to do some work arounds to capture the required data. • Benefit of tracking App-Indexing in GA is that you can do user engagement analysis and compare against mobile organic visitors. Currently GA doesn’t support App-Indexing
  32. • One tracking solution uses custom dimensions that import tags from your UTM tags you add to the deep links. • You can see that the clicks recorded by Search Console and visits in GA don’t appear to match More Information: Tracking App-Indexing with custom dimensions Source: Google Search Console & Google Analytics
  33. • A better technical solution is to update your Android App’s manifest to listen for the INSTALL_REFERRER • Clicks in Search Console mostly match visits recorded in Google Analytics More Information: campaigns#general-campaigns Tracking App-Indexing with custom Install_Referrer Source: Google Search Console & Google Analytics
  34. Results achieved with App-Indexing TITLE SLIDE ALTERNATIVE LAYOUT w/ EXAMPLE IMAGE (SWAP IN YOUR OWN AS NEEDED) Photo Credit: James Marvin PhelpsPhoto Credit: Jerald Jackson
  35. If users already have your app they have a seamless experience into your app. This can be important if you haven’t yet built a responsive website or your responsive website experience is lacking features your app already has. How it looks when they have your app installed Blue Arrow Icon Credit: designed by
  36. • What’s holding you back? • Only using 1 of 3 indexing options • Haven’t indexed everything • Had content mismatch errors • Share of each page type showing for App-Indexing skewed compared to desktop App-Indexing clicks grew fairly quickly Source: Google Search Console (excludingTablets)
  37. • This is what is show if you are doing app indexing but the user doesn’t yet have the app installed. • Clicking the install button currently shifts you away to the play store but it seems Google is testing keeping them in the SERPs App-Indexing Install Widget Blue Arrow Icon Credit: designed by
  38. • Google search console provides a breakdown of how many App- Indexing searches have resulted in clicking on the install button. • The amount of clicks on the install button is lower than expected but still additional FREE organic downloads of your app. • Current experience is not ideal pushing users off the SERPs to the app store How many searches end with a click on install button? Source: Google Search Console (excludingTablets)
  39. • A larger app install base means potentially more people may see App-Indexing results • App-Indexing can be supported by App download campaigns • App-Indexing can be supported by ASO campaigns App-Indexing traffic is influenced by app install base Source: Google Search Console (excludingTablets)
  40. • If your overall organic traffic is increasing you have more opportunities to show App- Indexing results • App-Indexing traffic can also be influenced by external factors such as competitors and AdWords App-Indexing benefits from improving organic visibility Source: Google Search Console (excludingTablets)
  41. • Typically the Install Button link has the highest visibility • App-Indexing results don’t always show higher than other organic results • App-Indexing results don’t always show to users • App-Indexing results can show a +1.01 to +1.52 higher position in SERPs App-Indexing organic visibility can be volatile Source: Google Search Console (excludingTablets)
  42. • Great results can look like the results in the chart where both the App-Indexing & Install Button results are shown significantly higher than standard mobile version. • Great App-Indexing results can show a +2.51 to +3.88 higher position in SERPs What does great App-Indexing results look like? Source: Google Search Console (excludingTablets)
  43. It’s taken a while to get some of the technology companies onboard with tracking visibility and impact of App- Indexing. It’s now possible to track apps within your search metrics projects and I expect other platforms with AWRCloud and SEMRush will follow. Platforms like SearchMetrics are surfacing some insights
  44. What’s next? TITLE SLIDE ALTERNATIVE LAYOUT w/ EXAMPLE IMAGE (SWAP IN YOUR OWN AS NEEDED) Photo Credit: James Marvin PhelpsPhoto Credit: Pacheco
  45. • Google App-Indexing for iOS9+ requires implementation of Universal Links • Previously it only showed for logged-in Chrome users now it will show for logged-in Safari users • Going forward iOS App-Indexing doesn’t require meta tagging just requires app-to-site association • Google App-Indexing will drop support for older iOS7-8 Google App-Indexing for iOS supports iOS9+
  46. • Mobile results may show App only results • Your search results could be influenced by other users with similar apps. • Your competitors might be shown less if users more engaged within your app • Your desktop experience could be influenced by your mobile app usage. App-Indexing will likely expand as adoption increases
  47. • Progressive Web Apps • Offline features • Offline storage • Add web app to home screen • Access your phone’s camera • Push notifications • Supported by Chrome & Firefox • Requires HTTPs • Google could show them in Play App store Progressive Web Apps blur line between Native & Apps