Thanks to iOS 9, app content is searchable and indexable—just like web content. iOS 9 app indexing and deep linking capabilities mean that app content will show up in Spotlight and Safari search results, Handoff, Siri Suggestions and Reminders—even for users who don’t have your app installed.
Apple isn’t the only tech giant making this kind of deep-linked search available to its device users. As far back as 2013, Google had its own approach to app content indexing, which surfaces app content for both Android and iOS 9 devices in Google Search results and also influences ranking.
While Apple and Google are handling app indexing differently, we can rise above the details and see three very broad implications here.
Lessons from iOS 9 App Indexing
1. App content has come of age.
Now that it has the potential to show up in search results, your app content better be relevant and useful. If you’ve got great, valuable content (indexed properly for iOS 9 and with Google app indexing enabled), more users will be able to discover your amazing app and hopefully download it.
2. The user experience is getting more useful.
Users can’t get much use out of content they don’t know about, buried deep within an app. With app indexing and deep linking, it’s a lot easier for users to find what they’re looking for and get on with their lives—and the more often your brand can be there with relevant content, the more likely those users will be to think of you when buying time rolls around.
3. Marketing and engineering have got to work together.
App indexing on Google and iOS 9 doesn’t happen “automagically.” There are some programming decisions and changes to make. In the past, these coding changes were all in Engineering’s court. But app indexing and deep linking affect content, discovery and the user experience—and that makes them marketing concerns too.
As one Apple developer pre-release note says, “You decide what content gets indexed, what information to show in search results and where the user is redirected after tapping a result from your app or website.” Marketing needs to be a part of those decisions.
Want more guidance on mobile marketing? Here are some tips for designing an app that users actually want to use.