What Google's Recent Announcements Mean for Your Apps

April 23, 2015

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On February 26th Google announced they would be updating their algorithm for mobile search to penalize websites that were not mobile-friendly. Since 60% of online traffic is from mobile devices, this represents a significant call-to-action for website managers to ensure mobile visitors to their sites have a good experience. 48% of search is from mobile devices, and Google wants to make sure these users are receiving useful results.  "Useful" now includes content that can be accessed without trying to navigate a site built for a 15" screen. google mobile ranking

This isn't just the little guys

In a recent report from Portent of the top 25,000 websites, 40% are not mobile-friendly. These changes went live April 21st.

But what about my mobile app?

This update from Google was a bit different in that Google set a date for compliance, and shared tools for web managers to confirm compliance. It was also two parts - with the 1st part grabbing all the attention. More people and businesses have websites that would be affected by a penalty than have app with un-indexable content. Part 2 of the update was extremely important for mobile app publishers and marketers:

2. More relevant app content in search results

Starting today, we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search. To find out how to implement App Indexing, which allows us to surface this information in search results, have a look at our step-by-step guide on the developer site.

While Google has a strong mobile OS play with Android, the content and functionality "locked" inside of app silos present a real problem for Google. They want more data inputs.

Mobile is a data marketers dream

Unless a user is logged into an un-forked Android device, or in a Google app in iOS - Google does not have access to device-related data. And unless the content "inside" of apps are indexed - Google is also locked out of mobile app content for search. In the several 100 posts within 24 hours of Google's algorithm update related to mobile-friendly sites, many encouraged readers to index their apps' content for a better Google mobile ranking. On April 16th, Google announced an update to their Feb 26th post related to "relevant app content in search results":

Starting this week, people searching on Google can also discover your app if they haven’t installed it yet. If you’ve implemented App Indexing, when indexed content from your app is relevant to a search done on Google on Android devices, people may start to see app install buttons for your app in search results.

Previously, mobile apps would only be displayed in mobile search results if the app was already installed. Furthermore - Google added:

With the addition of these install links, we are starting to use App Indexing as a ranking signal for all users on Android, regardless of whether they have your app installed or not.

Indexing your Mobile Content

Indexing your mobile app content so it can be indexed, searched, interacted with from search and interact with other apps is becoming the big focus of 2015. Facebook made a splash at their f8 conference showing how App Indexing and Facebook Messenger could be a huge boon to mobile publishers and users alike. Google is now ranking mobile content regardless if a user has the device installed. And there are signs that Apple will be adopting more robust App Indexing into iOS.

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