Google is pushing App Indexing
Twitter has App Cards
Apple has Universal Links
Deep linking helps with not only app discovery, but new user on-boarding, retention, and navigating from Facebook or Twitter to content best viewed in an app. With this range of goals and use cases comes a bit of a fragmented experience in actually implementing and supporting in your mobile apps.
In iOS, there is a public index and a private index that uses multiple iOS APIs. The best way to get started for indexing in-app content that has web parity (also appears on a website) is to use Apple iOS 9 Search Validation tool: This App Search validation tool will provide suggestions on how to tag content on the web with the in-app location. Using Apple’s universal links, users can easily locate content in your app - even from a web or Spotlight search. BUT - Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter do not support these universal links. We’ll introduce a few tools in a bit that solves this problem.
Google’s approach to app indexing and deep linking is a bit different as their goal is to be able to index in-app content and display in relevant Google searches. Google has dominated web search, but not so much app search. Mobile has surpassed PCs, and apps have surpassed the web. Mobile apps are discovered predominantly through App Store search, and search is moving to contextual (Siri/Spotlight, Google Now on Tap, Facebook M) and away from broad web search - with the result often a mobile app. If Apple's approach is to index in-app content for a better user iOS device user experience, Google’s is to pull in-app content into web search results (app deep linking SEO), even going so far as to preview in-app content without a user having to install an app. Time will tell which approach the market will prefer, but mobile app publishers have another decision to make as to which standards to adopt in their apps.
As mentioned, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter each have different approaches to app indexing, tagging web content and tracking links. Branch.io aims to solve this problem by creating a platform that supports all of the major platforms and lists content on search portals. Branch also provides analytics and attribution, smart banners, tools for customizable/personalized on-boarding and more. [caption id="attachment_1274" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Source: Branch.io[/caption] If your app is available for iOS and Android, and is content-rich - Branch.io is well worth checking out. URX.com provides a platform for monetizing a content-rich app with deep links into other, contextually relevant apps. [caption id="attachment_1273" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Source: URX.org[/caption] MobileDeepLinking.org provides a guide on mobile deep linking with contributions from many of the top mobile ad networks. [caption id="attachment_1272" align="aligncenter" width="601"]Source: mobiledeeplinking.org/[/caption] Whether used for on-boarding, acquiring app installs, syncing app and web content, retention or discovery - the benefits of implementing app deep links far outweigh the initial complexity.