What are the SEO implications of Google’s app indexing API?

Google has been indexing content found within smartphone applications for some time; however, next year it appears that it will be making even greater efforts to integrate this feature with its mobile search results. This is something that web designing companies cannot afford to ignore, as it will almost certainly have an impact on SEO strategies across the board rather than only for businesses that have built their own apps.

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What are Google’s plans for app indexing and how will optimisation techniques need to be adjusted to cope with the changes ahead?

App-first approach

This week it was revealed that Google is going to start showcasing content from apps on its mobile SERPs, indicating that this will make information available to users without first requiring that they download and install the app in question.

This process is being referred to as ‘app streaming’ and is part of the app-first approach that the search giant is pushing towards.

While desktop users will not see any difference, this could potentially make a major change to the way in which results are showcased and ranked on mobile devices. With the majority of web browsing now done from smartphones and tablets, webmasters cannot ignore this development.

Around 40% of Android-originated searches currently pull up content from apps, according to Google spokesperson Jennifer Lin. While in the past this content would have to match its online equivalent, app streaming will alter this entirely.

Ranking impact

How does Google actually go about ranking in-app content? In addition to applying algorithms to look at the quality of the content, it is also possible for the engine to establish how long users spend harnessing specific parts of an app, factoring this in to determine its worthiness for inclusion in mobile SERPs.

It has borrowed much of this approach from its existing PageRank system, albeit with the addition of new analytical tools that are available within the app ecosystem. Businesses that operate both a website and an app will need to work with a specialist such as http://www.viziononline.co.uk to optimise these two areas in the future.

Apps may not knock traditional web pages out of the picture altogether; however, with more appearing on Google’s mobile results pages, achieving a good search rank will become a more vital goal for traditional sites.

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