Recently I had a chance to chat with Mariya Moeva, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, about the trends Google is seeing that impact the growing importance of mobile apps. (Find out more about Mariya at the end of the interview.) Also, Mariya has provided a handy form for you to ask her questions about mobile apps directly.
Eric Enge – Q1: What value do apps provide to publishers?
Mariya Moeva: Here are the major ways:
- Apps provide a front door for your content on your users’ personal devices.
- Apps offer a bunch of functionality that is not yet widely available on the web, like interacting with content offline, or getting information from the device (e.g. using location or camera).
- Plus, you can learn a lot more about your users via the profiles they create and activity from their phone.
Combining this richer data and extended functionality with a streamlined interface can add a lot of value for your users and increase conversions. For example, if you’ve got an electronics store and your app users have marked their preferred gadgets in their profile, you could notify them on their phone about discounts or sales for those gadgets.
On the other hand, apps have a relatively higher adoption hurdle compared to websites, and users need to install the app first, and that creates friction. Depending on where the user is in their relationship with you, they might prefer to just browse your site. One nifty framework to determine the types of users you’ve got (and when an app or a site will serve your needs best) is Avinash Kaushik’s See-Think-Do-Care.
Eric Enge – Q2: Will implementing an interstitial to drive people to sign up for your app negatively impact mobile rankings? Is that something people should stay away from?
Mariya Moeva: Speaking as a user myself, I have yet to see an interstitial that brought me some useful info and was more important than what I was originally trying to do. They’re disruptive and can be frustrating, especially if you show them right on the first page the user ever sees from your site. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so (:
We see app install interstitials bother users, so we’re looking into ways of addressing that; stay tuned for more news (Editor’s note: Google’s Maile Ohye also commented on this at the most recent SMX Advanced).
One alternative to invite people to download your app without completely blocking access to your content is app install banners. They’re available for both Chrome and Safari.
Eric Enge – Q3: Should you have a mobile app page for every page of your desktop site?
Mariya Moeva: Not necessarily. The target audiences for the app or the website might not overlap fully, and the tasks they’re trying to accomplish might not match either. If you’re wondering how to structure your content, it’s best to define clearly the goals and conversions in-app and on-site, then make a plan for which content fits best where. That way, you’ll also have concrete metrics to track for the success of both app and site. A good place to start is the query data for web and apps we show in Search Console. Compare the queries where users click through to your site and your app to see what they’re looking for in each.
We know that the content distribution can skew either way between app and site. For example, there are a bunch of apps that don’t have corresponding content on the web, just a one-page site to introduce the app to potential users. We’re working on ways to make them indexable and discoverable as well, as we mentioned at Google I/O.
Eric Enge – Q4: Can you point to some resources that lay out the steps for implementing app indexing?
Mariya Moeva: We’ve got detailed instructions for implementing App Indexing both for iOS and Android on our Developer site:
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I also recently recorded a video on how to use Search Console to track the traffic you’re getting once your app content is indexed:
If you have more questions about app indexing, let us know and we’ll look into it.
Eric Enge – Q5: What are the scenarios in which the SERPs (or the autocomplete box) will show an app icon?
Mariya Moeva: Right now, if content from an indexed app the user has installed is relevant to the user’s query, we’ll show it in search results like this one for [hotels in berlin]:
If content from an indexed app the user hasn’t installed is relevant to their query, we’ll show an install button, like this one for [hot cocoa recipe]:
After the user goes through the install process, they’ll be taken straight to the page in the app that has the content they were searching for.
We’ll also show relevant app content as a suggestion when users who have the app installed search from the Google app:
Eric Enge – Q6: At SMX West 2015 you indicated that sites that had a quality app page, relevant to a search query, will get a rankings boost. Can you explain what publishers should do to maximize their chances of getting this boost?
Mariya Moeva: Ensure that the technical implementation of App Indexing is correct and that your content is worth it. We’ll take care of the rest. We look at a range of signals from both the app and the site to make sure we’re showing relevant, high-quality content.
Add your app to Search Console so that you can keep track of any technical errors, and of course check the traffic you’re getting to your app from search (you’ll see queries, top app pages, impression and click stats).
Eric Enge – Q7: Are the benefits we discussed in questions in 5 and 6 only realized if the specific person searching already has installed the app?
Mariya Moeva: The ranking boost applies for everyone, both users who already have the app installed and those who don’t.
Eric Enge – Q8: Any chance that you can comment on plans to implement support for the iPhone?
Mariya Moeva: We announced App Indexing for iOS with a set of initial partners, and we’re working on making it available for everyone. If you’re interested, try it out on your app, and once you’re done let us know through the interest form we’ve set up on our Developer site.
Ask Mariya Your Questions About Mobile App Indexing
If you have additional questions, please use this form to ask Mariya directly about mobile app indexing.
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About Mariya Moeva
Mariya is a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, currently based in Zürich. Previously, she was part of the Search Quality and webspam teams, so she’s seen it all when it comes to websites, the good, the bad and the ugly. Her mission is to help webmasters understand how search engines work with their sites, and help Google engineers understand what webmasters need.
She does this on the Google Webmaster Central blog, in webmaster office hours hangouts on air, in the Google+ webmaster communities, and on the webmaster forums in English, Russian, Bulgarian, and occasionally Japanese. When she’s not helping fix websites, she fixes bikes.