App indexing has the ability to dramatically change the way we engage with search, but, unfortunately, it has been limited to Android apps since launch. However, it looks like that may be changing soon.
Annotations for iOS App Indexing Appearing on The Web
Today I’m seeing examples of possible iOS app indexing annotations appearing up on the web, which may allow Apple iPhone apps to appear directly in search results.
The code above is an example of Huffington Post providing an Android app deeplink to Google via the rel=”alternate” tag. It appears a second, similar tag references an Apple iOS app. The rel=”alternate” href=”ios-app:” tag suggests that Google will be launching app indexing for Apple iOS apps.
What is App Indexing?
App Indexing lets Google discover content inside your apps, displaying it to users just like websites. They can appear in search results, where clicking on a SERPs listing opens content deep inside an app, instead of opening the webpage. Additionally, when combined with Knowledge Graph, it can create app actions that execute app behavior on behalf of users.
For those interested in learning more, here is an overview of the implementation for Android.
Significance of App Indexing
Support for app indexing across both major mobile device operating systems allows Google to move forward with more robust implementations of app indexation. A shift from indexing content to indexing apps is a fundamental shift in the way we think of search, taking us away from basic information retrieval and moving us towards an ecosystem where search is the dominate entry point and OS for engaging with content, raw data, and applications.
I shared some of my thoughts on the impact of app indexing and conversational search when I spoke at Mozcon earlier this year.