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Google Brings App Indexing Support To iOS Apps

After nearly two years of supporting App Indexing for Android Apps, Google is now supporting iOS apps with the App Indexing protocol. Google announced support for iOS apps this morning, with a subset of apps, as Google describes it, “an initial group of apps” will be testing iOS app indexing with Google. App Indexing is a system that allows users to click from listings in Google’s search results into apps on their Android smartphones and tablets, and now into their iOS apps on their smartphones and tablets.

In short, app developers need to add markup to their apps, submit a special sitemap file to Google via the Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) and verify their apps. Google stated that iOS users will start seeing these initial groups of apps show up in their search results both in the Google App and Chrome for signed-in users globally in the coming weeks.

Currently, you cannot get your iOS app into this group of apps. However, you can get a head start, by preparing your app for iOS App Indexing with Google. This is how:

  1. Add deep linking support to your iOS app.
  2. Make sure it’s possible to return to Search results with one click.
  3. Provide deep link annotations on your website.
  4. Let us know you’re interested. Keep in mind that expressing interest does not automatically guarantee getting app deep links in iOS search results.

Google uses app indexing as part of their mobile ranking factor, so there is potentially a lot to gain by adding this markup. Google then went on to announce that Google’s short links function now supports linking to not only web content but also to app content. You can have a single short URL and that URL can open up either the web, iOS or Android counterpart. This will only work if you use App Indexing so that Google can know that a specific URL is unique across web, Android and iOS.

“Starting now, short links function as a single link you can use to all your content – whether that content is in your Android app, iOS app, or website. Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to set up App Indexing for Android and iOS, URLs will send users straight to the right page in your app if they have it installed, and everyone else to your website. This will provide additional opportunities for your app users to re-engage with your app.

This feature works for both new short URLs and retroactively, so any existing short links to your content will now also direct users to your app.”

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