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How we got Google to index our app


Google App IndexingFor a long time SEO has been a very fashionable buzzword and it still might be. But what about mobile apps? How does your SEO investment work for mobiles? As always, Google has an answer for that and this is what it looks like:

Google App Indexing

With Google App Indexing you can now get your apps to appear in the search results for the same SEO terms you have so heavily invested in to get your website noticed. It probably goes without saying that this only works on Android (for now).

So what do you need to get your app noticed just as well as your website?

Google App Indexing trainlineA. Implementation
You should be able to get most of the technical details here https://developers.google.com/app-indexing/. Make sure you have deep linking working in your app otherwise this whole venture will be futile.

B. Deployment
This bit is a bit tricky as the tutorial isn’t very clear on this area. Remember to set up your Google webmasters account. This point also brings with it a very crappy element of App Indexing: the screen that you want to be searchable should look very similar to the corresponding page in the app. Who in the effing name of everything that is sensible builds their app to look like their website?! After months of concerted effort, we somehow managed to get our screens indexed with just a 20% similarity to a page on the trainline website.

C. Tracking
Remember this is similar to any SEO setup you have on your site, so the evaluation of its effectiveness needs to be in place just as much. We used standard tags in Omniture to see how many hand-offs are coming through Google searches. I have been told by Google that they are busy improving their Webmaster Console to show how often your apps (if indexed) appear in results and for what search terms.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since we got this working (after 5 gruelling* months) so I will keep you all posted on how it is helping/hurting us.

*that is a blatant exaggeration