Marketing is no longer outbound; the web changed all that. Instead, the technological magic of the internet has reversed the flow to inbound, as companies no longer need to buy advertising to send out into the world, but rather to draw customers in – not unlike a spider to a fly on a natural web.
Only that silk is digital, and it’s called Search Engine Optimization. SEO has only been in existence for a little over 25 years, and yet it has become an indispensable marketing tool for the digital age. The next technological Everest is maximizing it for apps.
Best Practices and SERPs
From the founding days of Excite’s cataloguing of websites, through to the emergence of giants, Yahoo and, of course, Google, the indexed delivery of data has undergone a change from its early days of excessive back-linking and spam-like tagging to achieve dominance in search results. Indeed, a golden age of personalization and location-based results blossomed after those first days, before Google’s Universal Search was ushered in and a new age of the internet dawned, wherein the vertical blended with the user-specific and regulations began to control content quality and any over-optimization. Google’s Knowledge Graph quickly followed and users’ needs were instantly met through Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Soon, you only had to type one or two letters before Google Suggest was guessing what you might be seeking.
Social Media and Shareable Content
So it is that 2017 has found itself deep in the Information Age, an era when users want answers almost immediately, having come to expect it not just through the personalization of web-based SEO, but also through the advent of Social Media and Smartphone technology. With that expectation, further promoted by the content-specific guidance and personal information-sharing capabilities of Social Media, has come a concomitant desire for privacy. Information that enabled SEO to become what it has is now deemed too invasive a marketing tactic, despite best practices; the predictive qualities of what was once Google Suggest have evolved to near-infinite proportions.
Yet, those companies who have still to opt into local search (either themselves or by employing an SEO Company) and, more importantly, mobile optimization and social influence are finding themselves out in the digital arctic when it comes to search engine rankings. How can they then keep up with the latest developments in SEO for Apps?
There are many, many types of content. From the early days of Google’s Universal Search, benefitting from news, images, and video, today’s visual content media looks promising as a future, vocally-enabled direction in SEO. Meanwhile, in-app content is key right now, despite its efficacy being questioned. Google announced its interest back in 2015, indexing apps just like websites through deep links (which impact authority, relevance, and visibility through simple digital marketing tactics, including basic email signatures). Enabling an app to support HTTP URLs, and adding the App Indexing SDK, permits the same SEO as web pages when it comes to visibility in SERPs.
App indexing has been slower than foreseen on the uptake, with more Android apps being indexed than iOS. One of the problems is the rate of app usage (frequently, an app will be downloaded to a Smartphone and only be used once, the data gleaned from that usage insufficient for SEO purposes; re-engagement is a crucial term when it comes to the indexing of apps). Combined with the fact that more companies opt for an iOS app-based approach to digital marketing than Android, the figures don’t particularly stack up. However, app streaming is a somewhat new approach to overcome this multiple usage deficit, wherein users can access an app’s capabilities without having to fully download it first. By extension, gaming apps have developed app trialing (users permitted a certain time and maximum level before purchase).
The Future of SEO
The question that all these developments pose to both users and those in the tech industry alike (let alone businesses buying into each new digital marketing strategy), is for how long will traditional websites remain relevant? Like an old piece of furniture one is hesitant to discard, many predict a “soft death” for web pages proper, still accessible but used less and less. Today’s technology is a portable entity; apps are more portable web pages. It took a quarter of a century for web-based SEO to reach its zenith. Logic therefore dictates that SEO keep pace with trends in technology and SERPs evolve to full app index inclusivity.