If you own a website, then it’s likely you already know about search engine optimisation. Essentially, it’s the use of various techniques to improve the chances that your website will picked up by search engines and ranked highly when certain keywords are searched. This can be achieved using methods such as adding high quality content and removing bad backlinks. Increasingly, SEO is becoming essential for apps as well as websites.
Apple and Google have announced means of indexing deep content in apps, as opposed to titles and descriptions. As a result, search engine optimisation techniques will have to be applied to apps as well. This isn’t just limited to App Store Optimisation, where you aim to rank as high as possible when certain keywords are searched in app stores. Indexed apps now show up in search engine results along with websites, so optimising apps for Google will result in a higher ranking. This means more exposure, which means more downloads. Likewise, Apple Search is beginning to index apps and app screens. Deep app content does not operate in the same way as websites, and that means a new approach needs to be taken.
Apple Search appears to have two primary indexing methods that don’t require a corresponding web page: NSUserActivity Indexing and CoreSpotlight Indexing. The former incorporates the indexing of user activities when the user accesses a screen with a certain markup, whilst the latter is indexed by CSSearchableItems with uniqueIdentifiers. Both, essentially, are indexed by the relevant metadata included in their coding set including titles, keywords and descriptions. The search result meta data is gleaned from the code of their apps rather than any external sources, meaning anyone involved in app creation will have to involve SEO experts earlier in the process to get the most out of them. There is also a tertiary indexer, Apple’s web-crawling Applebot, which indexes app content from marketing and support URLs.
The exact details of search algorithms are not available yet, so SEO will need to be approached carefully by app creators. The only thing known for sure is that poorly implemented SEO, such as keyword spamming and over-indexing, will be punished. The differences between web and app-based SEO means that SEO specialists who wish to work with apps will need to keep abreast of news as it develops to get a greater understanding of indexing algorithms. One thing is certain: search engine optimisation is now just as important for your apps as it is for your website.