What is ‘App Deep Linking’? Well, think of it as the hyperlinks for web. Wikipedia defines app deep linking as:
In the context of the mobile apps, deep linking consists of using a uniform resource identifier (URI) that links to a specific location within a mobile app (i.e. exampleApp://location/123456), rather than simply launching the app (i.e. exampleApp://)
You can think of it as contextual app discovery.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization could become as important for mobile apps as it is for websites today. The difference being, it is easier to redirect users to a particular page on a website using hyperlinks. But, what about mobile?
Most mobile apps offer no way to directly access their content and information to which they control access to. Instead of redirecting the user to a relevant page, mobile app links generally direct them to the home screen of the app. For instance, users may see an advertisement or marketing promotion about a product that they can buy in your app, why should they be thrown at the home screen when they download the app?
A great user experience is to have the ability to directly link to a specific item or screen in your mobile app so users are directed to what they’re looking for.
So, here are 3 deep linking mobile app tactics for better discovery and visibility.
#1 Deep linking mobile app in social and search
Facebook recently announced app install ads that will support deferred deep linking.
This gives the ability to the marketers to create a specific call-to-action, and then directly take a user inside the app to that location mentioned in the specific call-to-action.
Even Apple has introduced deep linking for improved app discovery in iOS 9. This is how Apple explains app deep linking in their developer docs:
“For an example of how this works, imagine that your app helps users handle minor medical conditions, such as a sunburn or a sprained ankle. When you adopt iOS 9 Search, users searching their devices for “sprained ankle” can get results for your app even when they don’t have your app installed. When users tap on a result for your app, they get the opportunity to download your app. Similarly, users can get results for your app and related web content when they search for ‘sprained ankle’ in Safari. Tapping on a result in Safari takes users to your website, where they can download your app from your App Banner.”
This means the iOS 9 search will now recommend apps that you can install based on the content within the app. Apple further mentions: “When you adopt deep linking you will see an increase the usage of your app and more importantly improve its discoverability by displaying your content when users search across the system and on the web.
Users can discover and access information within your app, even when it isn’t installed.”
Here’s how deep linking mobile app works:
You search for [potato] in iOS 9 and it shows you content from within the Yummly app.
Clicking on any of the recipes listed below will trigger the app to open directly to that page in the app.
But then, users search for these terms on search engines too.
In April this year, Google announced that content from apps will start showing up in mobile search results on Android. Links from specific spaces within the apps will appear in search results whether or not you already have the app installed and users will be taken directly to the right place in the app.
So what happens when I search for an item on Google? For example, I searched for ‘Halloween Costumes’ on Google, and this was the first result:
Clicking on that link, I was redirected to the already installed Pinterest app on my phone. But it came with an option ‘Touch to return to Google’.
Pinterest has deep linked its mobile app in a way that a potential user can discover the content of the app through a simple Google search.
For more background on Google App Indexing, see Google’s guide here.
Infact, recently Google introduced App deep linking with goo.gl. This means, once you’ve taken the necessary steps to setup App Indexing for Android and iOS, goo.gl 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.
#2 Deep linking within emails
According to studies, 91% of consumers check their email at least once and 82% of consumers open emails from companies. So, use deep linking when sending out an Email newsletter for your app.
This is a great opportunity for you app to get discovered. Make sure your Emails pitch the content from your deep linked mobile app.
Here’s an example of how Airbnb does it.
Step 1: They send you an Email with the most beautiful featured home stays of the current week.
Step 2: When you click on a particular listing, it takes you to the web browser viewing that listing. However, they prompt you to view this content in the app or install the app (in case you don’t have it).
Step 3: When you click on ‘open in app’, the same listing is opened and you are switched from a browser to a native app.
#3 Deep linking with landing page + campaigns
You must have seen many app landing pages which give an option to send a download link through a text message to the potential users.
Optimizing your landing page can help you build a database of potential users. Your campaigns, leading to a landing page, should further take the user to that specific point of interest in the app, that the user was initially attracted to while getting to your landing page.
Here’s a brilliant example of app deep linking by Etsy app, recorded by Yozio.
Etsy deep links the user to the exact product selected from Google search and redirects them to the landing page and then gives an option to download an app.
Remember, the potential users reached your landing page searching for a particular content. Give them an option to download (preferably with an incentive) but redirect them to that particular content when they finally download the app.
Image credits: Mashable, Search Engine Land