Google Changes Keyword Search on Mobile to Include Apps
While it may still be very early in the new year, it’s becoming more and more apparent that 2016 is going to be a year of major shifts for how content is viewed online. Social media networks, such as Twitter, are changing the way they let users publish and share content outright, and new mediums of sharing content, such as live streaming video (Periscope, Meerkat), are being further developed and perfected for the ultimate user experience.
However, 2016 is bringing changes to more than just social media; Google is making it possible to stream app-only content (such as pricing and room details exclusive to a travel application) directly from the search results page. You will be able to access content exclusively hosted in an external application without said application.
A Breakdown of Google’s Update for App-Only Content
How this works is really quite simple. When you search for a product, place, accommodations or… anything, really, and click on a result with the app stream option, Google will digitally stream the application and its content, so even if you do not have app A or B installed on your device, you can access the content within.
This is a huge step. Ever try to search a simple term or product/service price on Google, but, when clicking a desired result, are instead taken to the App Store to install a new application on your device? With Google’s app-streaming functionality, content that can only be found within an app (and nowhere else) will be indexed, searchable and accessible to both those with and without the app. When you click an app-streaming link in your search results, Google will essentially load the application over the cloud; a feature that’s great for Google, but not so much for app developers.
The app-only content streaming is the result of Google’s 2015 acquisition of Agawi, a company that had previously developed a similar service under the name “AppGlimpse.”
Why is Google Including App-Only Content in Searches?
Smartphones, tablets and a much more mobile user base have shifted a large portion (if not a majority) of mobile Internet activity from conventional web search to applications. Users interested in looking up bad movie reviews on Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 can either use conventional Google search or the Rotten Tomatoes application. The same can be said for any other information or content that users prefer accessing over an application rather than Google.
By making this content (exclusive to mobile applications) searchable and accessible in spoofed, digital versions of apps, Google is offering users without apps the same content that those with the app receive. As a large portion of Google’s revenue comes from advertisements, the reasoning for this update is clear.
“Being able to find and surface content tucked and hidden away inside apps is of crucial importance to a company whose ad business relies on people turning its search engine to find information they need, and click into advertisements related to those queries. Without being able to index the “web of apps,” so to speak, Google’s prominence could fade and its ad business could flounder.”
What App-Only Content in Google Search Means for Business
This update is exciting and all, but what does it mean for business? The update affects app creators and developers more than anyone else. As Moz.com’s Roy Hinkis states in his blog, “The new app content streams are essentially equivalent to landing pages for a desktop website. Both share the same principal: promoting select content from the website or app.”
What this means is that app developers are going to have to change their game and focus more on converting one-time Google stream visits into downloads. It’s inbound marketing for mobile applications, and it’s going to become essential for developers that hope to keep pace with the update.