Deep linking in apps generates SEO benefits for eCommerce companies and makes these apps more useful to customers who can use their apps to open other apps, transfer information and effortlessly find content on linked websites and Web pages. Marketers enjoy a host of benefits because these links add value to customer apps by keeping track of their favorite content, finding embedded products when customers are ready to make buying decisions, integrating promotional campaigns with apps and Web content for marketers and improving and customizing the user experience for each customer.

As apps grow increasingly popular among those customers who use their phones for both wholesale and retail buying, more and more people search for products directly within their apps, so traditional SEO becomes proportionately less relevant. Following SEO best practices with mobile apps and enabling greater navigation options through deep linking empower eCommerce companies to bypass traditional SEO practices and keep customers engaged within their apps while searching and shopping. Xamarin offers programmers some amazingly useful tools for deep linking in the new, app-based marketing ecosphere that can get even inexperienced coders churning out deep links like seasoned pros.

Deep Linking in Xamarin: Mobile App SEO Best Practices


Understanding Deep Linking

Deep linking is the process of linking to content within an app, Web page or any other type of content that is coded, indexed and searchable by the Web crawlers that search engines employ. Instead of just linking to a URL, deep linking usually involves going further into a website's or app’s architecture to deliver people to more precise locations that can answer their questions, show them the products that they requested or find specific content with a website. In generic searches, the underlying search technologies and system of URLs enable this process, but apps use Uniform Resource Identifiers or URIs to deliver similar SEO results.

Deep linking can blur the lines between traditional keyword and product searches and mobile apps. Developers can use deep linking to share information, fill out relevant information for customers in search bars, insert appointments in calendars and provide other benefits like the following advantages:

  • Linking apps to other apps
  • Triggering customer actions
  • Guiding people along the sales funnel
  • Making apps discoverable in generic Internet searches
  • Enabling people who don't own or haven't installed an app to access and use information within the app
  • Providing app instructions to users

eCommerce companies can get the benefits of inserting outgoing deep links in a relatively straightforward process -- programmers just need to insert the links in the right format for them to work like HTML links. However, the problem with apps is deciding what to do with the incoming links. How that information is used must be handled case-by-case, and this can get inordinately complicated in cases where HIPAA compliance or other security issues are involved. Apps need coded instructions to tell them what to do with incoming links.

Deep linking wasn't much of an issue when building links for SEO purposes until apps became popular and opened a host of linking opportunities to the SEO community.[1] Deep linking was used only in networks of Web pages within social media outlets, third-party shopping websites and retailing giants like Amazon. However, increasing app use means that more people spend most of their time online within one app of another. Google and other search engines can’t find out about online behavior without knowing what’s going on in mobile apps.


Using SEO to Drive App Usage

Programmers can use deep linking in many ways to drive better customer engagement, increase app usage and expand their customer bases. Deep linking within eCommerce apps simplifies tracking referrals, and oth Google and Apple have committed to increasing app searchability and discovery monitoring and ranking deep links, which make it possible for eCommerce companies to link their catalogs and apps to generic searches. The best way to find an app is using another app.[2] One overlooked benefit that arises because of this situation is deferred deeplinking. Deferred deep linking can occur in the following scenario:

  • An app creates an SEO deep link that brings a potential eCommerce customer inside the app.
  • The customer wants to go further within the app to do something such as buy a product, read a review or perform some other action within the app, but it's not installed on the customer's device.
  • Normally, the app would look for an installed app that could do the job on that customer's system and return an error notification if none were found.
  • A deferred deep link could take the customer directly to Google Play or the Apple App store to download the app.
  • Alternatively, the customer could be directed to a website, Facebook page or other Web resource.

Deep linking, deferred linking and using SEO best practices provide enormous eCommerce benefits because customers can find information in proprietary apps from generic Web searches, get taken automatically to download relevant apps, get help with the onboarding process and even be taken to a specific screen within the app where they can view custom information. Apps can also be opened or installed through deep links. Third-party deep linking services enable programmers to do even more with deep links and deferred links.


Xamarin Developer Tools for Deep Linking

Xamarin uses App Links, which is an open source tool for establishing deep links within apps. App Links works on all major operating systems and devices, and developers can avoid lots of coding repetition, writing and troubleshooting by taking advantage of Xamarin's intuitive app development tools. App Links is ready to link to the popular Facebook Index API. For both iOS and Android, App Links works best if you let it choose how to open links to other browsers. For incoming links, developers can write instructional sets in the App Links metadata that instruct outside sources on how to link to the content and data within their own apps.

App Links offers developers an easy way to implement paradigm changes in how they operate. It's always been possible to share information between mobile apps, but App Links shows promise for becoming the industry-standard mechanism of discovery when navigating between apps. Facebook, Vimeo, and Rdio already use App Links. Developers can write instructions and "advertise" them in their app's metadata. Other apps "read" these protocols about how to deep link within the target app.

"If You Build It, They Will Come"

The phrase "If you build it, he/they will come" was popularized in the movie "Field of Dreams" and coopted for millions of marketing messages since the movie became a cultural meme, but it seems especially appropriate when discussing deep linking and SEO best practices. Major eCommerce companies have always known about deep linking and used the technology in their product catalogs so that their consumers could find things online.

Google, a marketing powerhouse, often leads industry best practices that involve search technology, but Google follows when it comes to its own ultimate arbiter -- consumer trends. App development has taken off in the past few years, and Google now promises to give equal weight to apps and their SEO practices when ranking buyer and browser behavior to determine SEO benchmarks. This means that eCommerce companies can increase the rankings for all their Web pages when customers use their apps. Company websites earn greater authority, relevance and visibility from increased app usage, and people can find proprietary app information through generic searches.

On one level, apps have been fortresses of solitude that barred their gates against every intruder -- including allies who deliver food, ammunition and important news. Now developers can craft app SEO strategies, link to other Internet resources including apps, and share information to attract new customers and app downloads.

How Clarity Can Help

Clarity's team of lean, hungry but civilized coders can keep your business at the forefront of Internet, intranet and app usage and SEO best practices. In today's competitive eCommerce environment, decision-makers receive mixed signals about the benefits of integrating with other systems while half of all experts tout the advantages of companies that differentiate their websites, apps and Web content. We don't think these things are mutually exclusive at Clarity, and we'd love to show you how to satisfy both sides of the argument. Custom integrations are the key and our raison d'être or mission statement for why we're in business. Call or contact us today for a free price quote or consultation on how to boost your business visibility to search engines and to satisfy your customers with custom Xamarin-generated deep linking and SEO best practices.
[1] Search Engine Land: Could Deep Links To Apps Represent The Future Of Link Building?
[2] Yozio: How to Use SEO and Deep Linking to Drive App Usage

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