If you’ve ever stepped into a crowded venue in the middle of a rock concert or attempted to talk to somebody on a club’s hopping dance floor, you know what it feels like to get lost in the noise. Even your loudest shouts go unheard.
And that frustrating experience sums up what modern marketing can feel like — especially when you’ve got a new app to launch. The emergence of the mobile device as the king of marketing has added some additional problems to the mix.
However, it’s important to view the opportunities that come with the problems. Marketing stands at an interesting point of transition: moving away from desktop-oriented marketing and completely embracing the mobile platform.
Transition phases always present competitive opportunities to companies that learn how the new phase works more quickly and effectively than other companies that are lumbering behind and seem to be in denial about the new age.
But there’s no denying it: mobile has already emerged victorious.
The Triumph of Mobile Is Complete
One author, in an article published earlier this summer, makes the following proclamation:
It’s finally here — the year of mobile! With the majority of Google searches now taking place on mobile rather than on desktop, SEOs have been forced to extend their efforts into the mobile space. However, mobile optimization doesn’t stop with making websites mobile-friendly; it encompasses mobile apps now as well.
And this is where things are really changing: search engines are now combing through the mobile apps on your phone or smart device to produce more comprehensive search results. Google recently announced that, for Android phones, the search engine will recommend apps to download that are relevant to what the user wants to find.
But that is only one small omen of the big things to come, especially as a predictive first mindset emerges as the dominant direction for our new mobile world.
The Search Engine as a Predictive First Assistant, Not a Box Where You Type Things
Janet Driscoll Miller explained the predictive first revolution this way:
Search is changing — it’s becoming more mobile and more conversational. Up until now, optimizing for search was really focused on optimizing articles for information retrieval. But today with wearables, voice search and the Internet of Things, search is refocusing into becoming more of an interface that allows you to interact with data and take advantage of various functionality.
The end-goal is simple: search technology will stop being a passive mechanism in which the user must input information in a search box, and then the engine responds. Predictive first means search engines will become active assistants that can see what you need through its own efforts and actively do things to assist you.
This means, however, that search engines will need to combine structured data and mobile applications. As Miller noted, “the steps toward that marriage have already begun.”
The question is how do we adapt quickly to this new world of SEO and ensure that our apps don’t get lost in the noise?
How Will Apps Be Found?
In the case of what Google is doing now with its new Google Now On Tap, app developers for Android should make sure their apps are designed for deep linking, says Justin Briggs, CEO and Founder of Briggsby, who spoke about the topic at SMX 2015.
This is why:
Now On Tap is an expansion of Google Now on Android devices that is meant to provide assistance “in the moment,” anywhere on your smartphone, by simply tapping and holding the home button. Google illustrates this as follows:
For example, if a friend emails you about seeing the new movie Tomorrowland, you can invoke Google Now without leaving your app, to quickly see the ratings, watch a trailer, or even buy tickets — then get right back to what you were doing.
Google Now On Tap offers amazing opportunity for apps, both installed on the user’s device and those not yet installed, to gain greater visibility and exposure to new users. Furthermore, it helps those apps achieve discoverability outside of the traditional app store and mobile search engine results.
So if you want your Android app to appear in Now On Tap and in mobile organic search results, companies will need to do app indexing, which makes your app content accessible to search engines through deep links — though, as Briggs emphasized, indexing “requires your app content to have a corresponding web page.”
What about iOS Apps?
According to Briggs, Google has begun testing app indexing and deep linking search results with just a small group of iOS apps at this point. Though, if you’re an iOS app developer, you can start now. Google intends to bring all iOS apps fully into the fold soon.
Another great thing about this new direction in search results: when a mobile app is included in a search result, users will be asked if they want to set that app as their default. Search engines will be a big part of creating loyal customers for your app.
Companies can use structured markup to help Google understand what kinds of content are on your site — e.g. music or videos, etc. — and then point Google to where it should take searchers if they click on the search result.
Using structured data and Google Now cards, Google can read a user’s Gmail, see that the person has a hotel reservation at a specific time and date, and then produce results relevant to your hotel plans when you’re conducting a search, for example, of nearby restaurants. This is an example of where predictive first is going; search engines won’t have to use your phone’s location services, and you won’t have to tell it where you need a restaurant. It will actively figure all of that out for you.
The bottom-line is that the future looks very exciting, if not very competitive. But the good news is that there are proactive things you can do now to ensure you don’t get lost in the noise.