I recently did a presentation about App Discovery and Deep Linking and found it to be an interesting topic to cover due to its interaction with so many features and how they can all work together to provide a better experience for your app users.
Getting this out of the way, what is App Discovery and Deep Linking?
App Discovery = The ability for someone to discover your app by any viable means available on a device. For example a voice assistant or via a search engine.
Deep Linking = Opening an app via a link and going direct to a page within the app, optionally including authentication and/or data to action.
When mobile apps first appeared, the App Store of the platform was the place to go to find an app you wanted to use. As these stores grew, they added lists of the most popular or editor recommendations to help users find great apps. With the amount of apps now in app stores being so large, the chance a user will stumble across your app just from searching within the app store is increasingly slim.
Getting your App discovered today is more about marketing and promotions, however helping these promotions in obtaining better results is where App Discovery techniques comes in.
Deep linking is helping blur the lines between web and mobile content, allowing a mobile user to choose whether to view content online or in a mobile app where more functionality and a better UX might exist.
These links are great to use in content driven marketing, allowing web users to continue on their experience and mobile users to choose to seamlessly upgrade to the mobile experience of your content.
Not all app discovery and deep linking features are available on each platform. Below is a table detailing where each one sits. This just gives you an overview and I will cover each one in the series.
|App Links (not Xamarin)|
Note: When I refer to Siri being iOS 10+ I am referring to when 3rd Party Integration became available.
In this series I will go through each part of App Discovery and Deep Linking to help you ensure you have the best possible chance of getting downloads and ensuring they keep using your app.
Disclaimer: Make sure you have a good app with a growing user base to gain the most benefit from this series.
The basics of ensuring your app is as easy as possible to find and when someone does discover your app they will be enticed to download and use it.
Part 2: Web Markup
Search engines including Bing, can index content in your app by its associated web page. This goes through ensuring your website has all the appropriate markup to make your app visible.
Part 3: Deep Linking
Learn how to create a URL that can open your app and go directly to a specific page inside your app. Uri Scheme’s can be used in conjunction with Universal Links and App Links.
Part 4: Mobile Search Discovery
You can your app appear in mobile search, even by people who don’t have your app installed. It is a great way to keep existing users engaged and also obtain new users.
- Firebase App Indexing (Android and iOS 9+) (formerly Google App Indexing)
- iOS Mobile Search (CoreSpotlight and NSUserActivity)
If you want to use App Indexing, CoreSpotlight and/or NSUserActivity in Xamarin Forms, look to the next section where Xamarin provides an abstraction for this this as part of the core Xamarin Nuget Packages.
Part 5: Xamarin Forms AppLinks
Working with and using the new Xamarin Forms AppLinks functionality available in Xamarin Forms 2.3.0+. This combines App Indexing and CoreSpotlight under a common API accessible in Xamarin Forms applications.
Part 6: Voice Assistants
Siri, Google Now and Cortana are becoming increasingly good at understanding and actioning your requests. Here I look at making sure these voice assistants know about your app and can open it to action certain data. These blog posts below are a general overview and getting started with each technology.
I have also found an additional way to help get your app discovered.
Send your friends or family a link to your app via email or SMS with deep linking and capabilities. Xamarin’s blog post goes through the setup in good detail.