How To Get App Content Into Google Search Results

What is App Indexing for Google Search?

App Indexing lets Google read apps just like websites. Deep links in your Android app can now appear in Google Search Results allowing users to navigate directly to the native mobile experience landing on the correct content within your app. What you need:

  1. The user needs to have your app installed.
  2. You need to establish the relationship between your web pages and app deep links.
  3. Use the App Indexing API to confirm.

App Indexing Etsy Example

1. Enabling Deep Links for App Content

In order for Google to index the content of your app (and for users to enter your app from Google search results), you must specify intent filters in your app manifest that define how to reach specific content inside your app.

Specify a deep link to your app content:

  1. In your Android manifest file, add one or more <intent-filter> elements for the activities that should be launchable from Google Search results.
  2. Add an <action> tag that specifies the ACTION_VIEW intent action.
  3. Add a <data> tag for each data URI format the activity accepts. This is the primary mechanism to declare the format for your deep links.
  4. Add a <category> for both BROWSABLE and DEFAULT intent categories.

The following XML snippet shows how you might specify an intent filter in your manifest for deep linking. The URIs “example://gizmos” and “” both resolve to this activity.

Intent Filter Deep Links App Indexing

2. Connect Your App to Your Website

In order for Google to confirm your app is the official application for your website, you must connect your app to your website through the Google Play Console and Webmaster Tools.

Verify your website

  • Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  • Click android icon All Applications.
  • Select the application you’d like to verify.
  • On the left menu, click Services & APIs.
  • Under “App Indexing from Google Search”, click Verify website.
  • Type your website address.
  • Click Verify.
  • Go to Google Webmaster Tools.
  • On the left menu, click All Messages.
  • Open the verification request message.
  • Click Approve the request.
  • Review the information in the dialog.
  • Click Approve.

Once approved, your app will appear on the Associates page of your Webmaster Tools account and you can provide deep links for each web page that has a corresponding deep link.

3. Add app deep links on your Website

Each page on your website can specify whether its contents should be loaded in your app. Several ways to tell Google about the relationship between a web page and a deep link to your app include:

  • Using a <link> element in the the <head> section of a page.
  • Using an <xhtml:link> element in the Sitemap <url> element specifying the page.
  • Using markup for the ViewAction potential action.

Syntax of app URIs is android-app://{package_name}/{scheme}/{host_path}
package_name: application ID as specified in the Android Play Store.
scheme: the scheme to pass to the application. Can be http, or a custom scheme.
host_path: identifies the specific content within your application.

Link rel=alternate elements in HTML
In the HTML of the page add a <link> element as follows for the deep link
Link rel=alternate elements in HTML

Link rel=alternate elements in XML Sitemaps
Annotate the relationship between a page and how to open it in your app using <link> elements in your website’s XML Sitemap:
Link rel=alternate elements in XML Sitemaps markup for ViewAction
Define your app as a handler for the ViewAction potential action. This tells Google (and anyone else supporting markup) how to deep link into your app: markup for ViewAction

4. Use the App Indexing API

The App Indexing API provides a way for developers to notify Google about deep links in their native apps and allows the Google app, version 3.6 and above, to drive re-engagement through Google Search query autocompletions as shown below.

app autocomplete

To integrate the App Indexing API into your app: set up your project to include Google Play Services
See full instructions at App Indexing API
Also see the AppIndexApi reference doc
Finally, once you have done everything in the launch checklist, Google will be able to start indexing your app. You can check for any issues that arise in Webmaster Tools.
Test your deep links using the test android-app:// URIs


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