Deep Linking Advances Mobile Web & Mobile App Interplay

These days, the ultimate challenge to Google’s online dominance is the mobile app ecosystem, where information is siloed and unindexable. With mobile search now eclipsing desktop search by the numbers, getting app data indexed is a primary concern for Google.

According to the Wall Street Journal, mobile Google searches across 10 different countries are now outnumbering searches made on personal laptops and desktops. Luckily for Google, mobile app developers’ interest in app indexing and deep linking is increasing as they aim to improve the mobile experiences of their customers.

Deep linking effectively uses context to seamlessly connect mobile web users to the experiences they desire. With more than 78% of apps being abandoned after first use, it makes sense that mobile app companies are betting on deep linking to ensure they are creating an app experience that is catered to the user.

Still confused by deep linking? Let’s break down the process: Say you’re reading an article about the new Kat Edmonson album on your iPhone. In a world without deep linking, in order to listen to the album you would have to close the browser, find your music streaming app, search for Kat’s new album and then press play. With deep linking, a related action from an app like Spotify is placed right below the album mention, allowing you with one click to listen to the album.

The nature of deep linking allows the web (and even more importantly, the mobile web) to provide the experiences we desire, right as we desire them, based on the context. Companies like URX and Vurb are working to reveal the various ways for which deep linking can be integrated into mobile apps across not only devices but also the internet of things. From smartphones to smartwatches, the more these devices are all connected, the more opportunities there are to link up and improve the user’s experience between apps and actions.

Google is investing heavily in deep linking experiences like Google Now on Tap, the company’s solution to the growing problem of mobile apps that don’t talk to each other. Recently at the Street Fight Summit in San Francisco, Danny Bernstein from Google laid out the search giant’s vision for how deep linking will play out in the long run.

Bernstein noted that smartphone users spend the majority of their time in a handful of what he called “hub” apps (chat apps, navigation apps, search apps, social apps, news apps, etc.) Other widely used apps that are particularly good for one action (think Uber), are what Google sees as “spoke” apps that need to be connected back to the hubs.

Deep linking isn’t so new. Often overlooked in the midst of discussion about deep linking, however, is one of the most widely adopted deep links out in the mobile world right now: click-to-call. It seamlessly connects a smartphone user from an ad or phone number within a “hub” app like Google Maps or Google Search, to the “spoke” app that is the phone. It seems odd to think of the “phone” part of our smartphone as an app but that’s essentially what it’s become.

The various ways for which deep linking would be useful is vast and impressive. With the fast-paced growth of technology and an even faster decrease in attention span, there is a unanimous longing across the tech community for a deep linked user experience.

How would you liked to see deep linking implemented in your mobile browsing experience?

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