Will app marketing ever become part of mainstream SEO?

We recently published episode 12 of our This Week In Organic show, looking into:

  • Will app content optimization become an essential part of SEO?
  • What’s the future of YouTube now that it’s part of a smaller Google?
  • Is Pinterest a social media platform or an e-commerce opportunity?
  • Are these the 7 Social Media Platforms That Could Explode Before 2016?

Today we’re zeroing in on one of the topics discussed in the episode: Will app marketing ever become part of mainstream SEO?

Jump straight this topic in the video below:


LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Apple and Google are both promoting deep-linking in apps, but will this ever become mainstream SEO or is app marketing a specialist discipline? And should this mean that more businesses should consider having apps? And is it going to make it harder for businesses without apps to compete? What do businesses need to do to take advantage of this? Who would like to come in on this first? Any of you out there working with clients who are actively looking at this right now?

ANDREW SHOTLAND: Yeah, we’re actually doing a lot of work on this. We have a client we’re working with now who is coming out with a product to help businesses work with iOS actually on this app indexing. So for those of you who already have a Mac or iOS10, you know that it’s already introducing Safari. You know that it’s already hijacking a tonne of search queries. I can pretty much type in my browser right now the name of any local business and Apple Mac’s profile for that business will be the first thing that pops up as the suggestion to search. And we do a lot of work on Apple Macs as well and we can see all of that content is getting filtered out through Apple’s ecosystem.

And so you don’t need an app to compete in there. You just need to be inside of apps. So we don’t just look on local businesses, but on the local business side of things you need to be in Yelp’s app, which is getting indexed pretty heavily in Apple Macs and in Safari and things like that.

And it’s not bad to have your own app strategy if you can get people to actually download your app and use it. But I don’t know that I’d create an app just optimised for Apple’s app index.

LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay, but for local businesses it’s good to get distribution of their credentials and name and address and telephone number et cetera across different sites. Do that in the apps as well? Make sure you’re listed in the apps?

ANDREW SHOTLAND: Well yeah, you should in any case know what the strongest pop-up apps are in your niche and make sure you have a presence in them. So if every one of your customers uses Yelp, you’d better make sure your Yelp data’s alright.


ANDREW SHOTLAND: I’d worry more about that than this app indexing thing.

REBECCA LIEB: Andrew makes an interesting point and I think it’s a way people need to think about most apps. There are, of course, apps that are games and apps that are entertaining, but the preponderance of apps that people use for utility purposes are really mini vertical search engines. Yelp is nothing but a vertical search engine. So’s GrubHub, so’s Seamless. So are apps like Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Finders or Zillo. So all of those linking tactics and all of that local information, all of that contact information are absolutely critical. And we’re not just talking about a universe of phones right now. We’re talking about an expanding universe, obviously, of screens, of tablets, of in-store displays. So people are searching for information not just on Google on laptops but via apps, via a preponderance of different kinds of devices and screens, and search strategy needs to extend to those, whether we’re talking about Google as the primary search engine or an app.

LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay, so I’ve got an in-house marketing team. Let’s think a bit bigger business than my deli. We’ve just got started so we’re not going to start creating our app straight away. We’ll concentrate on making decent pastries. But at the slightly bigger business, maybe got an in-house marketing team, maybe they outsource their work to an agency. Do they need a specialist to come in and help them with this? What advice would you give people who’ve got an app already, maybe got some traction with it in terms of making sure that their app surfaces and results for users?

BILL HUNT: Well I think that’s the answer – does it surface? Back to Andrew’s point, are you findable? Whether you’re the deli or you’re somebody like HP, am I findable in whatever people are using? And I think that’s the gap. Your original question, will this be part of mainstream SEO or will this be part of a strategy, I think it’s going to be a niche for a while because like anything else, unless it’s sort of hacking links or title tags or some other sort of flavour of the day for SEO, most people don’t consider this stuff mainstream. And I think not to get on a rant about our industry, but I think that’s the big flaw we have. We often think about things in silos, although we bitch about companies thinking in silos. And not to sort of put Andrew in a corner ‘cause they focus on local but as he said, it’s the whole ecosystem. Anything related to finding something local is the concept. So if you have something that should be local, it should be there on apps.

If you think about how an app might work and what is the intent… So somebody that drinks. So for example, Absolut Vodka has a drink site and they also have a drink app, and in the app what we wanted to make sure is if somebody was looking for a drink, especially if they were on a mobile phone, we wanted to make sure that that cocktail was findable in the app on their phone. And so that’s the thing that the engines were starting to see, and if you look especially on the Android side, they actually have these intent filters, where what’s the intent of someone’s query that they did and what should they get? Should they get the home page? Should they get an address page? Should they get a product page or should they get some other piece of asset? And I think if we think about that in the big picture, that takes all this stuff out of a niche and makes it essentially the strategy of findability.

And so if we are someone that has a local presence, then all these pieces need to be part of that strategy. If you’re a multinational with a global presence, not only is it global but it’s local within all those things. And then are we in all the various directories? Are we in our OEM provider directories, if we’re talking about a mid-sized company? Are we findable and is out data correct? And that’s one thing I think a lot of people don’t do. They look to see, ‘Yes, I’m there. I’m in Yelp.’ But maybe the address is wrong or the phone number’s wrong. So those are the kind of things I think is the next step that someone, either the company needs to do or their agency needs to do for them.

LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay, well that’s great and Andrew, did you want to jump in on that?

ANDREW SHOTLAND: I’m focusing on local now ‘cause that’s where a lot of this activity’s happening, but it’s actually not just a local thing. What we saw on local is that everyone ignored Apple Macs ‘cause they thought it sucked and no one realised that 100 million people are using it. So people ignored it, people are using it, they need to start working with it. And I’ve a feeling this is what’s going to happen with the app indexing on iOS9. It’s going to be there in October and hundreds of millions of people are going to start to use it and we don’t know yet if we type – let’s take the vodka thing – how to make a martini, a vodka martini. If you type in Safari in iOS9 ‘how to make a vodka martini’ and the first result is an app suggestion, then to Bill’s point, you’re going to have to start to think about not just findability in your app but do you have that content in your app because that’s what customers are looking for, that’s what Apple’s showing you, and then who knows how they’re going to rank which app to show there? Is it the app that the person has on their phone? Is it the most popular app in the app store? Is it because someone wrote a review that said, ‘This has ‘how to make a martini’ in it’? And so I think all of these things are going to need to be figured out ‘cause it’s going to have an impact. It’s not going to be a niche.

LAURENCE O’TOOLE: So there’s multiple layers of optimisation. It’s making sure you come up in the results, within the app, and then within the app maybe you have to pay the Yellow Pages company, the Yelp to get to the top of the listing.

ANDREW SHOTLAND: Well if Yelp’s showing up for those queries all the time then yeah, you probably will want to do something with Yelp!

LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Well again, there’s probably another show on that at a later date, maybe around October time would be really interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.