Post by Chris Chapa, Senior Content Strategist

In February, I had the opportunity to attend MozCon Local 2016, a local search and online marketing conference, with presentations from some of the top minds in the local search game. Mobile Moxie’s Emily Grossman discussed the “app-web convergence,” which really resonated with me. Her presentation allows brands to question the extent to which competition is growing from app results in the SERP and how this will affect organic search traffic for companies who have mobile apps.

App-web convergence describes how Google has blurred the line between traditional search results and app results to the point where mobile users often cannot distinguish between the two. Consumers may have encountered app results while performing a search on their mobile device in various forms, including:

  • App pack result: a container of 3+ app results

App Pack Result on iPhone

  • App universal result: “Apps” tab showing only app results

App Universal Result on iPhone

  • App single result: a single app result with a link to download/install

App Single Result on iPhone

  • App stream result (Beta): a link to stream the app experience without needing to install the app
  • Deep links: links that look like text links, but open up the corresponding screen in the app (if configured)

The type of app results consumers see will depend on their device, app installation status, query and other factors. One of the most common examples that’s been seen lately is the deep link result. A deep link result in the SERP looks like a run-of-the-mill text link, but when clicked on, it links to the corresponding page in an app. Here’s an example for a Google search for “cubs tickets” from an iPhone:

Deep Link Results on iPhone

In the screenshot, the search for “cubs tickets” surfaces a result that looks exactly like a text link, but is actually a deep link that leads to the corresponding content in the StubHub app. This is a great example of how deep-linked results are almost indistinguishable from text links until after clicked upon. Competition from app results will only accelerate as Google is encouraging developers to index their client’s apps by offering ranking boosts in search results, like associating verified apps with websites. If the app is associated with the website, the website could potentially get a boost in rankings within the SERP.


So, what implications does the rise in SERP competition from app results have for organic search? As brands open up more of their apps to crawlers, and more deep links flood into the search results, they should expect to see a portion of their organic search clicks shift to their app. Those who have implemented Google Search Console for Apps can use the Search Analytics report to get some insight into these app result interactions, which looks something like this:

Search Analytics

This report will let you show clicks, impressions, click-through rates (CTRs) and positions for these app result types:

  • Search Result Link: A search result with a link that opens in an app
  • Install App Button: For devices that don’t have the app installed, this is a search result with a button to install the app

It will be interesting to see how digital marketers account for this shift in traffic as competition from app results in the SERP grows. At Performics, we’ll be keeping a close eye on analytics for clients who have a mobile app.



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