Thought Leadership

Seamless Linking to Your App with iOS 9

The majority of people discover content by searching on the web. Search engine traffic and SEO are primary drivers of new user discovery. App users are typically more valuable consumers to a specific brand or business because in most cases they have higher engagement levels. It’s now more important than ever to make your content available across web and apps in the manner in which people want to consume it.

Last week, Apple released iOS 9 into beta, meaning in just a few short weeks, the updated operating system will roll out to millions of Apple device consumers. There are a ton of new features in iOS 9 that will create new opportunities for digital marketers, including Universal App Search. This new feature will help users find content inside apps by way of deep links. Universal Links fall under the larger Search initiative in iOS 9, which encompasses Safari, Siri, Spotlight, local apps, and even apps that aren't installed on a device.

Here’s a scenario: Let’s say a friend Tweets about the amazing time he and his family are having on vacation, along with a link to the Groupon deal for that resort stay. Previously, if you were to tap the link for iOS, you’d launch the web view - even if you had the Groupon app installed. This is because Groupon has no idea how to link you to that deal inside of their app.  With deep linking in iOS 9, it will know you have the Groupon app installed, and route you to that exact resort deal inside the Groupon app. This experience is exactly what you’d hope for when two apps work together. The one stipulation is that Groupon must create the URL path mappings between its web and native experience (specified in the iOS developer docs). 

Apple says users can discover and access information within your app even when it isn’t installed on your phone. In addition, Apple notes in their developer docs that when you implement deep linking, you will see an “increase in the usage of your app” and “improve your app’s discoverability by displaying your content when users search across the system and on the web.”  The Apple team goes on to say, “Imagine that your app helps users handle minor medical conditions, such as a sunburn or a sprained ankle. When you adopt iOS 9 Search, users searching their devices for “sprained ankle” can get results for your app even when they don’t have your app installed. When users tap on a result for your app, they get the opportunity to download it.”

If you want to promote your app content for iOS users, Apple Search should be a key part of your strategy. Your web and app experience need to work together and complement each other. Marketers need to understand how people select one or the other and tailor their personalized experience accordingly.

Want to learn more? Download our new POV, "App Search Optimization Beyond App Stores" today.