The Deeplink Debrief - February 25

Deep link adoption grows — ESPN, Foursquare, and Huffington Post add deep link tags

About 6 months ago, we found that only 22% of the top 200 apps have added deep link tags to their websites. Today, that percentage has increased to 28% among the same set of apps. Companies that recently enabled deep linking range from media moguls like ESPN’s SportsCenter and the Huffington Post to local discovery apps like Foursquare and Hotels.com. —URX Blog

How marketers should talk to developers about deep linking

The most mobile-forward marketers are already intelligently using deep links to drive activity back to their apps. The difference between leading marketers and those catching up is that the leading mobile marketers know how to ask developers the right questions about deep links. —Bitly Blog

Search starts afresh on mobile

For the modern smartphone-based world, doing web searches begins to feel as antiquated as looking at the Site of the Day. Instead, what’s coming is a raft of smart apps that are able to harness our social graph — whether in business or personal — and give us search results that are properly tailored to what we need to know right when we want to. —TechCrunch

Kahuna creates personalized app notification links with dynamic deep linking

Kahuna is taking deep linking one step further by enabling links for apps that dynamically use the personal history of the person clicking the link. For instance, a customer who has a good history with her American Express card might receive a push notification about Hilton Hotels with a link to the Preferred Guest page in her travel app, rather than the generic Hilton Hotels screen. —Venture Beat

URX analyzed data from our Deep Link Search API to take a look at who "won" the Grammys

We’ve been working with a variety of mobile web publishers and app developers to help their users link into relevant music apps like Spotify, Rdio, Soundcloud, Mixcloud and a host of others. From publisher queries to our API, we can see which artists people are reading about or looking for throughout the country and gauge increases and decreases in artist popularity. —URX Blog

Deep Link Adoption Growing – ESPN, Foursquare, and Huffington Post Among Those to Add Tags

Smart mobile companies like Yelp, OpenTable, Spotify, Airbnb, and Instacart are finding intelligent ways to re-engage their app users with deep links. They are driving users to specific places inside their app through mobile search, advertising, Google Now, and direct partnerships between apps.

About 6 months ago, we found that only 22% of the top 200 apps have added deep link tags to their websites. Today, that percentage has increased to 28% among the same set of apps. Companies that recently enabled deep links range from media moguls like ESPN’s SportsCenter and the Huffington Post to local discovery apps like Foursquare and Hotels.com.

In addition, some apps who already have deep links added tags for more platforms: OfferUp and StubHub added ones for Android while ABC News and Yelp added iPad support.

Google, Instagram (Facebook), and Twitter, who each have proposed a standard for deep link tags, finally adopted their own proposals on their respective websites. However, Facebook and LinkedIn have yet to add tags, causing many users to be redirected to the mobile browser instead of the app when clicking on their mobile links from email or social media.

The verticals with the highest adoption of tags are Entertainment (54% have tags) and Music (50%), with the biggest increases over the past 6  months in Social (29% vs. 6%) and News (44% vs. 33%).

As we spend an increasing amount of time on mobile devices, we’re thrilled to see the continued adoption of deep linking to bring relevant users directly to the point of action.

Enabling mobile deep links requires a straightforward, one-time codebase addition, which involves registering a scheme to open the app and mapping routes to in-app pages or actions.

Most importantly, exposing deep link structures to the web using the proper tags not only allows for cross-app partnerships but also improves mobile SEO for Google and URX.

Feel free to get in touch with us at support@urx.com with any questions!

 

#TreeHacks 2015

We had a great time this weekend at TreeHacks, Stanford's first large-scale intercollegiate hackathon. We spent the weekend chatting with students about mobile development & deep linking, and giving out API keys for the Deep Link Search API.

Students, if you're interested in joining our team, check out our internship and engineering and job openings over at http://urx.com/careers.

Check out a few photos from the event!

Who Won the Grammys?

URX makes it easy for developers to link into apps - so why would we have any insight into what happened at the musical awards show last week?  Good question.

We’ve been working with a variety of mobile web publishers and app developers to help their users link into music apps like Spotify, Rdio, Soundcloud, Mixcloud and a host of others. Publishers send us information about what the user is viewing (e.g. headlines, page title, event performance) that help us identify the best, most relevant deep link. From those queries to our API, we can gauge which artists people are looking for or reading about throughout the country.

In January we received more than 20 million queries from music news sites, lyric sites, fitness apps, and other publishers whose users demonstrated high intent to listen to a particular song or artist. Throughout January, Hozier, Ed Sheeran, and Nicki Minaj ranked in the Top 3 most queried artists, with Beyonce and Eminem right behind them.

After the 57th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8, 2015, we were curious to see how the Grammys impacted user behavior. We pulled data from the day before (Saturday, February 7) and day after (Monday, February 9).

These are the most popular artists before the Grammys, ranked by number of queries from the URX publisher network.

Below are the Top 20 artists after the Grammys, ranked by number of queries from the URX publisher network. The blue music note indicates that the artist performed at the Grammys.

Interest in Sia, Sam Smith, and Kanye West jumped immediately after their Grammy performances. Even more impressively, Miranda Lambert and Beck leaped into the top 20 and received 10x the interest the day after the Grammys.

We can see how artist popularity increases or decreases by looking at query volume from our publisher network. Artists who perform and win awards receive more media coverage so publishers send more queries about them to our data API.

These types of detailed insights are one of the exciting ways we leverage data from our platform to improve user experiences across apps. “Stay With Me” as we will be sharing more of our learnings soon!

For more insights from URX, sign up for our newsletter.

The Deeplink Debrief - February 3

We rounded up the latest news in mobile search and deep linking. Subscribe here to receive the latest updates and insights from URX.

1. Don't look now, but deep linking just got hot

Deep linking is becoming a big asset for marketers who want to drive mobile traffic seamlessly from mobile browsers to mobile apps. The next step for URX, Button, and other companies in the deep linking space is to foster deep linking between different apps. —ReadWriteWeb

2. Google Now will bring in outside app data as Google envisions a world without a search box

For the first time, Google is allowing third-party apps to deliver information to Google Now, its predictive search app that’s built into Android phones, Android Wear smartwatches and the Chrome web browser. —WSJ

3. Button raises $12M to streamline mobile users’ maneuvers between apps

At some point all the apps on your phone will be linked to one another, which will mean greater opportunity for customer acquisition and engagement over time. At least, that’s the idea behind Button. —TechCrunch

4. URX enables mobile web developers to link into apps

Using our new web SDK, developers can now connect their websites to over 100 top mobile apps in less than 10 lines of code. —URX Blog

5. Most mobile users spend most of their time in apps but discover content by searching on the mobile web

Mobile users spend 88 percent of their time in apps. One of the key findings of the report is that search and social media are the primary ways that mobile users discover new content on their smartphones.—Search Engine Land

Make Your App Content Easy to Find by Adding your App to the URX Index

Many developers use the URX Search API to enrich their app experience with content from other apps. To make your app content easy to find, you can add your app to the URX index. URX is building an index of content from websites with publicly-available deep link tags and making this index accessible with the URX APIIn order to be indexed, your app needs to have deep links and these deep links need to be public. More info about how to enable deep linking in your app is available here.

Once you have set up deep links, you’ll need to make your deep link structure public by adding tags to your website. The URX App Search Index includes apps that have either Google App Indexing tags, Twitter Tags, Facebook App Link tags, or URX Link Tags on their corresponding website. You only need to add one set of these tags, which should be added in between the <head></head> tags on your website.

We've provided examples of how to publicize your deep link structure for each app type in our documentation.

If you are an app-only company and do not have a website, please email support@urx.com to work with us on adding your app to the index. 

After you add the tags to your site, let us know and we'll start indexing your app content so that it can easily discovered by our network of publishers and developers. If you have any questions, email us at support@urx.com.

URX Arrives On The Web

We’re pumped to announce that we’ve brought the power of URX to the web. Using our new web SDK, developers can now connect their websites to over 100 top mobile apps in less than 10 lines of code (download on Github).

Here’s a quick example of an integration: I’ve added a feature to my personal site enabling users viewing the site on mobile to search for music and listen to that music inside an app on their phone:

When a user searches “Kanye West," the site uses URX to surface Kanye West songs from apps like Spotify, Soundcloud and other URX-indexed music apps.

Each search result sends users directly to Kanye music inside an app through a deep link. If a user doesn’t have the selected app installed than links resolve users to the requested content on the web.

URX surfaces many different types content including videos to watch, songs to listen to and items to buy. And it's easy to filter to this content to create contextually relevant web-to-app experiences.

For instance, I can change the search engine on my personal site from one that surfaces music to one that surfaces tickets to nearby concerts by changing just one line of code. The concert tickets are sourced from mobile apps like StubHub and SeatGeek:

How to add URX’s web SDK to your site:

  1. Download the URX.js file from Github

  2. Upload the URX.js file to your site

  3. Import URX.js

  4. Construct a search query:


<script src="urx.js"></script>

<script>
$urx.setApiKey("API KEY GOES HERE");
 var keywords = "kanye west";
 var musicFilter = " action:ListenAction";
 $urx.search(keywords + musicFilter, function(response) {
   // SEARCH SUCCESS HANDLER
   var searchResult = response.results[0];
   // The Search Result Content's Title
   console.log(searchResult.name);
   // The Search Result Content's image url
   console.log(searchResult.imageUrl);
   // The Search Result Content's longer text description
   console.log(searchResult.descriptionText);
   // The Search Result Content's call to action text (ie. "Buy Tickets")
   console.log(searchResult.callToActionText);
   // The Search Result Content's app name (if deeplink is available)
   console.log(searchResult.appName); }, function(req, errorMessage) {
   // SEARCH FAILURE HANDLER
   console.log(errorMessage);
}); </script>

Here we're creating a keyword search for "kanye west" with a ListenAction filter (to limit search results to music) and executing it against the URX Search API.

If you check your browser’s console, you’ll see results for Kanye West songs and albums, which you can now display on the page.

Copy and paste this code on any site to see URX search results displayed on the web page.

You can switch your search engine from one that surfaces music to one that surfaces concert tickets by changing the "action:ListenAction" filter to "action:BuyAction tickets":

  
<script>
	$urx.setApiKey("API KEY GOES HERE");
	var keywords = "kanye west";
	var ticketsFilter = "action:BuyAction ticket";
	$urx.search(keywords + ticketsFilter, function(response) {
		var searchResult = response.results[0];
	}, function(req, errorMessage) {
       // SEARCH FAILURE HANDLER
       console.log(errorMessage);
    });
</script>
  

Learn more about URX action filters here.

Need Help?

If you’re having any difficulty or just want a quick explainer, please feel free to contact me: n@urx.com.

Did We Mention You Can Get Paid?

You can get paid for using URX on your site to power web-to-app experiences. It’s as easy as implementing the code above. To learn more please contact us.

For more information on building search and discovery inside your mobile app, check out URX Widgets or read our developer documentation.

The Deeplink Debrief - January 9

We rounded up the latest news in mobile search and deep linking. Subscribe here to receive the latest updates and insights from URX.

1. The NY Times takes a look at companies that are trying to make the user experience with mobile apps more like that of the web. 

Unlike web pages, mobile apps do not have links. They do not have web addresses. They live in worlds by themselves, largely cut off from one another and the broader Internet. And so it is much harder to share the information found on them . —The New York Times

2. URX co-founder John Milinovich discusses the re-aggregation of the web.

As users, we will want to access information and take action on the most convenient device and expect all our digital services to work together seamlessly. We won't care whether we use a web browser or an app to make it happen, just that the experience is smooth. —Accel  Blog

3. Gigaom named deep linking and app constellations as one of its top five social trends for 2015.

As social applications turn into portals for other experiences in 2015, the deep linking trend and constellation of apps that communication with each other will only grow. —Gigaom

4. URX marketing lead Mike Fyall looks at the impact of deep links on search and discovery in Wired.

Google and other mobile search startups are now indexing apps, like the Googlebot that crawls the web. They're building search engines that understand what apps can do and are combining them with important mobile signals (e.g. do I have the app installed already?) to provide relevant and personalized results that link directly to the correct place to take action. —URX Blog

5. Brian Klais of Pure Oxygen Labs discusses how mobile SEO and deep linking will impact retailers.

The long term implications of deep links are broader than simple linking. When developers expose their app structure, we can organize the information inside apps in new ways and can create better ways to find information. —Internet Retailer

6. Recap and demo videos of the deeplink.nyc meetup are now posted online.

The Deeplink Debrief is published every two weeks. Sign up here to receive our newsletter.

If You Think Deep Links Are a Big Deal Now, Just Wait

This article originally appeared in Wired on Dec 19th.

They were a discussion topic on Google’s Earnings Call and were a focus at I/O. Facebook created a standalone initiative called App Links to take a leadership position. Long time internet watcher John Battelle claims the quickening is nigh. What is it about deep links that has everyone so worked up?

Today, they help us quickly navigate to specific places in our favorite apps. For example, deep links enable you to click on a push notification that takes you directly to a calendar invite for your upcoming meeting. Deep links also provides the connective tissue between apps and allow you to click on an Uber button inside the United app to book a car.

For Google, Twitter and Facebook, deep links provide the infrastructure to unlock the next stage of mobile ad dollars. Mobile app install ads have become a huge business, and the next step is driving users back into apps they already have, either through an ad in your feed or from a search result. User retargeting is already a huge business online and is starting to gather momentum in mobile.

While these improvements to mobile experience are great, they pale in comparison to the impact of deep links on mobile search and discovery.

Its hard to believe that 6 years later we are still browsing through lists in the App Stores to find apps. And when we search, we get a list of apps that might help us with a picture and brief description, not a link to solve our specific problem. Web search is light years ahead of app search, and until we solve it long tail discovery is virtually impossible.

Deep links help us understand the content inside apps so we can categorize them in a smart way. Google and other mobile search startups are now indexing apps, like the Googlebot that crawls the web. They’re building search engines that understand what apps can do and are combining them with important mobile signals (e.g. do I have the app installed already?) to provide relevant and personalized results that link directly to the correct place to take action.

Deep links will transform how we search apps on our devices. But what about discovery?

On the web we share links with friends on social media, hyperlink relevant articles in blogs (I’ve already done it twice here), or personalize our homepage with feeds from our favorite sites. We don’t think about it, we just copy and paste the URL or hit the share button. Coming soon to the app ecosystem courtesy of deep links.

And, like it or not, advertising also plays a huge role in discovery. Yet all we are discovering today inside mobile apps are new social games, or seeing ads for companies our friends liked in the past. There is no concept of contextual relevance – the ad networks don’t know anything about the app you are currently using. You could be reading about a music concert, a football game, or politics and you’ll still be served the same ad. Online, we can automatically scrape the html of a page to know what its about and then can target an ad appropriately. So as we understand the content inside apps, ads will be become more effective for advertisers, higher paying for developers, and far less annoying for users.

Ultimately, deep links provide the underlying infrastructure that will bring many of the awesome benefits we take for granted on the web to the app ecosystem.

Four SEO Tips for Mobile Apps

This post first appeared on developer.com.

Mobile app discovery is still incredibly challenging. This is finally changing as Google, Twitter, Facebook and startups are using deep links to index the information inside mobile apps. Soon, we'll have new tools to discover apps and engage directly with ones we've already chosen to download.

However, to take advantage of free traffic into your app, developers need to prepare their apps to be indexed. These four steps will show you how to enable third parties to understand the content inside your app and link to it at the appropriate time.

1. Enable Deep Linking to Your Mobile App

This is the only way to enable external traffic to be directed inside your app. Search engines like Google are starting to add deep link content to their search results. As new mobile discovery tools are developed, this is the only way they can direct relevant traffic into your app. Deep links also enable you to set up cross promotion partnerships with other apps. More info and links to documentation can be found here.

2. Add Tags on Your Website Exposing Your Deep Links

After adding deep links, you need to share your URL structure so that other computers or end users can find the appropriate link. This is done by marking up your website with meta tags indicating what the app deep link is for each given page of web content. Google, Facebook, and Twitter each have markup tags that shares your deep links with their platforms. This blog post contains additional information on deep link standards.

3. Create Web Pages for Equivalent Screens in Your App

Crawling and indexing mobile apps directly is technically challenging. Instead, search companies index apps by crawling metadata on web pages associated with the deep link. However, there may be screens in your app for which there is no equivalent web page, and so that content will not be indexed or discoverable. We recommend creating pages for this content to help search engines better make sense of the structure of your app and content.

4. Add Structured Data to Your Site

Structured data is a way of telling web crawlers explicitly about data points related to a given page. This could include information such as price, date, geolocation, related images, title, description, and types of actions users can take on your site, ratings/reviews, and much more. Not only do search engines use this meta data when determining relevancy, new contextual experiences like Google Now use the data to provide detailed answers to questions. Exposing this data allows developers to build richer integrations with your own app, which ultimately results in more traffic. Visit Google support for a good summary on why and how to add structured data.

Summary

SEO is a critically important task for any website today, and it will be for app developers in the near future. Developers who implement these four steps today will be the first to take advantage of the new mobile discovery tools being built today.

James