webEarly this year Google started indexing apps for Android users that had signed up to a branded app. A couple of weeks ago the search engine giant extended this ranking signal to include all Android users whether they have used an app or not.

When apps appear in search engine results, users have the option to download them immediately using the fixed app install button. This latest development could have benefits for companies developing mobile apps. Or could it?

The pros and cons of apps

Search engines put an emphasis on user-experience and apps provide a solution for brands to connect with consumers in an interactive way. When users download apps to their mobiles you can have direct engagement with them.

For users apps can be a valuable tool – providing the information you give them is useful for every day or frequent use. The mistake many brands make is they build an app users easily lose interest in.

You can also use your app to make the purchasing process easier. Furthermore, you can take advantage of direct engagement with subscribers by using your app to handle customer services, feedback and complaints.

Apps help visibility

Now Google is including apps in its ranking factors, they can be a great way to drive traffic to your site and raise brand awareness. Even better news for companies developing apps is that the ranking factors can be linked to your website.

There is of course a snag. Before your app ranks in search engines you have to receive engagement and interest from users. Indexing and ranking apps works exactly the same way as ranking pages content.

The good news however, is that you can notify Google of corresponding content in your app that also features on your website. Therefore if your webpages are ranking well, your app will automatically rank well also. So don’t forget to include deep links between your app content and on-page content.

Why develop a mobile app

News on the Google vine is that apps designed for iOS will also feature in mobile search results for Apple users. Google is clearly making its intentions known for mobile.

At the moment everything Google does is designed to make search more engaging for mobile users. And that means you should too. And mobile users love apps.

Although apps do offer many benefits for online brands, they are not always a good fit for every company. The most successful apps provide useful information that people want to tap into on a regular basis.

Therefore, unless you can fulfil the needs of mobile users with an app, think twice about building one just because they appear in search results. They will only appear in search results if they have any merit to be ranked. And that can take time if your website is not already ranking well.