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What is Deep Linking?

Posted on 10.12.2015

:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::

With Internet marketing already established, marketing firms and companies are always looking for ways to remain viable and competitive through the adaptation of the latest and greatest marketing strategies.

In keeping with that, more and more marketing strategies are now aggressively targeting mobile users. One of the best ways to do this is by guiding users to specific sections of mobile applications, a.k.a. deep linking.

The term deep linking refers to the process by which a user is directly linked to particular content. This is done by using a URI (Uniform Resource Identifier), which will link a user to a specific location within a mobile app. A traditional website uses URLs to accomplish deep linking, which for most Web professionals, is so common that we forget what we are actually doing. While mobile app URI creation may seem more complex, it is to app developers what permalinks are to Web developers. For the rest of us, here is an example of deep linking at work.

To better understand deep linking, let’s take a look at Twitter. Mobile devices nowadays come pre-installed with a Twitter app. When a user clicks on the app, he/she will be directed to via the installed browser in the mobile device. However, with deep linking, the Twitter app will directly open without the browser when it is detected on a person's device. Twitter isn't the only social media network to use deep linking, however. In the example below, the mobile user was prompted to open up the Pinterest app for a better user experience - after searching for "marketing tips on Pinterest" via Google and clicking through one of the results.

Does Deep Linking Help SEO?

An important aspect associated with deep linking is “App Indexing." Simply put, app indexing can be defined as the process by which an app is crawled and added to Google’s index. The benefit of this is that potential users will be able to search for and find specific sections of a mobile application, increasing exposure for that app, just as ranking for keywords does for a website.

Deep Linking & PPC Advertising

Just as Google encourages you to take users to specific and targeted landing pages on your website, they also want you to send users to targeted sections of your mobile app. Let’s say for example you have a list of people who have your app installed and you want to encourage them to re-engage with your app, creating a PPC ad to direct them to a new feature on your app is a great way to accomplish that goal, but it wouldn’t be possible without deep linking. While app re-engagement advertising is great, it is only the tip of the iceberg.

A Few Additional Benefits of Deep Linking

• Increase the number of downloads – When a mobile app is correctly configured for deep linking and app indexing, it will allow for more downloads. If users don’t have the app in place, they will be automatically be directed to the app’s page in the App Store so that they can download the app.

•Retain users – If your app can quickly and efficiently connect users with their desired information, you are going to dramatically increase user retention.

• Increase revenue – Deep linking allows you to create an internal sales funnel for your mobile app. Take users on a customized journey that will expose them to premium upgrades meeting their exact needs.

• Optimize direct-response campaigns – Deep links can allow pay-per-click advertisers to align offers, and replicate the most relevant user destinations within apps.

• Increase cross-channel marketing – Advertisers can use deep links to drive customers to the app from their promotions on social media, SEO and email.

• Improve traffic flow – Deep links can be used to redirect traffic flow to specific areas of an app that are not receiving the desired amount of exposure. Do you have a great feature that nobody is using? Send users to that feature to increase it’s use.

Is Deep Linking the Future?

No. It is the present. If you have a mobile application that is not getting the engagement you had hoped for, is failing to generate revenue, or is rarely downloaded, deep linking paired with strategic marketing and advertising is the solution you have been searching for. If you have an app that is performing well, deep linking can help you uncover a wealth of information about user behavior and interests. 

If you decide to seek help from an outside agency, Google offers training and certification for mobile advertising as part of the AdWords certification program.

If you are working with a certified individual, they should have a profile page on Google Partners like the one listed above, indicating they were trained and tested in mobile advertising fundamentals.

Over to you…

Have you used deep linking to improve engagement with your app? What type of increases in downloads and engagement did you see after implementing deep linking?

Author Bio

Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Marion, IL. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz

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