An engaging new user experience has emerged in the form of progressive Web apps (PWAs). Combining the best that both mobile and Web apps have to offer, PWAs can be thought of as websites that look and work in the ways you would expect an app to, well, look and work. More importantly, they can be crawled and indexed by Google, meaning there is an opportunity for them to draw visitors and create a unique user experience.
PWAs have the ability to run both online and offline, and can therefore be accessed and used anywhere, on any device and on any browser. All users are going to reach the same version of the app. These apps can be installed directly to the user's home screen and do not have to be downloaded from an app store. With the ease of today's PWAs and all that they have to offer though, marketers may need to re-evaluate and rethink how they market their brands (e.g., think of a progressive Web app for an industry conference where Internet connectivity may be bogged down and limited or a news publication sending offline push notifications to subscribers who have expressed interest in certain stories).
PWAs already have and will continue to have an impact on how search marketing can most successfully be done in order to best reach the targeted consumer.
Searchers Want the Ability to Interact with What They Find
With advanced, interactive apps such as Google Docs and Notes being used by so many, Internet users now expect different things when they head over to their search engine of choice. Once a user has created a Google Doc or typed out a Note, either can be easily shared to another person or to a group of people. They can also be saved to go back to and review at a later time. Even more advanced than an interactive app like Google Docs or Notes are the PWAs that are emerging. Because of what PWAs now allow users to do, many of these users expect to be able to do the same things within other online channels as well.
With PWAs, instead of having to perform multiple searches, users can collect the media of their choice all in one place. Flipboard is a great example (see more examples here) of how a PWA can allow users to ditch the search engine ways of their past and have more interaction and engagement with the information provided them. In Flipboard, content from social media networks, news outlets, and blogs is collected and displayed to appear and read like a magazine. The user can pick and choose from the content available to create their own "magazine" of information they wish to read. Rather than searching multiple times for bits and pieces of information, with this PWA users can have all the information gathered in one place and interact with it to make it their own collection. Will this kill search marketing? Not likely, but there definitely will be some opportunities for progressive companies to leverage PWAs as part of their marketing mix.
With PWAs, businesses win by boosting consumer engagement and cutting down on the time it takes users to both access and navigate within them. For every step that presents itself between the user's initial contact with the app and the user being able to actually use the app, the user loses interest. Since PWAs cut out the need for the user to go into an app store and instead allow them to immediately begin using the app, user retention rates are improved. As we all know, customers of today expect their interactions with a company online to be quick, convenient and smooth from any device. PWAs are just a natural progression of this desire.
Due to the way that new and advanced Web apps function and how they can allow users to accomplish things without first seeking out how or where to go to do so, the need for search marketing could dwindle some. For instance, on the PWA for Trivago (an online business for travel arrangements), not only can its user search for hotel options in their travel destination, but they can also read reviews for each hotel and book the one of choice there on Trivago's Web app as well. It serves as a one-stop shop of sorts. Without the need for the user to go elsewhere to learn more about a particular hotel or even to book one when one is chosen, Trivago has perhaps lessened some of the search marketing that would have before been done by the hotels themselves to make sure that searchers looking for reviews or booking information were able to find what they were looking for.
Flipkart, India's largest online marketplace for those looking to buy pretty much anything, is another example of a PWAs that keeps users within the platform and off our search engines. Since Flipkart serves as a giant portal for users to buy anything from home appliances to books to electronics to clothing all in one place, they can find a variety of items without visiting Google. Instead, they will do their searching for whatever particular product or products they are looking for all within the one Web app. Even so, people are still likely to head back to Google to compare prices or to find a site with a PWA in the first place, so no, SEO is not dying.
Being a PWA, Flipkart can also differentiate itself from other big ecommerce sites like Amazon. As a PWA, it functions both online and offline, and developers are not obligated to submit any updates to app stores for approval before they are available, they are just available to consumers immediately.
With abilities to serve as modes of instantaneous conversation, channels to easily share information, and offer everything you are looking for all in one place, progressive Web apps are what is happening right now and what will be happening in the near future. Because of all that these Web apps have to offer and because of the way that users interact with them, you can all but count on them becoming a more integral part of the digital strategy for big brands.
Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Spring Hill, TN. 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.