Firebase App Indexing

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Firebase InvitesImplementing Firebase App Indexing

Firebase App Indexing makes the content contained within an app discoverable to app users within both web and device-based Google search results, thereby increasing user engagement with the app. App Indexing also provides an effective way to drive new users to an app by including an app install button next to the search results.

This chapter will provide an introduction to Firebase App Indexing while explaining the different indexing features available and how to implement them within an Android app.

An Overview of Firebase App Indexing

One of the challenges facing app developers today is finding a way to encourage users to use an app once it has been installed on a device. While some apps such as news or social network apps tend to experience frequent use, many apps will remain unused after being installed on the user’s device. One solution to this involves presenting the user with notifications that attempt to provide a reason for opening the app. Another option is to make use of App Indexing.

With app indexing, when a user has an app installed and performs a relevant search either on the web or device, the matching content within the app will appear within the search results. When the result is clicked, the app will launch and present the content to the user.

App Indexing may also be used to log the actions performed by users within the app in relation to the content. These actions are then used to improve the ranking of your content when the user performs content related Google searches and also to provide autocomplete suggestions while the user is entering a search query.

Firebase App Indexing categorizes app content as either public or personal. Public content is content associated with the app that is visible to all app users. This can take the form of content provided by the app, or content added by users with the understanding that it will be made visible to all other users. Personal content, on the other hand, is content that is added by users solely for their own personal use. When implementing app indexing, it is important to differentiate between public and personal content and actions so that a user’s personal data is protected.

Public Content Indexing

Public content indexing includes links to app content within Google search results, regardless of whether the search is performed on the Google search website or using the Google app on the device. If the user has the app installed and app indexing has been implemented, the user can click the link to launch the app and access the content. As will be demonstrated in a later chapter, the search results on the device appear within the In Apps page of the Google search page.

Public content indexing involves indexing content that is considered to be accessible to all users and can only be implemented if the content within the app directly corresponds to the content structure of a web site. In other words, the deep link URLs that launch the correct content within the app must match the URL to reach the same content within the web site.

Consider, for example, a website that contains descriptions of vintage computer systems. The URLs for some web pages might be structured as follows:

Clearly, entering one of the above URLs into a browser search bar would load the web page for the corresponding computer system.

Now assume that the web site also has a companion Android app containing the same content. In order to be able to support app indexing, the app must be able to accept the same URLs in the form of deep links and display the same content.

In a typical scenario, the user might install the app and view information about the Amiga 500 before closing the app. At some point in the future the same user may perform a Google search for the Amiga 500 using the Chrome browser or Google app. Firebase App Indexing will recognize that the search relates to content that the user previously viewed within the app and provide a link to the app based content within the search results. Selecting the link will launch the app and present the Amiga 500 content to the user.

Once content has been publicly indexed, it has the potential to also appear in search results for users that have yet to install the app. In this situation, an install button will appear next to the search result, providing a convenient installation path for new users.

Personal Content Indexing

Personal content is user generated content that is not intended to be viewed by other users. The example vintage computer app might, for example, provide the option for users to add notes about the price and condition of computer systems they are considering purchasing. Notes such as these would be indexed as personal content.

Personal content indexes are stored locally on the device and appear only within searches performed using the Google app and only when the content owner is signed into the device.

Unlike public content indexing, personal indexing does not require that the content also exist on a companion web site.

User Action Logging

App Indexing allows apps to log the actions taken by a user within an app. As with content, actions can be categorized as public or private. When actions are logged, Google uses this information when ranking content within a search query and to offer autocompletion suggestions when users enter queries into the Google search bar.

Typical actions to consider logging include viewing of specific content, watching a video, adding new content, listening to a song or sharing content with another user.


App Indexing provides a way to drive increased user engagement with an app by presenting the app content within search results both on the device and within Google web based searches. App Indexing can be used to index both app content and user activity, the latter being used to rank content and as the basis for autocomplete suggestions within the Google search bar. When using app indexing it is important to differentiate between public and personal content. Public content can only be indexed if the same content is also available on a web site and accessible via the same URL structure.

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