Deep Linking is a sure and short way of making your customers or potential customers reach your app and use it well. While this is a trending topic per se, not a lot of people truly know what deep linking actually means.
Deep Linking is the process of making it easy for users to access your app. If your app is placed in another apps’ page or a mobile web page, then is possible for users to start using your app with a single tap, without having to go through the extensive process of exiting the currently open page and then start searching your app. Now, this process stands true if your app has already been installed in the concerned device.
On the other hand, a couple of years back, if the app was not downloaded on the phone, then any tap on the link given would lead to an error message, making sure a good potential customer is lost in the midst.
What ‘deep linking’ is? How it works?
A deep link is a URL that opens and directs a user to a specific location within an app. In short it is an app to app linking or the web to app linking.
For example, you are developing an app named XYZ in iOS, one has to register a URL scheme with iOS. Say it you registered “xyz” as the app’s URL scheme. SO all the URL that starts with xyz:// will deep link to the app.
What actually happens in this case? When iOS tries to open the URL (xyz://dummytext), it first looks for the apps already installed on the device. If it finds an app with the custom URL scheme match, it will launch the app.
Why do you need mobile app deep linking?
Any app can be successful if it drives user engagement and deep linking can play a big role in it. Deep links can direct users to the specific app view within your app or any other apps. Say you wanted your user to go from a view in your app straight to your company’s LinkedIn page. Without deep linking the LinkedIn app, you have two options.
The first is to display a button for the user to tap on, launching Safari or UIWebView within your app. Once they arrive at the LinkedIn page, they may need to authenticate with LinkedIn if they’re not already signed in.
The second option is to direct your user to exit your app, open the LinkedIn app, and then search for your company’s page. This seems a bit easier for the users.
Alternatively, make it much easy for users and let a deep link do all the heavy lifting. With a single action, the user can tap on the button and directly launch your company’s LinkedIn page through the app.
‘Deferred Deep Linking’…when deep linking is not enough!
The description till here shows the app to app connection through deep linking. But what happens if a user doesn’t have the app installed on their device? This will result in Safari displaying an alert view, telling the user that it could not open the requested page. Well, that’s the situation you might want to avoid.
This is where deferred deep linking comes in for rescue. Rather than sending the custom scheme URL, we can send another URL that first searches for the app on the device, if the app is not found, it will redirect to the App Store to install the app.
Ok. If this is accepted, we come across another difficulty. When a user downloads XYZ app for the first time, we run into another issue. The XYZ app won’t know that it has been opened by the deep link and can’t redirect directly to the requested page. This is because App Store doesn’t pass the referral link through which users came to the App Store.
But fortunately there’s a way for this.
Choosing ‘app deep linking service’
There are many deep link service providers that solve the problem with deferred deep links. All you have to do is place a small code in your app that connects the deep link provider and the deferred deep link through which it came to the App Store.
One such dervice provider is Branch.io. The figure below shows how it takes the user from the mobile web to the app store and finally to the page where he left off.
Image Source: Branch.io
App Indexing & Universal Links
Google’s App Indexing allows your Android or iOS app content to show in Google search results. If the users have the app installed, App Indexing will show your app related content in the search results, which then back link to the original page on the app.App Indexing for Yelp App
Universal Links differ from the deep links. With iOS 9, Apple introduced universal links. They will not require to register a specific domain for a URL scheme. Rather than one can use the apps’ website home page link. This needs a minor configuration on your web server, giving more flexible, private and secure way to launch your app. The below image shows the flow of universal link from Google to IMDb’s app and webpage.
Flow of universal link from Google to IMDb’s app and webpage.
Where Will Deep Linking Be in the Future?
As a technology, though it may be very advanced and helpful for the best usage of apps, even in the coming times, it depends on the way we use it. According to TechCrunch, “Deep links are simply a way to identify, address and transport users to specific content in apps. While convenient (and necessary), they’re not that revolutionary or exciting.”
However harsh that may sound, it does stand out to be true. Unless this technology is used in a revolutionary manner, it will soon be a matter of being instead of being a matter of innovating. The technology has aided the apps a lot but what is important is how much more can it keep doing the same until the wave of change washes it away or gives a different shine to it.
Let your apps talk to other apps. For if you are interested to know how your app can be beneficial with this deep linking service or want your apps to support deep linking, reach us to get it started.