A decade ago, if you had to launch your business online, websites were your only option to gain recognition and money. However, with the launch of mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android, and their extremely rich app stores, things have changed quite a lot in the past 3-4 years. Nowadays, companies are moving from website model to app only model. In fact, while majority of the companies still maintain a website+app model, for example, Amazon, the new generation of startups are opting for app only model. One of the best examples of app only business success story is Uber.
A wind of change
But the question is why most of the companies have preferred website + app model? The answer is simple- in order to take advantage of SEO. Web pages can be easily searched in Google, but not apps. Thankfully, this scenario will change very soon and pages within an app can be searched, just like we search for web pages. Mobile only or rather app only companies will be able to stand toe to toe with websites via search. SEO is about to witness its biggest change in history.
Artificial intelligence is getting smarter
As we all know, Android is the world’s leading mobile operating system and Google is working rigorously to integrate Google Search with Android OS. Over the last 6 months it made various app related changes such as app indexing, Google Now On Tap and deep linking. Thanks to these updates, Android phone and tablet users can now search for app content directly from Google Search. So, just like you have discovered web pages from Google Search all these years, now it’s the time for apps to rule. Apple also announced its unique search engine, scheduled to be launched this fall with El Capitan and iOS 9. With the help of Safari Search and Spotlight, users will be able to discover content directly from their device.
Companies with operating systems are winning
When it was web based search only, Microsoft didn’t control the SEO market despite Windows being the most popular operating system. Welcome to the new world of SEO. Now, if you own the operating system, you can control the search experience. So, the biggest winners are Apple and Google as they control more than 90% of the mobile OS market. On the other hand, Windows Mobile OS is going to be one of the biggest losers as it failed to generate interest among customers. Other search engines such as Yahoo and Ask are going to face very tough days in the coming years as they don’t have any mobile OS.
Top products will dominate SEO, not the marketing power
Google may have always said webmasters that good quality of products and services can help them acquire top rank on SERP, but we know that PPC and other marketing methods generally help big brands rule the SERP as they can spend millions of dollars on marketing. Most of the times a startup with a better product fails to beat the leaders in the industry just because of the poor advertising budget.
So, what has changed? Earlier, when you searched for something using Google in your laptop and clicked the number 1 or 2 link, Google could not efficiently track whether you were happy with the content or not. Basically, it lacked engagement data. On the contrary, now when you use your phone or tablet for searching, Android gets access to the engagement data and it will use this information to decide the rank. In fact, Apple’s new search engine will consider engagement as a primary ranking factor. Let me explain how it’s different from the traditional ranking process. Suppose 10 people search for “cocktail recipe”. Search engines will not only track which recipes got maximum click, but they will also track which recipes are actually used by the end users. So, while the number 1 recipe may get the maximum click initially, most people may actually use the recipe ranked at number 5. Thus, ranks are bound to change gradually. In simpler terms, best content will now win; not theoretically, but practically. Startups with unique and useful products can compete and beat the established brands more confidently.
Overall, end users will get the most benefit out of this changing SEO scenario. They will be able to search and discover most relevant web and app content at the right time.