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Deep Linking – What It Is and How It Works
January 4, 2021

Deep linking is when a URL takes a user to a web page that is not the home page.  “App deep linking”, also called “mobile deep linking” is when a URI (uniform resource identifier) is used to link to specific content within an app instead of simply launching that app.

Deep linking into an app is similar to how a website URL directs you to a specific page on a website.  A mobile deep link contains all the information that is needed to take a user directly to in-app content.  Google indexes deep links from mobile apps, giving more opportunities to rank and drive organic traffic.

How Mobile Deep Linking Works

Every app has a unique way of opening. This is called the app’s “URI Scheme”.  A URI scheme is like a building with lots of rooms inside. You can get in the building with a master key, but then you need access to each room.

The URI scheme is registered with the app store. When you access an app from the app store, you have the master key to the building. Once you download the app and launch it, you are inside the building. The deep links give you access to the “rooms” inside or the content within the app.

Website Deep Links vs. Mobile Deep Links

Just like a URL is an address for a website, a URI is an address for in-app content on a mobile device. Unlike the Web, where the underlying technology of HTTP and URLs allow for deep linking by default, enabling deep linking on mobile apps requires these apps to be configured to properly handle a URI.

The format of the URI used to deep-link into an app is often different depending on the mobile operating system. Androids, iPhones, and Windows devices use different operating systems. There is a serious complexity to the logic behind mobile deep linking.

Benefits of Mobile Deep Linking

Mobile deep linking is the practice of funneling users deeper into an app instead of just launching the app.  This allows mobile app developers to push to a specific page within an application versus simply opening it.

It also allows digital marketers to take users directly to a specific location in an app with a dedicated link. Just like website URLs make website landing pages easier to promote, mobile deep links do the same thing for mobile apps. By helping users go to a certain page within an app, you’re making the customer journey easier. This gets them closer to the end goal sooner.

Unlike deep links on the web where the link format is standardized based on HTTP guidelines, mobile deep links do not follow a consistent format. This is what makes AppURL so useful. It has been developed to enable access to in-app content on different mobile operating systems. Deep-link data is seamlessly passed so that users are directed to the exact app content they are supposed to be connected to. It’s a small detail that can drastically enhance how users engage with your app content.

Three Types of Mobile Deep Links

Mobile linking comes in three different forms:

1. Standard deep linking. This is a basic deep link that forwards a user to a specific part of the app. Another name is universal linking. It only works if the customer already has the app installed.

2. Deferred deep linking. This form of deep linking works the same way as standard linking does but it will direct users without the app to download it. Deep links created with the AppURL smart URL shortener can determine the type of device a user is on and direct them to the appropriate app store. Once the app is downloaded, it will take the user to the deep link location. Our deferred deep linking has been known to increase conversions as it supports a positive user experience.

3. Contextual deep linking. Also known as onboarding, it is commonly used for gathering information on customers to personalize the user experience of an app. Data such as demographics, how users navigate to the app, and more is recorded. AppURL users can integrate their existing Google Analytics account to view demographics and navigation data.

Why Mobile Deep Linking Matters

Better User Experience – Mobile deep linking improves the user experience. It saves them from going through multiple steps just to get to the content you want them to see.

Better User Engagement – Increase user engagement and customer retention. Approach mobile app users the same way you approach website users. Get them the information you want them to see, faster.

Advanced Digital Marketing – Mobile deep linking allows digital marketers to implement advanced strategies in their social media and email campaigns. Customize your AppURL link’s title, description, and image preview. Once a user has visited your app, you can retarget them and use a different style of deep linking to improve their future experiences.

Contextual Linking – The contextual linking technique can be used to onboard new users in different ways depending on where they originally downloaded the app. If you know that users coming from a Facebook ad campaign usually navigate to a certain product or category, push them there with a customized AppURL deep link campaign. Perhaps users from Google like to learn more about your business first before purchasing. Use contextual deep linking to direct those users to the page detailing your company’s history.

Increased Downloads – Deferred deep linking significantly increases downloads. AppURL detects the user’s device, takes them to the correct app store, and gives them the option to download it. All in just sections. Once a user has used your app, you can remarket them.

For example, if a user has downloaded your app, viewed product pages, and closed the app, retarget them with other advertising campaigns. Use deferred deep linking to bring them back to re-install the app if they have uninstalled it.

It’s easy to use AppURL’s smart URL shortener to enhance the user experience in your marketing campaigns. Customized previews and deferred deep linking are sure to increase downloads and drive conversions. Unlock unlimited possibilities. Try it now.

If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to us here.