How Pinterest, Yelp, and Jet Drive App Growth From Web SEO

Will Lindemann

Will worked at Branch for five years, coming in as a Senior Product Manager and eventually being promoted to Lead Product Manager. He managed Branch’s Universal Ads and contributed to the company Blog.

Dec 15, 2015


This blog post was originally published in 2015. You can also read one of our newer posts on how to use web to app banners on mobile.

Where do app users come from, and what makes them stick? We asked a group of panelists from Yelp, Jet, and Yummly that question at our recent event on “The Future of App Discovery.” The group kept coming back to the same point: a significant portion of their app traffic comes from intelligently redirecting users from web to app.

While we’re excited for app-only mobile search, here are some thoughts on how to help your existing web users make the leap to your app. If you only have an app and don’t have a mobile website, please read on. There are some useful tips in here for you as well.

Interstitials for User Acquisition

Interstitials (full screen ads that either precede or take over the user interface) are polarizing. Users claim to hate them, yet product managers swear by their effectiveness. Google has declared them a scourge (despite the fact that some Google products used them until very recently), and is punishing sites that use them. However, interstitials that promote mobile apps generally convert well, and when done properly, can actually enhance the user experience.

Yelp gave us some pointers on how to keep your interstitials relevant and user-friendly:

  • Make them dynamic – users are looking for content on your website, so dynamically showing them that content in the interstitial (rather than a generic pop up) makes it more relevant.
  • Explain the value proposition – explain why they should download the app, maybe it’s faster or has more features.

Yelp interstitial for web seo

Yelp does a great job of demonstrating its app’s value by highlighting strong ratings and superior user experience.

  • Give users an easy way out – sometimes no matter how superior a mobile app experience may be a user will not want to download your app. When that situation arises, your interstitial should be easy to cancel so that the user can quickly move on to the mobile web site.
  • Deep link from the interstitial – if you get a user to download, don’t just drop them off at the standard welcome gate. Take them straight to the content you promised. They’ll engage with your app for longer that first time and be more likely to come back and use it again.

If you don’t have a mobile website (or if you do, but you don’t want to the hassle of generating dynamic interstitials) you can use Branch Deepviews. Deepviews use data from your deep link to dynamically create web pages that display app content to your user. This preview engages your customer before they have your app, and makes them more anywhere from two to six times as likely to download.

Deepviews for app engagementThis iHeartRadio Deepview is dynamically generated based on what user will see in the app.

Smart Banners to Convert Web Traffic

If users don’t engage with the interstitial, or if you decide it’s not the best experience, then make it easy for them to make the jump later with smart banners (an unobtrusive, dismissable banner that promotes a mobile app). Smart banners that promise the same content in the app offer a way for users to upgrade their browsing experience without losing track of their current place. Put a deep link behind the call to action to make the flow seamless

If you have good ratings, show those in your smart banner so customers are reassured that they’re going to get a good experience if they download.

Smart banner with ratings and reviews

Apple provides a nice default smart banner. However, if you want to deep link and track app installs or opens generated by the banner, check out Branch’s cross platform smart banner.

Emails for App Awareness

Emails aren’t obviously connected to web SEO, but they can actually be a great tool for transitioning web users to your app.

If you already drive good traffic to your website, engage your users with compelling email campaigns. Yummly, for example, does a really good job of personalizing emails based on recipes their users have liked on the site. If you build up a strong following over email, use intelligent calls to action to make the transition to your native app.

Yummly uses a simple call to action at the beginning and end of their emails, encouraging users to “Get the App,” which is a simple and unintrusive way of driving downloads.

Yummly email for app engagement

If you’re serious about moving people to the app, you can deep link from email content directly into the app or to the app store. Charlotte Russe, a popular fashion app, uses Branch deep links behind their web content that drives users with the app directly to the app, and those without the app to download it (you can also redirect to mobile web if you don’t want to drive users to the app store).

Smart banners for new app users

Website to App Routing

To re-engage app users who tend to spend time in mobile web, take advantage of Branch’s proprietary mobile website to app routing. Pinterest uses this to redirect users who load the mobile website, but already have the Pinterest app, into their mobile app. It works for any content, so your user will still find the content they were looking for in the app. Jet also uses this feature. When any users clicks on a product on mobile web, they’re taken to that product in the app, where search and checkout is much easier.

This is an easy way to boost app retention (looking at you, mobile product managers). If a user doesn’t have the app, you can keep them on mobile web, put a link to the app store (that will deep link after install) behind a button or interstitial, or show them a Deepview, depending on what’s best for your app.

Tell Google About Your App

For the past two years Google has required you to have a website to take advantage of app indexing. While they recently changed this to allow app-only content, it’s likely that app content with a corresponding website will be favored. This means that on your website, you need to specify where the same content lives inside your app. You can find Google’s instructions on App Indexing here (we’ve summarized it on our blog as well). Use App Indexing via the Branch Universal Object to turn your existing web SEO into app SEO.

More Tips for App Growth

Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date with the latest technologies and techniques for driving app growth, and please let us know how these work for you. We’re always amazed at what app developers and marketers come up with, so leave comments below if you have any techniques you’d like to share.

Will Lindemann

Will worked at Branch for five years, coming in as a Senior Product Manager and eventually being promoted to Lead Product Manager. He managed Branch’s Universal Ads and contributed to the company Blog.

Dec 15, 2015

Branch provides the industry's leading mobile linking and measurement platforms, offering solutions that unify user experience and attribution across devices and channels. Branch has been selected by over 100,000 apps since 2014 including Adobe, BuzzFeed, Yelp, and many more, improving experiences for more than 3 billion monthly users across the globe. Learn more about Branch or contact sales today.


Get the latest mobile knowledge

To help you fuel cross-channel and cross-platform mobile growth, our team works hard to deliver the most current, relevant resources.

You are subscribed! 🚀