Facebook just gave Google a nice boost in its quest to make search more useful on your smartphone. The social network has begun allowing Google’s search engine to crawl and to index its app, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Google searches from Android smartphones will now display information from public Facebook profiles, Pages, Groups, and Events, and if a user clicks on a Facebook link, they’ll be directed to the right place within Facebook’s app.
This practice of making apps searchable in such a way that they launch to specific pieces of content via search is called “deep linking.” Google has been trying to convince all developers to index their apps to make it possible. If they don’t, Google’s mobile searches are much less useful (which could ultimately leads to fewer ad dollars from smartphone searches).
Google has already convinced many other apps to index themselves for deep linking too — the company says it has 100 billion app deep links total from upwards of 1,000 apps (all on Android). However, it’s not always the easiest sell: Deep linking can take up as much as 5% of the time it takes to develop an app, Alex Matjanec of ad agency AD:60 told Bloomberg earlier this year.
This cooperation between the two tech giants also comes not long after Facebook revamped its own search function. That content — posts and photos that users see while they are logged in — still won’t be searchable through Google search, mobile or otherwise. Google’s search engine is not getting any additional Facebook content from this feature that it wasn’t getting on desktop search previously.
For Facebook, allowing Google to start crawling its app might not have been an agonizing decision. If more people find their way onto Facebook through Google searches on mobile, which is free traffic. And once they’re there, perhaps they’ll be distracted by the other content and stay even longer. Earlier this year, when Google announced on its earnings call that Etsy was seeing more traffic because of deep links in mobile search, stock of the arts-n-craft site exploded.
But the move is still fairly surprising considering how the two companies are starting to become bigger and bigger rivals as they fight for ad dollars, video views, and even the spread of connectivity.