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Google Has Now Indexed 100 Billion Pages Within Apps

Meet the man who makes search tick.

Asa Mathat

Apps pose an existential problem for Google: They offer most things on our phone, without having to go through search.

But Google is swiftly jumping that hurdle, according to the executive running its search operation. And it has some Google-sized new numbers to prove it.

Google has now indexed over 100 billion links within apps as searchable, Amit Singhal, SVP of search, said at the Code/Mobile conference at The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Forty percent of mobile searches on Android return indexed apps in the top five results, he added.

“I love apps,” Singhal said during his conversation with Re/code’s Kara Swisher. “Apps are fundamentally a far better way to render the same information than rendering on the Web.”

That said, the Google exec did downplay the command apps have over a mobile user’s time. The most popular apps, he noted, are those for communication and entertainment — a la Facebook’s suite. “These are large,” he said, noting Pinterest, which is increasingly stealing some search volume from Google. “They serve their niche purposes. They’re perfectly fine. As we see it, the information ecosystem is better than any single site.”

Google has several compelling reasons to prove it can crack in-app search — both for investors, skittish about how it will grow revenue on mobile, and app developers, who need evidence that surrendering their pages to Google is outweighed by the benefits of landing inside search. From the new figures today, it seems plenty of developers are willing to make the trade-off.

Google’s app indexing efforts, however, pit it largely against Apple, which is also working on ways to deliver information to iPhone users within and between apps. When asked about Apple’s search deal with Google, which is set to expire this year, Singhal simply said that Apple is a “wonderful partner,” and repeated it three different times.

How does Google make revenue from this app indexing? Singhal said that the revenue part falls to his fellow SVP, Sridhar Ramaswamy. Good search, he said, would pay for itself: “Whenever you have that model, to bring that information to user and services, there’s always ways to monetize them.”

Singhal has led Google’s very powerful, often opaque search algorithm since 2012. Earlier this year, Google shared that mobile searches now outpace those on desktops in the U.S. and nine other countries. Onstage, Singhal announced that this is now the case worldwide.

Update: An earlier version of this article said that 40 percent of apps indexed in Android arrived in search results. That’s incorrect, the result of a misheard statement. Rather, 40 percent of searches on Android return app-indexed results. Our apologies.

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