Do I need an app, and if so, should it be Android, iOS or both? What if I have a limited budget?

If you have the budget to develop both a mobile app and a mobile website, there can be significant value to maintaining both, particularly if you leverage the mobile app as a “value add” for your customers and not just a website duplicate (though enabling somefunctionality duplication is necessary for deep linking). If you have a limited budget, you will have to make a choice, but it is important to consider this a business choice and not primarily an SEO choice. Your business might be well served by a mobile website or might be better served by a mobile app with only a promotional mobile web landing page meant to send web traffic to app stores (ex. Tinder). In general, most businesses can be extremely well served by a mobile website and should focus their budget on making that experience great across many devices. We only recommend going “app-first” if you are trying to offer an experience that cannot be delivered well on a mobile website. Experiences that offer a valuable offline utilities (think photo-editing apps), or take advantage of heavy computing (like gaming apps) or rely on non-web input elements such as device accelerometers or GPS, are often better suited for an app.

Apps are generally riskier because they require more up-front investment, and have to be tightly in sync with app store guidelines and approval processes that you have no control over. There are a lot of barriers to entry; just building and maintaining an experience can cost an average of $100k per platform, so it’s important that you know this is the rightexperience for your customers before you choose this path.

If you decide that an app experience is the best choice for your business (or you have budgeted an app in addition to your mobile web experience), you can use the operating system data in Google Analytics to help you determine which Operating System is more popular among your users. If you don’t have this data because you don’t have a website yet or you have too limited a mobile audience to determine a trend, you should choose the platform that best matches with your monetization strategies. iOS users tend to spend more money than their Android counterparts, but there are more total Android users around the world than iOS users. The implication is that if you plan to monetize your app with user transactions like In App Purchases (IAPs) or Subscriptions, iOS may be the way to start, but if you plan to monetize your app with advertisements, Android could be just as lucrative, if not more so. If Android app discovery is made easier with the 4/21 update but iOS app discovery is not, that could also factor into the decision process.

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