According to a report this morning from The Wall Street Journal, Google will now be able to show publicly available info from the Facebook app in mobile searches. Clicking on such a link while on your smartphone will take users directly to the relevant part of the Facebook app. The agreement between Google and Facebook went into affect last Friday, according to an Alphabet spokesperson.
On the web, Google has been able to crawl the web and add links to its search engine without needing permission from sites. For instance, Google has long been indexing Facebook information that has been set to public and doesn’t require a login to see.
Google’s usefulness comes from knowing what content a site hosts and how to direct you to what you’re searching for. However, on mobile where people spend increasing amounts of time, Google is locked out from knowing what is popular and relevant as much of that content is locked within apps. In order to index within an app, Google needs permission from app makers.
For Google, deep linking is vitally important as it allows it to maintain its lead as the service that knows everything. Google has been encouraging developers to open up their apps for indexing. As such, the inclusion of Facebook (the most used app on mobile) is a big win. The social network also stands to gain more engagement and use from such a partnership.
Deep linking is just one of many of Google’s efforts to remain relevant on mobile. Another example is Google Now, which is now showing cards and info from third party apps. It is not known when deep links will start popping up on mobile search (I haven’t seen one yet), though it should of course work both on iOS and Android.