What is deep linking?

The simplest explanation of deep links (also called deeplinks), and what makes a good deep link.

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A deep link is a link that takes you to content. Most web links are deep links.


What does this have to do with mobile apps?

In their simplest form, mobile deep links let users share content that's within an app. If you want to send a friend a pair of shoes from the Cole Haan app, you can send them to those shoes inside the app using a deep link. Without a deep link they have to find the Cole Haan app, open the app to the homepage, then find the shoes (and hope they found the right ones).

Why is it a problem?

Unlike most of the information the internet, content within apps is not publicly accessible. Normal links don't work because apps have to be downloaded on a device, and even when they're downloaded there is no standard way to find and share items. It's specific to every app.

This lack of access and hindrance to sharing is more than an inconvenience. It creates poor user experiences, hurts business metrics and ultimately limits smaller developers' access to customers. The end result is a lack of competition and the same large apps continue dominate the market, whether or not they are the best.

How do deep links help?

With deep linking, links to content within mobile apps can be created and shared just like the web. Developers can build better experiences, and users can easily discover interesting content.

How do they work?

Since there is no standard for deep linking (also spelled deeplinking, without the space), there are a few different types:

How do Brunch contextual deep links work? Learn about Brunch links.