WSJ GoogleWhen the Wall Street Journal wanted to tell the story of Google’s app-indexing project, it turned to Chimani as a prime example of how the technology works. 

In a Feb. 25 story, “Mobile Devices Upend Google Search,” reporter Alistair Barr begins:

When Chimani Inc. launched a smartphone app in 2010 to guide visitors to Maine’s Acadia National Park, Google didn’t include apps in its search results. So Chimani built a bare-bones website, sprinkling the code with phrases such as “Chimani: mobile apps for outdoors,” to help it get noticed.

Now, Google sees and organizes the information inside Chimani’s 26 park-guide apps. To further bolster its standing in Google searches, Chimani adds related articles, such as problems caused by garbage in national parks.

“The more mobile content you are providing Google, the higher you will rise in search results,” says Chimani Chief Executive Kerry Gallivan. “Do I know that for sure? No. But that’s our strategy.”

Mr. Gallivan’s strategy, and his uncertainty, underscore how mobile devices are upending 15 years of “search-engine optimization” techniques crafted to attract Google’s attention—and its related $67 billion advertising business.

The story, which led the Journal’s Tech section, goes on to explain how Google has moved to indexing mobile content from “app first” companies like Chimani that consider their web presence secondary to their overall success  — a critical move in a world where more than half of all Google searches now come from mobile devices.

Chimani was one of a handful of companies chosen as partners by Google to launch app indexing. Writes Barr:

Chimani’s saga shows how the search game is changing—and Google’s enduring influence.

Mr. Gallivan didn’t plan a website when Chimani launched its app. But he created one in order to appear in Google search results.

By last year, Google aggressively sought to display app content in mobile search results. But it wanted the app content to match the information on a website. So Chimani built a new website to include all of its app data, rather than just keywords to attract Google’s attention.

The new website did so well after it launched last summer that Google asked Chimani to test a more ambitious plan to display apps as if they are websites, so users don’t have to download them.

This undermined the work Chimani did to build a content-rich website a few months earlier. Yet Mr. Gallivan readily agreed, because search results are so valuable. “This is about the same SEO goal: How to get awareness,” he said.

Since the test launched in November, the amount of time users spend inside Chimani’s apps has quadrupled, compared with a year earlier. Downloads haven’t risen as much because people are just streaming them, Mr. Gallivan added.