Demystifying Deep Link vs Universal Link – Which is better for App Engagement?




When it comes to app engagement, it’s crucial to have a solid strategy in place. With the increasing number of apps available, it’s important to make yours stand out. One effective way to promote app engagement is through the use of deep links and universal links. This blog post will provide an overview of these link types and explore the benefits and implementation considerations for each. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of whether deep links or universal links are the right choice for maximizing app engagement.

Understanding Deep Links

Deep links are a type of hyperlink that take users directly to a specific page or content within an app. Unlike regular hyperlinks, which usually open a website in a mobile browser, deep links navigate users to a specific location within an app. This seamless transition enhances user experience and engagement, making it easier for users to access the desired content.

Deep links work by leveraging the URL scheme of the app. Each app has a unique URL scheme that allows it to be deep linked. When a deep link is activated, the operating system checks if the corresponding app is installed on the device. If it is, the app is opened directly to the specified content. If not, users are redirected to the app store to download it.

The benefits of deep links are plentiful. First, they enable seamless navigation within an app, eliminating the need for users to manually navigate through multiple screens to find the desired content. Second, deep links provide direct access to specific content or functionalities within an app, allowing users to quickly access what they need. Third, deep links contribute to improved user experience and engagement, as they simplify the overall app usage process.

Deep links can be implemented in different ways. App-specific deep linking involves incorporating deep links directly into the app’s codebase. This allows developers to define custom deep links and handle the navigation within the app. Alternatively, web-to-app deep linking allows deep links to be triggered from a website, redirecting users to a specific location within the app once installed.

Let’s take a look at some examples of deep link implementations:

Example 1: A news app allows users to deep link directly to a specific article from a push notification.

Example 2: An e-commerce app enables deep linking to a product page from an email campaign.

Example 3: A social media app deep links to a user’s profile from a shared link outside the app.

Exploring Universal Links

Universal links are another method of deep linking that provide the same benefits as deep links, but with additional advantages. Universal links are compatible with both mobile apps and websites, offering a seamless transition across both platforms. Unlike deep links, which require a fallback for non-iOS devices, universal links work across iOS devices without any fallback required.

In addition to their compatibility, universal links also enhance user privacy and security. Unlike deep links, which rely on the URL scheme, universal links utilize the website domain itself. This means that users can trust that a link is directing them to the intended app, as the link is associated with a verified domain. Universal links provide a trusted and secure user experience.

To implement universal links, domain associations need to be configured. This involves adding a JSON file, known as the apple-app-site-association (AASA) file, to the website’s server. This file contains the necessary information for the operating system to recognize and handle the universal links. Additionally, app developers need to handle the universal link URLs within their app’s code, allowing users to be seamlessly redirected to the intended content or functionality.

Here are a few examples of universal link implementations:

Example 1: A travel app utilizes universal links to redirect users to specific destination pages from their website.

Example 2: An event management app enables universal links to direct users to event details from external websites.

Example 3: A music streaming app uses universal links to allow users to directly access an artist’s profile from related content in their browser.

Comparing Deep Links and Universal Links

While both deep links and universal links share similarities in their ability to provide deep linking and enhance app engagement, they also have distinct differences that make them suitable for specific use cases.

On one hand, deep links are widely supported across various platforms and devices. They can be implemented in both iOS and Android apps, making them compatible with a larger user base. However, deep links require specific technical implementation within the app’s codebase, which may increase complexity and development time. Additionally, the user experience and behavior of deep links can vary based on the platform and implementation, which may impact engagement.

On the other hand, universal links are exclusive to iOS devices but offer a more streamlined and secure user experience. They eliminate the need for fallbacks on non-iOS devices and utilize domain associations for verification. However, universal links require the configuration of domain associations and additional code handling in the app, which can add complexity to the implementation process. It’s important to consider factors such as target audience, platform preferences, and app goals when determining whether deep links or universal links are better for app engagement.

To evaluate which option is better suited for your app, consider conducting A/B testing or analyzing case studies and real-world examples. By measuring app engagement metrics such as click-through rates, conversions, and user feedback, you can gain insights into the impact each link type has on user engagement and make data-driven decisions.


Deep links and universal links are powerful tools for maximizing app engagement. Deep links allow users to seamlessly navigate within apps and access specific content, enhancing the overall user experience. Universal links, on the other hand, provide compatibility across mobile apps and websites while offering improved privacy and security. Both link types have their unique benefits and considerations.

When choosing between deep links and universal links, it’s important to consider factors such as target audience, platform preferences, and app goals. By carefully evaluating your app’s specific needs, you can determine whether deep links or universal links are better suited for maximizing app engagement. Remember to continuously monitor app engagement metrics and experiment with both options to find the best approach for your app.

Maximizing app engagement requires a strategic approach, and deep links and universal links are valuable tools in achieving that goal. Incorporate these link types into your app strategy and watch your users engage and interact with your app like never before.


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