Mobile App Store Optimization (ASO) – A decade ago, mobile apps were nearly nonexistent and there was no such thing as an app store. But all that changed when smartphones came into being. The first app store was started by Apple for its iOS platform in July 2008 which was soon followed by Google’s app store (now Google Play) for the Android platform.
After that developers around the world plunged into a rat race of creating the best apps for mobile devices. Right now there are nearly 2 million apps out there and the number is only going to keep climbing, As such the greatest challenge faced by a developer is to get their app noticed.
As surveys have already shown, most users find the apps they are looking for, through app store search. So, the most important factor to increase traffic to an app page and then translate that traffic into downloads, is a higher ranking in the app store. But what you need to remember is that in this field there are two major players. Unlike in the web where Google is the defining term for search and SEO’s are geared towards optimizing websites to meet the requirements of Google’s search algorithms, app industry has two major players; Apple and Google and the criteria to get higher ranking in the app store search for these two platforms is drastically different in some ways and similar in others.
For example, Google takes into account the number of inbound links to an app’s detail page but Apple doesn’t do so.
Google Play (Android):
Keywords – If you are focusing on Google Play then your App Store optimization theory should focus on using the right keywords without going overboard. The first step is to research and find the right keywords that are best suited for your app. Once you have a list of such keywords, use the most important ones on the title for the app. Make sure that your research is thorough so that you don’t have to change your app title often as it can be detrimental. The title needs to be precise but unique so that it stands out. Do not make it too long as longer titles maybe truncated on some devices.
Description – The second most important part is the description. In Google Play, the search algorithm takes the description into account so use this space wisely. There are two parts to it; the part of the description which will be visible above the fold should have the most vital info about the app. The rest of the description should have the secondary keywords. The keywords should not be mentioned any more than 5 times as Google doesn’t like spamming.
Images – Use graphic and images to their full potential. Google Play allows you to upload screenshots in the app page. Use screenshots that best describes your app and shows its usefulness. You can include texts or other clips to tell the story of your app. Also use an app icon that conveys the usefulness and elegance of your app. In search results, an icon is the first thing that a consumer sees, so it needs to be interesting and attractive.
Video – A very good opportunity to market your app that Google Play provides is the demo video that you can add to your app page. Create a video that concisely shows what your app does. Don’t make it overly long, keep it to the point and focus on your app’s function instead of blatantly promoting it.
Reviews and ratings – Prove an app’s worth more than anything so make sure to ask your customers for reviews. You can use the social media accounts for your app to ask for reviews. Many consumers are influenced by user reviews and overall ratings, so positive user reviews and high overall ratings can help your app go up the rungs in app search. The total number of downloads also determine an app’s ranking, the higher the number of downloads, the higher your app will be placed on the search results.
Getting into the Top Charts is a great way to increase visibility for your app. But that is more or less pad marketing and has its own pitfalls. It is basically using paid marketing and incentivized downloads to get a certain number of downloads within a period of time. Once you get into the top charts, you will have to maintain it too.
Apple’s App Store (IOS):
iTunes App Store is quite different from Google Play and works in a completely different manner. Apple’s app store is an evolved version of their music store so they do not have a background n search like Google. But some things are similar too. For example, the Title field in the App Store is as important as in Google Play. The same theory applies; research the keywords that best suits your app, take a look at the keywords your competitors use and chose the most important ones to be included in the title.
In the App Store, the description section is not very important, as it has nothing to do with ranking. That doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Once consumers reach your app page, the description will let them know what to expect from your app.
iOS has a Keyword Field feature where you can mention the keywords that your app should show up for. This field only allows 100 characters so you should list all the important keywords separated only by commas, don’t waste characters on space. Focus on how relevant a keyword is and how frequently they are searched, don’t use overly difficult keywords. Try to keep the keywords limited to individual words no need to use phrases.
App icon is very very important. The importance of a visually appealing and yet to the point icon cannot be overly emphasized. The icon needs to be unique, but easy to understand and be able to clearly convey what your app and your brand signifies.
In App Store you have the option to add screenshots just like Google Play. However, the layout is a little different. The first screenshot of an app can be viewed from the search page itself. So, you need to carefully select an image that clearly states the purpose of your app. You can insert texts and other visual clips too, but it is better to keep it clean and simple as too much clutter could confuse the consumer.
The reviews and ratings contribute to ranking the same way they do in Google Play, and you already know what to do about those.
Other App Stores
Though Apple and Android are the two leading platforms in smartphones, they are not the only one. Platforms like Blackberry, Microsoft (Windows Phone) etc. also have their own app stores: BlackBerry World, Windows Phone Store. Most of the above mentioned ASOstrategies work for these app stores as well.
All being said and done, it is the quality and usability of your app that will take it at the top, so be sure that your app is user friendly and is maintained and improved through updates. A prompt and helpful customer service will also help you get good feedback which in turn will give your app higher ranking.