Most people think that SEO only applies to Google web searches. But what if a business’s goal was not to drive website visits, but app downloads?
App Store SEO centers around getting apps to rank higher for particular keywords. For example, a food delivery may want to rank higher for words like “healthy” or “vegetarian” as opposed to “fast food”.
To make it less complicated, we combined tips for both Apple App Store and Google Store — While there are a few technical differences, the two platforms share some common best practices.
Choose the right name and keywords
For apps that have yet to decide on a name, it helps to include the keyword in the title. Similar to blog posts and web pages, researching relevant keywords and then including the target word in your title can help boost an app’s ranking. According to a study conducted by TUNE, app titles with a relevant keyword not only ranked more highly.
Even if there is already a brand name for your app, keywords can still be added to the title of an app page. Take a look at some of Google’s apps on the iOS App Store:
“YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream” (Ranked #2 on Top Free Apps)
“Gmail – Email by Google” (Ranked #8)
“Google Maps – GPS Navigation” (Ranked #9)
Although Google has its own app names, it also includes a few keywords that users may enter if they don’t have a particular app in mind. In the past, people tried to take advantage of this by stuffing a whole sentence of keywords, but users caught on and saw those apps as spammy or fraudulent. In response, Apple shortened the title limit to 30 characters. The shorter the title, the better.
Create a unique icon
People are visual creatures, and the first thing they will notice in the app store is an icon! Make sure it is unique and eye-catching. Competition on the app store is fierce- there are millions of duplicate or spammy apps so it’s important to stand out.
Developers shouldn’t just design it in MS Paint, they should hire a professional designer. If people see a poorly-designed logo, with cropped features or pixelated imagery, they may download another app that seems more professional. Follow the proper guidelines set by Apple App Store and Google Play, as they have a different set of standards in terms of size, geometry, and color scheme.
Write a useful and informative description
Without a description that explains the app’s purpose, users will feel confused and may choose an alternative app.
Remember to not only include relevant keywords in the description but to actually convince users to download the app. One good method is to think of it as a web page with an above-the-fold section and below-the-fold section. The first two sentences should grab attention and/or explain what the app is for. For example, Facetune 2, the top paid app on the App Store at the time of writing, has the following copy:
“Facetune 2 is now available on the App Store! “Facetune helps you look your Hollywood best, even in photos taken on mobile phones.”
The copy is short and sweet, features just a few useful keywords, and most importantly, explains the function of the app.
Use high-quality images and videos
Once the user finds a promising app (looking first at the title and icon) and reads the description, the next thing they’re likely to do is to view some screenshots to see how the app looks in action.
While you’re free to take basic screenshots, other brands like to ensure that the screenshots are high-resolution, and even add a caption. The captions tend to list features and benefits “Get food delivered under 60 minutes!”, or highlight a particular accolade “#5 Top Paid Business App!”
Some games and apps may even have branded borders or graphics, such as a zoomed-in section or colored text. This technique isn’t for everyone, and businesses should ensure that these additional elements are in line with the brand guide.
Issue regular updates
Pay attention to the app quality all the time. While it may be working just fine on a specific platform or software version, it may be completely broken in another instance.
Here are a few common reasons for updating an app:
Fixing technical bugs and glitches
Adding new content or features
Revamping or refining the user interface
Ensuring software version compatibility
Patching security flaws
Updates don’t have to be rolled out all at once either. In fact, monthly updates are enough to show audiences that the developer still cares about them even after release. Google and Apple both enhance their OS at a regular rate, so it is important to make sure that your app is always compatible with the new OS.
Promote your app
SEO doesn’t just include elements on-page, but the actions taken off-page too. Apps don’t just rise naturally on the results page, publishers must promote the app through external channels. That may include frequent social media ads or referrals from articles and blogs. The more traffic you drive to your app page, the higher it will rank.
Consider making a webpage for the app, with a link that leads to the app store page. This practice is known as “indexing”, and it focuses on making your app discoverable through a web search. Remember that not all users will find an app by searching for it on the app store- they may be looking for something else on Google or even on social media.
Ask for reviews
When customers are unsure about downloading or purchasing something, they resort to reviews to see what others think. A negative or even average rating can put the user off, so it’s important to listen to customer complaints and make improvements accordingly. Ask customers to leave a review if they enjoy the app, and to leave a comment with feedback if they don’t. The more positive reviews an app has, the more people will download it.
Evaluate and optimize
Once you have launched your app, you can monitor your downloads, rankings, and searches to see how your efforts pay off. Optimize your app the right way with the use of App Store SEO. With these simple tips, you can maximize the potential of your app to make it big on search rankings.
For more information on SEO and digital marketing, visit the Arcalea blog.
Arcalea combines marketing professionals and data analysis experts into a single team. We love reading the data, the challenge of "how can we?" and of continuously striving to raise our teammates and client partners to be the best they can be.