For a long time, search engine optimization has been crucial to the success of most businesses. Today ranking at the top of Google search results isn’t enough for most businesses. The rise of smartphones has caused most consumers to turn to mobile applications instead of websites to complete tasks when on the go. No longer limited to phone calls or playing games, mobile devices are now used to check movie reviews, shop online, connect with friends and much more.
Most users have a web browser installed on their phone, but in most cases, installing an app is more efficient than using a web browser.
The Winner Take All Business
A 2014 study of 10,000 app developers conducted by Digital Economics showed that 50 percent of iOS developers and 47 percent of Android developers were making less than $500 per app per month. The Developer Economics study also showed that 88 percent of all developers split only 11 percent of all app revenue and made under $10,000 a month.
A Valuable Tool to Extend Your Brand
In general, if you’re building an app to make money from ad sales or virtual products purchases, then you’re in the wrong business to make money. As a business owner or app developer, you should be focusing on mobile applications as a way to extend your brand. For example, a restaurant might offer a mobile app to distribute coupons or alerts when events are occurring.
Even if you’re running a blog or information website, having a mobile application allows you to tap a whole new audience which was previously unreachable in the past. Today consumers have come to expect that almost anything they need can be found on their mobile devices.
A New Breed of Optimization
Enter the world of App Store Optimization (ASO). A field focused on helping your app to stand out in an ever saturated field. The goal of any ASO campaign should be to drive more traffic to your apps page in the app store to drive more downloads. To do this, you’ll need to know the how your customers speak so you can determine the keywords to use in your campaign.
While mobile is a fairly social experience and word of mouth is a key factor in conversions, a report from Forrester states that 63% of all app downloads are driven by search. Similar to pay per click (PPC) or organic SEO, reviewing server logs and performing ongoing evaluations of keyword performance is crucial to improving your app ranking.
The Metrics of App Store Optimization
Just like traditional SEO for websites, the first major components of an ASO strategy are:
- Title: Before creating the title for your app listing, identify the keywords which have the most impact in driving traffic. Of that list, incorporate the most appropriate keyword in the title – ideally choosing the keyword which has the highest performance.
- Keywords: Aside from monitoring keywords on your existing web properties, identifying keywords used by your competition also can be an effective source of inspiration. Keep in mind that when choosing keywords for your application, you should focus on choosing ones which are niche enough for you to dominate while not being narrow to the point barely anyone uses them.
The next two primary metrics are out of your control, however they play a significant role in your rank:
- Downloads: Both total number and momentum are key to having a successful listing. Even if you manage to get a wave of installs early on, if you can’t maintain the stream of users to your app, your rankings will likely drop over time.
- App Quality: Aside from user ratings, most app marketplaces factor installs and how often the app is used to further prevent rank manipulation.
How to Improve your Ranking
- Ratings: Although bribes for positive reviews is a no-no in the industry, there’s nothing wrong with tastefully asking your users to rate your app after it is known the app has been used. As a way to avoid negative reviews, many rating boxes ask whether the user has had a good or bad experience with the app. If they say good, they proceed to leave an official review. If they say they have a negative experience, then a contact form is provided.
- Improved Utility: As discussed in this article from Sitepoint, you should focus on designing a quality product which users will turn to for a frequent purpose rather than a one off experience.
Long Term Thinking
While there is no silver bullet to keeping your app rank high on the app marketplaces, you can improve your odds of success by delivering a quality product to your users. No matter how you slice and dice the numbers, most major app marketplaces determine rankings using qualities known to indicate whether an app is useful.
Keep in mind that just like traditional search engine algorithms, most marketplaces keep their algorithms behind closed doors. They’re constantly being tweaked and as such, ASO campaigns require ongoing effort to be successful.