App Store Optimization Tips to Help Your App Stand Out

by GameHouse

Getting your apps discovered in the app stores is one of the best ways to get organic downloads, but how can your app stand out in a crowded marketplace? There are many ways that developers can use app store optimization (ASO) to make it easier for your app to get discovered by users during app store searches.

Now is the time to build app store optimization into your app marketing strategies, because in the future, app store algorithms are going to get more complex, and the line between “online searches” and “mobile searches” will continue to blur. We can already see this with Google looking at links to your app to contribute to your Google Play search ranking. In addition, as mobile searches continue to be a larger share of overall Internet activity, app store optimization will become more important than ever.

Even if you are an independent developer without a large marketing budget, app store optimization is one element of the marketing process that developers can directly control – if done right, ASO can help to level the playing field.  Here’s how to get started with ASO for your apps:

App Title

How simple and clear is your app title? Does your app title include a relevant keyword? Is it easy for people to understand what your app does, and intuitive to search for based on the keyword(s) included in the app title?

App Description

The app description may not be indexed in the (Apple) App Store, but it is still important to think about as part of your overall app SEO strategy. Why? Because it will be indexed online. (App descriptions are indexed in Google Play search results as well.) If someone is searching for an app on their computer (aside from searches within an app marketplace), you will want to give your app a good chance of showing up. The downloads that you drive by having a keyword rich app description will have an indirect, but important, impact on your app’s position within the app store search results.

Also, when writing your app description, break everything into sections so that it is easy to read. Use social proof (customer comments, app reviews, etc.) to overcome the consumer’s risk aversion and reassure them that your app will deliver on its promises.

App Keywords

What keywords are your prospective users already searching for? We highly recommend app marketers utilize a tool like MobileDevHQ to help you to identify important keywords.

Don’t leave this to chance. Even if you try to imagine what your customers are searching for, you may not get the wording correct – your customers might be using a slightly different phrase or order of words than you had expected. It’s best to align your app marketing and app SEO with the exact phrases that people are entering into the search engines and app store search fields.

App icon

A good app icon design is like the “front door” of your app – people are constantly scanning through dozens of apps as they look through the app store, and if your app icon is clean, simple and easy to “read” it will be more likely to get noticed. The quality of your app icon doesn’t impact your ranking in terms of the app store’s search algorithm, but it will serve as another way to help your app stand out from the crowd. Choose an iconic image that represents the core function of the app.

App screenshots

As with your app icon, the quality of your screenshots won’t impact your ranking in terms of the algorithm. However, having well-chosen app screenshots that do a good job of conveying the experience of using your app may increase your conversion rates from people who check out your app within the search results.

Choose vivid pictures to tell your story. Make sure that your first screenshot is perfect – this is the one screenshot that is most likely to be seen. Use callouts to highlight features and in-game action.

Customer Ratings

Getting better customer ratings is a matter of quality and expectation setting, which app developers can control. Simply put, build a great app, and manage customer expectations – “underpromise, and overdeliver.”

Set the right tone. Use social media to tell your best fans about your app at the very beginning, right from your launch date. This core group of fans will likely rate your app highly, and this will set the tone for other reviews.

Use tools like Apptentive to ask people to rate your app after a certain amount of time – but for your consumers sake, don’t over do it. And when you implement features based on feedback from customers make sure to let them know, consumers want to be part of the process! As just a side warning, be careful not to reward your users for rating your app highly as this Apple and Google don’t take kindly to this! Most

Number of Downloads

This is a bit of a “chicken and egg” problem – you can’t get downloads without a decent ranking in the search results, but you can’t get better search results without

App Promotion

a decent amount of downloads.

Developers should focus on leveraging their initial launch to create a spike in downloads that can be turned into ongoing momentum. You have a 1-week window when your app first launches when you have almost automatic momentum. Your app is listed under “what’s new,” and press/reviewer interest is more likely to be high. Maximize your impact. Consider joining a promotion network like the GameHouse Promotion Network (GPN) to drive additional downloads.

Links to Your App

As far as we can tell, Google Play gives the most emphasis on backlinks to your app (for now). However, in all likelihood, Apple’s App Store algorithm will also start to give added weight to back links to apps sometime in the future. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting people to link to your app – this means partners, your own websites, reviewers, using social media to promote your app, etc. Getting high quality backlinks to your app will also help boost your app SEO in search engine rankings.

App SEO is an ever-evolving field, but app developers could get better results if they aligned their app’s marketing assets (app title, app description, etc.) with the needs of the search engines. Find out what your customers are already searching for, and then do a better job of delivering that with your app store optimization.

Join the conversation. What has worked for you (or not) with app SEO? Are some of the same techniques that work for more general SEO also working for app store optimization, or not? How do you decide which tactics to pursue? Leave a comment and let us know.

By Ryan Morel

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