You’ve heard of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), but have you heard of App Store Optimisation (ASO)? If your company is one of the 2.2 million businesses that has an app in the App Store, or one of the 3.5 million businesses with an app in the Google Play store, then you need to be optimising not just for SEO, but ASO too.
You may be forgiven for not knowing about it, nor that you should be doing it, but if you want your content to rank in the App Store you might want to turn your attention to ASO. The search engines aren’t the only place that users are searching for great content.
App Store Optimisation
App Store Optimisation (ASO) is also known by other names, including App Store Marketing (ie digital marketing for the App Store) or Mobile App SEO.
So how does ASO differ to SEO? Well the purpose of ASO is similar to that of SEO, in both cases you are optimising your site and its content to improve your ranking on the results pages. And whilst your SEO efforts should see you climb up the SERP results, your ASO results should see you climb up the App Store results page.
And no, when we mean App Store, we aren’t just talking about Apple’s App Store. Like search engines, there are more than one – though of course like search engines there are the top app stores such as iTunes, Google Play and Windows Store, because the vast majority of apps that are created are designed for the main mobile players – iPhone and iPad, Android and Windows Phone.
Is App Store Optimisation worth the effort?
A few facts for you to get your head around:
- Apps have been around for 10 years now.
- When apps were first introduced in 2008 there were just 500 apps in Apple’s App Store.
- In 2019 there are over 20 million registered iOS developers presenting their wares to the 500 million visitors who visit the App Store each week.
- There are 2.6 million Android apps and 2.2 million iOS apps.
- Global internet reach stands at 57%.
- Globally there are 5 billion mobile phone users.
- To put that even more into perspective, in 2018 there were over 194 billion app downloads.
So what do these statistics tell us? They tell us that ASO is definitely worth your time.
The Goal of App Store Optimisation
The point of ASO as mentioned above is to improve your ranking in the App Store in order to increase the number of app downloads, but that isn’t the sole goal of ASO.
The other reasons you might want to work on ASO include:
- Enhanced brand exposure
- Improve app reviews
- Increase audience engagement
- Diversification of marketing channels
App stores are essentially closed search engines – users have to type in what they’re looking for in the search bar and are then presented with a list of results that closely (or as closely as possible) match their search request.
How to optimise content for an app store
The principles that apply to optimising content for search engines apply to optimising content for an app store. For example:
Optimise the app name, the app title and the URL – do this to ensure they all reflect the keywords that accurately describe your app. You also want to make sure that you highlight your point of difference to your competition as well why you’re more valuable. So get to know your users and understand their behaviours. And remember, on most app stores users only see the first 25 characters of your app’s name, so try and make it short and pithy.
Conduct keyword research – just like SEO keyword research, you want to spend time getting to know your industry and what terms your users will use to search for you. App stores will search for keywords in your app’s name, its title, its description and any other associated fields to yield results, so make sure you take the time to find the best keywords and use them to your advantage.
Link building within the mobile app – how can the autobots understand the purpose of the app if you don’t create pathways for them to follow? Make sure your internal linking is up to date and that none of the links are broken.
Indexing apps within the search engines themselves – as most of the traffic to your app store page will come via traditional search engines, make sure you optimise your website and the app here too.
Optimising click through rate (CTR) – if you want to enhance your CTR, then give your audience reasons to click through:
- Make your app description compelling, you only have about 500 words to work with, so don’t waffle, but don’t keyword stuff.
- Make the icon instantly recognisable.
- Give your audience an app preview – highlight 3-5 of your app’s best features.
- Work on building the number of reviews you have.
Optimising your website to drive more traffic to the app store page – one of the most overlooked aspects of ASO is optimising your website for the app store. Because whilst word of mouth might work for some unicorns, most companies will need to rely on traditional digital marketing and SEO to increase traffic to their website, in order to drive traffic to app store page. Also, the content levels within the app stores are fairly limited, you don’t have the coverage that you do on search engines, so you have to make your website work for you in order to increase the awareness of your app and build up your authority and visibility.
Refresh and update your app frequently – both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store both take into account the frequency with which apps are updated as a feature of their ranking algorithm. The most downloaded apps are the ones that are constantly listening to user feedback and making improvements to the app in order to enhance the UX. So implement tech changes, add new features and ensure your users are getting the best experience they can. Plus, apps that are updated regularly tend to get more positive reviews, and the more reviews you can garner, the more of an authority you will appear to your users.
Remember, 63% of all app downloads happen within the app store themselves, so if you want your users to find you, you need to conduct ASO.