How to Develop Long-Term Strategy for App Store Optimization
Article by Heather Redding
If you’re trying to get your web content seen, the methods for search engine optimization are relatively clear cut.
While Google has become better at implementing algorithms that let the best content rise to the top, keywords and outboard links are still the king of the hill here, and there are a number of platforms you can use to increase your prominence.
App store optimization (ASO) is a different beast, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some strategies you can employ to increase your app’s marketing potential.
Below, we’ll outline some of the rules you can follow to help your app rise to the top of both the App and Google Play stores.
Keywords Are Still Important
Keywords employed in both the body content and meta description are at the heart of SEO, and while they aren’t as important for apps, peppering your descriptions with words that potential users are going to be searching for can still have a major impact on your app’s prominence on the market.
But the space you have to work here is far more limited. This is also where you’ll realize that creating multi-platform content will require you to optimize your app differently for both the App Store and Google Play Store.
Apple gives you 255 characters for your Apple title, which is a generous amount to slot in the most generous keywords.
But Google’s 30 character limit means you’ll instead need to focus your keywords on the 4000 character description field for your app.
The full description section is going to be critical when working with Google, because it’s the only real means you have for keyword optimization. Apple, by contrast, has 100 characters dedicated to slotting in keywords alone.
Sprinkling keywords between your title, short description, and long description can dramatically increase the prominence of your app, and there are a number of tools online you can use to determine the best keywords for your market.
SensorTower, TheTool, and MobileDevHQ are all great places to start for keyword research.
But Avoid Overstuffing Keywords
Apple and Google both employ some pretty sophisticated algorithms for their app stores, and a description that’s just a pile of the most prominent keywords is going to quickly be deprecated on their searches.
But smart content writing is also critical for actually drawing in customers. Smart keyword usage can get customers to your app store page, but that doesn’t mean much if they don’t download your app.
That’s why you need to find a balance between keyword prominence and clarity. Some app developers get so caught up in optimizing their content around keywords that they forget their trying to sell their software to real people.
That’s why it’s important to consider the keywords that directly relate to your app. Ask yourself this. If you were searching for the keywords you’re using in an app store, would you be searching for something similar to the app you’ve produced?
Your goal here isn’t to get as many people as possible to see your site. It’s to get a high volume of users alongside a high conversion rate.
Two thirds of users who download apps find them through the search function, but the average conversion rate for an app is around 25%.
This should be the sweet spot to aim for, and don’t be afraid to adjust your keyword optimization as necessary to create a more persuasive argument for why someone should rely on your app.
Both app marketplaces are incredibly fluid. The most popular keywords can change in a matter of days or even weeks, and it’s important to recognize that the marketing for your app is a long term endeavor that requires continual oversight. A/B testing is a great way to accomplish this.
With A/B testing, you split your app store descriptions among two different models and split the traffic equally between them. It’s the most methodical way possible to compare two potential app descriptions in a real world environment and a great way to determine what sort of factors can improve your conversion rate.
Diligence can be incredibly useful here. Your app store descriptions shouldn’t be static. Instead, keep a close eye on your conversion rate and constantly keep an eye out for what keywords are dominant in the market.
Even if you find yourself with a satisfying description that offers a strong conversion rate, don’t be afraid to periodically experiment with A/B testing.
This can allow your app to adapt to the changing needs of the market.
Great Apps Produce Great Conversion
Word of mouth publicity in online media, and reviews are perhaps the most critical factor in the long term sustainability of your app. While prominent keywords can draw in a lot of users, you’re going to have better long term results by having your app appear in best of lists or spotlighted by the app stores themselves.
Don’t let the desire for strong marketing overwhelm the need to create a great product. Your app should be intuitive and easy to use – to achieve that, you’ll need a good information architecture design.
Information architecture (IA) helps you set up your app’s content structure – from written content, images and videos in such a way that users can find all information easily.
If you’re confident in the IA of your app, it will be much easier to design a keyword strategy that actually hones in on what users need.
This is especially important because it will have an impact on the long term success of your development company.
Optimize Your Available Characters
The strict character limits available in app store descriptions make conservation integral, but it can be hard to find a balance that prioritizes popular keywords while still being cohesive to prospective users.
Using digits instead of writing out numbers can save you a lot of space, and making use of single keywords instead of keyword phrases can help you make the most of the characters available to you.
When looking at keywords, also compare the singular and plural forms to see which is performing better.
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
The very first thing a user is going to see when your app pops up on their search history is your app icon, and that makes it one of the most persuasive ways to draw a customer into your app description.
Your job here is to convey the spirit of your app with your icon and make sure that it’s likely to persuade customers based off of the keywords they use.
Vibrant colors do a great job of drawing the eye, but you also want to make use of a unified color scheme. A/B testing can go a long way towards testing out the effectiveness of various icon styles.
The screenshots and videos on your app description can be just as important.
An icon can help draw your customer to your app page, but the screenshots and videos they find when they click through is going to have an important impact on whether or not they decide to click the download button.
You want to demonstrate exactly what your app does with these elements and make a strong pitch for why it will help your prospective customers.
Having a brand name that users recognize will ensure a higher level of confidence in your prospective users and increase your prominence in both search results and the suggested apps section that users see on the storefront.
Making an app that resonates with your desired audience is the hardest part, but a good marketing strategy is always going to be built on a strong foundation.
Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.