Image via CNNMoney
There are nearly 1 million apps available in the app store and 1 billion of them are being downloaded every month. This makes app discovery a lot more challenging for developers, perhaps an even tougher mountain to climb than creating the app itself.
For SEOs, app discovery is juicy new territory to break in to.
Here’s a glance at some of the global mobile stats for 2012:
- 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide
- In the US 25 percent of mobile Web users are mobile-only
- Smartphones represent 31.8 percent of all handsets shipped since February 2012
- 1 in 4 mobile apps once downloaded, are never used again
The app landscape is expanding rapidly, but its current lagging point when compared to non-mobile platforms, is search capability. Mobile marketing is becoming more competitive and to increase app visibility, brands with a mobile strategy should strongly consider implementing optimization strategies for ranking and maintaining a user-base through social media.
Here are 4 ways you can break through the gated app stores:
1. App Store Optimization
Is App Store Optimization (ASO) ”the new SEO”? Many new factors are influencing app store results and Apple's recent acquisition of Chomp, the app discovery engine, as well as Google Play’s use of Google+ endorsements to influence app store rankings are evidence of a significant change in how users discover apps.
Peter van der Graaf shared some great tips on app store optimization with key recommendations for optimizing five important mobile app search elements:
- App Name: Include a relevant key search phrase to your app name (e.g., Unblock me: [Puzzle game]). Tip: Apps starting by a letter closest to ‘A’ may also get better display.
- App Publisher: Include keywords associated with publisher name (e.g., Zynga: [Social Games Services]).
- Keywords and Description: Include keyword rich descriptions, meta descriptions text, images and video.
- Installs: Track number of installs and uninstalls to learn why people do or don't like your app.
- Ratings and Reviews: Ask for feedback and get reviews on websites, blogs, forums.
One popular method for ensuring that an app’s user base is actively providing reviews is scripts like Appirater, which automatically prompts the user with a message asking for a review. This message can be launched based on specific conditions (e.g., a user has had the app for 30 days and launched it at least 15 times).
Mobiledevvhq is another interesting service to look into. They tout themselves as the SEOmoz for mobile and have created a series of iTunes/Google Play compatible ASO tools to track rankings and help position important keyword results in the app store.
Here is a screenshot of their dashboard:
2. Social Media
Social media channels are a great way to increase awareness and engage users. Promoting through Twitter and Facebook as well as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can help amplify the reach of your mobile app.
Three avenues you can take are:
- Facebook Connect
- Twitter Promoted Tweets
- Mobile PPC
Integrating Facebook Connect to mobile applications is a key way of generating free advertising via the news feed. Developers can get people talking about their app with Facebook friends directly on their platform and increase engagement for the application.
image via Hootsuite
Twitter has announced that it is slowly beginning to rollout Promoted Tweets for mobile and will use a variety of signals to determine which Promoted Tweets are relevant to users. These will be based on who/what the chooser decides to follow, how they interact with a Tweet, what they retweet, and more.
Build a following on Twitter and connect with other mobile developers. There are members-only Twitter groups for mobile game developers to help each other promote apps and spread the word about sales and promotions. Cross promotion works!
A well-optimized paid mobile advertising plan via pay-par-click can increase your visibility and rate of conversion. Mobile users are more likely to click on ads than their desktop counterparts, mainly because they are using their phones when seeking services, like restaurant recommendations, products reviews etc.
3. Blogger Outreach
Traditional blogger outreach is still a very powerful avenue in the mobile promotion space. A favorable review on a popular blog can spike and sustain downloads quite dramatically.
Some major mobile review blogs include:
4. Chomp Paid Keyword Search
Chomp is a popular app discovery search engine that claims (Digg’s) Kevin Rose as well as Ashton Kutcher among its board of advisors. Chomp is redefining app search with auto search suggestion capabilities and search based on function rather than just names. There is a good chance that Chomp will eventually become a new version of the app store.
Chomp offers keyword rankings and monthly reports with detailing search query trends, free vs. paid ratio, price ratios and popular categories. The most promising feature of chomp.com is Chomp Search Ads. Along with keyword analytics, paid keyword search is available to promote apps based on specified queries.
Chomp recommends search terms, which subscribers can bid on. They can set up campaigns choosing bid price and budget.
ASO: The Future of SEO?
The global app market will be worth an estimated $174 billion by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts. App store optimization will be an integral factor affecting visibility and growth in the ever-expanding mobile market.
SEO is already playing an important role in the improvement of app search and will continue to be refined to meet the demands of a mobile user-base. As ASO tools become increasingly available to developers, they will be able to improve the experience for mobile, working off a set rigorous performance metrics that can measure a wealth of user information.
This will help app developers identify how to better engage and retain their app user-base and use this rich data to create better upgrades and apps in the future.