App Store Optimisation (ASO), or “Mobile SEO”, is getting increasingly popular as the number of available applications continues to grow. With it becoming increasingly expensive for developers to buy installs via paid channels, ASO has become an essential app marketing practice for the majority of developers.
At the time of writing, there are more than 1.4 millions apps on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This means app developers and marketers struggle to generate exposure in what is a highly competitive mobile ecosystem.
In order to get more traffic and gain traction, it is recommended to build a strong 360° app marketing strategy including actions on social media, public relations and, ultimately, paid acquisition campaigns. However, App Store Optimisation should also be taken into account at each stage of the strategy.
ASO’s best practices are based on assumptions on how the app store algorithms work. Indeed, both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store have different ways of ranking apps, but no one knows precisely which metrics are used in the search algorithms, or what weight they have. However, with lots of studies and many tests, ASO experts and specialists now have a strong understanding of the main factors influencing each app store algorithm.
When submitting an iOS app on the App Store, developers are asked to fill in a keywords field, in which they can include up to 100 characters of keywords.
Apple actually provides such a field because the iOS app description is not taken into account by the App Store algorithm. Nevertheless, it is still important to optimise iOS description in terms of SEO. Indeed, iTunes pages are ranked by Google and other search engines.
On the other side, keywords from the Google Play app description have an influence on the algorithm and there is no keyword field.
An important part of your app description optimisation is to make sure it is well written and convincing while including relevant keywords. This can actually be quite tricky since you want to be human friendly but at the same time, search engine friendly too.
With this in mind, here are 4 tips you can use to increase your chances of being discovered and downloaded.
1) Repeat Targeted Keywords 4-5 Times, No More
Whether it’s for your ASO or your SEO, it is important to sow your description with strong and relevant keywords.
For Google Play apps, these keywords will not only be taken into account by the Google Play Store algorithm, but also by Google’s search algorithm since your app page (product page) is ranked on the web.
It is therefore important to use keywords that will bring you traffic on mobile as well as on your web page.
Be careful though. To have an impact, it is recommended to repeat your targeted keywords 4 to 5 times max. If lower, the keyword is unlikely to be taken into account.
If higher, Google will most likely punish you, resulting in your app dropping down the search rankings for your designated keywords. Obviously, do not include a keywords section or list in your description. Be sure that your keywords are all part of actual sentences.
For iOS apps, it is also important SEO in mind. Therefore, you will need to base your keywords research according to web data. Find popular keywords that users are likely to type on their laptop while looking for an app.
2) Localise Your Description
If you are considering expanding your business in other countries, it is important to localise your app for every language. Although English is a great starting point, don’t forget that a lot of people don’t speak nor understand another language other than their native language.
Also, make sure you remember to localise your “What’s New” section for iOS apps as well.
Translating and localising your app description is therefore a great way to convince more people to download your app. There are actually a number of websites which provide translation services for app developers. One of my favourites is OneSky.
Alternatively, you can hire a native speaker via online work platforms such as oDesk or eLance. I strongly recommend you avoid using automatic translation services, as results are often misleading and inaccurate.
3) Tease Above The Fold
Although it is recommended to write a lengthy description, most people won’t read it entirely. Actually, they will most likely read only the first 2 – 3 lines. These first few lines are actually the one shown by the app store, before the fold (the “more” link).
You therefore need to maximise your copywriting efforts in these first few lines and push forward your best features or assets. A good way to increase conversion is to include a great call to action.
Evernote are a good example of an application that explains their key offering in the first few lines of their description. I’d recommend that when writing your opening 2 or 3 lines that you actually assume that users won’t read any further than this. It’s so important to be concise and to the point…
4) Use Your Trophy Numbers
People trust each other and love numbers.
If you’ve achieved a significant number of downloads, show it off. Write it in the first few lines of your app description. Have you been featured or had great press coverage? If so, don’t hesitate to include these bragging rights in your writing!
A really good example of an app which uses stats and numbers to impress users in the opening few lines of their app description is Quiz Up.
QuizUp is an award winning multiplayer trivia game and fan community. QuizUp has been ranked as the #1 Trivia app on Google Play in 14 countries, including the USA, Canada and India.
On QuizUp you can compete with friends and/or any of the 25 million QuizUp players from all over the world, in exciting real-time trivia matches!
Tips to Finding The Best Keywords
If you’re struggling to find strong keywords that will increase your app discoverability, check out this list of useful tips:
- Use Google and Google Play search suggestions and related searches to get some ideas.
- Use Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends to generate other ideas.
- Mine your app reviews: interesting keywords often come from your own users (or your competitors’!)
- Monitor your competitors’ keywords: see what keywords they are matching by using ASO tools like AppTweak.
- Use both singular and plural keywords because the algorithm differentiates them.
- Try to find keywords with the highest volume of searches possible as well as the lowest volume of competition. Of course, these keywords should be 100% relevant with your app. Again, some tools can help you get the job done easier.
Test Your Description
An important part of your description optimisation is to test its performance as much as you can. As I said, it can be quite tricky to find the best formula to maximise your conversion rate. What makes this process tougher is that neither the Apple App Store or Google Play Store provide any analytics on your app’s sales page performance.
So, once you’ve come up with a description which you believe explains and sells your app in an easy to read way, I’d recommend you try and test this with your colleagues, friends and family. Get their feedback on which version grabs their attention. Also, don’t hesitate to ask people who have no clue about your app and business. Getting unbiased opinions is vitally important.
Once you have a winner, you can publish it on the store. The good thing is that on both iOS and Android, you are able to change your app description any time, without review. Where possible, change only a few lines of your description at a time, as this will make it easier to identify which alteration is actually leading to an improvement.
For the following week or 2, monitor your daily download volume to see if your changes have had a positive or negative impact on performance. During this time, try and avoid any changes or activity through other acquisition channels, as this will mean you have greater confidence that any change in download volume is linked to the iterations you’ve made to your description.
Repeat this operation until you think you’ve found the optimal solution, and don’t forget to update your description on a regular basis with new features or new achievements.