App Store Optimization: On-metadata & Off-metadata
A guest post by SEO Specialist Cort Tafoya.
The number one way people discover mobile apps is through app store search. This is second to referral, or word of mouth from friends. Given the importance App store search plays in acquisition, downloads and growing your number of users, it’s essential to understand how to optimize your presence on the Google and Mac/iTunes app platforms.
App store optimization is broken down into two parts – on-metadata and off-metadata, very similar to on-page and off-page SEO.
ASO – App Store Optimization: On-metadata
Your apps title on Google Play and Apple is the single most important on-metadata variable. Fortunately, you have complete control. The best practice with titles is to start with your brand name and then include the most relevant, high volume modifiers. For example, lets say you have a travel app that connects travelers with friends and other tourists visiting the same area at the same time.
You might title your app “(brand name) – Travel, Vacation, Social Network for Friends and Tourists.” The high volume words you would be hitting here are, “travel,” “vacation” and “social network.”
Note: Don’t put special characters in your titles – space is limited and every character counts!
ASO – Description Best Practices
The description portion on your app page is the next place you want to put relevant, high volume keywords. Make sure you’re not keyword stuffing and that your copy is in fact descriptive, and not just a bunch of mumbo jumbo to score ASO points. Use the full character limit to not only write good marketing copy that entices downloads, but also hits common search phrases people might type to find apps like yours.
ASO – Keywords/Tags
Apple lets you define a number of relevant keywords that describe your app. This helps their search algorithm return the most relevant results for their users. Pick high volume keywords, separate them by commas, but don’t use spaces. You have a 99 character limit here and using spaces is a waste of opportunity.
ASO – App Store Optimization: Off-metadata
Off-metadata is not something you can control manually, but one you can heavily influence. This is where your ability to outwork other mobile app developers in your sphere or industry can allow you to rise to the top.
Off-metadata factors are positive reviews, high ratings, total downloads and backlinks to your app store page (this last ASO variable is one for Google Play only).
ASO – How to Influence and Improve Off-metadata
There are currently platforms that help you gather reviews and ratings from your users. If you feel your product is strong enough, start using a tool like Apptentive. Apptentive lets you try out different ways to request reviews/high ratings from your users as they’re using your app. You’ll also be able to have a two-way conversation with your users, allowing you to get feedback on what’s not working so you can make changes and ensure positive reviews in the future.
(Note: Getting feedback from users is a best practice that not a lot of mobile app developers remember to integrate into their product before launch.)
ASO – Getting More Mobile App Downloads
Even if you’ve got 100% five star reviews/ratings, it doesn’t mean a whole lot if it’s out of 10 total users. Simple marketing strategies like social media, guest blogging, paid search ads, video ads and more can boost the number of downloads for your app. Sometimes it takes buying traction to sustain momentum.
ASO – Building Back Links to Your App Store Page
For Google Play this is essential – just like link building during SEO campaigns. You can start by working on your apps website (if you don’t have one build one). Link back to your app store page from the website homepage (in a highly visible area) and all the other pages on this site.
You can request link backs from friends, trade link backs with other mobile app developers, post links to your App store page on the comment sections of relevant blogs or articles, and ask users to link back to your App store page on their own website if they’re a big fan of your app. Anywhere you have a social media profile, fit the link to your App store page in the description, bio, or website section.
Write guest blogs about your app on other relevant websites and link back to not only your app store page but your website, too.
While you’re doing all of this back linking, include the brand name and on-metadata ASO keywords you chose in the linked text. Linked keywords are read by Google and a significant search ranking factor.
The mobile app game is a tough one to crack but these ASO tips should help you gain some traction.