If you’re a digital marketing veteran, you already know about search engine optimization (SEO) and how it can attract more traffic to your site—even if you’re not well versed in the specific tactics necessary to get there. However, most people think of SEO in only one dimension—as it applies to Google web search.
For the most part, it makes sense—Google has long been the dominant search engine in the online world, and continues to hold on to its two-thirds majority of searchers. However, if your main goal isn’t directing people to a website, it won’t be enough to help you.
For example, if your main source of revenue is a mobile app, you’ll want as many people as possible to download it—and while Google does offer some search features that allow mobile apps to show up in search engine results pages, the primary way for your app to be discovered will be through app stores, such as those offered by Apple and Google.
App store SEO is the process of making your app rank higher in search results within these app stores for relevant keyword searches, and making sure your app is considered relevant for the right searches.
As you can imagine, it’s a technical and complicated topic, but this article will introduce you to the basics of app store SEO.
The Big Picture
Let’s start with the big picture. App optimization works very similarly to website optimization, at least from a high-level perspective. App stores want to give users the best possible results for their searches, so they want to accomplish two things:
- Relevance. When you search for keywords like “time management” or “jogging,” app stores want to give you results that reflect those interests, and will choose apps based on how they’re described to fulfill those needs.
- Quality. When multiple apps are available, they’ll be ranked according to not only how relevant they are, but how high-quality they appear to be.
Your job as an app optimizer is to improve your app in both these areas, making sure it’s indexed in a way that reflects its main purpose and improving stores’ perceptions of its quality. There are several tactics you can use to achieve these ends.
App Names and Categories
Though Apple and Google stores offer a different technical setup, they both work in similar ways conceptually, so I’ll treat them both the same for the purposes of this article. Your first job is going to be naming your app, as your app name will be one of the strongest signalers of its relevance; for example, if someone searches for “Uber,” that’s a pretty strong indicator they want the “Uber” app.
It may be helpful to include at least one keyword within the name of your app that’s relevant to the function of your app to capitalize on basic keyword searches. For example, a keyword-optimized name for a diet tracker app might be something like “My Diet Tracker” – while it doesn’t have catchy brand name appeal, it’s easy to remember and will instantly have a leg-up on competing apps because of its keyword relevance.
After settling on an app name, you’ll need to choose a category, which will help your app be listed and categorized appropriately. Apple has an awesome guide on this subject.