There is a lot of talk about how difficult it is to get your app noticed in the app store. In theory, it can be true. If your goal is to get thousands of downloads a day, then yes, it is very difficult. But if you are ok with having one thousand downloads or less per day, then it should not be that difficult and I will show you how to easily accomplish that. In this article, I will explain the mobile and web SEO techniques I used to get to a combined 150,000 downloads for my apps.
In terms of SEO, for any page you make on the web, the first thing to do is to make sure the title and the description have the keywords you are looking to rank for. The same thing goes for your app’s title and description. You need to have the keywords you want to rank for in the title and description. Over 50% of the apps don’t do this because they are made by developers and not marketers. So you will be able to jump over them in the rankings just by doing this.
Of course, as with any SEO campaign, you have to figure out what keywords you need to rank for. So just use the handy old Google Keyword Tool to research keywords and approximate search volume since there is no such tool for app store search. It doesn’t correlate to mobile search perfectly, but to a large degree it does.
Once you have your keywords researched, and have placed them in the title, it is time to get into some slightly more complicated techniques. One aspect which affects the app store rankings (both Google Play and the App Store) is the number of downloads you get. More downloads is a sign of quality so the app stores rank those apps higher (yes, even if people inflate their downloads by paying for ads). So to rank well in the app stores, you must figure out how to get additional downloads that are not driven by app store search. One such way is to make your website rank for the keywords you need and drive the people who find your website to download your app.
For example, one of my apps is a business idea app. Those keywords have only moderate volume on mobile search (I know this from internal experiments. This data is not public). But as can be seen from the Google keyword tool, it has very large volume on the web. So on my website, I created a business ideas page and people who discover that page on the web, see that I have a mobile app that covers this topic and some of them download the app. So using web SEO can increase your mobile downloads, which will improve your app store SEO.
Additionally, use social media. Both, on my website and on the mobile apps I suggest to people to share the app on their social networks. That also adds to your traffic and gives you a small boost in downloads. In my case, social media is responsible for a very tiny boost of only 1% (maybe not even that) but it is free traffic so if you can get it, why not.
Now let’s get back to the app store SEO. Sometimes if you want to rank for a really juicy, high-volume keyword, you will likely face very strong competition. Even if you put your keywords into the title and description of your app in the app stores, your competitors probably do the same. And they also probably have a way to increase downloads that don’t just come from the app store. So if your app is new, there is no way to compete for that keyword. Instead, locate less competitive keywords and build up the strength of your app in the app stores with the downloads you get from those keywords. And when your app is strong, switch your title/description around to rank for the more competitive keyword. Also, one way to beat stronger incumbents is to have a better app than they do and make sure it gets better reviews.
Reviews are extremely important. Many new potential downloaders read reviews and base their decision to download your app based on the reviews. So make sure you have very good reviews. Even if you are ranked lower than existing apps, if you have better reviews, people will often skip over the apps before you if those apps are low rated, and give your app a chance. So having a great app store rating is a great long-term way to get more downloads and solidify your place among the top-ranking apps for your keywords. And don’t forget, if you have bad reviews, they will cause decreases in downloads. So make sure you please your users and make them very happy. If you don’t, none of the suggestions I have made will be of any use.
Of course, there are many more different techniques you can try to implement, but just these techniques can take you a very long way if you implement them correctly. Likely you will be in better shape long-term than 90% of the other apps. I wish you good luck, and if you do implement any of the suggestions above, please let me know how it worked out for you either by commenting on this article, or saying hello to me on Twitter @genadinik.