Mobile SEO and ASO for Apps
Google's mobile-friendly update didn't just bring a boost in rankings for websites labeled as mobile-friendly. With this update apps will also start to appear as organic links in SERPs, being upgraded in rankings if they are relevant to the user's query, whether or not the user has installed them on their device.
Another interesting piece of information is that these “organic” app listings also come with an install button, so users can choose to install them directly from the SERP. Moreover, thanks to deep linking capabilities, the user will be sent straight to the page that interests them within the app, instead of the homepage as the case used to be (so far, only available for Android apps). Not only that, but using goo.gl short links for your Android app, iOS app, or website will send users directly to the content (page) they searched for - if they have already installed your app.
With Google confirming that more searches occur now on mobile than they do on desktop, at least in countries like America, Japan or Canada, and the use of phablets on the rise, it's becoming increasingly important to be visible and attractive in mobile searches.
Mobile app marketing should definitely become a priority if you have an app. App store optimization is also a part of this, so you need to have several things in mind.
Below I've listed some of the more relevant things you need to know and do about mobile app SEO in order to make your app stand out in search results.
Mobile SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Create an app to gain more exposure in mobile searches
Mobile app search (bookmark this article by Justin Briggs, as it also lists some keyword app research tools) is gaining ground on desktop browser search, and a lot of people go directly to their apps when they want to access a certain feature or piece of content. Think Facebook, Twitter and others alike.
We hope that Search will now help you acquire new users, as well as re-engage your existing ones. - Lawrence Chang from Google
What you need to consider in order to create the best mobile apps:
- An app of your product or services should sustain the company's business goals and help attract more customers.
- An app has to bring added value in the user's life. It should offer something above the desktop and mobile sites.
- An app will require separate maintenance and separate SEO considerations.
Name your app
The name you give your app might be the same your product or service already has. This is important for being found in Google search and in app store searches as well.
- This would be a branded keyword you already rank for, but if too lengthy, consider a shorter, yet still descriptive version that fits better on phone screens.
- Choose two more keywords that describe your app and add them next to the name. This would be the equivalent of adding keywords in the title of a page or article. The keywords have to be different and relevant. IMDb's app is a perfect example: it includes the brand name and two different, highly targeted keywords that best describe its use.
Choose appropriate keywords for mobile search that both describe your app and match your users' needs.
- This app store listing guide includes the most important factors you need to consider for best app store optimization practices, and gives thorough advice on keyword research. Finding the right keywords to describe your app should also come in handy when searching for content ideas, or other optimization aspects.
- You can also use Google Keyword Planner to get mobile search volume information for your targeted keywords.
Avoid app interstitials that ruin mobile UX
It is not good UX to prompt users of your mobile site to download and install your app through interstitials. They interrupt the user's actions, hide the content they were viewing, and force them to complete more actions than they had intended.
The user might actually be in the process of converting or signing up for something, and the interstitial only provokes them to go back to their search query and click on another link.
Instead, you should install an HTML banner at the top of the page.
Now users [know they have the option to] install the app without interrupting what they were doing.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that certain app creators still prefer using interstitials. You may want to do some A/B testing and see which variant works best for your particular app.
App Indexing can give a ranking boost and more SERP real estate
App indexing helps you make sure Google has indexed your app and it will be visible in searches. More than that, Google actually confirmed that app indexing will start counting as a ranking signal for Android users.
Another benefit of App Indexing is that it will enhance your app's listing in search results with an install button which will increase odds that viewers are going to start using it. An important point to note here, that Paolo Zanzottera, CEO of ShinyStat and mobile SEO expert, was kind enough to clear up for me, is that app indexing only applies to Android apps for now, and not iOS apps. However, Google is working to implement app indexing for iOS on a worldwide scale as well, so you can start preparing your iOS apps for App Indexing.
Creating an app can be a good way to increase your visibility in SERPs, improve CTR and get you more customers down the road. But at the same time creating an app requires a lot of business decisions and takes up company resources.
Mobile ASO (App Store Optimization)
Add a description of your app
App descriptions for the app store are only available for Android users, and therefore for Google Play. The description has to be relevant and illustrative, while also enticing readers to find the value it offers and call on them to install it. The guide mentioned earlier in this chapter gives sufficient detail on how to write the description of an app in order to make it more compelling. This description applies for Google Play (Android users), Windows Store (Windows OS users), and Apple's App Store (iOS users). You will be competing with dozens or more apps in the store depending on your niche, which is why you need to make it as convincing as possible.
Follow the same rules you would when writing copy. Create a powerful message, and start off with a strong sentence. If you've never done this before, check out how others have described their apps, and don't be limited to your direct competitors. The more diverse the inspiration, the better the description you'll write.
Provide screenshots of the app
Images are more compelling than words. When you're lined up with dozens of competitors in app store listings, a good image can make the difference that gets users to click on your app for more information. A good practice here is to start with the best image of your app, but make sure to provide several that are relevant and give users a good idea of what the app looks like, how it functions and what it does.
Add keywords as tags
Funnily enough, app listings for Apple's App Store allow you to add about 100 characters' worth of keywords, but you still have to make sure they are relevant, yet diverse. This gives you the chance to rank in more searches. In choosing your keywords here, you mustn't only think about words that describe the app, but about the actions users are looking to complete.
It's worth looking over to your competitors here as well, in case you might be missing some potential uses. Think about the words users would type in to search for your app or to describe it, and include as many as you can.