A Multi-Pronged Approach to App Store Optimization by Shlomo Wiesen

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Shlomo WiesenShlomo Wiesen is a Digital Marketer specializing in SEO, Content, Web Strategy, and Blogging. He is currently Head of Content Marketing at Kahena Digital Marketing, a Jerusalem based search marketing agency. He is a contributor to   & . Founder  and a proud NBA Podcast host. Today he writes about a multi-pronged approach to ASO success that includes keyword research, SEO, PR, social sharing, and app updates.


If SEO is considered black magic, then ASO should be akin to dark sorcery that the majority of the world will never understand.

The thing is, SEO is nothing of the sort. There is no black magic. Sure, there is black hat, but hardly any respectable search agency dabbles in that anymore. Nowadays, SEO is a broad combination of great content, technical auditing and fine tuning, and coordination with PR.

ASO, on some level, is rather similar. To succeed in ASO is to set up a multi-pronged approach in which one attempts to conquer many facets, including keyword research, SEO, PR, social sharing, and app updates. And with 63% of all (iOS) downloads happening as a result of app store browsing, ASO is crucial. Let’s break down each section:

Keyword Research: Craft Your Title

keyword research

In SEO, keyword research culminates with the title tag, in which Google gives us approximately 60 characters to explain what a page is about. It goes without saying that having a primary keyword or two is paramount for ranking. In ASO, things are a bit different, as the name of an app might not necessarily have a keyword that belongs in it. Therefore, it can be much harder to “stuff” (pardon my black hat) multiple keywords into a title tag.

Having said that, I would strongly recommend getting at least one relevant keyword in your title tag. This is simply because if users don’t know your brand, then they won’t ever find you in app store search results. But if they search for a keyword, even if it’s generic, you are more likely to rank and appear for that keyword. Sure, both iOS and Google Play will read your app descriptions for different keywords, but there is significantly more weight given to keywords found in title tags, both by each app store’s algorithm, as well as from the user in terms of click through rate.

An example would be if you created a trivia app called 40 Questions. It would be helpful and relevant for a user perusing the app store results looking for a trivia app to see an app that was titled “40 Questions: Trivia App”, as they are more likely to click on that. (And it will be more likely to rank higher for “trivia apps”.)

SEO Is Still Relevant

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There are strands of SEO all over the ASO world, but most directly, SEO still applies to the landing page that your app uses. This is because plenty of users will go to Google or Bing to search for an app.

That is why it is important to have a strong and optimized landing page as a “home” for your app. Assuming you don’t have a huge website in which your app is just one feature that you offer, you can create a basic splash page for your app. I would recommend adding content to the page, as well as a basic title tag which includes the name of the app, the word “app”, the app store, and some modifiers.

Using our 40 Questions example, the splash page title tag should be something along the lines of: “40 Questions Trivia App – Free Download: iOS & Google Play”. This title tag starts off with your “brand name”, followed by the operative keyword “trivia”, followed by an enticing modifier in ‘free download’, along with a bit more long tail by mentioning the app store names.

PR & Social: Get the Word Out

pr social media

Although PR and social are two separate spheres, the goal of both is the same: get the word out, however you can! Send out press releases, email bloggers, tech writers, and be active on social. Sure, you ostensibly run the risk of over-exposure, but that isn’t really an issue for ASO. The more the better. At the end of the day, you want downloads and reviews. Telling as many people as you can about your app is the most basic but effective way to get the word out.

In terms of PR, I would craft a list of 100+ writers and bloggers who you think would be interested in covering your app. Email them and ask if they’d like to try your app, and that you’d be grateful for a review.

For social, there is technically no limit on how much you can push your app, and it really comes down to manpower on your team, as well as the type of app you have. If it’s an aesthetic app with nice visuals, then head to Instagram and publish away. Pinterest could work too. If your app is more newsy, then Twitter or Facebook is your best bet. MySpace is also an option. Just joking. ☺

App Updates Speculation

app store update

(Image source)

This is a slightly more vague area, and revolves around the question of “Can I improve my search results position with frequent app updates?”

In SEO, there is something known as QDF, which stands for “query deserves freshness”. An example is when a blog post from March 10th, 2016 is updated with a fresh paragraph(s) of content, and the timestamp is accurately updated to June 10th, 2016. Google will then reward this blog post with a quick boost in rankings because it is ostensibly more “current” than its surrounding results.

As for ASO, based on anecdotal evidence, speaking to other ASO experts, and personal experience, I’d say that app updates do help with app store rankings, but only to a point. An update every week would be too much and could harm your rankings. An update every two years would be too little, and would be wasted opportunity. The sweet spot seems to be an update every 2-3 months or so. Additionally, each update should indeed offer some relevant or helpful tweak within the app to improve user experience or gameplay.

Many Ingredients

ingredients

The two primary driving factors for ranking well in both app stores are installs and reviews, and all of the discussions above will ideally lead to both of them. A bit of SEO, keyword and title tag optimization, PR, social, and a few updates should have you ranking in no time. And if that doesn’t work, well, there are always 3rd party app stores for you to take a crack at.