How to Search-Optimize Your App in iTunes

Did you know that there are, on average, 850 app submissions to iTunes DAILY? With this number growing and the total active Apps in iTunes hovering around 764,000+, how do you get your app to show up in searches?

App Store Optimization (ASO) is just like SEO for your website. It involves optimizing various elements of your app submission such as title, keywords, and description to increase your rankings within app store searches.

Here are the basic principles involved in ASO:

Keyword Research

Just like optimizing your website for search engines, you will want to do keyword research to know which keywords to target. Even though the Google AdWords keyword tool does not give you app store keyword search volume, it can give you an idea of some popular keywords that are relevant to your app.
Remember, with all keyword research you want to choose keywords based on their relevance to your product or app, and not solely based on highest search volume. When doing keyword research, you want to look at several factors: search volume, competitiveness, and relevance.

App Title

Similar to SEO, the app title plays a very important role in how your app shows up in the app store. Try to get your main and most relevant keyword in the app title. Again, like in the keyword research, confirm that it fits with what your app does and makes sense to the end user. Before you pick the app title, search for it in the various app stores and see what comes up. If there are too many apps that have the same title as yours, then try to differentiate your title to help it stand out. You can always go back to the keyword research and start again if there is too much competition with the app title.

Don’t just stuff the app title with keywords. This could potentially turn customers off from downloading your app, and possibly get your app kicked out of the store.

Here’s an example of a well-optimized app. Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) worked with 6S to effectively search-optimize it.

Publisher/Developer Name

The publisher field in some app stores holds as much ranking power as the app title. If you can, this is a great opportunity to use another relevant keyword in the publisher name or developer name that relates to your app. As shown in the image above, MEC’s developer name is the easily-searchable Mountain Equipment Co-Op.

Keywords Data

For the keyword field, this is your opportunity to put in all the relevant keywords that came out of the keyword research, as well as any variations of them.

App Description

In the same vein as the meta description tag in SEO, the app description does not hold any ranking power. Instead, what it does do is draw your users in. The app description is your sales pitch: you need to make it as engaging as possible so the end user will want to download your app over your competitors’. MEC’s app description notes that “it’s a complete store in your pocket” – a useful tool for anyone on-the-go.

Other Factors

Click-through rates and usage weights of your app can also play into where your app will show up in searches. How many times your app gets deleted or how many times it gets downloaded can affect results if you or your competitor shows up in the top spot. App reviews play a big role as well, so try to encourage lots of positive, high-star reviews. Ask your loyal customer base to write honest reviews by sending targeted emails. Write blog posts featuring your app and promote them through social media.

Similar to how Google likes websites to have fresh and relevant content, app stores want fresh and relevant apps in their stores, so update frequency can factor into where your app ranks within search. Ensure you are creating new features and keeping up with the latest OS updates.

Unknown Factors

These factors have yet to be proven, but some experts believe they are part of the overall algorithm of app store rankings:

  • Most experts feel that social links or inbound links play a big role in app store ranking. For example, here is an inbound link to MEC’s app in iTunes.
  • The age of your app. Are users still using your app? Are they updating it consistently?
  • Is the speed of your app holding users back? Does it crash often? Are your competitors’ apps faster than yours?
  • Are you a brand or developer that users trust and recognize? Do you have other highly successful apps under your belt already?

App store optimization is extremely important to the overall success of your app. Don’t overlook this powerful way to get your app seen.

If you’d like to learn more about 6S’s work with MEC, take a look at our case study.

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