Technology is advancing all the time. Every minute of every day, someone somewhere is working to improve an algorithm, enhance software, and create gadgets that are better and faster than the ones that came before it. With this rapidly advancing technology came the app. And under the reign of the mobile device, for some people apps have become a universal necessity...at least on some level. For almost any thought, there’s an app to match. People look to their apps for news, music, games, photo editing, and so much more. Some people hold the notion that apps will, in due time, replace websites altogether, although that is a notion I tend to disagree with. Nonetheless, as technology advances, marketers must adapt. The Google Play store reportedly had over 1.4 million apps as of February 2015. With so many apps out there, how can your app be discovered? And if app market share will continue to increase in the future, SEO is going to have a role in it. Though there is no way to see into the future just yet (no, there is not an app for that), digital marketers need to have an understanding of how to market apps.
Understanding options available to promote your App
Similar to a website there are a wealth of ways to promote your app, and choosing just one is never a sound way to go. For the sake of this post we’ll explore some of many options in the order we feel will provide the fastest downloads, exposure, or ROI. It’s important to note, you should try many ways to promote your app but before you do, SET UP TRACKING AND ANALYTICS, to be sure you can easily identify what are the most effective ways to promote your app.
Listed below in most effective to least effective here are the best ways to promote your app;
App Store Optimization
To help you boost your app marketing strategy (along with your app store ranking), below is a list of App Store Optimization (ASO) tips, many of which originate from well-known organic website SEO strategies marketers use.
Firebase App Indexing
Currently, search engines have adapted to the app craze. App indexing gives apps a chance to appear in organic search engine results. Firebase App Indexing, formerly Google App Indexing, gets your app into Google Search. If your app is already installed when users search for related content, they will launch your app directly from the search results. If users don’t have your app yet, an install card shows up in search results. Adding App Indexing promotes both types of app results within Google Search and also provides query auto completions.
The App indexing process is fairly straight forward:
Don’t forget Web based SEO
You spent all that time and money building an App. Hopefully you built a website to further promote it, if not, add that to your “to do list”. It is widely believed that both Google and Apple factor in your app’s total page visits and product page backlinks when determining your search and overall ranks. An effective way to improve both those factors is to have a website that expands on your App’s purpose and capabilities. The better optimized, more traffic you drive and backlinks you build to your App product page, the higher it should rank in search results.
At this point, as long as you are using the same URLs for your web content and your app content you can register your app with Google, associate it with your website and be good to go. Google should then automatically crawl, index, and attempt to rank your app content based on your website’s structure.
Note: Implementing App Indexing and mapping your web content to your app content using on-page markup will provide more control and additional benefits.
Not a search ranking factor, App updates are directly related to reviews and rankings which do play a role in search exposure for your App. Further, in a study by Aptentive they found that 60% of mobile customers get bored with an app after their first month of using it and promptly abandon it. If you want to hold users attention, it’s imperative that you offer them something new and original as often as possible.
The important thing to factor with updates is, you want to update enough to keep improving your app and app ratings, keeping in mind, that each time you update an iOS app, your ratings reset — and with that, your search rank temporarily drops. As a result, frequently updated iOS apps experience higher app store rank volatility, but frequently updated Android apps experience reduced volatility (that being said, where you get the most downloads for your app should factor slightly into how often you release updates). Generally speaking, popular apps are updated monthly “ish”.
Encourage ratings and feedback
A 2015 Consumer Survey by Aptentive on App Store Ratings, increasing your app’s average rating by just one star, from a 3.0 to a 4.0, can almost double your expected downloads!
A steady flow of incoming positive reviews serves as the highest possible validation of your app’s quality and is one of the main drivers concerning search rank. When determining search rank, the amount of reviews will be a bigger driver than the rating rank but be mindful of both.
Formalizing a “review/rank strategy is well worth the time spent and items that should be considered are;
• Use an App Review Plugin's
o There are a number of out of the box plugins available for iOS and Android that simplify the in app review request. Some of the best in app review plugins include
• Provide excellent support for your app, and ask users to write reviews
• Incentivize Users to Review Your App
o Everyone loves “free stuff”, so consider adding in-game rewards or points programs. An easy and powerful incentive is to reward your users if they do choose to review your app.
• Ask in release notes
Wrapping it up
Although these 5 quick ASO/SEO tips are a quick win to get you started on App promotion there are many others that should be considered including affiliate marketing, paid advertising (ppc, pay per install, etc...), loyalty programs, push notifications, social media, forums, social bookmarking, PR, and the list goes on.
The real take-away is that, a good plan right now is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. Because online promotion for Apps is a moving target, it is more important to start with the fundamentals of App promotion today and as they get traction you can plan on implementing new programs.
Remember, stick to the fundamentals of “strategize, implement and analyze” and you will find, your time being best spent on the areas that deliver the best results.
Have you had success promoting your App? Please feel free to comment below:
Mike Hodgdon- SEO & Digital Marketing Expert Consultant