Image: Karl Baron
“If you´re not on Google, you don´t exist”. It may sound radical, but any person that has maintained a website or any other online project knows how important it is to be well positioned on the most popular search engine (Google, in this case). If your site or page does not appear among the first results when you search for your keywords, you will get few visits and lose visibility.
With applications it´s more or less the same. With so many alternatives, so many apps competing for a place among mobile users, appearing in the top results is vital. After all, who goes to page five of results to install, for example, a task app? If search engine optimization (SEO) is important for web pages, then app store optimization (ASO) is the same for apps.
According to a study published by Forrester during the past year, the preferred form by Europeans when they discover new applications is going directly into App stores. This option surpasses even the recommendations of friends and family, which is in second place. Of course, as stated in the study, being well placed in the store must be complemented with getting good reviews from users that download it.
Image: Forrester vía TechCrunch
How can you get your application to appear well positioned in a store? This is the million dollar question. The inner workings of the algorithms that decide who is first and who is second is a mystery. If we want to improve our spot in Google we know, in general terms, what we should do, because we know the algorithm slightly (get inbound links, use keywords with bold and headers, etc.). However, as Thomas Husson (Forrester) explains , the current stores are like “black boxes”.
This doesn´t mean that there are no small guides published and articles with generic advice that can be quite useful. For example, using the keyword in the title of the application seems like a good idea, just to get downloads and good reviews from users. In fact, as there are companies and professionals that are dedicated exclusively to SEO, there are experts dedicated exlusively to ASO.
From Apptamin, as a summary, they have created a brief guide that every developer should take into account before publishing an application. Among the tips offered is to take care with the icon used (if possible, no words on it), and the captures (for example, don´t use generic images).
Did you manage to get your application well positioned? Congratulations, but now you face another major challenge: maintaining your position. Quoting the new article from Thomas Husson, “even if you could crack the Apple App Store ranking algorithm, you would still have to deliver a differentiated experience to maintain your app in the list of top 50 or top 100 applications”. How?
In addition to ASO, the social discovery of applications plays an important role (seen in the Forrester graphic that we referred to), whether we talk about spreading the word on the social networks or simply making sure that your users speak well of you. A good score in the different stores is also important, and not only for the positioning. After all, if you go to download an application, what would you trust more, one with 1000 votes and five stars or one with a few votes and three stars?
As stated by Forbes in an article from last year, which is still applicable today, “there is an app for that…oh wait! There are 100 apps for that”. The challenge for developers is not only to be among the first results in the app stores, but staying there. And, as we have seen the fierce competition that exists in the app jungle, this is not easy.