3 Ways to Win at SEO in the Age of the App


If you haven’t touched SEO since 2011 and ASO sounds like some kind of lab test, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. You’re probably miles behind both the search engines and your competitors. Gaining a spot in those coveted top search results, whether in Google or an app store, takes creativity, passion, and more than a little ingenuity.

Here are a few hints to get you started.

Mobile-Ready or Not at All

One of the most talked-about trends last year was that mobile devices surpassed desktops as the dominant platform for internet use. To accommodate the change, Google announced that it was changing its ratings to favor mobile-friendly sites. The search engine now assesses all the pages on your site for mobile usability. It explores every facet of your site, including how information flows on the screen, font sizes and how close together your links are to allow for ease of touch. If your site meets Google’s standard, you get a new “mobile friendly” label. If not, your formerly suave website suddenly gets that used-Camaro look—and loses its coveted page-one status.  

In our company, we thought that only making our search page mobile-friendly would be enough to appease the Google spiders. However, we

Image via Shutterstock

didn’t see much of a change in traffic. So we pushed further and mobile-optimized our entire website, which included thousands of pages. Our traffic doubled—surprise! Since we target the college student market mobile optimization, and the Web traffic that it brought us, turned out to be a massive value-add.

Lesson learned. 

When it comes to mobile optimization, go whole hog. Starting with your landing page is just that—a start. You don’t gain the real juice until you mobile-optimize your entire website. Google provides a Mobile-Friendly Test to help you see how.

App Store Optimization

With apps accounting for more than half of the time spent on mobile devices, getting yours to the top of the search results is essential. Here are a couple of things you can do.

Make keywords and your app name work for you. First, do your research and decide which keyword gives you the most market traction. Work that one into your app name. There are lots of great tools to help with your research, such as Sensor Tower and App Annie.

You have to strike a balance between branding and naming, and not every store works the same way. Include keywords in your app name and description. We’ve seen strong correlations in app ranking and the keywords used in our app name and description. Remember that you can change the description at any time, so be sure to experiment.

Conversion optimization – how to get people to download your app once they find it – is another essential trick. It’s part science and part art. Tinker with it over time to see what works best.  

Always adopt new app store guidelines as quickly as possible. When Apple allowed for videos of apps, we were one of the first apps in our category to respond. Videos convert way better than images, so this was a huge advantage! Also, Apple featured a number of the apps that responded with videos the fastest. We were one of those featured apps.  

Here are a few other basics that will apply: clarity in the text, attractive pages with images and screenshots, and text that leads with what solutions your app offers. Customers will have time to appreciate the cleverness of your app after you get them to download it.

Make your app sticky with push notifications and opportunities for feedback and other interactions, but don’t get annoying. When done correctly this produces not only valuable grassroots marketing, but will also keep your product in your users' minds.

Volume and Velocity

Make no mistake; app stores will feature your app—as long as your app beats others in volume and velocity. Use a tool like AppAnnie for in-depth analytics to help you gauge results of your marketing. Then you can target campaigns to shoot for downloads in specific time periods. That volume and velocity bump can help increase your ranking.

Other tools help you spike interest as well.

Take TapJoy, the service that lets users choose their ad preferences and then rewards them for engaging with the in-app ads they see on a daily basis. Businesses get an audience that has chosen them and users know that the ads they see match needs. Services like this will also help you target audiences for the greatest impact.

Ready, Set, Go

If you haven't started your new-world SEO journey yet, there’s no better time than the present. Many tools exist to set you on the right path, and it takes experimentation to succeed. Don’t let your savvier competitors get the best of your market—start now.  

More questions about SEO or ASO? Hit me up on Twitter. I love talking about this kind of stuff and I respond to every inquiry.

Jordan Wright is the Co-Founder & CEO of Comfy - a mobile platform connecting students to landlords to make finding housing simple & easy. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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