There are thousands upon thousands of apps available in the iPhone App Store right now, and all signs point to that number continuing to grow. This is good news for customers seeking apps that’ll do everything under the sun, but for iPhone app developers these sorts of numbers make the competition awfully stiff. The truth is that a lot of those apps aren’t (ahem!) of the highest quality. While ideally that would mean that really great apps stand out from this largely not-so-hot pack, in the App Store it’s all too easy for the mass of mediocre apps to hide the gems. When you’ve got an app to sell, therefore, putting some extra effort into making your app catch the eyes of potential customers in the App Store is critical.
The main goal of App Store SEO is to make your app visible to people searching within the App Store. Goal-minded App Store users can type queries into the Store’s search box and have relevant app results returned. So, as in traditional SEO, it’s important to think about what keywords your customers will be searching for. (Keep in mind that anyone typing a query into an iPhone is likely to keep it short and sweet, perhaps using just one keyword per search.) Once you’ve got a short list of words you want to make sure your app shows up for, it’s time to start using the opportunities that the App Store gives you for keyword optimization.
The Name of the Game
Your app’s name has a lot of goals to accomplish. It’s got to catch a buyer’s eye, explain what the app is about, and help your app to rank for keyword searches. The last goal means that your app’s title should include some juicy keywords. For example, if your app is a car racing game, make sure that you’ve got “car racing game” in the name. The right keyword usage will tell both potential buyers and the App Store search engine what your app is all about.
The Keyword List
Relatively recently, the App Store began allowing developers to include a list of comma-separated keywords with their apps. This keyword list was intended to help improve the relevance of App Store search results. Definitely make the most of this opportunity to give the App Store straightforward “instructions” as to what search terms your app should rank for.
Describing Your App
Another opportunity the App Store provides for keyword optimization is through the product description. The way to do it: describe all your app’s great functionality and features using the keywords you’re targeting. Of course, don’t get carried away; it’s important to keep your product description concise, readable, and truly descriptive of your app. Because the product description is perhaps the most obvious chance to use SEO techniques in the App Store, it’s been abused a bit. Some developers have started including the names of other best-selling apps in their product descriptions in attempts to rank for keywords related to those sought-after apps. When this technique is used to make an app rank for unrelated searches, it’s clearly not a user-friendly tactic, so it seems likely that Apple will soon find a way to combat this spam technique effectively.
Success with App Store SEO
Just like traditional SEO, App Store SEO is going to keep evolving. Apple has already displayed its willingness to tweak the App Store search, your competitors are likely to keep you on your toes, and the way that customers react to various SEO techniques will change. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on how any SEO changes you make affect your app’s sales and adjust your techniques accordingly. Keep testing and be prepared to keep adapting.
Of course, targeting the search box with some great keywords isn’t the end of the story in the App Store. For those customers just browsing rather than searching for something specific, you’ve got to grab attention through an attractive app icon, a catchy app name, and (most dauntingly perhaps) already great sales. Because the App Store ranks apps by popularity and the best sellers are exposed to the most customer views, to sell a lot of apps you’ve got to … sell a lot of apps. Getting noticed in the App Store may not be as easy as it was in the earliest days of the iPhone’s popularity, but with a bit of good App Store SEO you’ll be well on your way to success.