Apps are the life and soul of smartphones, there are millions of apps available for the smartphone to enhance their functionalities to many folds. Apps also have to fight the competition struggle to maximize their visibility and improve their installs.
To appear in SERPs (search engine result pages) is another struggle for mobile apps. SEO for apps or mobile SEO seems to be an interesting niche with ample scope of development for app developers and marketers.
Search engines also have started to treat mobile and web search results differently. It has added an option for apps in the search tabs of mobile devices; it has also introduced specific App Packs into mobile SERPs.
There is definitely a need for mobile publishers to optimize their apps so as to achieve tremendous visibility for search results that are app specific. We shall discuss how to achieve optimization for apps and the best practice to follow with SEO for apps.
About SEO for Apps or Mobile SEO:
Mobile SEO has been tailored for mobile phones and their applications. Almost all of the applications are designed for tablets and phones and thus mobile SEO for apps is gaining tremendous importance. Apps that match the criteria of the user appear as organic links when mobile searches are performed. It is possible to discover apps with the help of search engines and this is the role of SEO for apps in mobiles.
App Store Optimization (ASO) SEO Factors:
It is the optimization of the apps that decide the ranking of the apps; it works in close relation to mobile SEO and affects the rank of the apps in search engine results. There are a number of factors that affect the ranking of the apps; these factors could be both on-page and off-page factors.
The On page factors are:
- app URL
- app name
- app design
- metadata such as descriptions and keywords.
Whereas off page factors are:
- number of installs
- app reviews.
How to Perform SEO for Apps:
SEO for apps has become very much important and is a long term process consisting of prolonged and consistent tracking, optimization and improvement. There are certain procedures to get quality backlinks to the app download page and these ways are discussed here,
1. Creating compelling apps:
The apps are to be creative and useful for the search engines to recognize them, they should be created in lieu of the business goals of the brand and in a manner to attract more customers. It should offer value-added services and differentiate itself from its rivals. Apps are to be created with SEO considerations and brands should also have mobile versions of their business websites.
2. Naming the app:
The name of the app should resonate the brand’s services and products, only then can it be found in Google searches and searches in the app store. The brand’s search engine rank keyword should be available with the app too. It should be short yet descriptive along with additional keywords to define it better.
The keywords associated with the apps for mobile search should match and describe the requirements of the user. Google keyword planner could help in finding the targeted keywords based on the information from search volume.
4. SEO for apps:
After creating compelling apps for mobile phones and naming them appropriately, the next step is to optimize them in search engines so that they are ranked better. We can use a single snippet method for optimization; this consists of the name of the app, its ratings, average ratings, a text that describes the app and installation options.
A single snippet is the search result of an application whereas the app packs are a group of suggested apps. After a query is made, Google would return with 3-7 apps based on the keyword search. App packs are placed as a priority in search engine result pages.
5. Enhancing search Engine Rankings:
Search engine optimization and app store optimization seems to follow similar strategies. Thus, if an application has high ASO, it probably works well with SEO as well. The factors that decide the search engine ranks are the title and name of the app, the URL and the app description.
The off-page factors that affect the rankings are user ratings and reviews, installing velocity and volume, backlinks from other websites. To enhance rankings in SEO it is important to enhance the app Metadata and gain powerful backlinks from trusted sources.
6. Landing page optimization:
For Google to rank the page better, on-page optimization of all relevant keywords in the landing page of the microsite is mandatory. These keywords decide where the page ranks. LSI keywords are all relevant words that help search engines to understand what information the app page contains.
Optimizing LSI keywords helps Google to detect the landing page of the mobile app. These keywords should not be the repetition of the main keywords.
7. Building Backlinks:
Building backlinks to the landing page of the app or the app’s microsite is an important strategy in SEO for apps, as this alone helps to enhance the page ranks. More the links from authoritative websites, higher is the ranking for the apps in the search engines.
There is a small strategy to effectively build backlinks,
- Identify the competitors who are pretty famous in app stores.
- Use backlinking tools to identify all the pages linked with the app of the competitor.
- Analyze all relevant websites and blogs that list the apps of the rivals
- Contact the author of the blog to include links to the present app.
Once the bloggers approve, there is a tremendous enhancement of webpage traffic. There is also high ranking for keywords and the app downloads would also enhance manifolds.
8. Decrease app bounce rate:
Search Engine Algorithms keeps track of all the factors that affect the ranking of the websites, the time spent on the app by the user and the app bounce rates. The greater the time spent by the user on a website, the greater is the chances for it to rank higher in web searches.
Search Engines ultimate goal is to help people with relevant information pertaining to their search and does not want them to leave the page soon. The ultimate aim of app creators should also be to enhance the time users would spend on the app.
To optimize this, the apps have to address the issue and not brag on their own features. Convince the user that the problem would be solved along with talking about its benefits. Such initiatives would help in decreasing the app bounce rates.
9. App Indexing:
App Indexing ensures that the search engines have indexed the application and it would be visible in searches prominently. Through indexing, Google also confirms that this technique acts as a ranking signal in all android phones.
With indexing, the listings of the app in search results would start with a simple install button which allows users to start using it. But app indexing is applicable only for Android apps as of now and may be available for iOS apps in the future.
10. Avoiding app interstitials:
It is not a good practice to prompt users to download and install the app through interstitials, because they could interrupt user action, hide the content they are viewing and could force them to complete actions they were not prepared for.
Sometimes interstitials could divert them to a different link prompting them to perform an action they were not prepared for. The best alternative for this is to use the HTML tracking system.
How to track the performance of SEO for Apps:
After optimizing on how to perform SEO for apps, the next aspect is to track the performance of the optimization strategy so as to identify the pitfalls and for further enhancements of the app.
Android developers have a number of ways to track their SEO whereas iOS developers have to perform it through limited sources through iTunes Connect. The App analytics menu is to be tracked from sources in web referrers. The Google domains menu will list the installs and traffic coming from search engines of different countries.
1. iTunes App Analytics for iOS users:
The users of Apple phone are offered with limited generic data about referrers and thus it is tough to track the SEO performance of this apps, it is also difficult to find for which keywords the app is ranking in search result pages. Google also does not support adding iOS apps to its search control for data obtaining.
2. Android devices:
Android phones offer an array of data for analytics and it is possible to track SEO for apps with three tools in Android, namely play console, Google search console, and ahrefs. Follow these steps for app tracking.
- Add the application to the Google search Console
- Choose search Analytics
- View the impressions
- View the click-through rates on search results
- Match the keywords from Search console and Google play console to gain data about SEO.
3. Using ahrefs to track SEO for apps:
Ahrefs is one of the best-known SEO tools that help to monitor the backlinks for apps in both Android and iOS devices. The following steps are to be followed for tracking. It helps to Check the URL rating the app, domain rating of the app, it calculates the number of unique referring domains and the organic keywords that are ranked on top.
Advantages of performing SEO for Apps for Businesses:
1. Improves user Experience:
A number of businesses are adopting their mobile version so as to gain access to the pockets of their users. Everyone today practically browses all of their needed information in their smartphones. Brands with optimized websites and apps tend to satisfy the needs of the user easily and improve their user experience.
2. Faster Download:
Optimizing apps helps them to download faster in mobile sets; this reduces the waiting time and app bounce rates.
3. Improves engagement:
A mobile app with specific features such as maps, click to call etc., helps to improve user engagement, more the engagement more is the conversion rate. It is also significant that the brand becomes famous with time and connects with a number of users in a short time frame.
4. Brand identity:
If a mobile website ranks high on search engines, it enhances the brand identity to many folds. It helps the brand to stand out of the rest and reflect a positive statement about the brand.
Optimized apps are easy to access from anywhere and at any time. Constant connectivity unfolds a lot of opportunities to connect with the target audience easily irrespective of the geographical barriers.
6. The advantage over rivals:
A mobile app helps a business to stand out from the rest of the rivals. An optimized app offers a competitive advantage for a brand to capture the complete attention of its visitors.
7. Offline mode integration:
The main advantage of mobile phones over desktop computers is that they are able to connect with their customers even at the offline mode with the help of QR codes. SEO for apps helps in optimizing these QR codes as well and makes the business popular among its competitors.
8. Opportunity for business expansion:
Optimized apps for an online brand helps to advertise the brand better and also features a number of new opportunities to reach the target audience at great precision. Advertising through AdWords offers a fair chance for ads through apps to be listed in top search engines. In mobile advertising, through apps, it is important to optimize the landing pages as well so as to enhance the return on investment to many folds.
It is important for a brand to have unique visibility in both app stores and mobile web searches. Almost all of the apps are found in the app stores, in mobile searches in search engines and in App packs. Thus it has become mandatory to perform SEO for apps to enhance their functionalities.
SEO is a long terms process, has scope for constant improvement, helps in optimization and tracks the performance of the apps. The importance of SEO for apps cannot be out rated as it helps to gain quality backlinks for the brand. It helps in the early discovery of the app from thousands of others in a positive manner.