App Store Optimisation (ASO)

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine whom is a COO of company that has it’s own mobile app, expressed their curiosity as to waht it takes to be searchable in the iTunes App Store. App Store Optimisation (ASO) seems like a dark art due to the difficulty in measuring effects of any one change you make to your App page on the App Store. Saying that there are companies that specialise in ASO as mentioned here. From what I read there is a keyword research component where you can look into the single words that get searches on Google trends, and other App portals. The focus at the present time appears to be on keyword stuffing.

Although the Apple isn’t Google and the App Store isn’t exactly the SERPs, I can see the App Store search algorithm evolving to something like Googles’ set of algorithms although perhaps not quite to the same extent. Think about it, if people use the keyword research tools in order to work out which keywords get the most searches. You can be certain that these very same people will start tagging and stuffing their App Store pages with the ‘right’ keywords. Just as they did when the Overture tool came out, so they could start optimising meta content on their pages.

Just as SEO evolved, I’m pretty sure ASO will too by having components not easily controlled by the App developer/publisher. For example, app Reviews are certainly likely to help. Although those can certainly be spammed with fake reviews, it is still a signal and extra work that must be performed in order for fakers to go through. There is also the mechanism for policing and algorithms that could be developed to investigate or highlight fake reviews just as Panda was developed by Google to pick out content that was clearly manufactured for SEO. Still the rating scores are likely to be a factor, then the volume of good ratings. There could also be a social element in that some ratings could carry more weight than others based on the premised that certain raters are well known, verified and reputable (a bit like PageRank and AuthorRank).

Speaking of content I think having long well written copy on the actual App Store page will make the difference too. This may seem SEO like, but the App’s long description is likely to be an indicator of quality of the App Publisher invests the time and money to put decent copy together explaining all there is about the App.

The great think about Apple’s App Store search component is that they are not obligated like Google to show non commercial information. Most of the Apps cost money OR they generate money via in-App purchases which make Apple money. Given the commercial nature of App Store, they may look at conversion rates for App Store page views as well as average revenue per pageview or App download in order to determine which Apps to prioritise in the search results. There is, in my opinion, likely to be a correlation between app downloads and a true positive user experience, which probably correlates also with revenue. After all, if people enjoy making in App purchases or paying for the App there must be a user experience related reason surely?

The trend seems to be more and more traffic coming directly from mobile rather than via web, but definitely more we can do to cross-sell from the web like mobile search optimisation. Perhaps it’s a bit more indirect, and a bit of a biased opinion, but I do think that more and more agency clients will start demanding links that facilitate traffic to mobile websites.