Apple Store SEO 101

  |  July 12, 2010   |  Comments

Principle-based tips to help you stand out in the App Store's search engine.

Recently, Apple reported over 4 billion apps downloaded from the App Store for iPhones and now iPads. With more and more apps being added to the store each day, marketers and developers are struggling to find ways for people to find their app. So, how do get your content to the top of the App Store search engine? In this column, I'll share several tips you can use to help you stand out in the crowd. Because they're mostly principle-based, they'll work with other app stores.

App Store SEO (define) or iTunes SEO is all about optimizing your application and promotional efforts to achieve high visibility within iTunes. If you've spent time optimizing your own website for SEO, then some of the same principles still apply. So, let's start with identifying and using the right keywords.

Identify and Use the Right Keywords

Just like in traditional SEO, high visibility starts with an understanding of the keywords your target audience will be searching for. You can use your favorite keyword tool to get started. Additionally, you should spend time in the App Store and look at the most popular and successful apps. See what words they're using to promote their app. This will give you additional ideas on picking the right keywords.

Once you have a list of targeted keywords, you need to put them in the right places. First, start by using them in the app if you can. This works similarly to page titles for traditional SEO. Additionally, try to use your keywords in your developer name. Not only are these places a good place for placing keywords, but it might make the difference in someone picking your app over your competitor's because of perceived relevancy. If you're just beginning the process of developing an application, keyword research is something you should definitely start with.

Another important place to insert your keywords is in the app description section. Be careful not to spam your description section with your keywords. Just use them appropriately and you'll be fine.

Encourage Feedback and Positive Reviews

One of the best ways of achieving high visibility within the App Store is acquiring user reviews. More important are the "positive" user reviews. If you take the time to develop a compelling app that fits a specific niche and is designed well, you'll invariably get good feedback and comments. But often that isn't enough. I've seen developers solicit feedback within the app description, on their website and even within the app itself. It doesn't hurt to ask as long as you're not spamming and you're sincere. At the very least, you'll get feedback that should help you learn what people think. Then you can use that information to make the right improvements that people want.

Lite or Free Version of Paid App

If you have a paid application, consider developing a lite or free version of your app. Not only does it give people a chance to try before they buy, which is usually appreciated. But you have another place to put your keywords and get more exposure. Many times, it adds to your credibility if you've taken the time to develop a lite or free app. Again, it could make the difference in people purchasing your app over your competitor's.

Promote Your App Outside the App Store

Before you publish your app to the iTunes Store, you should make sure you have a website where people can get more information about you and your applications. Not only is this good for customer support, but it gives people another way to find your app. If you correctly optimize this website with traditional SEO, you might find a percentage of your sales will come through this channel.

It also gives you an opportunity to provide more visuals and descriptions that potential buyers need to take the plunge and buy your app. This is especially true with images and video. Make sure you optimize your images and video. Video can also be used to help demo your application so people can get a better understanding on how it works before they decide to purchase.

Once you have an optimized site, why not branch out to social media sites like Facebook or YouTube? These represent even more ways to reach out to your target audience. You might find that social media sites will provide you with some very creative ways to promote your app. Once it goes viral, it can really help drive traffic. Remember, popularity is a big factor in achieving better visibility.

Finally, whether from a website or social media site, make sure you provide a link directly to the app in the store. This will help potential buyers go directly to your app rather than taking the time to find it.

These are just a few principles to help get you started. As always, if you have ethical methods that have worked for you, please share them in the comments below.



Ron Jones

Ron was president/CEO of Symetri Internet Marketing, which provides strategic SEM consulting and training. Ron was actively involved in the SEM community and spoke and trained at conferences and seminars. Ron also served on the Board of Directors for SEMPO and was one of the authors for the SEMPO Institute Fundamentals and Advanced courses.

Ron also published a book called Keyword Intelligence: Keyword Research for Search Social and Beyond. This book outlines various methods and tips for conducting keyword research but more importantly outlines many ways to use keyword research for social media, site design, content development and marketing, and even traditional marketing and branding.

Ron passed away on June 30, 2012.

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