From SEO to ASO

The app is a relatively new weapon in the online brand’s arsenal. For better or worse, apps are an “in” thing, and advertisers have invested thousands in developing the flashiest and most novel of offerings.

“Exciting” was the directive of app build for a long time, as brands sought to differentiate themselves from competitors. However, more crucial than innovation is a great design, led by user experience (UX), and an app that sits across all operating devices. Once this groundwork has been covered off nicely, innovation can re-enter the planning process.

Why develop an app for all operating systems? It’s a simple matter of penetration: closing your app to one system, such as iOS, rather than Android (or vice versa), restricts you to much less market share. Previously, budget-constrained brands may have played safe by opting for an Android-specific app—but with Apple closing the gap between new users in the UK, and likely to swing the balance in its favour before 2015 is out, the only way forward is to build a platform-agnostic app.

This is the first point in app store optimisation, or ASO. With many parallels to search engine optimisation (SEO), the name of the game is very similar here, except that the asset in question is an app, rather than a web page, an image or a video.

ASO, then, is the process of optimising mobile apps to rank more readily in the search results of a given app store, for more search queries. The increase in visibility in the app store is conducive to traffic on your app’s page in the app store.

ASO, at an administrative level, is performed much like the meta data optimisation exercise that is still a valid part of any website set-up and refresh. The title keyword is of primary importance, and should be selected based on keyword research, which will reveal what your target market is searching for online and, specifically, in an app store. Next, the keywords in your app description should follow the same pattern of logic, albeit as part of a description that reads naturally to an end user.

At a user-influenced level, ASO algorithms also takes into consideration ratings, reviews and total numbers of downloads when determining the rank of your app. As such, the onus lies on you and your developer to build something intuitive, useful, relatively exciting and technically prepared for ASO, as per the above.

Finally, perhaps more so than with SEO, the keyword selection process takes some time and requires continuous monitoring, due to the relatively new territory of the app store and the increasing sophistication of search queries typed in by users.

Plan, innovate, build, optimise and review: with this five-point process in mind, you can ensure that your funky and beautiful app is the thing being downloaded by your customers rather than the thing being lamented in your C-suite finance meeting.

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