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SEO for the App Store, an Introduction

Updated on January 9, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of 2, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


The rise of the app has not eliminated the need for SEO, only altered it so that it is necessary to apply SEO principles to your app. App store optimization or ASO can be described as SEO for the app store.

How should you apply SEO principles to your app and the app store pages where it is found? How can you improve the searchability and discoverability of your app in the app stores?

Good App Store Optimization or ASO helps your app stand out in a very crowded field.
Good App Store Optimization or ASO helps your app stand out in a very crowded field. | Source

Key Search Terms and Keyword Density

In some respects, application search optimization or ASO is similar to search engine optimization or SEO, and their greatest similarity occurs when you’re dealing with the use of key search terms and the keyword density on app pages, descriptions and titles.

When you put high ranking keywords in your app title and description, you’re competing with every other app that contains those terms. Search engines penalize your app page when you use too many high ranking terms. Don’t neglect long tail SEO so that you use key search terms that would lead people to your app that your rivals aren’t dominating. The first choice should be key search terms that have relevant intent to your app that your rivals aren’t dominating. Your brand name or product name should ideally be the first term in the title unless the app is already well known.

Using variations of the same term repeatedly also leads to penalties by search engines. Conversely, you should use your brand name or company name in at least the app description if not in its title to benefit from how search engines now prioritize brands over keyword density. When you have more than one app, such as one via Google Play and a different one on iTunes, reference the platform in the title or description to avoid visitors who quickly bounce off while looking for the right app version.

Titles and descriptions need to have natural language or else your content will be penalized by search engines that devalue machine spun content and incidentally clunky text due to keyword stuffing.

Bad ASO is almost as bad as hiding your app from your customers.
Bad ASO is almost as bad as hiding your app from your customers. | Source

Classification and Categorization

Tags were originally used to classify content, and they are specific to each piece of content. Categories are broader groupings for your posts. For example, a personal finance blog would have categories like frugal families, retirement and college while tags would include 401ks, 529 plans, babies, teens, parties and Christmas. The combination of categories and tags help content on saving for college for teens and saving money on babies rank well in related queries.

The category you assign your app to has a similar effect on SEO. Consider your app’s purpose and where people would naturally look for your app, and then pick that as the primary app category. A bad categorization will hurt you worse than poor SEO. For example, a personal finance app put in lifestyle won’t show up in searches unless they are searching for your app by name. If you aren’t sure which category to choose, look at the categories your rivals are located and put your app there.

Poor categorization will lead to bad ASO as people browsing that category visit your app page and quickly leave. If in doubt, ask your customer base or theoretical ideal customer where they would look for your app, then put it there.

Put images related to both the app's purpose and your brand on the app page.
Put images related to both the app's purpose and your brand on the app page. | Source

Images and Graphics

Icons are one of the first things people see when they go to the app page. Your graphics need to communicate how the application is used. Where possible, have the first images people see for your app includes your business logo or logo for your products. The best app icons have three or fewer colors and simple graphics that clearly communicate usage.

You should post high quality screen shots of the app in action so that it looks like it meets the user’s needs. You can use previews as well. Don’t create cluttered pages, since this is a turn off to would be users.

URLs for Apps

Include your business name or product name in the title of the app, and ideally in the webpage URL for the app store link to the app. And don’t change the title often, since this will hurt keyword rankings and confuse those who already had it bookmarked. Changing titles along with URLs also kills backlinks to the app’s installation page.

Another reason not to change the title unless absolutely necessary is that doing so can change the download stats, essentially resetting the counter for the app. Now you lose your ranking among the most popular downloads and other app stats.

The value of back linking to your app’s SEO is not to be underestimated. When you release an app, share it via social media outreach (SEO). Sharing the link to the app’s app store page gives it weight with search engines. Share the app title along with the mention of the company name or brand and a synopsis that doesn’t exactly copy the app description counts as references to the app and links it to your brand.

Put links to the app on your company home page. Consider putting links to the app’s installation page on any press releases you send out about the new app or its latest iteration. Don’t forget to mention the new version of your app when released for Android or iTunes and share the links to each one separately.

Appstore Webpage Design

Webpage design affects SEO, and the same is true for ASO. Google app indexing is a minimum, so that search engines can index your app content via deep links. You need to include keywords related to searcher intent and your brand or company name among the app page’s tags.

Feedback and Reviews

Local SEO is greatly impacted by user reviews of businesses, while product searches are significantly affected by customer reviews. In that same vein, the reviews your apps receive from customers have significant impact on your app’s rankings and even whether other people see it in search results. And app updates that correspond with good reviews improve your ASO even more.


Submit a Comment

  • tamarawilhite profile image

    Tamara Wilhite 4 months ago from Fort Worth, Texas

    Matt I'm glad it was of use to you.

  • thetechhub profile image

    Matt 11 months ago from California, USA

    nice hub, thanks for sharing i was reading an article about ppc and found your article, it's very informative and App store optimization is very beneficial if you want to increase your app presence in app store whether it is android or iPhone app.