App and SEO rankings are a growing concern for app developers worldwide as the most popular app stores are home to over 2 million apps from which consumers to choose. This is a staggering amount of competition and it grows every day. To increase your chances for higher app rankings, many top app and marketing influencers recommend approaching the ranking strategy by reverse engineering the advice that app developers receive from Google.
The ranking factors listed below have not been publicly confirmed by search engine companies; however, the recommendations are based on solid and extensive research conducted by the most well-regarded industry leaders. In addition to the following factors, do not forget to consider your competitive landscape and the ways in which you can defeat the competition through design and content.
Before listing the ranking factors, let us first talk about the significance of SEO and ASO.
What are SEO and ASO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and App Store Optimization (ASO) are two critical components to reach a larger audience and, in turn, to maximize your sales conversions. SEO is a highly competitive process that has been around for at least a decade and is typically used to improve web page search rankings on search engines such as Google and Bing. By utilizing SEO, searches will result in a greater quality and quantity of traffic to increase sales.
ASO is similar to that of SEO, however, it is used exclusively in app store searches. In the past, apps could simply rely upon ASO to improve visibility; however, today, both types of optimizations and results are essential to the success of any app particularly given that an increasing number of searches for apps are performed outside of app stores in the search engines themselves. Because of this growing trend, it is imperative to utilize both SEO and ASO.
Before moving forward, lets look at some data:
According to Forrester Reserch, Inc.
General browsing in app store
Browsing "top rated" or "most popular" apps
Searching via search engines
General browsing on the internet
Number of Available Apps from 2008 to 2017 on App Store
Number of Available Apps from 2008 to 2017 on Google Play
Ranking Factors and Strategies
1. Search History
Even after a user has deleted an app, the app may continue to appear in their search results based on their search history with Google. Because of this, Google places far more emphasis on results based on human searches rather than attempted bot manipulation.
For your app to be indexed, the technical function of the app must work properly as dictated by the search engine specifications.
3. Canonical Indexing
To enable canonical indexing by Google for the app, it is essential to create corresponding web pages.
4. Matching Content
To avoid the mismatch error in Google Search Consul and Bing Webmaster Tools, creating matching content becomes essential. The corresponding web page must have enough information on the app screen to avoid this error and result in indexing the app to become searchable.
5. Google Pop-up Ads and Banners
6. Site Verification
You must verify your site through both Google Search Consul and Google Play Developer Console.
7. Site Discovery
Search crawlers need some assistance to find your app; therefore, do not forget to annotate the code on the website for app discovery. This should be done in both the XML sitemap and in the <head> section of your website.
8. Speed and User Experience
The overall user experience and load speed of your apps are also critical ranking factors. Issues with either of these will result in immediate user uninstallation and perhaps even negative ratings. These user actions will greatly impact your search engine results by moving your app down the search results almost as quickly as any other ranking factor.
9. Downloads, Ratings, and User Reviews
Many industry influencers also believe downloads, ratings, and user reviews to be highly impactful on app and search rankings. Read about Google’s Rating guidelines here.
Be sure to utilize both SEO and ASO practices to make it as easy as possible for people to discover your app. These tips will help you move ahead of your competition and increase sales. Keep in mind that the app and search engine ranking factors listed above are far from a complete list of influential components to success; however, they will make a disruptive move up the charts and search results for your app if you can master each one.