Jai Jaisimha is the founder and CEO of Appnique.

The mobile apps marketplace continues to grow explosively, creating a number of challenges to app creators. Nielsen has reported that 53 percent of app marketplace users discover apps by searching or browsing on their smartphones. This creates challenges and opportunities for app creators:

  • How to stand out in a crowded marketplace and be discovered by users with purchase/download intent when users search or browse for content on their devices.
  • How to track and manage updates to applications, metadata and keywords in response to competitive responses and changes in app store design and search algorithms.

The market is clearly responding to this challenge. Data compiled and reported by my company, Appnique, for the US versions of iTunes and Google Play shows 350,000 apps updated their titles, and over 400,000 apps made updates to their description in the last three months of 2012 to more effectively merchandise their apps.

This activity is clearly a sign that App Store SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is something that people are working hard to capitalize on!

App Store Optimization Best Practices

Here are some tips for app marketers:

  1. Understand your target audience.
  2. Select a set of keywords that are likely to be used by the target users to search for their apps.
  3. Identify a set of competitors to benchmark against.
  4. Research and identify keywords that might be used by competitors.
  5. Analyze app descriptions, perform competitive comparisons, and identify a final set of keywords and incorporate them into the app description, title or other app metadata.
  6. Iterate on this process in response to marketplace and competitive changes.

It is also important for app marketers to collect competitive intelligence about competitors and changes to app stores and respond appropriately. Since these changes often happen with no warning, App Store SEO is not a one-time activity but must become part of your regular “app hygiene” activity.

App Store Optimization – Enabling Paid User Acquisition to Succeed!

In working with clients, I’ve come across anecdotal evidence supporting the notion that App Store Optimization performed correctly actually enables improved effectiveness in paid user acquisition.

  • Users who may view paid promotional messages frequently do not click through because they are in the middle of a particularly riveting phase of game play – these users memorize the name of the app (sometimes imperfectly!) and then search for the app within the app marketplace.
  • Misspelled or mis-remembered app titles and the number of competitive app titles with deceptively similar names means that clicks you paid for might actually accrue to the benefit of your competitors.
  • Users read app descriptions closely and react negatively to any cognitive dissonance between what they thought the app was about and what the description implies.

Together, these three points effectively make the case for App Store SEO to be closely performed in combination with paid user acquisition.

Moving the Industry Forward

There are a few key bottlenecks that must be addressed to enable complete transparency in how well App Store Optimization is meeting or failing to meet an app marketer’s user acquisition goals:

  • App marketers have little to no visibility into the actual queries that users use in searching for apps within app marketplaces – unlike on the web none of the leading app marketplaces make available any actual data on query volume.
  • App marketers today do not have the tools that help them distinguish users who are derived from organic search traffic versus those they may find through any of the other paid or promotional mechanisms they may have used.
  • App marketers today have no visibility into the conversion funnel of users within the user interface of the app stores – for example, what fraction of users who view an app search result click through and view the detailed description, screen shots or reviews for an application.

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