Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has traditionally been applied to websites and is growing in importance for the mobile web – but it’s often overlooked when it comes to mobile applications.
The importance of considering search terms and target audiences was highlighted in a recent episode of the BBC business competition series The Apprentice, in which two teams hoping to impress Lord Sugar had to design, develop and release mobile applications in just two days. The opinion was that the inferior product won the contest with more downloads in the allotted time, mainly due to the description of it on the relevant app stores, which was more appealing to a global audience.
How to think about mobile app SEO:
Rather than optimising your application for search, you’ll need to optimise the description and metadata on the application stores you use to release your app. So the first stage is to really think about your target audience, and the users you’d really want to be downloading and using it. Do you want the largest possible global audience, or is your revenue UK focused, for example? Are you aiming at a male or female user, and what age range would you prefer them to be in? None of this excludes other people from finding and using your application, but it means you’re more likely to get the people who are most valuable to you.
The next step is to ensure you’re using the words and terms that are most applicable to that audience – a free tool such as Google Keywords Tool will let you research words and phrases to see what people are searching for, and also suggest alternatives you might not have considered. And it can be filtered by country, language and device, including mobiles.
There are three areas to consider on each application store: the title, the description, and the keywords, so it’s important to check the restrictions on each area as early as possible to give yourself time to think about character limits and to ensure you follow the guidelines for each application store. For instance, if you’re licenced to use a brand name which isn’t clearly owned by you, you might need to prove that licence to the app store before your app can be approved.
Don’t forget that SEO still applies to any websites and social networks that you can use to promote your application – you might be limited within the app store itself, but many people will research or hear about mobile apps and products searching the web generally, and you can optimise your pages for them, and then link them direct to download your apps.
And if you do it right, perhaps Lord Sugar might one day be coming to you for advice!