The following Mobile Application SEO Guide offers tools and techniques for optimizing a mobile app for improved search results.
1. Optimizing for App Store Search Engines with On-Meta Data
A. App Title
The title offers a brief and easy-to-understand description of the app. Include branding elements to distinguish the product from others. Use keywords in the title, but avoid using spam trigger terms.
The description provides a one to two sentence explanation of the app’s primary use. The second half of the description offers a specific and appealing set of features, while also explaining the social significance or usefulness of the app.
C. Keyword Field
The keyword field is limited to 100 characters in iOS and should focus on relevancy, search volume and difficulty. Utilize individual keywords separated by commas not spaces. Avoid repeating keywords from the title, which should include only the most important keywords.
Develop an icon that clearly and vividly conveys the brand and indicates the usefulness of the app.
Screenshots should serve as promotional graphics for the app, offering compelling text and images that describe the app visually. The first screenshot should display graphics and text that clearly explain the app. Each successive screenshot should provide a logical flow that continues the explanation and encourages further reading.
2. Optimizing for App Store Search Engines with Off-Meta Data
Marketing efforts should focus on generating a great overall rating for the app as higher ratings are directly linked to increased search performance.
Encouraging more positive reviews for the app will help increase the rate of conversion from page views to downloads.
Link-building for mobile apps should concentrate on getting links into app store pages, including websites that offer both reviews and directories, in order to boost the apps organic search popularity.
3. Differences Between App Store Searches with iOS and Google Play
A. Keywords or Descriptions
- Apple’s iOS only considers app title, developer name and keywords when generating search results. As of now, the description field is not taken into account for searches.
- Google Play only uses the description field for app searches, and no keyword field. Therefore, the content of descriptions should utilize keywords without overstuffing.
B. Utilizing PageRank with Google Play
Unlike Apple, Google will consider inbound links to an app’s detail page as a contributing component to Google Play searches.
4. App Indexing for Google Search
App Indexing with Google connects users directly to specific content within an app from relevant mobile searches on Google.
A. Configuring Both the Website and App for Indexing
Google requires very specific configurations to connect users to specific content. According to Google, you must:
- Annotate app links for each page on your website (or through sitemap) that can be opened in your app to specify how the page’s content can be opened in the app.
- Add intent filters for deep linking in the app manifest to specify how to reach specific content inside the app.
- If your app makes server-side calls, your site’s robot.txt file needs to allow Googlebot to make these server-side calls too.
B. Add Intent Filters for Deep Links
Intent filters in the app manifest must be specified to indicate how to connect with specific content within the app. To specify a deep link to the app content and for Google to show the “Open in App” button where applicable, Google requires the following steps:
- In your Android manifest file, add one or more <intent-filter> elements for the activities that should be launchable from Google search results.
- Add an <action> tag that specifies the ACTION_VIEW intent action.
- Add a <data> tag for each data URI format the activity accepts. This is the primary mechanism to declare the format for your deep links.
- Add a <category> for both BROWSABLE and DEFAULT intent categories.
- BROWSABLE is required in order for the intent to be executable from a web browser. Without it, clicking a link in a browser cannot resolve to your app and only the current web browser will respond to the URL.
- DEFAULT is not required if your only interest is providing deep links to your app from Google search results. However, the DEFAULT category is required if you want your Android app to respond when users click links from any other web page that points to your web site. The distinction is that the intent used from Google search results includes the identity of your app, so the intent explicitly points to your app as the recipient — other links to your site do not know your app identity, so the DEFAULT category declares your app can accept an implicit intent.
C. Add App Deep Links on Your Website
To specify whether the contents of particular pages on your website should be loaded in your app, you must tell Google’s algorithms about the connection between the page and the app. You can either use <link> elements in the <head> section of the pages HTML or use <link> elements in the Sitemap <url> element specifying the page.
D. Update robots.txt
According to Google’s Developers Guide, “When Google indexes content from your app, your app will need to make any HTTP request that it usually makes under normal operation. However, these requests will appear to your servers as originating from Googlebot. Therefore, your server’s robots.txt file must be configured properly to allow these requests.”
5. Measuring Success in App Marketing
A. Search Ranking
Monitor the results of your mobile app SEO efforts by tracking your ranking for specific search terms that are relevant to your app.
B. Top Charts
Track your apps ranking in relation to other apps in your category by observing the results of Top Charts (e.g. Top Free Apps).
C. Reviews and Ratings
Track what users are saying about your app and how they are rating it to learn more about the success of your marketing efforts. Observe the particular language users include in their reviews to better understand successful keywords.
Take note of correlations between your search rankings and the amount of downloads made by users to see the effectiveness of particular keywords.
E. Conversion and Revenue
Monitor your revenue in relationship to search performance and conversion rates to observe the response to particular SEO adjustments over time.