It is no longer acceptable for a brand to avoid the boom of the mobile app explosion. In 2018, smartphone use continues to accelerate and the applications that are installed are a direct function and result of that increase.
Companies that market themselves as industry experts and innovators in their field like to speak a big game, but it is those enterprises that expand their operation to the app market that are really leading the charge. They are literally walking the talk, something that is not always evident when commercial enterprises go head to head to play the PR game.
They see the opportunity where others see risk and a loss of revenue. What the figures and statistics indicates however is that this risk is worthwhile if a strategy can be implemented correctly to earn the clicks, gain the traction and earn the trust of the digital community at large.
So how does a brand reach that pivotal junction in their lifespan?
How can they expect to transition from a traditional operator who work by the book to one that embraces new technologies and utilises a marketplace that relies on their smartphone more than their favourite pair of jeans, their television or even fridge?
Fortunately there are techniques and practices that can be implemented, either directly or through educated and professional third parties that can obtain that objective.
A background in this SEO art form is helpful, but not mandatory. What is required is the diligence, patience and ability to execute a plan that will assist in rising a brand up the rankings following the successful development of a mobile application.
Let us explore that plan in more detail right now.
Brand name consistency
Think about any of the leading brands that are in circulation when it comes to leading apps. From eBay to Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Tinder and Amazon – each one of these has a brand name that is simple, iconic and requires no effort to remember or to spell correctly.
The brand name can make or break an enterprise, especially when you consider its relevance to marketing itself in the mobile app field. This works in a technical capacity when you consider the importance of the anchor text to linking in a purely SEO-related manner.
Yet it also speaks to its currency and authenticity in the wider marketplace for respective digital customers. That tangible accessibility and acknowledgment of a tie between brand name and service is paramount to driving an enterprise forward in this field.
When crafting and pushing an app through Apple and Google channels, keep your brand name anchored and prevalent wherever possible. That aggressive push will help when it comes to the final ranking process.
Understand and appreciate the Apple vs. Google dynamic
Akin to Coles and Woolworths in the Australian supermarket sector, there are two key players when it comes to the app domain online. They will be Apple – a site that offers the iTunes or App Store as it is listed on mobiles and tablets. On the opposition side for Android users is the Google Play Store.
Indexing on these two outlets will see a great deal of parity and overlapping themes that are consistent, but there will be the odd point of difference that should be recognised and appreciated.
Apple is one outlet that has switched towards a practice known as deep app indexing, an activity that binds a URL to a unique action. Google on the other hand are offering more search results that are generated from iOS app deep links, a domain that sends a user to somewhere other than the homepage and is located deep within the content of the program.
The overall shift that is occurring is seeing Apple limit certain results that are not compliant with their branding rules and regulations, offering more stumbling blocks and an in-house operating model. Google has less SEO restrictions in this sense.
The responsibility rests on your shoulders as a developer, marketer or analyst to recognise that your app will produce different indexing results on each platform. Apple’s stronger restrictions and benchmarks for access places greater emphasis on their requirements, but that does not automatically generate stronger rankings on Google.
Stick to basic SEO principles
Of course there is a unique quality to the mobile app market that separates itself from the demands of basic Google ranking factors for websites. That difference is there for all to see and each facet arrives with its own set of challenges that must be addressed.
However, there are still fundamental strategies that apply across the board when it comes to elevating the standing of a brand. From a web browsers listings to searching on a smartphone for the right app, there are consistent themes that marketers utilise that will be equally relevant from one field to the next.
From the competitive keyword integration to the inclusion of a certified landing page, a quality snippet that condenses the message, a website that is user-friendly, fast and mobile compatible, one that is rich in content and utilises multimedia are all part of the dynamic at play.
We can extrapolate further as to what is required with general website optimisation, but that is a practice that is best understood before venturing into mobile app SEO solutions.
Gear PPC ads to mobile consumers
If you are promoting a mobile outlet, why not cater the message to the mobile market? Pay-per-click (PPC) is one way through Google Adwords and Facebook advertising spots to bring in clicks and downloads from this constituency. Here you can craft your own keyword-driven promotion and push the app through these specific channels.
There are also mobile specific networks that are only concerned with this targeted niche to remove all of the other non-related mobile messaging that is circulating online. From AdMob and iAds, these are networks that can bring in consumers who are infatuated with smartphone apps and helps to optimise your standing to these demographics.
Use QR code shortcut
Once you have mastered the snippet to let your app pop, the QR code shortcut is another means of allowing people to click on your brand while they are in transit. This compressed miniature image works to compress the data and send the individual to a landing page that they require. Ideal for either Apple or Android users equally, this is a low maintenance strategy that will ensure a higher level of traffic entering and downloading.
Such a technique operates within a traditional SEO framework as promotional posters, flyers and advertisements will usually send a user to a landing page online. Here, they will be directed to an application of your choosing.
Social media integration
Social media hubs are a great means of driving authentic sources of online traffic. This scenario was not always true as sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram required some time before the big search engine operators actually valued their contribution and recognised their place in the digital sphere.
Due to the fact that sharing of content is such a frenzy on these traditional networks as well as the likes of Snapchat, Google+, LinkedIn and others, pushing your app through these channels should be part and parcel of your business model. Here is a readymade community of people who entrust themselves to follow your brand or content and are available to click and download upon instruction.
There is a tremendous overlap and shared behaviour in this respect when it comes to mobile apps and social media. The two worlds enjoy a symbiotic relationship where individuals have gravitated to one before the other, either using social media as a gateway to mobile apps or vice versa. Take advantage of that connection by promoting on these networks.
Link, link and link some more
When we speak of linking to excess, there are a few facets at play. But the central one that you should consider at keep at the forefront of your mind at all times is the theory of cross promotion. Linking to the app itself is a means of undertaking your own marketing endeavour as you push this agenda across your social media accounts, on blogs, on digital advertisements, through QR codes, within the content of written pages, in alt-text – wherever it is possible to do so, you do it.
Now it must be stated that the amount of clicks does not always constitute a healthy standing. There is a bounce rate to consider in this field, just as a traditional SEO marketer would acknowledge from elevating the domain rank of a website. Should you see a swarm of individuals accidently or inadvertently click on a link that sends them to the app that they have no interest in, that will not help your cause.
In other circles, this black-hat SEO technique would actually harm your standing. The end goal and objective is to cater the message to as many informed and enthusiastic users as possible, so the linking must be targeted, relevant to the anchor text and located from trusted sources that are not all under your control.
Contact peers, sponsors and assorted partners within the niche. Provide a bit of business-to-business (B2B) value and cross promote each other’s messages. This will help to build trust and brand recognition for your mobile app.
Strengthen your reviews and ratings
The ability for an app to garner positive reviews and ratings is one of the fastest and most efficient means of rising up the rankings. Any recognised brand can create an app that scores traction, from Nike to the NBA or Marvel Comics – the key is to actually provide something of value that is appreciated and popular in the purist sense of the word.
That is a dynamic that sees Google Play and the App Store elevate your standing and boosts all efforts to index in an authentic fashion. The positive aspect of this technique is that it is open season as to how you achieve that goal. You can issue incentives for users to rate and review, including discounts and prizes.
The natural evolution of an app will always become evident. If a poor app is rolled out, that will be shown through the ratings. Yet these brands will acknowledge your quantity and more importantly, quality of reviews and ratings as the users will determine your mobile SEO app health.
Updating your platform to see bug fixes, new content integration and rebranding really can help your SEO cause for a mobile app. Much like general SEO requirements that sees content refreshed to provide validity and relevance to the consumer market, Apple and Google need to understand that you have a product that is not laying dormant and just trading on a previous brand reputation.
This is not to say that you need to install an app that is continuously making groundbreaking evolutions from one day to the next. What it does say is that the leading providers throughout any mobile app niche are the ones who have their finger on the pulse with a team dedicated to providing value from day to day. Issue updates when problems arise, but also use new traction to cash in and refresh with new content and fresh messaging.
The final step that should be undertaken when thinking about boosting your SEO health for a mobile application is running a complete analytical diagnostic. Gauge your market traction, examine how your competitors are fairing on positive and negative benchmarks, and implement a plan that gets your brand out there.
Marketers that produce an app have an awful habit of resting on their laurels and believe that the creation alone will see traffic flowing through and downloading on a regular basis. But much like a website and its standing on the Google rankings, the hard work has only just begun once you create the application.
Those who have the resources to outsource this practice can earn a leg up and see their rankings boosted in the intermediate period. However, those who educate themselves on these standard techniques will have the intellectual property and knowledge base to see performances improve incrementally.
Which will you be?
Sarah is the head of guest posts outreach and an SEO expert. Her interests are search engine optimisation, social media and brand management.