How to use inbound marketing for App Store Optimization

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ipadBy Megan Totka

You may or may not have heard this recently, but SEO seems to have introduced a new sibling into the online marketing family. ASO (or App Store Optimization) is the online marketing of mobile apps through items like their descriptions, keywords and titles. Because apps are marketed somewhat similarly, but not the same way as traditional web content, the industry has dubbed this area of optimization accordingly by giving it the name ASO, and thus identifying the “store” as the means through which one attempts to market their app successfully.

Instead of optimizing content for a search engine, like with traditional SEO, ASO requires one to optimize apps specifically for app stores. The two most popular app stores currently on the market are iOS (Apple’s mobile operating system) and Google Play.

The proliferation and use of mobile devices is ever-increasing in today’s world, and accompanying that mobility is the demand for mobile web access, as well as access to mobile apps. The goal for marketing your business should be to reach your customers where ever they are, and that will likely mean going mobile.

ASO vs. SEO

In the world of SEO, Google is by far the most prevalent search engine that you, as an online marketer, will likely cater to. But in the case of apps and ASO, there are several different platforms (stores) that function in decidedly different ways. How you choose to optimize an app will depend largely on which app store you are targeting.

Most online markers get the benefit of seeing where their website visits come from (attribution) thanks to some handy marketing tools, but it doesn’t work that way with app marketing. It’s completely normal to have absolutely no access to information about where your app installs come from, even in the case of the C-suite (CEOs, CFOs and the like).

This is because each individual app store holds the key to all of that information, and due to the very new and green nature of the app ecosystem, they are not quite ready to dole it out yet. Also, unlike regular web content, there is currently no attribution for apps.

How does inbound marketing relate to ASO?

For more than six years, inbound marketing has been the most successful way to market your business online. While outbound marketing focuses more on purchasing advertisements and cold calling, inbound marketing requires the creation of quality content that attracts people to your business in an organic way.

This is where ASO comes into play. If you’re familiar with traditional SEO, remember that there is both on-page, visible SEO, and off-page, behind the scenes SEO. Similarly, apps have on-metadata ASO as well as off-metadata ASO. While the on-metadata factors are the ones that you will be able to have the most control over, rest assured, you can still have a positive influence over the off-metadata factors of ASO, too.

On-metadata factors include the app title, description, keyword field, icon and screenshots (or promotional graphics). Off-metadata factors are those that involve ratings, reviews and link-building.

The differences between the iOS and the Google Play platforms (or stores) will require that online marketers make different moves to optimize their apps according to the store they are gearing toward.

One of the main differences between the two is that iOS has a keyword field, while Google Play has a description field. With iOS, you’ll want to be very choosy and pick keywords based on relevancy and search volume. With Google Play, you’ll want to think of your description like you would any other web content; optimize it fully, but take care not to come across as spam.

Regardless of the platform you choose, you’ll want to pay the most attention to your app’s title. The title of the app is the most important part of ASO, and it is basically the same thing as a title tag in HTML.

Once you’ve optimized your apps appropriately, users who search for apps in the app store will more easily find your app. And because the app store search has been identified as the most popular channel for downloads, according to recent research presented by the Nielsen firm, you will likely be able to reach more customers than ever before.

To wrap it all up, think of ASO as the online marketer’s way to make sure that customers can organically search for your app, find it, and download it at their leisure.

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