App Store Optimisation – what works, what doesn’t

We read a lot of recommendations for App Store Optimisation. Some, in our experience, are valid – but many are not.

Obviously the most effective promotion comes from outside channels – advertising, social media, PR, etc. But how can you get app stores to rank you more highly and promote your app over others?

Keep posting new releases

App stores like new, fresh content. Newer apps will start to supersede your app if it hasn’t been updated for months. Rather than 2 or 3 large updates a year, release little and often. Try for once a week. It’s completely fine to post a new version with nothing more than a few wording or graphics tweaks. Apple and Google respect the fact that your app is in regular development.

As a bonus, your users get notified when your app updates. This acts as a little advert, and drives usage.

Solicit feedback

Ask your users for reviews. Give them a couple of days’ usage before asking – the ones still using it after that time are the ones who like it, so you’ll get higher marks.

Respond to reviews

Respond to every review. Both Google and Apple allow you to do this, and they’ll boost you up when they notice you’re interacting with your community. It’s all about customer experience.

Your first month really matters

App stores form first impressions pretty quickly. If after a month or so your app hasn’t been well received, your listing will be buried. We’ve been brought in to rescue apps in this state – and it’s a near impossible task. Keep on top of your app in the early days. When you get negative feedback, react quickly and fix problems urgently. Respond to your critics. Regularly post new releases.

Create an app video

Whether you like it or not, app stores promote apps with videos above those without. A simple screen recording showing your app in use is all you need. No need for fancy effects or editing.

Tweak your description and keywords

As with search engine optimisation on the web, keep tweaking your app’s description and keywords. Try also changing the category. Google allows you to simultaneously test two versions of your listing to see which users respond to best.

Don’t bother creating a web page

I keep hearing people advise others to create a web page for their app. This is worthless advice. There is no correlation between having a web page describing your app, and your ranking in app store searches. There are sometimes other reasons why you might want to create a landing page – for example as the target of an advertising campaign – but don’t think that it will make your app more visible in the app stores. It won’t.

Don’t add fake reviews

Don’t get all your mates to review your app. It looks a bit sad when an app gets 20 five-star reviews days after launch, then nothing more for weeks. App store spot it from a mile off, Google / Apple will demote you, and your mum wouldn’t be impressed either.

Ditto services which offer to post hundreds of reviews. Avoid.

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