App Promo tip #5: Raise your rank through search engine marketing and optimisation

Our fifth weekly app promotion tip together with our friends at App Promo examines the basics of search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO). You may not have heard of it, but most likely you’ve already done it. With search engine marketing, you’re simply using the internet to promote your website by increasing its visibility in search engine results. Search engine optimisation, adjusting your website content to achieve a higher ranking in search results, is part of this marketing.

Read on to learn how to make it all happen, and ensure yourself with a higher ranking.

A huge number of your users will discover your app as a result of search. Your goal as an app owner is to make sure that your application comes up in the search results when users are looking for it. But as this is everyone’s goal, you will also need to find ways to make sure that you are not only in the results, but that your ranking is high enough for users to find you. First, let’s define and differentiate between search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO).

Search engine marketing touches on many aspects of your marketing campaign – from app description, to press release, to configuration of paid ads.  Search engine optimisation relates to examination of your website for technical barriers that may prevent a search engine from access your site’s content, then finding ways to help the search engine identify and index the most relevant content. So making sure that you spend some time and effort thinking about search engine optimisation (SEO) at the start of your marketing will maximise the impact of the other elements of your campaign.

Finding and selecting keywords

When it comes to search, nothing is more important than the keywords you choose to attach to your product marketing destinations. Keywords are extremely effective tools to ensure that when a user is looking for your app, a service or a niche your app fulfils, you show up as a result.

1. Make your own list
The best place to start when identifying keywords is to make a list. Think like a user as they approach a search engine. What keywords would they use to get your app as a result? What keywords are you already starting to use in your marketing efforts? Your positioning statement and elevator pitch you mastered describing your app’s purpose and benefits are a great place to gain some valuable keywords.

2. Look to your competitors

Add to this list by looking to your competitors. View your competitions keywords by using the Page Source option in your browser. Do some searches within the search engines to see who comes up. Leverage those words that work for you to be sure that your product comes up amongst the rest. You will also want to identify opportunities where relevant keywords produce little competition, as these terms have a larger chance of pushing you up the rankings for this result.

3. Ask your network

Ask your friends, co-workers or users to describe your app and what terms they would use to search for it. Getting an outside opinion from someone not as close to the product is an optimal way to figure out what actual users need when it comes to search.

4. Use online resources

Finally, using keyword tools like Google’s AdWord keyword tool is a must-have resource to utilise when you’re selecting your keywords. Use this tool to help choose and validate keywords. In using keyword tools like AdWords, you will be able to learn upfront which keywords should result in the most searches and what the competition is for each. These factors are great ways to focus on the keywords that will bring in the most results.

When selecting keywords, be as specific as possible. Avoid focusing solely on vague terms like “app”. Leverage terms that are unique to your product and product offering. Key industry terms are extremely useful as are any sub-brands that may be associated to your app. If your app is a game, for example, use your character names as keywords. If your app is content-based, use your topics and authors.

Additionally, it’s inevitable that your list of keywords will be long. Make sure you understand what your top or priority keywords are versus the long tail terms. Consistently echo the top keywords in as many places as possible.

Keywords will grow as your product grows so don’t see this exercise as a one-time deal. Whenever your product grows to add new features or your industry changes to include new terms, make sure that you update the metadata for your marketing pages, product descriptions and other sites. Maintaining and grooming your keyword list will come in handy for future press releases and paid advertising (like AdWords), when the time comes for your next marketing campaign.

Where to use keywords

The answer is everywhere you can online. You will definitely want to incorporate these keywords in the metadata of your web marketing site for your application. The most effective way to do this is:

  • Add your keywords to the metadata of each page.
  • Include keywords in your title tags.
  • Use your keywords in the content on your site.
  • Leverage your keywords in the alt tags for your site’s images.

But your site is not the only place you should be using your keywords. Consider anything that will be posted online as possible search results. If this is the case, then you will want to make sure that your keyword strategy is consistent in the following places:

  • Facebook posts.
  • Tweets.
  • App description within the App Store.
  • Blog posts.
  • Press releases.
  • YouTube video descriptions.

Search engine optimisation for mobile phones

As app owners, the best place for users to find your product is on their phone. This will increase the chance to download, which is your main goal. As your product is mobile, it is definitely important to make sure that you optimise for mobile search.

The biggest step in mobile SEO is to make sure that you have a mobile optimised marketing page. A fully optimised mobile page will rank higher in the mobile search results than that of a desktop page, so it is in your best interest to have this created when you are developing your online marketing presence. In addition, this page will be of better use to the users who click on it, as they won’t have to work (pinch, zoom, etc.) to use it.

When building your mobile site, make sure you consider site performance, rendering and speed. You will also want to leverage the keywords you are using on your desktop version but cater it for mobile. Remember that a search string on a mobile phone is, on average, much shorter than that on web, so you will want to think about fewer and shorter keywords for mobile. You should also utilise Google’s mobile keyword tool to see which desktop terms work and don’t work as well using this medium, and perhaps to see what new keywords should be added.

SEO takes time, so plant seeds early

The key thing to remember for search engine marketing is that it takes time for the keywords to be crawled and used by the search engines. Knowing this, make sure you give enough time to start to judge your results and make modifications. Also, you may wish to start your efforts early through a coming soon page both for desktop or mobile even before your product is released – including your priority keywords both in the metadata and visual text on these pages. If you’re in a hurry, you can try to speed things up by submitting your sites to the engines directly but there is no guarantee on the turnaround for these requests.

We also reached out to Android developer, Brave Zen Owl, to share the enlightenment he has gained from his own search engine optimisation and marketing efforts.

– When creating an application, one of the most important parts for me is to come up with a good name. The name should preferably be both descriptive and unique. I like to create a name that cannot be found in any search engines yet. Then I upload the app before I go to sleep, and wake up the next day to now find many results when searching for the app’s name. While all of those results are coming from Android markets and app aggregators, they will all point to your application, your website, and show a summary of your app description. Usually this results in your website and Google Play entry coming up at the top of the search results automatically. A good description with relevant keywords will automatically be propagated to many different websites, which has positive results on your ranking in some search engines.

Brave Zen Owl

Brave Zen Owl, Android developer

Developers, are you implementing search engine marketing and optimisation? Do you have any tools or resources to recommend? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below.


App Promo is a leading app marketing and strategy firm whose goal is to assist developers and app owners in succeeding in the business of applications. App Promo provides services geared towards increasing discovery, optimising revenue and ensuring better positioning of applications to set them up for success. 

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  1. By Scott Bauer


    Cool post, love to hear more about ASO – app store optimization, maybe next time 😉

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