One of the hardest things you will face when launching a mobile app is getting people to download it. People can’t download something they don’t know about and in order for them to know about it you must make your app discoverable to them. Discoverability is more than having your app show up in the right searches on the app store, you need people to come across your app when they are searching Google or Bing! Be it the ‘Post-PC’ era or not, Google search remains the firehouse through which much of the traffic on the web flows. If you are building a utility app like a to-do list, then when someone Google-searches for “to-do list app” or “iPhone to-do list” you want your app to be perched at #1 in the search engine results for that query. The science of improving your web sites organic search ranking is what is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and be it an app, an e-book or an online store, SEO is something every online vendor must master.
I’m by no means a master of SEO, but I’ve learned first hand things that work and don’t work when it comes to making an app discoverable on the web. To start you off down the road of SEO mastery, here are 3 tips to improve the search engine visibility of your app:
1.) Build a dedicated web site for your app
Yes the iTunes Store provides a detailed app listing page for your app, but you don’t control the content on that site. Plus, you don’t get any type of analytics on who is landing on the page, where they are coming from and how many may have potentially clicked to download your app.
Create your own web site to promote your app, have a download link which takes people to the app store listing on iTunes or Google Play. You can then customize and create your very own web promotion experience for your app. The world is your oyster when you control the web site that features your app.
Check out Templatic’s iPhone App theme for WordPress or WooThemes Sealight App theme, both of these make creating a web site for a mobile app a breeze. We made the Bahndr app web page with Templatic’s theme.
2.) Submit your site to reputable web directories
At the heart of SEO is getting credible web sites to display relevant links to your app web site. If you can score an article on Tech Crunch, the link from the Tech Crunch article to your app web site will provide an immediate boost to your site’s search engine visibility.
Yet for us plebes who can’t count of being featured in Tech Crunch, we instead have to roll up our sleeves and manually build links back to our app web sites from any number of web sites.
One somewhat easy way to get links back to your app site is to submit your app site to web directories. Many web directories have high Google PageRank’s and offer the ability for people to submit links for free and upon approval be listed in the directory. While its unlikely that anyone will ever use that directory to find your site, the fact there is a link from that site to your web site is all Google needs to see to improve your own listings.
Here are a couple of credible directories that have a very thin approval layer that should make it pretty easy to get your link submitted on:
Be warned though, Google will punish you for submitting your site to obviously fake web directories designed purely to goose SEO rankings. A good rule of thumb is to only submit links to directories which have some sort of editorial approval process for links being submitted. Any directory which automatically adds your site to its listing should be avoided!
3.) Guest post and comment on other people’s blogs
As the more astute of you might have guessed, guest posting means writing articles on other people’s blogs. The benefit to you is that when you guest post you can include a link back to your own site in the author information or the body of the post. So for a little bit of work on your end, you end up with a link back to your web site! Guest blogging is a tedious exercise which takes time and effort, but you know what, it actually works.
The hardest part is actually finding blogs to write guest posts for. Luckily, there is the web site MyBlogGuest.com which is a forum for people to connect with blog owners so they can guest post for them.
Another angle is to comment on other people’s blog posts, especially those blogs which use the CommentLuv commenting system. CommentLuv is a WordPress Plugin which enables people posting comments on a blog post to include a link back to their web site with the comment. Many site owners who use CommentLuv don’t restrict the links that people can attach to their comment, which means that as long as your not spamming the comment thread you’ll be able to plant high-quality links back to your app on these pages.
How do you find sites that use CommentLuv? Well this article lists a lot of potentially good targets , I’ve tried a few of them and they work!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of SEO tips, but it’s a good place to start if you are looking to launch an app and want to build traffic to it through search visits. I’ll be back with more tips on SEO’ing apps next week, so stay tuned!