search engine optimisation (SEO)

App Search Optimisation (ASO) for beginners

Hooray, there’s a new Technology acronym that I need to learn … said no one ever.

ASO or App Search Optimisation is the fancy way of describing the process of trying to make your app stand out above others when customers are browsing app stores like iTunes or Google Play.

Personally I think, as with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), there’s an awful lot of common sense that can be applied here to cover 80% of the ‘recommendations’ that the ‘experts’ are telling us.

But as a self confessed ‘expert’ who is here to give you some ‘recommendations’ here are the key things that I’d suggest you focus on when submitting your app.

App Name

Most importantly. Does your app have a descriptive name that contains keywords customers may be searching for? Remember, you have two ‘names’ for your app: 1) the short name that appears under the app icon on the smartphone and 2) the longer app name that features in the App Store. As an example your new flying game might have a short name of ‘Fly High’ but can have an App Store name of ‘Fly High – the Aeroplane Simulator Flying Game’. So choose both names wisely, the idea is to maximise the number of downloads by being descriptive.

App Keywords

Keywords are of little relevance to website SEO nowadays but they can help with ASO. So make sure you use as many of the 100 characters you’re given as you can. A good starting point is to research what your competitor apps are using to get ideas. And don’t forget there’s no need to repeat your App Name in your keywords.

App Description

Most importantly with the App Description is the fact that it’s going to get truncated. So make sure your key sell message is concisely written in the first two¬†sentences. A punchy couple of sentences which neatly describe what you’ll get in the app is a way better strategy than paragraphs of text on how you came up with the idea or who the sponsors are or why you think it’s the next Angry Birds. Give the customer the facts, sell them the concept, then let them decide. Here’s a good example from Fox Sports’ NRL app:

App Icon

There are two schools of thought for including text in the icon or not. My opinion is that if the icon text is readable and better defines the purpose/brand of the app than a graphic only icon then go for it. But there’s no need to repeat the name of the App in your icon, that’s what the short name is for.

Updates

If you are making updates to your app make sure you don’t only describe the updates you’ve made but list them too. People love lists. Writing a sentence or two on why you’ve released this new version (eg: “You asked for changes to our booking system so we’ve added new ways to pay and made booking even easier”) and following that up with a list of exactly what you have done is generally the best approach.

Other tactics

A couple of final tips:

  1. Encourage customers to review and rate/review your app. You can do this via push notification prompts or via your company Social Media channels. An app that has 0 reviews and 0 ratings doesn’t look appealing to customers at all, especially if you’re asking them to pay for it.
  2. Encourage your friends and family to rate/review your app. As per point #1, it doesn’t hurt to ask people you know to rate your new app to get some initial runs on the board.
  3. Have relevant screenshots. You may love your fancy loading screen but there’s no point making that the number one screenshot, it’s not going to sell your app. Choose screenshots that tell the story of what you get when you download the app. Pick the key areas of content or functionality, and make sure the first screenshot is the best one.

If you have any other tips that you’ve found work when Optimising your App content, let us know below.

How I got my Google pagerank from 0 to 1 – my top 10

I doubt I’m alone in eagerly anticipating the day when your Google PageRank for a new website goes from 0 to 1. It might not seem like a big deal to some, indeed who wants to celebrate the fact your site is rated 1/10 by anyone. But a PageRank of anything other than 0 is that reassuring confirmation that Google have finally recognised your site as having at least some value and are now ranking it higher than the default.

In this instance I’m referring to www.flydigital.com.au – the primary website for my company Fly Digital and I thought I’d share a list of the top 10 things I did to achieve my new status of 1.

  1. I waited – 6 months in fact from setting up the website before the PageRank lifted itself off the floor. Don’t expect your PR to jump up instantly regardless of the amount of traffic you’re sending to it.
  2. I setup a blog under the same primary domain – www.flydigital.com.au/blog – where I post articles (like this) that pick up links from 3rd party sites, therefore showing Google I am growing my inbound links organically through content and not in a black hatted way through link farms or directories.
  3. I approached higher PR sites and requested inbound links – it’s amazing how supportive some people will be if you offer help in exchange for a relevant link.
  4. I asked clients to place links to my site from theirs.
  5. I added links to this site in the footer of sites I built.
  6. I became an author on Technorati and started writing pieces for their site. The “about the author” section on each of these highly trafficked pieces linked back to this site.
  7. I added Google Analytics and AdSense to this site (not sure if that directly helped, but it may have had an impact).
  8. I posted relevant comments into blogs on other similar sites with links back to articles on my site. Some were not approved, some were approved with the links stripped out, but some were approved with the links still in there again giving me more inbound links.
  9. I made sure the site was properly SEO’d – with individual page titles and meta information, descriptive H1/H2 tags, and that they were running on a fast server that loaded quickly.
  10. I kept checking and optimising the site using free SEO tools like the awesome SEOQuake so I could see what happened in terms of indexed pages or inbound links each time I tried a new tactic.

Hopefully that gives you a few ideas to try for your own site. Next steps are to continue these tactics and try out some new ones and hopefully start to see that PageRank increasing even higher. Surely I can get to 3 by Christmas…

How to find high-paying adwords CPC keywords for adsense

If you’re looking for a way to find which Google keywords pay the highest CPC, one place you can is look is … well, Google. Here’s your five-step guide to doing it with Google’s keyword tool:

1) Go to: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

2) Enter keyword(s) relating to the content you want to research.

In this example I’ve entered the high-traffic keyword “iphone app”.

3) Once the page returns your initial results, look for the “columns” button on the top-right of the results panel.

Click this button and check the “Estimated Avg. CPC” option.

Note the page reloads with a new column showing Google’s estimated CPC for each term.

4) Now click on the “Sorted by” button next to the “Columns” button you just clicked on.

Choose “Estimated Avg. CPC”.

Note the page now reloads but with keywords ordered by their estimated CPC. You should see a view similar to that shown below (edited to fit in this blog) and it’s an easy process to look down the list and quickly see which terms have the highest estimated CPC and can potentially be used as in articles you may want to write on your adsense sites.

Remember though, the higher the estimated CPC the more popular that keywords is likely to be, so you will most likely be competing in a crowded marketplace. But of course the same principle can be used for any keywords including your own niche terms. Give it a try and let us know how you go.

Review: Website SEO Audit app by Reload Media

Reload Media (an SEO organisation based in Brisbane, Australia) have released a free app in the iTunes Store for analysing SEO performance of URL’s via your iPhone.

The app allows you to type in a URL to audit and select either “Auto” which gives you a basic overview of SEO performance or “Manual” which allows you to test the URL based on keywords of your choosing.

The Manual setting took a little getting used to as the app suggests you can select max 5 keywords when in actual face the version we were testing (1.0.5) required exactly 5 keywords. In some instances when all you want to do is test for one keyword it was a little frustrating having to come up with 4 more just to get the app to work.

Once you’ve entered your URL and clicked the blue arrow to test, the next screen shows your results.

The results are divided into 2 sections, an overall “SEO Score” expressed as a percentage and a granular breakdown of specific metrics such as Google PR, Indexed Pages and Backlinks (we assumed these were for Google as well) and more.

We couldn’t work out how the SEO Score was calculated but comparing the same page in Reload’s “Website SEO Audit” app to other SEO tools that give a page a percentage score gave pretty similar results.

In addition to the Website Audit functionality the other two tab bar options are to manage your saved audits and contact the company.

A useful app if you ever need a very high-level overview of a page’s basic SEO profile whilst you’re on the move. Some additional features such as being able to click into the results (for example to see the list of backlinks or indexed pages), help links on how some parameters like Keyword Relevancy are calculated when performing an “Auto” search or being able to view results across multiple Search Engines would make this even more useful. However, considering Reload Media are giving this fully functional app away for free it’s definitely one to have on your iPhone.

Google Universal search layout change

Noticed a change of layout on google.com.au for how they are displaying universal (mapping) search results.

Location based searches like this example for “hotel sydney” now show the map result at the top of the right column:

Google universal search result layout 1

Interestingly when you scroll down the page the map remains in the same position in the browser effectively covering positions 4-10 of the paid (SEM) search results:

Google universal search result layout 2

This is an improvement over the previous layout for those ranking well organically as more organic results can be seen above the fold when a map appears. Conversely however, I’m not sure how happy advertisers whose ad creative is now covered when you scroll down the page will be. For example, in the second screenshot note the paid ad for Rydges Hotels – www.rydges.com – is now partially covered.