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Does Your Mobile App Need A SEO Strategy?

4 min read
Apr 24, 2018

If you are looking into ways to increase the number of downloads your app is receiving, I would guess that you have already come across a method known as app store optimisation, or ASO for short. ASO is often described as search engine optimisation (SEO), but for apps. While this is a relatively true statement, it can also give the impression to mobile app developers and marketers that SEO is an unnecessary and pointless task for apps.

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This post aims to investigate whether or not that is the case…

What is App Store Optimisation?

App store optimisation is the continuous process of improving an app’s rank and discoverability in an app store like Google Play or the Apple App Store. The higher your app ranks in an app store’s search results, the more visible it is to potential users. This process involves factors such as choosing the right keywords and app name, writing a good description, testing various icons, screenshots and videos, receiving high ratings and positive reviews and adapting this content for other countries (localisation).

Recommended reading: The Importance & Benefits of ASO to Mobile Marketers

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

SEO is the process of improving a web page’s rank in the search engine results. In a nutshell, it is simply about ensuring a website can be found in search engines for words and phrases relevant to what the site is offering. SEO is definitely more complex than ASO and takes a bit longer to master. It involves things such as keyword selection, page speed, on-page backlinks, off-page backlinks, high quality content, social sharing, link relevance, Google penalties, page credibility, nofollow links, and more!

Does your App need SEO?

App store search has been found to drive around 40% of app discovery. This means that a good ASO strategy isn’t the be all and end all for increasing your app downloads. There are clearly other factors that are impacting how the other 60% of users come across your app. The same study discovered that various other channels such as family, friends, colleagues, company website, search engines and advertisements had an impact on your consumer acquisition. Out of this it was found that a massive 27% of people discover apps from browsing search engines on their mobile device. That’s around 1 in 4 people.

So basically, if you have ruled out SEO for your app as a worthwhile investment, then you are losing around 27% of potential organic traffic from Google search.

How does your App appear in Mobile Search?

With a good SEO strategy in place there are two main ways your app can rank in mobile search results. These are known as an app preview and app packs.

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What is an App Preview?

If someone typed your app name or related long-tail search phrase into Google search using their mobile device, a preview of your app could appear depending on how well optimised it is. This snippet contains an app name, number of reviews and average ratings, a small portion of the description and a download button. Clicking on the download button then redirects the user to the relevant app store where they can quickly and easily download the app.

Example of an app preview for Facebook

What is an App Pack?

An app pack is the most common way your app is likely to appear on Google search. According to Searchmetrics, every one in ten mobile searches has an app pack result. This is a group of suggested apps that appear when the user types in an app specific query. For example, a quick search for ‘image editing app’ will return a number of recommended apps for image editing. This can contain between 30 to 100 apps depending on what a person has searched for. By default only 3 to 6 apps are shown, and to see the others the user is required to click on ‘More apps’. Each result contains their icon, app name, average rating, number of reviews and cost. An app pack usually appears at the top of the search results but it can also appear in the middle or even towards the end. Again, like the preview, users will be redirected to the relevant app-store, where they can download the app, depending on what device they are using i.e. Android users will be shown Google Play apps, whilst iPhone or iPad users will be shown apps from the Apple App Store.

Example of an app pack for 'image editing apps'

Which is more important to your mobile app marketing strategy, SEO or ASO?

In terms of their level of importance, ASO has to take the lead as search on the app stores is the main driver of the discovery and downloads of new apps. So if you really had to choose one to focus on, then stick with app store optimisation.

However, with so much extra potential traffic to be lost, app marketers and developers would be silly not to invest time in improving their app SEO. Plus, Google has also confirmed that internet users are now carrying out searches more often on their mobile devices compared to on desktops. This is only going to continue to increase with time, so it is more important than ever to make sure your app is visible in mobile searches, otherwise you could well lose out to a competitor.


If you want to learn more about ASO then you might want to check out our guide ‘ASO: What The Industry Experts Have To Say’. We spoke to some industry experts and it contains all their top tips and tricks to help boost your downloads and increase your app ranking. You can also reach out to me directly via emma@hurree.co and I’d be happy to answer any of your app marketing related questions.

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