tipsWe were talking already extensively this month about App Store Optimization (ASO) and how important it is to be found in the flood of apps in the store. Data about data, so-called metadata, plays here a pivotal role as well and is used to automatically improve and facilitate the discoverability of an app.

Due to its proximity to the web, Google Play Store obviously has a huge advantage over Apple's iTunes, as having its own web technology and infrastructure provides Google with a learning value and allows to collect data in its own web index so that decisions can be made based on it. Apple can’t rely on such an index, however, both stores use generally the same factors for an app evaluation.

On-metadata can be directly influenced in store

The on-metadata are more manageable than the on-page factors of a web page, but no less relevant for an optimal store appearance.  The icon, app title, description, keywords and screenshots greatly contribute to the ranking. Hence, data should always be updated, especially when new functions have been integrated into the app.

  • The icon often represents the first interaction between app and users. That’s why the first impression should at all costs be positive, since users can be very picky: App users like beautiful, elegant and easy to understand apps, hence, the icon of the app has to provide at best the usefulness of the app and reflect the brand.
  • The app title is the elementary meta-information in stores and the equivalent of the title of a landing page. The brand and a well-chosen, important keyword with a high search volume should be part of the app title in the stores. The length of the title should not exceed 25 characters as it is otherwise cut off and not fully displayed.
  • The description of an app covers two areas: firstly, the visible area on the app page that is meant for about 300 characters, and secondly, the area that will be visible only after clicking on "more info". Consequently, only the first few sentences of the description are directly visible. That’s why you have to include the primary and most significant information. They serve as a brief description, but must at the same time make users curious.
  • Compared to the Play Store, the Apple App Store offers the opportunity to use 100 characters for keywords - separated by commas – to additionally describe the app. Predetermined categories are automatically rated as keywords, so they must not again be used as keywords. If possible, select keywords with high search volume and low competition and watch out for international intelligibility.
  • Screenshots do not have to be exclusively of the app, as you can also use other promotional pictures. For optimal presentation, the screenshots should reflect the "story" of the app by coordinating the screenshots accordingly. This raises not only the user interest but provides an opportunity to get to know the app and app flow, too.

The Apple App Store and Google's Play Store almost use the same ranking-relevant on-metadata. The only difference lies in the additional keyword box, which is provided by Apple's App Store. Even a strong description in the Play Store can score, but here the same rules apply as in the Web: Whoever operates keyword stuffing, risks to be rated negatively in the ranking.

Create a strong background with off-metadata

Unlike the on-metadata, off-metadata cannot directly be influenced. Reviews, opinions of users, backlinks and social signal of stores, as well as downloads and installations are among the external factors. They are also crucial for the visibility and the ranking in app stores:

  • Reviews are comments from users about their experience with the app and are directly linked to the algorithm of the app store search. The quality and quantity play an important role, which is why it can be effective to collect many reviews and perhaps some additional reviews by actively asking to evaluate apps.
  • Social signal: In the Play Store of Google, the app can be recommended directly to Google+, while in the iTunes App Store only the App Store can be evaluated and recommended, but not the app itself.
  • Link building is also important for ASO and it can be said that incoming links are relevant to the app page in the Play Store. Google uses here its PageRank algorithms that are also used in the search results ranking and therefore have an advantage over Apple.
  • Uninstall: The number of installations of an app is also decisive for the ranking and is evaluated by the algorithm of the Play Store. The ratio of ‘total installs’, which means how often an app has been downloaded, and ‘active installs’, which is the number of devices on which the app is used, is just as important as the number of uninstallations. Especially at the beginning, when an app is offered on the market for the first time and has gotten no or only a few reviews and ratings, the number of installations is of importance.
  • The number of downloads is as crucial as the metadata, the optical presentation of the app page, as well as a reliable and satisfactory app functionality. Downloads can get boosted by blog article, creative content, good app store optimization and targeted advertising.

In addition to the on- and off-metadata, stores offer the possibility to integrate additional photos and videos, which optically increase the value if the app page and achieve a heightened user awareness. With a video, the functionality of an app can be described particularly well. A demonstration of the app with visually well-implemented instructions in the video can display the features and benefits of the app very well. Anyway, maintain your app and your app page in the stores regularly and measure their success, besides staying informed on new developments in the market.

By Daniela La Marca