There are more than 1.6 million apps on the Google Play Store and 1.5 million on the Apple App Store. Together, these two control 95% of the mobile app market.

Welcome to the crazy competitive world of apps. Apps are big business, and the industry is expected to be worth $77 billion by 2017.

App store optimization (ASO) is to app stores what SEO is to websites. Well-done ASO helps an app get discovered by users and is therefore crucial for the success of an app in a crowded marketplace. While it cannot determine the success or failure of an app, it can go a long way in bringing your hard work to the notice of the target users.

Aside from that, here are some major ASO differences between the App Store and Play Store to keep in mind.

Keywords, separate or not

Keywords are more comprehensively included in the Google Play Store apps. They form a part of the app description and the store’s search algorithm pulls them from this content for search results. In that regard, this app store functions similar to the web (as run by Google) itself.

The Apple App Store, on the other hand, requires developers to include keywords in a separate list. The app description only serves the purpose of describing the app to the users. The description has no bearing on the search performance of an app within the store. That is determined by the keywords provided separately.

However, developers still need to write excellent descriptions and optimize them for the web. This is to drive organic traffic to the App Store from the internet. If a user is looking for Apple app suggestions in general, they would still turn to Google for the queries, which in turn would present results based on how well the app description has been optimized for the search engine.

New developers need to pay close attention to ASO, particularly with the Google Play Store. In the experience of this writer and many others, excellent apps get frequently missed because they do not show up in relevant searches inside the store. (These are later found in curated lists elsewhere on the internet, but not all apps are lucky enough to get written about by popular bloggers.)

Moral of the story – approach ASO as you would SEO.

Apple App Store has more categories

Prima facie, on Google Play Store, whether it’s an app or a game, they are all classified under one major category known as Apps & Games. However, as you delve into this one broad-sweeping category, you discover many classifications, such as Business apps, Communication apps, Productivity apps, Photography apps, Travel apps, etc. This narrows the field down for developers greatly.

The Apple App Store has two broad categories and that of games further has three sub-categories.

A proper description of the app and inclusion of the right keywords is therefore crucial for the visibility and discoverability of apps.

Apple App Store rankings are more dynamic

Apparently, the top ten apps watched over a period of time in the Apple App Store present much greater variety than the top ten apps in the Google Play Store watched over the same period of time.

This blogger found it to be the case that the App Store has more of unfamiliar names in its top ten list of apps at any given time than does the Play Store. With the latter, the top ten remains more or less the same, even if apps move up and down within that range, and that the list is dominated by big-name developers.

This is an indication of how difficult it is to make it big on the Play Store for first-time or indie developers.

The App Store, on the other hand, seems more beginner-friendly.

App Recommendations

This is a very helpful feature in the Google Play Store. Just under the description and user reviews of apps are provided ‘Similar app’ suggestions as well as a ‘Users also installed’ option which presents with even more suggestions. It’s a great way to compare similar apps for users.

For ASO purposes, pay attention to the description of the apps similar to the one you are developing.

Reviews on the Play Store can only be made with a Google+ account in the interest of authenticity. However, when you +1 an app, it improves its visibility not just on the Play Store but also on Google itself.

One is also provided with recommendations depending on the apps reviewed by the people in their Google+ circles. This helps bring greater visibility to apps.

The iTunes page for apps also provides a ‘Customers also bought’ feature but it isn’t as comprehensive as Apple. There is no way to give a social thumbs-up to apps either.

Search ads on Google simply refer to ads that show up in relation to a user’s search habits. These could be related to entertainment or any kind of information. Google presents users with the kind of ads suited to their search history, and in case the search habits do not fit any criteria, Google does not show them any ads at all. We have all experienced this. When looking through something on Amazon, we find similar products show up in generic search results and also while browsing through websites.

The same concept is now being implemented in the Google Play Store. Developers and marketers can now promote their apps within Play Store. Promoted apps via search ads will show up on top of search results, depending on what users are looking for within the store. For example, in order for a promoted photography app to show up for a user in the Play Store, he or she would have to actually search for similar apps. Relevance is the key here.

As per news reports, Apple is considering taking this path, too, in order to aid the discovery of relevant apps for the users of the App Store.

Given the plethora of apps on the App Store as well as the Play Store, it’s pertinent to ask if you really need to develop an app at all, and if you do, how will it be different to the others out there. There is no point in creating an app that is just like a thousand others, unless you are able to associate a unique proposition with it.

Regardless of the platform you develop, make ASO a priority. It is as important as SEO for your website. Here are some tools to help you make the most of your ASO and ranking.

ASO Specialists can help develop and rank a new app

Do you have an idea for an app that will benefit your business, but aren’t sure how to get it off the ground? Consider looking into an App Developer and ASO Specialist! Apps are the cutting edge of small business marketing and indie gamers, and there’s room for growth in the industry!


Pete Peranzo

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