While the history of the App Store and especially Google Play is still relatively short, developers have already gained considerable mileage in experience. The ability to become a chart topping, massive app-hit has changed quite a bit in the last few years… and not in favor of the developers. Every now and again you’ll find an anonymous developer sky-rocketing his app into the number 1, 2 or 3 spot. But those incidences are becoming increasingly rare. With over 3 million iOS and Android apps available, clearly the competition is as fierce as ever. Standing out, without an ample advertising budget, seems almost impossible.
To make things even worse, one of the main tools to optimize an app and generate traffic is quickly fading away. Yes, app keywords are dying. If you search the web you may find insightful stories about apps that gained massive recognition due to the clever use of keywords. Many companies and services (such as Sensor Tower) offer developers tools to help them optimize their keywords according to performance. Unfortunately, this reality is no longer in play. 2012 is in the distant past, and there are no longer available popular keywords that don’t have thousands of quality apps competing for them. Using less popular keywords may still work in many cases, but you won’t reach the masses using them.
So what’s next?
The very first step for every app developer nowadays is to understand that the focus has shifted from quantity to quality. High conversion rates in your app download page can, in many cases, make up for the lack of sufficient traffic. As a result, there are quite a number of action items that now must take place in order to optimize your app on Google Play and the App Store:
1. Icon, Description, Screenshots and Video – The other components of your app page are now more important than ever. It is absolutely essential that you create quality text and materials. Don’t go live without a quality video
and a unique, high-resolution icon. Killer text is also key because that will, more than anything, make users understand what your app is all about. Quality now beats quantity, so you are much better off with fewer but more loyal and targeted users.
Note: All of these elements, no matter how good you think they are, need to be re-thought, optimized and re-built to make sure you are getting it right.
2. Ratings/Reviews – These now have a huge impact on your App Store position. Use all the tools you can to reach your users and have them rate. Most users need a small ‘push’ to go and rate your app. So don’t force them to do it, but don’t be shy about it either.
Note: If you get bad reviews or complaints – make sure you address them and reach out to those who pointed them out. Nothing beats good customer service.
3. Virality – There are no better users than those who installed your app based off of a recommendation from a close friend or relative. Make sure your users have an easy-to-use ability to recommend you on Facebook, Twitter or any other relevant social network. Connecting to Game Center (for iOS games) and using Facebook login API may also help.
Note: Easy to use is mandatory! If it’s not easy, takes too much time or crashes your app - don’t bother.
4. Avoiding Common Mistakes – Those who do everything right, but take shortcuts, will ultimately get it all wrong. The list is long; incentivized installs, trademark violations… These shortcuts will only get you so far. Plus, it will all go down the drain when Google or Apple finds out.
Note: Store terms and conditions have everything you need to know. It is pretty straightforward stuff. Work according to their guidelines and you’ll be just fine.
5. Getting Featured In The App Store – If there’s one shortcut to success, this is it. Getting featured in the store will get you thousands of installs overnight, if not more. The bad news is Google and Apple are controlling it. The good news is that their store content team is always on the lookout for new and interesting apps to showcase. While reaching those teams is pretty hard, there are still some things that can improve your chances to be featured in the store:
a. iOS – Don’t wait until the last minute. Look for Apple representatives (Apple Developer Relations Managers) and email them with your app prototype. Once it’s ready to go live, email them with all the relevant materials and information to: [email protected]. If you have marketing materials, include them: [email protected]. Don’tbe shy.
b. Android – Make sure to create your app according to Google’s Best practices. Make sure you localize your app page and content, as Google tends to prefer localized apps over those that aren’t.
6. Keywords – This kind of contradicts this entire article, doesn’t it? Well, not completely. Keywords are still important, as long as you use them to find relevant users (other than just ‘a whole lot of users’). Think about what your average or ideal users would be searching for. Use the terms you think they would use to find your app. Check out your direct competitors and learn from them.
Note: Disregard popularity of the keywords altogether. Focus only on relevancy.
Even with these tips, success can be hard to gain…especially if you are looking to achieve it within a short amount of time. Following the above steps will lay a strong foundation upon which to build success. Ultimately, creating a quality user experience that serves an essential human need is the true basis for an app success story.