Take a Peek Behind the Scenes of an App...
…and find out how to get a great research tool for free (…if you’re an app developer. If you just love our apps, see how we ‘found’ you)
Ever wonder how you find just the right app when you search in the store? How out of millions of apps, just typing in a word or two gets you (usually) the app you want?
It’s no secret and today I wanted to share a bit about how this works and how doing it correctly helps you, our app ‘fans’, get what you want.
Those words you type in are called keywords. If you’re familiar with the term, it’s probably because you’ve heard it used in conjunction to web searches. Whenever you type a search into Google, it looks at those words to determine your intent and tries to decide what you want (pretty basic stuff, just want to give you a quick refresher). Well the same thing happens in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Finding the best keywords for an app is called App Store Optimization (ASO).
As an app developer, I’m always looking at ways to get more people to my apps while at the same time ensuring that people searching for something, don’t find our app unless they want to. For example, our photo sharing app, InstaSnap, gets a lot of downloads just by using the right keywords. If somebody is searching for ‘safe photo sharing’, InstaSnap will show up (it’s on the second page, we’re working on getting it up higher!). That’s a really good match for our app and we did that by using only relevant keywords. It would have been possible, for example, to use keywords like ‘phone’ or ‘camera’ and a lot of people would have seen our app too. And these keywords get searched for a lot more than ‘safe photo sharing’.
But the problem of doing something like this is that our app is not really a camera app and this would not be what people want. It would upset users and it’s not the way to go.
So how does a developer go about finding the right keywords so users are happy and we’re happy because we get more downloads?
Well, the old-school way was to look at your app and sort of figure out what users would type to get it. For example, we could look at InstaSnap again and come up with some other keywords: photo sharing, safe texting, to name a few. I’ve done it and I like it because it gives me insights into our users and to what they might want in an app, but it’s time consuming and I might not think of every possible keyword.
Fast forward to now!
I found out about services that make ASO research much easier. They let me look at keywords I have and then offer other suggestions I may not have thought of. Using one of these services has been a real time saver. The best one I found so far is by AppStoreRankings.net. (full disclosure: I love their service! I went to get pricing for their plans and they had an offer that if I wrote a blog post, I could get the service for free. As a startup company, this was great and I figured I could write this post in a way that shed some light on how apps work for our app users too).
Here’s a screenshot of how it looks for our Free Emoji Smiley Emoticon Memory Game – for Text, Chat, Email & Messages – Cool Icons for Keyboard (anybody know why that name is so long? Answer in the comments below). It shows all the keywords I want to watch, and how my app is showing in the results. This is for me one of the best features about it since I can see where my app ranks when people search for it. It lets me know if a keyword I thought was doing well really is.
You can see that for the keyword ’emoticon’ it’s showing in position 12 which is pretty good. That means when you guys type in ’emoticon’ in the App Store, there’s a good chance you’ll see our app. And by using AppStoreRankings, I can see how my marketing efforts influence it’s position.
Surprisingly, this sort of information is not available from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store. Imagine if Google didn’t tell you where your web pages showed up in the search results!
So I hope that you guys found this information to be a little interesting. I know if you’re not a developer it may not be your thing, but now you have a little idea of how it works ‘behind the scenes’ in app development
Till next time!