Do you run marketing campaigns for an app-based company? If so, then perhaps you’ve found ranking on app store results pages to be a challenge.
The good news is that many app store optimization (ASO) techniques are similar to the search engine optimization (SEO) techniques you’re likely already familiar with. The even better news is that combining the two—SEO and ASO—can benefit your overall marketing strategy.
The team at my marketing agency, NP Digital, took a look at how three popular calorie counter apps perform in search and app store search results to find the secrets to their success. In this post, I’ll explore the connection between SEO and ASO and highlight key takeaways from my team’s analysis. That way, you can replicate a similar process.
Ready to learn more? Read on.
How Do SEO and ASO Work Together?
Before digging into how SEO and ASO can work together, you first need to fully understand what each is.
Search engine optimization is a set of practices with one goal—to optimize your website and content for search engine rankings. The better optimized your content, the greater the odds it will appear atop search engine results pages (SERPs).
App store optimization is similar to SEO, but instead of focusing on optimizing your website for SERPs, it focuses on optimizing your app for the app store. Think of it as app SEO.
You can combine your SEO and ASO efforts, and you should for the best results. To do so, you will need to align your strategies for both channels. How? By using consistent and relevant keywords for both your website and app store listing and including backlinks from one (the website) to the other (the app).
Let’s consider how SEO and ASO can support each other in their respective environments. So first, how can SEO support ASO in the Google Play Store?
- Earning backlinks from outreach efforts: For example, linking from the brand’s domain directly to the Google Play Store app listing or reaching out to reputable sites and asking to be added to link roundups for relevant topics.
- Optimizing app landing pages: This simply means aligning the terms you’re targeting on app landing pages with the terms you’re targeting in the Google Play Store.
- Publish content on the brand site to establish authority in the space: You want to create content relevant to the category so you can 1) build backlinks to the app store listing and 2) establish brand awareness. For a calorie counting app, this could be a blog post targeting “how many calories should you eat a day” or an interactive asset like a muscle gains calculator.
- Utilize best practices to establish E-E-A-T factors: This will show Google that your brand is an expert in your industry.
Now, how can ASO support SEO on Google’s search engine?
It’s all about optimizing your app store listing.
Consider that Google Play Store app listings naturally rank high on Google Search for target terms. After all, Google loves Google. When you align the search terms you’re targeting on both the app store listing and your website, you’ll likely see a boost in your SERP rankings.
How to Bring SEO and ASO Together
My team at NP Digital and I work with marketers to develop digital marketing solutions that accelerate growth. A big part of our work involves digging into data to identify strategies that work (and those that don’t).
One way we did so recently was to analyze how three popular calorie counting apps blend SEO and ASO to their benefit.
For SEO, we assessed Google search rankings for “calorie counter” and “calorie counter app.” We used Ubersuggest to narrow in on two main metrics—monthly search volume (MSV) and keyword difficulty.
Monthly search volume is the number of times a keyword is searched every month. Keyword difficulty measures the effort it would take for a webpage to rank on the first page of search results for a particular keyword. It ranges from 0 percent (easiest) to 100 percent (most difficult).
For ASO, we took a similar approach. We assessed Google Play Store app ranking for the term “calorie counter.”
We also used AppTweak to pull data relevant to Google Play Store. This includes equity backlinks and app power.
Before we get into our example, let’s define those two terms, plus some additional ones we’ll highlight:
- Equity backlinks: The number of backlinks earned to the Google Play Store listing.
- App power: The power of the app based on its rankings in its category and in the overall category. This is a proprietary metric from AppTweak.
- Ratings number: The number of reviews on Google Play Store.
- ASO score: Scale of 0-100 for how well an app’s Google Play Store listing is optimized utilizing best practices.
- Date released: The date the app was first released in Google Play Store.
- Downloads: The number of downloads from the Google Play Store. Note: Google Play Store does not provide the exact numbers.
Now that you know how we collected our data, let’s look at what the data says.
What Successful SEO/ASO Programs Looks Like
For our example, we assessed the SEO and ASO impact for calorie counter apps.
To do so, we analyzed the organic Google search results for two search terms: calorie counter app and calorie counter.
The term “calorie counter app” has an MSV of 14,800 and a keyword difficulty of 72 percent. The more inclusive term “calorie counter” has an MSV of 49,500 and a keyword difficulty of 78 percent.
We also analyzed the Google Play Store search results for the term “calorie counter.” It has an MSV of 64 and a keyword difficulty of 22 percent. Furthermore, the search term “calorie counter” has 240 results and 30.8K installs.
Caption: App rankings from Google Play Store on an Android device
Now, let’s consider the performance metrics for the top three results for the search term on the Google Play Store.
#1: Calorie Counter – MyNetDiary
MyNetDiary, released in September 2010, has an average rating of 4.72 out of 5, with 57,755 total ratings. MyNetDiary is ranked 51st in the Health & Fitness category and has more than 1 million downloads.
On Google, the app ranks eighth for the target term under a third-party listicle.
As for how MyNetDiary performs on Google Play Store, we know it ranks number one. It has an ASO score of 95 out of 100 and an app power of 49 out of 100. According to AppTweak, the app also has 837 equity backlinks.
Of note, the brand website links directly to the Google Play Store listing instead of an app landing page.
#2: MyFitnessPal: Calorie Counter
MyFitnessPal, also released in April 2010, has an average rating of 4.23 out of 5, with 2,540,681 total ratings. It has more than 100 million downloads and ranks 25th in the Health & Fitness category.
The Google Play Listing ranks number one for “calorie counter app” on the Google search results page. Additionally, the MyFitnessPal brand site ranks on page one for “calorie tracker” and “calorie counter” Google search results pages.
MyFitnessPal has an ASO score of 100 and an app power of 81. According to AppTweak, the app has 21,832 equity backlinks.
#3: Calorie Counter by Lose It!
Calorie Counter by Lose It!, released in July 2011, has an average rating of 4.45 out of 5, with 129,565 total ratings. It has more than 10 million downloads. Calorie Counter by Lose It! is ranked number 52 in the Health & Fitness category.
On Google, the app is mentioned on the first page in multiple third-party listicles.
Calorie Counter by Lose It! has an ASO score of 100 and an app power of 50. According to AppTweak, the app has 5,447 equity backlinks.
As with the first listing, MyNetDiary’s brand website links directly to the Google Play Store listing as opposed to an app landing page.
Lessons About SEO and ASO You Can Use
So, what did we learn?
First and foremost, ranking for a search term on Google is more difficult than on the Google Play Store. Just consider the large difference between MSV and keyword difficulty for the term “calorie counter.” The MSV on Google is 49,500, and it has a keyword difficulty of 78 percent. Contrast this with that same term on Google Play Store, with an MSV of 64 and a keyword difficulty of just 22 percent.
We also found that investing in ASO will help your app rank for high-volume and high-competition search terms on Google Search and Google Play Store. All three of our analyzed apps have an ASO score of 95 or above. They all also rank on the first page of Google SERPs. That’s no coincidence.
Additionally, we see that investing in ASO and SEO can help lift an app’s rankings in category lists (e.g., Health & Fitness). The app with the highest ASO score and highest number of equity backlinks (MyFitnessPal) also has the highest ranking in the Health & Fitness category of the other two apps.
Finally, related to the above finding, top-ranking apps on the Google Play Store have a significant number of high-quality backlinks from third-party sites and high-quality pages on a brand’s website.
SEO and ASO differ in what is being optimized and for what purpose. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the optimization of website content for the purpose of ranking on search engines. App store optimization (ASO), sometimes referred to as app SEO, is the optimization of app store listings for the purpose of ranking on app stores, like Google Play Store.
To make your app searchable on Google Play Store, you will need to optimize your app listing using ASO techniques. These include adding targeted search terms and building equity backlinks to the app listing page.
Your marketing plan is not meant to be implemented in silos. Instead, you must combine your efforts across the board to ensure a consistent brand experience.
This is why you can’t simply focus on Google Play Store optimization, or any app store optimization for that matter. You must combine it with SEO for comprehensive success.
Whether you implement this collaboration alone, with a marketing agency like NP Digital, or with a dedicated app store optimization agency, you will likely see positive results across your entire marketing strategy.
Do you have questions about using SEO and ASO together for your marketing plan? Let us know in the comments below.
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