February 1, 2012

5 SEO Tips to Increase Your App’s Popularity & Google Rankings

(Read in entirety at Multichannel Merchant. Published 2012)

You’ve got iOS and Android apps. You already know discovery in the App Store and Android Market is a challenge. Now there’s a powerful new channel consumers can use to find and download your apps – and increase your app’s popularity: Google.

At the end of 2011, Google unveiled major improvements to how it indexes and displays apps in organic search listings. Now your app profile pages can act like additional “sitelinks” in Google’s results when consumers search for your brand name.

Retail brands with popular apps are already taking advantage. Do a search for GrouponeBayAmazon,  Target, or QVC. Right alongside their website listing, you see links to these brands’ iPhone, iPad, and Android app pages, on the first page of Google! This additional exposure among brand searchers can drive more app downloads, fueling greater app popularity and endorsement links from Apple and Android.

Here are five secrets you can use to jumpstart your app’s popularity, starting with your brand searchers:

link anchor text within the App Store and Android Market

Include your brand in the app’s name

The app name doubles as link anchor text within the App Store and Android Market. Getting these enormously popular sites to prominently link to your app page, using your brand name, puts their enormous link equity to work for you. (See Groupon, Amazon, and eBay examples below.) Be sure to feature the brand name in the download page URL as well.

Walmart Links to App Profile Pages 
Walmart Links Graphics (No Anchor Text) to App Profile Pages

Link from your home page
Aim the link equity of your most important pages at your app profile pages. Many brands bury these important links – which buries the apps in the depths Google. Consider building a landing page or section dedicated to your apps with screen shots, reviews, features, etc. This page must also have links from the most important pages of your site, and follow the other tips here to make it into Page 1 for brand queries.

Use anchor text wisely

Don’t make the mistake of linking to your app pages without featuring your brand name in the anchor text (as in “Download iPhone App”). And definitely do not link through the “Available on Android/App Store” graphics. (See Walmart example below.) This is a huge missed opportunity.
It’s crucial you signal to the bots how your App Store and Android app pages are all about your brand (as in “Download the Nordstrom iPad app” or “Get the Eastbay App for Android.”)

Provide QR shortcuts to download

Use QR codes to give desktop visitors easy app access. The QR needs to trigger app download on the right device once scanned. The link should be compressed before generating the QR. Native Apple and Android app page URLs exceed 50 characters, producing high-density QRs that fail to scan when displayed at small sizes. (Notice the Walmart example above.) For best results, use a link compression or QR platform that shows you bot QR crawl requests. We believe QR will be a mobile search ranking signal within the next 12 months. Start experimenting now.

Amazon's app link 
Amazon’s Mobile Site Promotes the iOS and Android App, But Lacks Anchor Text

Promote to mobile users, searchers, and bots
You already have a captive mobile audience accessing your site who would appreciate any efforts you made to make it easier to discover your app. So when iPhone, iPad, or Android browsers hit your site (desktop or mobile), provide a link at the top of the page for them to download the appropriate app for their device. But don’t stop there. Make sure Google’s new Smartphone Googlebot is crawling the app links from your mobile pages as well, using appropriately branded anchor text (not images).

App Store and Android Market app pages are a powerful new ranking opportunity for desktop and mobile searchers. Multichannel brands with large volumes of site traffic, pages, links, or social popularity, can easily leverage these assets to influence app profile page relevance, and app popularity, at the same time.

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