App Store Optimization: Don’t Chase The Algo

Chasing The App Store Algorithm

Chasing The Algorithm Will End Badly.

The smart person learns from their mistakes, the genius also learns from the mistakes of others. Learning from the world of search engine optimisation can help you avoid the pitfalls of not just individuals but, arguably, the entire industry.

Firstly, note that the SEO world and the ASO (App Store Optimisation) world are closely linked due to their alogrithmic nature as well as the fact that Google is a controlling player in both.

Next, if you are involved in SEO you’ll know that this week we were issued with the news that all organic traffic phrases will be hidden from us – check out this article on seo round table. This makes it very difficult for SEO’s to do their job from now on. Not impossible, just difficult.

This latest development is a further blow from Google following their ramp up of algorithm updates since 2011: take a look at this Moz’s algo update timeline, which has been catalysed by those who game the algorithm, understandably, to earn more money.

App Store Optimization (ASO) will see the same happen in the future. If companies continue to leverage apps to game the algorithm to sell their app or gain popularity, we will see a shift to spammy results then to tighter app store guidelines with retroactive penalties.

What Happens When Google Turns The Screw?

Here are some examples of what happened to the traffic for site whose owner didn’t obey Google’s terms and conditions and didn’t earn their rank.

Google Search Penalty example 3

Google Search Penalty example 3

Google Search Penalty example 2

Google Search Penalty example 2

Google Search Penalty example 1

Google Search Penalty example 1

Let’s Try A Little Role Playing…
Imagine that this was your app business. Imagine that the salaries of you and your employees were paid from the revenue generated from the traffic which you lost overnight. Think about this situation. It’s happening all the time with online companies which don’t have the brand awareness to prop themselves up after a penalty.

Coming Soon: App Store Penalties

To quote Raekwon: “It’s in the wind, I’m tellin’ you…”

In all honesty I’m thinking out loud at the moment. But it’s more than feasible that Google will apply its spam team to its app store if they feel the manipulation and spamming of results is ruining the user experience. Apple will do the same, though it’s far easier for Google to do so. If this happens, expect retroactive penalties aplenty.

Google is pushing everything through Google+. This means that when you spam you are doing it through Google+, a system over which they have complete control.

Ask yourself, ‘How easy is it to identify a spammy Google+ profile?’. It’s pretty easy, isn’t it? It would take you five seconds using a couple of key identifiers: usage, profile location, profile’s recent posts, past app interaction, etc. Spam social media accounts are pretty obvious and easy to identify.

Ask yourself another question. ‘Could I automate the identification of profiles with the key characteristics I choose?’. Yes you can and pretty easily too.

Fake-it Till You Make It, Might Break-It

Celebrities are the best at this all you need to do is look at a with and without makeup post, Mela Klunas:

Mila Klunas with and without

Mila Klunas with and without

Let’s imagine that you’ve got a great app, people use it and it has a whole bunch of real reviews. But in the early days to get people to find your app you used some questionable techniques. I’m not blaming you, it’s tempting. You’re thinking ‘It’s cool though, that was in the past. I’m white as white now, right?’. Wrong.

If Apple’s App Store and Google Play decide to look at profile quality in more detail and dish out penalties or remove apps based on poor quality scoring. You. Are. Toast.

An algorithmic penalty might just lower you position but a manual penalty could be a removal from the store. Either way could be catastrophic to your business.

You Sunk My Battleship
One day you wake up, check your rankings and BOOM. They’re on the floor. The app that was paying all your bills just bombed. Do you have a backup plan? Probably not. Do you know how to correct the penalty? Probably not. Do you have enough cash to bridge until you have a plan? Hopefully you do.

Earn Your App Rankings

Earning your rank by being a better, more outward facing business is a concept that smart and ethical SEO’s have been trying to float for at least five years. It didn’t work until recently. Until Google reacted to the spamming and then devastated businesses overnight, people wouldn’t listen. Don’t end up like this. I’ve spoken to companies who have literally had to start again. It’s sad to see but this is the nature of spamming.

Avoid An App Slap
Work to communicate with your customers and users. Keep you apps up to date. Try new things and do real-world stuff. Generally be a better business and you’ll avoid the wrath of Apple’s App Store and Google Play’s spam team.

Feel Differently?

If you have any opinions, ideas or thoughts on app store penalties, stick a comment below. We love to hear others ideas on the subject. Because learning is earning 😀

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Appy Christmas Everyone: App Marketing At Christmas

Santa on a mobile

Santa on a mobile

Please don’t go crazy when I say that Christmas is just around the corner. There are few industries where Christmas time is a quiet time and mobile app downloads is not one. So what have you got planned for your app marketing this Christmas?

Why App Marketing is Important at Christmas

Mobile phones and devices are definitely on the list at Christmas. Whether it’s someone specifically asking for one or that you think it would make a great gift – for example last year I bought two tablets as gifts both were for people over 60 years of age.

The table below is a combination of Google search volumes for terms which contain mobile, phones and Christmas.

Christmas Mobile Related Terms

Christmas Mobile Related Terms

As you can see a huge uplift in search phrases occurs from September to October, then goes stratospheric into December. After December search volume comes back down to earth. You can download the list App-Marketing-Christmas-Terms.

This data would suggest that shoppers and users are highly engaged with their mobile during this period and two themes emerge from the snapshot of keywords: personalisation and purchase. Both themes are interesting to you because personalisation will allow you to engage with your current users, and every new purchase of mobile devices creates more potential customers.

What’s Christmas Got To Do With My App?

I’m currently working on a campaign, of which I will disclose more information after the campaign has run (it’s Top Secret). This campaign is not for a seasonal mobile app and in time will also exist as a hardware product. With that considered it is still possible to create an app marketing campaign for Christmas to boost downloads of the app for new devices.

Suggestions for App Marketing At Christmas

Based on the keyword pool I provided you can take a few approaches. Assuming that you all use social media and email marketing (if not email, social media will do) for distributing content and communicating with your customers and fans, you will get feedback pretty quickly.

Christmas Phone Wallpapers

Nothing puts you in the mood for Christmas like a festive wallpaper. It sounds simple but why don’t you provide Christmas Wallpapers for mobile devices? Something cute, Christmassy and subtly branded with your logo. One up on that would be to make the wallpaper ‘Live’. Making the wallpaper interactive and providing a way to easily share the wallpaper with their friends may not get you immediate downloads but will reinforce your app’s brand.

Wallpaper Terms

Wallpaper Terms

It’s Christmas. Switch It Up!

How often do you change your apps creative? Start thinking about changing creative content regularly. I don’t mean entirely I mean tweaking it here and there for short periods of time. Google do this with their homepage and it gets lots of attention.

Updating your app’s creative with a seasonal theme will help float your app to the top of the user’s mind. Android currently allows automatic updates, and provided that your app is set to do this the user should receive a Christmassy themed app with no effort at all. And in a worst case scenario they will receive a notification to update the app which will bring the app to their attention.

Easter Egg App at Christmas??

Competitions provide an outstanding way to gain interaction with users. The temptation of something for free is too much for most people to resist. They’ll be crawling over one another like zombies to get at the juicy (brain) prize.

Zombies for competitions

Zombies for competitions

Putting some sort of Easter egg in the app which leads to a prize is a good way to increase time and interaction with the app. And the interaction with your company and the customer come collection time will be binding.
A good example of this, from a personal experience, is a few weeks ago I won an HP Slate7 tablet. As much as the tablet isn’t as good as the Nexus, I do now have a much better opinion of HP and an awareness that they make tablets; I didn’t know this previously. Now when I’m in the market for an upgrade, HP will be in my list of devices to compare.

If you can’t crack out a cool Easter egg competition, find a way to give something way for free in return for downloads. Facebook ‘Likes’ campaigns are a good example of this. They give out prizes based on tiers of ‘Likes’ and pick the winner at random.

Don’t Let Christmas Fly By

These are only a handful of ideas which you could use from just one start point. You can do more research into the relationship between mobile and Christmas terms using the Google’s Free Keyword Tool which would yield loads of ideas for you to play with.

Christmas can be a very busy time for mobile app downloads and you want to take advantage of that as much as possible. Find your niche, identify KPI’s and unwrap the creativity!

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