Posted By PlacePlay on July 24, 2012
So far in the How to Make Money with Apps series, we’ve talked about how to increase your app revenue with:
Today, we had a chance to sit down with Ian Sefferman, the CEO of MobileDevHQ, to talk about how iOS and Android app developers can increase their app downloads by 10-20% on average by optimizing their app title, description and keywords for app store search. More app installs is a good thing.
Watch the videos, or read the full transcript is below.
Ryan: Today we’re here with Ian Sefferman, from MobileDevHQ. He’s going to talk to us a little bit about how to increase your app revenue, with the App store or with SEO. How are you doing, Ian?
Ian: I’m doing very well. Thanks for having me.
Ryan: Yep. Thank you. Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, MobileDevHQ, and what you guys are doing?
Ian: Sure. We are a firm that does App Store optimization, which is essentially SEO for apps. We have a product platform that allows any marketer to come in and really understand how to do better in organic app distribution. We actually started about three years ago doing consumer app discovery, so helping users find apps. What we saw was that there was a ton of developer engagement around helping them try to promote their apps to those consumers.
We realized that we had a really rich data set and that we could flip it on its head, expose it to marketers and developers, and provide them with sort of interesting data that they were otherwise not be able to get. For example, what search terms are actually searched for, and how frequently within the app store? That’s something that’s relatively known on the web side, but completely unknown on the app side.
We’re able to expose that, and tell you sort of, “These are the keywords that you should focus on.” Just, in general, how to rank better within the app store search.
Ryan: Basically, SEO for apps, right?
Ian: That’s correct.
Ryan Like you said, making it easier for consumers to find them. So, from a developer perspective, how do they engage with you and what exactly do they see within your product?
Ian: Yeah, absolutely. So, we actually have a product that you can sign up for. Come to our website, sign up. It’s very simple. You give us, essentially, the keywords that you think you care about, so this might be what you’ve put into iTunes Connect. Or if you’re on Google Play, what you can put it into your description, type, all things like that, then your app URLs and your competitors’ app URLs.
We have two sections to the product. The first is we call the dashboard. The dashboard will take all of those search terms as well as the top charts and rank you versus your competition, on a day-to-day basis. Everyday let you know that you currently rank 10 for the term “sudoku”, whereas your competition ranks fourth, fifth, and 15th. We’ll track that over time. We’ll send you daily email updates, all of that good stuff. So, you really know how you’re doing.
Then the second question is, once you know how you’re doing, how do you get better? This is where we have things like keyword analysis. Our keyword analysis tool is really powerful. You basically, once you’ve told us who you are and who your competitors are, we’ll go out and we’ll say, “Now these are the most important keywords for you.” We’ll explain why we think that they’re the most important, and then we’ll tell you exactly how much volume there is for those keywords as well.
Then you can start ranking by volume and importance and relevance to your audience. You can go back and optimize your keyword field on iTunes Connect, your description, your title, things like that, and start making money.
Ryan: One of the things we’ve talked a lot about is app developers not necessarily knowing the right ways to go about marketing their apps, and it sounds like you guys have found a really simple way to help them do that. Why don’t you give us some examples of some app developers who’ve used you – and you can leave out names – and the results they’ve seen to date?
Ian: Sure. So first of all, I think what’s interesting about app marketing is just, there is a focus right now on paid app marketing to an extent that doesn’t feel like it’s going to pay off long term in terms of lifetime value. There’s not too much of a focus on organic app marketing right now, and we believe that both of those should play together. So, what we’ve seen is a couple examples.
One example, of somebody who’s using our tool to really understand what keywords to target for, and then how to use both paid marketing and organic marketing together to rank highly for those keywords, rise in the charts. Use all of that momentum to stay high in the charts, and things like that. Then, at a more concrete level, one great example is somebody who came to us figured out the keywords that they needed, made some changes and saw about a 20% increase.
But this was on Google Play, so it was really description and title, and things like that. Then, decided that they wanted to invest more into this, came back another month later, did some more detailed research on this, more competitive analysis, things like that. Made some more changes, saw another 50% increase on top of that. This was with no changes to the binary, so it’s almost entirely due to the changes that they were doing here, so really interesting data points that show that organic app marketing really does matter a lot.
Another interesting data point is Nielsen recently did a study that showed that over 65% of consumers find apps via searching the app store, so app search really does matter.
Ryan: Is it fair to say that the average increase that an app developer can see is between 10 and 50% from utilizing your tools?
Ian: Yeah, absolutely. It certainly ranges, but there are on average, I think 10 to 20% is very simple to obtain. If you’re not focused on this at all right now, you have a chance for a lot higher gains as well.
Ryan: Have you guys seen any evidence of exponential increase when someone utilizes your service on top of cost per install programs or anything like that?
Ian. Yeah, absolutely. So this is really where I think paid and organic go together, especially if you think about the world of burst-paid advertisements. If you burst-spend, and use that to rise on the charts because download velocity matters a lot, both in the charts and in the search rankings, then what you’ll see is that you’ll rise in the search rankings organically.
Then, that will drive more organic discovery to your app, which will help sort of keep you live in the charts, and help you stay high in the search rankings. Used together those things are killer combinations.
Ryan: It sounds like download velocity is one of the factors that go into the search algorithm. So, what other factors have you seen affecting where an app shows up in a specific keyword search?
Ian: Rating matters a lot. Download velocity matters probably the most of both. Total downloads, as well as download velocity, how many you’re doing per day, things like that. Both of those matter a lot. Number of reviews seems to be getting in there. We’re not yet sure about actual review content, but it looks to be that that might be starting to show up. We’re still running some analysis on that.
What’s interesting is that on the iTunes side, the description still isn’t taken into account yet. It’s the keyword field, the title, and the publisher name. On the Google Play side, it’s the description, the title, and the publisher name. We’ve done some analysis, if you check our blog you see this, where you can actually see that rating matters more in Google Play than it does in iTunes.
So, on the whole, if you want to rank within the top 10 spots on Google Play, you really have to have a rating above around four, whereas in iTunes, if you want to rank in the top 10 spots, you may need a rating above four for spots one, two, or three. But for spots four through 10, it can actually drop all of the way down.
We actually see that on non-competitive searches, the 10th ranked spot has on average less than a two-star rating, so rating matters a little less in iTunes than it does in Google Play. But on the whole, those are the things, so description, title, publisher name, rating, reviews, download velocity, total download count. It’s getting more sophisticated by the day, so really be interesting to watch how the algorithm is changing.
Ryan: I think I heard you say that the actual app description doesn’t matter in iTunes research. So, what would you recommend putting in the App Store description?
Ian: Sure. So, two things, one, it’s interesting to see why the description doesn’t matter for iTunes, just as a historical perspective. So, when you think about iTunes you really can trace it back to its music roots, where a song has a song name, an artist name. Then, they were probably like, “Oh, you know what? We’re going to have some search in here, so let’s add a keyword field. Maybe someone’s going to search the keyword ’Motown’, which won’t show up in the song name or the artist name.”
So, you can see how that mapped directly to apps and they never really changed it. With the Chomp acquisition there will certainly be changes, so I expect it will get a little bit more complex as we start going. But, back to your direct question around what should you do in the description. So, we actually believe that descriptions should be optimized for conversion, not discoverability, especially in the iTunes world.
So that means that the first sentence has to be killer because most people are only going to see the first one or two sentences, as it’s all hidden. It should be exactly what your app does and why the user should download it. Then, what we see is that authoritative earned media reviews matter a lot. So, if you can quote the New York Times, TechCrunch, anybody really authoritative around apps and around sort of media, things like that, people will trust those.
A longer description afterwards makes a lot of sense to really hone in exactly what you’re going to see. Then, of course, after you get done with your description, amazing screen shots have to be there. That’s going to be a make or break for almost every app user.
Ryan: If you had to summarize the three most important things that an app developer could do to increase their search without using your product, which they should, what would those three things be?
Ian: That’s a tough question. I think probably, I would say that you want to optimize your title and description, really make both of those killer. So again, the description should be optimized for conversions. The title should be a good understanding of what this app will be, along with the icon next to it.
The second is making your app great, which will cause great ratings and will obviously help with the number of downloads, things like that. The best product will win over time. Then third, I think you really have to focus on which keywords you want to choose. Making sure they’re the right keywords for your audience, they’re relevant to what they want when they…
Your app is relevant to what the user wants when they search for that thing, and there’s actual search volume behind those keywords, things like that. Those are the three I would choose.
Ryan: Generally speaking, what are the most searched keywords?
Ian: Yeah, so I think what’s funny here is that this is where the head is very strange. So the head is, you get a lot of porn-related searches, even in iTunes. So you’ll see porn, sex, things like that.
Ian: The most used apps in the entire world are highly searched for. So, Facebook is one of the most searched for terms. Then you start to get down the list to things like, “free” or “free game” or ”best game” or just “game”. All of those are in the head and those are extremely hard to rank for. It’s sort of likely you probably actually want to start trying to think about, where is their search volume for more niche relevant keywords than those guys. But those are the most searched for.
Ryan: Got it. Great, Ian. Thanks very much for your time. Before we sign off though, can you tell everybody where they can learn more about MobileDevHQ and what you guys are doing?
Ian: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much. So you can go to www.mobiledevhq.com. We have all sorts of good stuff, if you check out our blog, great insights of data that we’re trying to publish regularly around app search and discoverability.
Ryan: Cool. All right, thank you very much.
Ian: Thank you.