Get discovered: tuning-up your mobile app’s SEO

This is the fifth post in the “12 Weeks of Christmas” series.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a loaded term in recent years. In its purest definition SEO is the art of ensuring your content is found by searchers when they go to Google or Bing.

Many have taken SEO too far in their quest for traffic, so Google has had to actively “discourage” sites from practicing SEO in bad faith (see Panda and Penguin Google updates). That said, SEO is extremely important and don’t be told otherwise. After all, even Google Analytics has a Search Engine Optimization section.

When thinking about SEO, consider it in two different contexts: On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.

On-page SEO

You may have the world’s most amazing Photography app, but if your website shows it off as a series of screenshots with a link to the App Store then how is Google or Bing to know what your app is all about? That is On-page SEO in a nutshell: providing enough data to the search engines about your website, so that they 100% understand what you think is relevant about your website. It doesn’t mean that you will rank #1, but without good on-page SEO you won’t rank at all.

Books have been written about many things you can do with your site to provide high quality signals to the search engines. Some of these factors include:

  • Worry about your page TITLE tags, make sure the keyword terms you want to rank for are in there
  • Give each page on your site one (not more, not less) H1 tag, containing a clear description of that page.
  • If you don’t know what you’re doing just skip META tags like KEYWORDS and DESCRIPTION. The former truly doesn’t do anything, and the latter is very important as it will be shown in search results as the description of your site. If you omit DESCRIPTION, Google and Bing will create their own description from the page text, which is often more compelling than the canned text you may put in this tag.
  • Consider implementing REL=AUTHOR for your pages.
  • Do you have a Google+ page for your app? Why not, don’t you know it’s free? All kidding aside, Google+ is the only social network that will instantly help your SEO. In addition to better links in search engine results page (SERP), every time you G+ one of your pages it is instantly indexed by Google’s search engine.

Off-page SEO

Now we get into the murky waters of Off-page SEO. Google and Bing cannot rely on the content of your page alone to determine how to rank it, since after all every mother thinks their baby is the cutest. So the search engines look at what other mothers think of your baby, and judge it accordingly. Harsh, I know!

Links and content
One of the strongest signals for Off-page SEO is how many external links are pointing in your direction. Links from bigger sites count for more than links from smaller sites, and links from pages with fewer links count more than links from pages inundated with links. It gets very technical very quickly but the key here is to understand that your role in Off-page SEO is simple: get people talking about your app.

One way to get people talking about your app is to syndicate or create interesting (read: shareable) content. Be a domain expert in your app’s vertical and share content your users would like to see. To create your content strategy take a moment to read Week 3 and start winning with content.

Keyword relevance and anchor text
We’re true believers in the basic premise that great content overtime brings its rewards. That said, it is useful to understand how Google and Bing decide what keywords are relevant to your website. When an external site links to you, most often they will do it with a text link. The human-readable part of that link is called anchor text. One example from this article is anchor text “very technical” you see a couple of paragraphs above.

If everyone who linked to your site used words “very technical” as their anchor text, the search engines would attribute high significance to those words and soon it would become your best-ranked keyword. In the real world, your brand becomes that most often used anchor text when linking to your site so choose and build your brand wisely!

Mobile web
Finally, it’s worth considering that a large percentage of your web visits will be coming from mobile web browsers. Think about what specific value they’re looking for on your website, as compared to a visitor using a computer. As Joanna Lord, VP of Growth Marketing at SEOmoz, puts it

“User intention changes significantly when the user is on mobile – the queries will now carry a very different story. If we keep that in mind we can merge traditional inbound marketing and SEO strategies with new tweaks to really nail what we deliver back.”

Tune-up your SEO
Speaking of SEOmoz: their web toolset is extremely helpful when trying to understand how your SEO efforts are panning out and what problems your site may have. They’ve been kind enough to give us an extended 60-day free trial for our readers. We cannot stress enough how useful SEOmoz tools are, so take them up on this offer and give your site an SEO-tuneup:


We don’t make any money from that link, but you certainly may after signing up.


If you’re still not a believer in SEO take a quick look at these 8 companies you surely recognize, and what their primary user acquisition tactics are. You will notice one common thread: SEO and content marketing.

Next week: optimizing your social sharing.

This is part five of the 12 Weeks of Christmas series

This post is just the start of a weekly series on marketing your mobile app more effectively – the sort of way that spikes your holiday sales.

This series will help you take your marketing beyond a simple App Store page, because that just isn’t good enough anymore. It’s time to build-out your web marketing and ready your app for the Christmas sales storm.

To catch the whole series stay dialed-in to Tapstream, or why not subscribe by email to make sure you don’t miss a post. We have lots of great tips coming up.

You can read the first four posts here:

  1. Warning: the App Store freeze could kill your holiday sales (here’s how to thrive)
  2. Planning and testing for your marketing push
  3. Beyond the App Store: how to start winning with content
  4. Find Your Web Audience