Mobile App SEO and Opportunities

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A Recent infographic from Nielsen that focuses on Social Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) had a few interesting sound bites.  One of that jumped out at me is that of smartphone users two-thirds of these users time is spent in apps. It doesn’t say how much of this is spent on Angry Birds, but it does illustrate how important apps are to mobile users today, and if apps are where the action is in mobile, it is likely where search will start to take place.

As a search strategist this tells me there is likely an opportunity for many companies to tap into a greater user base through apps, and in app optimziation.  Further it tells me that over time we will likely see different types of SEOs.  There will be the traditional optimizations for Google and Bing, but we will likely see the rise of SEO app optimizers as well.

This will come in 3 forms:

  1. Optimizing apps to be discovered in market places to try and maximize installs.
  2. Optimize in app content to capitalize on valued apps in particular segments
  3. Web content optimization for apps that operate as a view through to the traditional web.

App Optimization

If two-thirds of mobile users spend time on apps then it makes sense to want to optimize apps to increase downloads.  Hopefully your app has value and gets used frequently as well, and then it gets rated.  From some top level investigation there seems to be a couple factors at play in how the iTunes store works for search.  They look at:

1)      App name

2)      Company name

3)      Volume of downloads

4)      App quality ratings

5)      Number of ratings for the app

6)      App description

An example I ran is “analytics”  The fact that “Snake & Ladder” shows up on this search can only be explained based on a combination of the company name “Travancore Analytics Pvt.Ltd” and the volume of downloads/ratings.

Over time I can see the value directly to app installs as there is a correlation to revenue for most companies.  More importantly apps that lead the space can become deeper windows to search.

Optimizing in App Content

Some apps have propriety data sources or have created unique ways to interact with content that the traditional web has not allowed for. Mobile devices provide so many different ways to search besides limited text.  And the type of content we can search for from apps and perhaps the web will change. The multiple ways mobile devices provide to search include: audio sensory (Shazam, Siri, etc.), optical (Google Goggles, SnapTell, etc.), geo location/time awareness (Movie apps, Yelp, etc.).  Each of these search types will have new and different ways to optimize. Does your site provide geo-specific data as micro formats?  Are your product images registered and identifiable in image search engines?  Audio search means having text that is clear and concise as users learn to navigate with voice.

Apps typically provide very specific services and allow a user to complete a very specific and specialized task. When we say content is king for the web today, for mobile apps it will be usefulness will reign supreme (ok maybe that doesn’t have the same ring), but apps that enable users to successfully and quickly complete tasks will be apps that are used the most frequently.

Web Content Optimization

Some apps pull data through RSS or other feeds.  Think about apps for product comparison.  Think about apps for real-estate or movies.  Many of these apps lease or pull content from specific sources.  Optimizing content in apps can again impact the opportunity and revenue value to a company or individual.  Because this is still such a niche place identifying a couple data sources used across multiple apps can make a big impact across a lot of smaller apps.

Further targeting a couple key apps that use common data and understanding how they interpret that common data can also be another strategic approach to optimizing content.  Different niches will likely have different approaches and it can be either shot gun data or sniper like accuracy to a specific app.

The Very Near Future

Each of these spaces is new, unevolved, and ripe for opportunity. I can see a great potential for spam across each space, and how this is dealt with will likely determine the success of different forms of mobile search and more likely the success or failure of some or many apps, but more importantly in the mobile space I suspect we will see a variety of verticals within it where SEOs can focus and provide added value and opportunity.



Brent Chaters
Brent Chaters is senior manager Marketing Strategy & Analytics at SapientNitro, where he works with multiple Fortune 500 clients where he focuses on establishing ROI... Read Full Bio
Brent Chaters
Brent Chaters

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  • maque

    Most likely we’ll have new professions when this stuff really takes off 🙂

  • Peter

    SEO will definitely be important for mobile apps as more apps are created. It is true that apps that provide the user more use will reign supreme. Optimization is important and a good API is key.

  • DigitalMoz SEO

    E-commerce and technology are geared towards to the fusion of mobile transactions. Mobile app SEO is the future of internet marketing. Now is the best time to move further and develop a strategy on this.

  • paul morris

    Nice post Brent!

    I’m still not convinced SOLOMO is the future of EVERYTHING digital (as a few people have been wittering on about recently) however it will certainly play it’s part as long as brands start thinking a little more intelligently than simply offering huge irrelevant discounts.

    Brands need to offer true reciprocity that includes great engaging content, super relevant offers and has the right balance between push and pull. Read more here –

  • Brent Chaters

    Hi Paul,
    I think that SOLOMO is a really a smaller part of what is happening and the focus is really: right person, right device, right content (RpRdRc?). SOLOMO just happens to be the disruptive space right now. This will likely continue as tablets will change the way we engage with digital content which will impact how people search which will impact how we think about SEO.

    I do think we’re still in the very early days of SOLOMO and the reason we hear so much about it is besides the disruption the space is still being defined and that is what makes it such an exciting topic to talk about.

    Mostly thought I think as we look at search our skill sets apply beyond optimizing for Google and Bing, our talents can and should be applied to other spaces, and this helps us keep ahead of the curve.