Part 1: The Difference Between ASO & App Indexing

Stuart Shaw 3 years ago

With mobile devices having overtaken traditional desktops and laptops to become the primary platform for digital media consumption, we thought it was time for Zazzle Media to produce a series of blog posts exploring the emerging importance of Apps.

First, however, we need to develop an understanding of the difference between ASO (App Store Optimisation) and App Indexing. You may have seen this graph or a similar (uglier) version of it floating around the web in the last year. It shows how the number of global mobile users (in millions) overtook desktop/laptop users at some point in late 2014/early 2015.

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In addition to this, there has been some very recent buzz surrounding Google’s plan to release a separate ‘mobile index’ to act as the primary search index, with a ‘desktop index’ existing beneath this.

Mobiles are popular, but are Apps?
Recent studies suggest that Apps dominate around 90% of a mobile user’s time with only 10% being spent within a mobile browser. So, not only are users moving away from desktops, they are also spending most of their ‘mobile time’ within an App.

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Let’s be fair - with over two million Apps in both the Apple and Google stores, it’s highly likely that an App will solve your problem in a much more creative or interesting way than a website (even with HTML5).

ASO – App Store Optimisation
ASO (App Store Optimisation) is defined as being the process by which you increase an App’s visibility within the associated App Store. Most companies will only target the Apple and Google Stores due to their reach and the added effort and cost needed to port your App across all additional platforms.

Both stores rely heavily on user trends to define an App positions. However, as with traditional SEO, ‘meta data’ such as titles and descriptions help too. Currently the actual content within the App does not affect ASO – but stay tuned as this may be changing in the coming years.

While our next post in the series will aim to cover ASO in more detail, below is a brief list of the contributing factors.

App Title – Not the Display Name but the App’s searchable title.

Category – The Categories you select and their individual levels of competition can have a big effect on ASO and App visibility.

Keywords – Naturally, Google have done away with Keywords in their ranking systems. However, Apple still make good use of them.

Descriptions – Both stores analyse the description to understand the purpose of the App. Google also reviews the concentrated/shortened description with added value.

Developer Name – That’s right! The name of the account/developer can have an effect on ASO. While only minor, as we’ve learnt from SEO, every little helps.

Volume – The sheer amount of downloads will help to improve ASO.

Velocity – The number of downloads within recent days can indicate trending Apps, thus encouraging the App Store to serve up this results more readily.

Reviews – In SEO, reviews often helped to improve CTR. In the App store they fulfil a similar purpose but also act as a strong ranking factor too.

Freshness – Keeping an App up to date can make a slight difference to ASO but updates for the sake of updates won’t see you jump to the number one spot!

App Indexing
App Indexing can be defined as being the process of setting an App’s page URLs and submitting them via Google Search Console or via a sitemap. Search results will then allow users to click directly through to the App’s content via deep links.

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Why is this important?

  • As an SEO I’d point to the fact that Google have quoted this to be a ranking factor. 'If your app is indexed, Google will use the content within your app as a signal in ranking, not just your web content.'
  • Less than a third of websites actually have App Indexing - this could help to give you the competitive edge.
  • Apps allow you to have complete control over your customer’s experience without the restrictions typically associated with web design.

Why has it come about?
The migration towards Apps has restricted Google’s primary goals – to index the world’s information and to connect users with information relevant to them. App stores have trained users away from Google and so limited Google’s mission to collect data and their ability to make money.

But ultimately, this is about us – the users. We’re not saying we can do away with App stores altogether but having everything in one place sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

The Difference between ASO and App Indexing
ASO is about improving your App’s visibility within an App Store, whereas App Indexing is about getting App content to appear in mobile search results as deep links.

In the next posts in the series we look into App Store Strategy and App Indexing & Mobile SERP Impact... If you'd like to cut straight to the headlines, check out our download via the button below.

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