How to drive organic traffic to your app? Different channels and work strategies
In this post, the Checkaso ASO Platform team explains what channels should be used to attract organic traffic in app stores. We'll tell you how Search traffic differs from Explore traffic and what strategies are right for different kinds of apps.
Types of organic traffic in the app stores
Organic traffic in the app store can be attracted from Search or Browse/Explore channels. The first channel is users who find you in the search results using keywords. The second channel is users who come from app store recommendations. On the App Store it is called Browse, and in Google Play it is called Explore. Users find apps in recommendations, editorial selections, and top charts.
Games get organic traffic mostly not from Search, as they have far fewer thematic keywords than other apps. Users usually search by genre, theme, name of already popular mobile games. The number of such keywords is limited. The main traffic is attracted from app store recommendations. This is the Browse/Explore channel.
It's vital to know who your competitors are, how they promote their apps, and what their top priority traffic source is: Search traffic, Explore traffic, or Paid traffic. Assume that in some categories, most of the traffic may be associated with branded keywords and paid promotion. This means that you can't reach the top without having a budget. You have to remember that you need different ASO strategies for different types of traffic — the main focus of the strategy won’t be the same. Nevertheless, boosting search visibility with text ASO is a fundamental part of any strategy.
Search traffic and strategies to attract it
ASO (App Store Optimization) helps increase the volume of organic traffic from Search by improving the visibility of the app. It works like this: app stores scan the app home page and display it for the identified keywords. It's called indexing. The algorithms in Google Play and the App Store are different, but the principle is the same — it is important to collect the most relevant keywords and add them in the indexed text elements.
How to collect relevant keywords?
The easiest way to collect semantics (relevant keywords) is to use ASO services. Detailed keyword analytics are available there. You can use it to quickly prioritize your keywords. Let's say, if you just published your app on the app store, you need to focus on low- and medium-frequency keywords. Gradually the app will stand out — it will become more visible, and get indexed by more keywords. It means, over time, you will be able to implement more popular keywords.
What metrics you should focus on when analyzing the keywords?
- Search Volume. It's a metric of popularity of the keyword from 5 to 99 in the selected locale. Depending on the stage of work with the app, you should focus on keywords with different SV.
- Difficulty is a keyword difficulty metric ranging from 5 to 99. This metric helps to define how difficult it will be for your app to rank for a specific keyword.
- Impressions shows the number of users who have searched for the apps by the keyword during the selected period.
- Rank is the position of the app in the search results for the keyword. The platform analyzes the position among all elements in the search results, as there may be in-app purchases, articles and features.
- Total apps. It's a metric to assess the competitiveness of the keyword ranking. The logic is simple: the more apps display in the search results, the higher the competition can be.
- Branding. This metric shows whether the keyword is associated with a brand in the local market.
Lifehack. Popular apps are indexed by the largest number of keywords. We suggest that you study your chief competitors and analyze their keywords to adopt some.
A popular mistake when collecting relevant keywords is to filter out low-volume keywords. This is wrong for a couple of reasons:
- Keyword search volume is changing, so it's worth tracking all keywords for changes in popularity and not to abandon them at once.
- Low search volume doesn't always mean zero. For example, ASA (Apple Search Ads) has a minimum search volume of 5. This means that there may be no traffic at all or some small amount of it. But it should be checked. At the launch of your app, it's better not to drop such keywords.
How to work with branded keywords?
Let's imagine that your category traffic is mostly associated with branded keywords. You might ask, "How do I deal with them?" Should you use branded keywords of your competitors in your metadata or not? The discussion occurs for a reason — there is no simple answer, but it is possible to mention the pros and cons of the approach.
Pros. First, using competitors' branded keywords, you can get more impressions and potentially more installs if your product is highly competitive and well-designed. Secondly, there are many branded keywords on the App Store for which a small number of apps are indexed, and it may not be difficult for beginners to reach the top and get some traffic. On iOS 15, app screenshots will be hidden in the search results if the app is already installed. Only the icon and the name will be displayed. This is bad news for the big brands that everyone uses. If they are at the top for the keyword, the user will see the next competitor, and not them. Thus, the user can turn his attention to it and install the app.
Cons. The app store guidelines prohibit using branded keywords. Their use can lead to warnings, and in some cases even to a ban. As for the App Store: there is a small number of characters available in indexed text elements. It may not be wise to waste it on branded keywords instead of less popular but relevant general ones. Another bad thing is the low conversion rate. The chance of getting installed for a branded keyword, even if it's displayed in second place, is still not very high.
The bottom line is that there is no universal strategy for working with branded keywords. It's up to you to decide what to do. It is important to assess the risks and to calculate the utility and effectiveness of the approach.
Explore traffic and strategies to attract it
The Explore channel is valuable for all apps, but it's crucial for games — it is the main "supplier" of organic traffic. So, how do you increase the flow of traffic from this channel?
Similar Apps Visibility Growth. This is about the recommendation section, when the app store suggests your app as a similar. In Google Play we recommend analyzing the long description in Google Natural Language API. This tool determines from the text description which category your app belongs to. Its confidence score (Confidence) is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The higher the number, the better. A good score is from 0.8.
The list of categories is more detailed and it differs from the official classification of Google Play. If the algorithms confidently categorize your app as irrelevant, you need to edit your description. It affects Explore traffic. Algorithms must understand precisely which users to recommend your app. The "Similar Apps" section can bring in a lot of installs. But high conversion rates are impossible with an irrelevant audience.
Use GNL to check the description of your competitors. See what category Google Play classifies them as. Do your categories match? Try to fall into this category by boosting your confidence score. For algorithms, it will be a sign that your game can be recommended as similar.
Top Charts Ranking Growth. This requires working with ratings and reviews (about this below), adapting visual assets to category trends, keeping up with seasonal ASO (adapting semantics and graphics in connection with a holiday or a newsworthy event), following the app store guidelines, and elaborate on a long description in GNL. We suggest choosing a relevant but less competitive category, working on the total number of installs and Retention Rate.
Why is it so important to monitor the rating? An app with a 3* rating loses half of its potential installs, and an app that has a 1* and 2* rating loses almost all potential installs. The number of reviews also affects the conversion rate. Users are more likely to trust apps that have a lot of ratings and reviews. How to work with them? If we summarize the advice into a short memo, here are the following tips for you:
- Work with feedback on a regular basis and promptly;
- Don't ignore the negative reviews, respond constructively and politely;
- Ask clarifying questions if a negative review is too abstract;
- Analyze negative feedback your competitors get;
- Avoid template responses;
- Ask for feedback at the right time (when a user is waiting or completing a series of actions — we’re talking about in-app feedback).
Traffic Growth after You Got Featured. In order to get featured, you need to have a high rating, keep up with high-quality graphics, maintain seasonal ASO, follow the app store guidelines, and make sure your app is stable. App stores are going for more personalization, fighting against "bad" apps by promoting better content and user experience. An increase in crashes can lead to a sharp drop in the search results for all keywords and pessimization of displays in selections.
Lifehack. Choose tags in Google Play wisely. Tags help Google Play algorithms display the app in the proper sections and select peer groups to compare. You may add up to 5 tags. Try to choose tags that are most obviously relevant to your app. What matters here is the relevance of the tags, not their number.
The impact of external traffic on attracting organic traffic
External traffic can be classified into two types: paid and free. The first implies any paid sources: Google UAC, Apple Search Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads. Often, developers have little experience in buying and in this case, you can turn to experts who will save you time.
External advertising traffic can help at the launch. It will help to stand out in the app store, since the total number of installs affects the ranking for keywords, and increases impressions in selections. In some cases, such as when the app is in a very competitive niche or vice versa, in a rather specific — it is simply necessary. Thanks to it, you will start to get indexed for keywords faster, especially if we are talking about Google Play. External advertising traffic, like ASO, is one of the most significant elements of a marketing strategy. And together they can have a much better effect.
In addition to driving organic traffic, external traffic helps solve product issues. For example, by attracting traffic at the launch, you can test the performance of the app, onboarding, retention, monetization, and other important metrics. Also, you can study user feedback, which will show you what users don't like and what needs to be improved. It's much better to understand and correct all your mistakes at the beginning in order to expand further with confidence.
As for free traffic: it's much harder to get, but you save money by spending your time in return. You can post on various thematic websites, social media, Reddit, Tik-Tok, Product Hunt, and more. It's important to be creative and persistent, because the first results may not come soon.
Lifehack. If your app has built-in Stories, users will be able to repost them on social networks. The advantage is that the Story can be opened in any browser, even if the app is not installed on the device. This is not only a way to increase brand awareness, but also to attract new users. The key is to create Stories for in-app engagement boost.
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