How to Improve Your Web and Mobile Rankings

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A hundred different paths, including social networks, contextual advertising, direct and affiliate links, and search engines, lead users to websites and apps. All these traffic sources can be roughly divided into organic and non-organic.

This article addresses:

  • The difference between organic and non-organic traffic
  • SEO and ASO best practices
  • How keywords, backlinks, and other ranking parameters work
  • How myTracker can help you with app optimization

What is Organic Traffic

All users who discover an application or a website on their own, without an "intermediary" in the form of advertising, are called organic. Their number directly depends on your visibility in search engines, App Store, and Google Play.

Visibility refers to how high you rank among the top non-sponsored search results. Sponsored posts are usually displayed above all others; they are ranked by bid and labeled as "ads.”

On the web, things are relatively simple. The first page of SERP displays ads as well as the most relevant results for the query leading to the highest-ranking websites. You can increase your search engine ranking through search engine optimization (SEO), with ad campaigns conducted independently and not affecting it directly.

The mobile counterpart of SEO – App Store Optimisation (ASO) – works differently: paid traffic has a great impact on the organic growth of app visibility. We will look more into it later.

It’s not always possible to draw a clear line between organic and non-organic traffic. For instance, a user may see an ad and take a mental note but download the app at a later point. Such users will be counted as organic, although in fact, they came through an ad.

Organic Traffic vs Advertising

The key difference between users who come through ads and organically is that you don't have to pay for the latter. The optimization may require you to engage an SEO or ASO specialist, copywriter, or designer, but these are rather an investment in the ranking of your site or application than a user acquisition expense.

On top of that, SEO/ASO requires money and time but brings about a certain long-term result. Your ranking and consequent user inflow will last after the optimization are complete. The Pay-per-click (PPC) model, by contrast, will attract new users almost immediately, but the traffic will stop once the campaign expires.

The third fundamental advantage of organic traffic over advertising is that it always attracts potential customers, the most loyal and profitable ones. The point is that people usually come to search engines and app stores with a specific need, and they will be happy to stay with you if you can cater to it and offer a solution. Users also have an intuitive understanding of how algorithms work and trust regular search results more than those marked as ‘ads’.

As a result, organic growth boasts higher click-through rates, time spent on the website or in the app, and conversion rates compared to other sources of traffic, while the share of exits and uninstalls is lower.

It’s fair to say that organic traffic is the foundation of a project: it takes time to create it, but it will serve you for long.

Increasing Organic Traffic in Search Engines

When it comes to increasing organic traffic, SEO comes to the rescue. The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization and means a set of measures taken to increase a website’s visibility in search engines.

The ranking and, accordingly, the visibility of a website increases as you adjust certain characteristics. There are many ranking factors – Google, for instance, uses over 200.

We will focus on the most significant and universal ones.

Keywords

This is your main tool as search engines arrange and rank web pages primarily by using semantic indexing.

A set of keywords and phrases that describe what a website is about is semantic core. It is built based on potential users’ search queries with the help of dedicated services.

Search engines can recognize synonyms and semantically related words, so there’s no need to rake for exact match keywords. However, it’s important to use special keyword research tools for broad match, phrase match, and related keyword search.

Strategic Keyword Placement

Keywords should not be scattered across the text carelessly. Use several basic rules to place them.

  • A head keyword needs to be included in the title and meta description. It’s also advisable to place it in the URL, as well as H1 and H2 tags.
  • The body text should contain secondary keywords.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing: look at the page from the user’s point rather than the search engine’s.

Matching User Intent

There are different types of keywords depending on the search intent.

  • Informational queries help acquire specific information: users search for articles, guidelines, and answers to their questions, so this type of search often contains question words (how to find, how to do).
  • Navigational queries are associated with finding a specific website: searchers know where they want to go but don’t have a direct link. It is common to use branded keywords in navigational queries (domino’s pizza)
  • Transactional queries reflect the user’s intent to act (buy, sell, download) and mainly draw target traffic to commercial websites (buy iPhone).

Keep that in mind as different user intents follow different conversion paths. The transactional intent is usually at the bottom of the funnel, while the informational queries make the top of it.

If someone unfamiliar with a product accidentally gets to the bottom of the funnel – not having their user intent satisfied, they will leave the page. Likewise, users looking to buy a product expect to find a shop, rather than just a piece of information.

The right choice of keywords helps provide relevant content to users and bring potential customers to you.

Search Volume

Keywords are categorized into high-, middle- and low-volume. High-volume means reaching out to more users but at the same time having less chance to rank high among the search results.

So, for those who use keyword research tools, our advice is to pick up high-volume keywords with low competition indicators.

We recommend placing high-volume keywords in the title and low-volume ones in the text.

It goes without saying that you need quality content that is informative, clear, well-structured, and, most of all, matching the keywords. Otherwise, a user will be merely disappointed and leave your page thus lowering your ranking.

UX/UI

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are the basic website quality criteria both for the user and search engines’ ranking algorithms. They include website structure, navigation, bugs, and other factors, which can be divided into direct and indirect.

Direct factors (for example, page speed) can be assessed by search engines on their own. Such website health indicators can and should be monitored using site audit tools.

Indirect factors (for example, design) are assessed through user statistics such as the average time on page, a number of pages per visit, and exit rate. These can also be monitored – say, using Google Analytics.

For instance, a high bounce rate might mean that the page content doesn’t match the user intent.

Adaptability

Website adaptability to mobile devices is actually part of UX but we decided to name it as a separate ranking factor as it is very important, especially for developers targeting the young audience. This is not only about user impressions – a non-adaptive website would not rank top on Google or elsewhere.

You can check how mobile-friendly your website is with Google's Mobile-Friendly Test Tool:

Backlinks

Backlinks from other websites provide you with referral traffic per se. What’s crucial is that every backlink from a resource ranked high by a search engine improves your own ranking – and even more so if it covers similar topics.

As with other SEO tools, do not abuse inward links as the algorithm may recognize it as spamdexing. Fortunately, there are dedicated backlink audit tools such as Ahrefs or Moz. Such services have their own domain authority score which you can use to assess the overall quality of the referring domain.

Check out this article to learn how to carry out a basic backlink audit.

Security

Though not so obvious, this is a legitimate ranking factor. So, don’t forget to check your certificates, plugins, updates, the User Agreement and Confidentiality Policy, and contact details.

In Conclusion

Streamlining these five features has a direct impact on your rankings. You can learn more about other important SEO ranking factors for 2021 here.

As we said above, smart SEO optimization will have a long-term positive effect. Nonetheless, as search engine algorithms change, content gets outdated, and new competitors enter the market, it’s best to regularly update your settings and always pay attention to how your results performed in the course of time.

So What About Mobile?

Now, let’s focus on SEO’s younger brother – ASO (App Store Optimisation). Apps live and die by organic traffic: these are the most engaged users with the highest LTV (lifetime value) and with more sessions and fewer uninstalls.

The bad news is, in application stores organic traffic is not nearly as effective as in search engines. No matter how on point your ASO is, it’s pretty much impossible to achieve massive user numbers in Google Play or the App Store solely off organic traffic.

Why is that?

People visit application stores with the intention of downloading, so all queries are transactional. And almost always the choice comes down to the five topmost apps – out of millions. Competition is really fierce.

Add to that the fact that algorithms make it so paid traffic affects top positions in App Store и Google Play. This renders even the most adept ASO incapable of ensuring a steady flow of organic traffic, despite most installs originating from search queries.

Search Optimization

Keywords

First, let’s take a page out of the SEO book and look at keywords. The basics are the same for mobile and web:

  • the semantic core can be built using dedicated ASO-services
  • keyword choice should be based on their popularity index
  • for each keyword, the competition level should be taken into account

The difference comes in the form of less flexibility in mobile compared to websites.

In mobile apps, keywords should be placed only in certain fields that will be indexed.

  • For App Store, these are the App Name as well as Subtitle, Keywords, Promoted IAP и Developer Name, so make sure you add your target keywords into those fields.
  • For Google Play these are App Name, Short Description, and Full Description.

You can also place keywords in reviews, Developer Name, and Package Name even though they don’t affect ranking as much.

It’s advisable you use your target keyword 2 or 3 times in your app description.

Avoid excessive repetition of keywords: Google itself recommends taking a user-first approach and providing clear and well-written descriptions.

Keep in mind that the indexed fields, rules for inputting information, and the significance of each field differ across the App Store and Google Play. For example, Apple limits their App Name to 30 characters, while Google caps them at 50 characters.

Visuals

This is a very broad topic that warrants its own article, so we’ll just mention a couple of basic things here.

  • To boost click-through, make sure the icon effectively conveys the essence of your app while being striking and standing out among competition yet readable.
  • To boost conversion, make sure the visual content in the description (e.g. screenshots, video) showcases the app's functions while being easily digestible.

Ratings and Reviews

Don’t go paying for them: store algorithms would know if a user uninstalls an app right after giving it a positive rating, so you may be hit with sanctions.

What you can do is work with negative reviews and incentivize users to write new, positive ones by using in-app rating requests.

You can set up in-app rating prompts or even run contests and giveaways with reviews being a condition for participation.

Apps often have links to other products by the same developer, which Google may interpret as deceptive/disguised ads. One of the ways to avoid such mistakes is by explicitly calling these out by labeling the buttons and links as “More apps”, “Check out our other apps”, etc.

Paid Traffic

If you’re much more used to web and SEO than mobile and ASO, you may find it hard to accept the necessity of using paid adverts to boost visibility.

Still, the hard truth is: in ASO, you have to use a combination of organic traffic and ads. As we mentioned at the beginning, when it comes to the App Store and Google Play, these two types of traffic directly influence each other – let’s review how.

The app’s position in charts and search results depends on the total amount of traffic it gets. This means that paid traffic affects the total number of installs making the app improve its organic positions, too.

In a nutshell:

1) an app is released

2) people find it through ads and install it

3) the store takes note of the app’s growing popularity and takes it further up to the top

4) installs increase

6) the app is catapulted to top chart positions

Besides, increasing organic traffic helps bring down the total CPI (Cost Per Install) across all campaigns, including paid ones.

Do keep in mind when purchasing ads that the App Store and Google Play necessitate slightly different approaches: these are two independent platforms after all, so a separate strategy needs to be developed for each.

New Markets

If you decide to go international, you’ll need to localize the app. Be sure to translate it into different languages, if it’s really necessary. Most importantly, a global launch calls for researching each new market and analyzing the data. For example, you’ll need to adapt keywords as opposed to translating them verbatim.

Just like the hreflang attribute in the web, application stores have localization settings: depending on the region and language preference of a device, the user will see different landing pages.

Just like with SEO and ASO, this is not something achieved overnight or done once at launch – rather, it’s an ongoing investment in the future of your product. Add to that the fact that results of mobile optimization campaigns are less sustainable compared to SEO campaigns, meaning that ASO is only effective if done regularly.

Maximize Your Project with myTracker

By now you know that in ASO there’s always room for improvement. An effective optimization strategy requires a powerful toolset for monitoring all visibility parameters across stores: competition, keyword changes, rankings, and top charts, organic installs, revenue.

You need exhaustive data on the evolution of these metrics in order to make the right decision on your ASO campaigns. With competitors always on your heels, being able to quickly adapt to the vagaries of the market is key to not being left behind.

A reliable analytics and attribution service such as myTracker will arm you with complete and accurate information to optimize your app’s visibility and traffic, which will then boost revenue.

myTracker boasts comprehensive and user-friendly functionality for analyzing installs from different sources.

With myTracker’s reports, you can easily compare traffic sources and segment by platform and region:

The Reports Constructor helps you carry out an in-depth analysis of your audience and its interaction with your website or app, spot weaknesses and opportunities in your marketing funnel, and take immediate action.

You get all of this in the form of detailed and well-organized reports in a single interface.

You can learn more about myTracker or request a demo here.