The Difference Between SEO and ASO

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It’s 2019, and by now, every individual who wants to grow in the digital space knows what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is. If you are someone who is just starting out and wants to learn more about this particular term, iTMunch is here to help you.

In a nutshell, SEO is a process of improving presence and ranking of a website or a webpage on a Search Engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.).

Basically, the higher your website ranks, the more visitors you will have. And, what do a good ranking and high traffic lead to? More sales, brand awareness, a better ROI, and all those good things. SEO is really that simple to understand.

Now, let’s look at ASO; a term which had been overlooked all these years but is currently a part of every digital marketing strategy.

What is ASO all about?

With the increasing popularity levels of applications on a global level, apps are considered to be the latest and most efficient marketing platforms for businesses. Hence, just as optimizing websites for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), doing the same for apps is imperative as well.

ASO refers to App Store Optimisation. Just like we use SEO for better rankings on search engines, ASO is used for better visibility on stores such as Google Play, iTunes, and Windows Store.

The main aim of ASO is to ensure that an app appears high on the search results list returning a specific keyword search query or within a category.

For instance, if you enter ‘food delivery’ in the search bar of Google Play, you will find more than 235 apps which offer this service. From this long list, you or any other user is more likely to select and download an app which ranks in the first four or five positions. This means the apps which rank low and are present in the second or third page of the store will have little to no traffic.

So, if you’re in the mobile app space, understanding varied ways to market your app and update its ranking is imperative. This will help improve its visibility, increase organic downloads, grow your user base and cut customer acquisition costs. And, the best way to do this is by using App Store Optimisation.

As the essence of both the terms is understood, let’s look at how they are different, their importance, and what strategies do you need to improve it.

Are SEO and ASO similar?

Conceptually, yes, SEO and ASO are similar. This is because; both of them intend to get your website or app to rank higher in search results. The only difference being that one is for sites and the other for apps.

Plus, both identify and use relevant keywords to improve search rankings. This means just like a website’s on-page content is optimized for keywords, an app’s title and description are also optimized for keywords.

That’s all the similarity one can find between Search Engine Optimization and App Store Optimisation. Let’s look at how both of them are different.

Key Differences Between ASO and SEO

  1. Ranking factors

SEO

How does the search engine decide which website will rank higher than the other? Well, Google uses almost 200 algorithms to determine which page should rank for what and in which position.

A few SEO factors (on-page + off-page) include:

  • Page speed
  • Page titles
  • H1, H2, H3 tags
  • Meta description
  • Keyword density
  • Backlinks
  • Quality of content
  • Domain authority
  • Page content
  • URL structure
  • Images alt text
  • Unique visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Quality and number of backlinks
  • Crash rate

These are just a few. As and when Google or any search engine updates its algorithms, these factors can change. Now, let’s find out what determines the app rankings.

ASO

  • App title
  • App subtitle or short description
  • App description
  • Keywords used
  • App icons, screenshots, and videos
  • App localization
  • Number of app downloads
  • Conversion rate
  • Retention rate
  • Ratings & Reviews
  • Crash rate

As you can see, the number of ranking factors for SEO is much more complicated than that for ASO. Also, the latter focuses a lot more on visual elements like icons, screenshots, etc. This is mainly because the visual appeal of an app attracts people to download it. The same cannot be said about a search engine.

2. User Behavior and Search Intent

Next, the way we search for anything differs depending on the platform. This is because our intent and behaviour are different.

To understand user behaviour and search intent better, let’s do a little experiment. Search for ‘heart rate’ in an app store and a web browser. Both the platforms are bound to yield distinct results.

How search semantics differ?

When you make a query on a web browser, you are:

  • Seeking information to know more about heart rate
  • You are looking to go to a particular website
  • You are making a transactional query, or looking to buy something, or to take some action related to heart rate

However, when you make a query in the app store, you might want to:

  • Understand the functionality of a particular app that can monitor your heart rate
  • Search for a specific brand
  • Look for an app that can serve your exact needs (monitor, offer tips and more)

As the search intent differs, so does the type of keywords. There are a plethora of tools available online that can help you get the right keywords to optimize for search engines and app stores. You can check out Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Moz, Ahrefs and more.

3. Ratings and User Reviews

Another big difference between ASO and SEO is app ratings and reviews.

On the app store, each app has its own rating. This parameter acts as social proof for the app. This means when people come across an app with a good rating, they are much more likely to tap and download it.

Also, even if an app manages to rank high, it is unlikely to get downloads if it has only poor ratings.

Reviews play a very similar role; users’ decisions on whether to download an app or not are often influenced by what others have to say about it.

When ratings and reviews are used in the decision-making stage, there are just a handful of websites which have this parameter set.

4. Success rate

As the parameters to determine the ranking and visibility are pretty low for ASO, it has a better success rate. As mentioned on Apptweak, it will take around 3-5 weeks on the Apple App Store and 4-6 weeks on Google Play Store to see the results.

Owing to its complexity, SEO generally takes more time to provide you with any concrete results. According to the same website, you will have to wait at least 5- 6 months before you start seeing any positive changes. As search engines and app stores update their algorithms, both of these durations are subject to change.

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Will ASO overpower SEO?

According to a whitepaper published by TUNE, “The State of App Discovery“, regardless of which channel or source a company targets, search is extremely important. According to the research conducted by them, a company can’t focus on ASO, without first conducted SEO as search dominated how users actually find the apps.

Hence, after looking at the meaning, similarities and differences between SEO and ASO, we can surely say ASO won’t ever overpower the former. The reason is simple; both of these processes serve different purposes- one for search engines and one for app stores. And as long as websites are developed, they will need to be optimized.

Instead of overpowering, SEO & ASO should work together in an overall digital strategy for a business that has a website and an app. Remember, both of these are not interchangeable as they are meant to optimize different things.

How SEO and ASO can work hand-in-hand?

Now that we know why SEO and ASO are crucial for a business’s success, let’s understand how to include them in a strategy to boost your overall ROI. Here are a few Do-it-yourself SEO Tips to optimise your website.

Basic SEO tips for your website

1. Master Keyword Research

Let’s not assume you know what your consumers want. This is because your target audience might use different terms than trade colleagues to refer to your services or goods. With the help of keyword research, you can identify the words and phrases that consumers use to find your products. This will also help to gauge the demand for them. 

When it comes to using a tool to identify your keywords and their search volume, Google Keyword Planner is the go-to keyword research tool. This tool will help you learn about the search volume, keyword difficulty, related search terms and more.

2. Analyse Your Competitors

To understand your competition, search for the products and services you offer and note the top five websites in the search results. A few of these sites are likely to share your business model. By analysing these websites, you can find out:

  • What are they doing well?
  • What content themes do they have?
  • Have they structured their site differently to target more keywords?
  • Do they have interesting features to engage their prospects?

Along with this, go through their reviews and social media activity. This will help you learn what their customers think versus what you see and hear.

3. Connect with your audience

To start building your presence online, you can join social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and many more. Social media enables you to connect with your prospects and builds an audience for your content.

By understanding and nurturing these relationships, you can increase your brand visibility in the long run. Also, the quality of your content can improve the likelihood that some of those viewers will blog about it or link to it; leading to more visitors.

Identifying your keywords, understanding your competitors and connecting with your target group are the prerequisites of building a strong SEO strategy, Stay tuned with us to learn how to create a full-fledged strategy for your business. Now that the basic SEO tips are understood, let’s look at the next part- ASO.

How to improve ASO

  1. Optimize app name, URL, and subtitle

As this will be the first thing your prospects notice, ensure your app reflects the focus keywords describing your service and reinforcing value, differentiation and other perceived value signals. These areas must reflect the highest value keywords and user search behavior.

For instance, if your business is delivering food, use keywords such as food delivery app, food delivery in my area, food delivery service, etc.

2. Pay attention to App ratings and reviews

This is a core trust area for users as well as a ranking factor for app stores. Volume, freshness, and rating all matter. To build trust amongst your users, you need to have a framework in place for generating regular reviews and for replying to user queries or feedback.

3. Focus on your description

The top part of the long description on your app page will be the first thing users will see. Depending on it, they will decide if they need to click the ‘More’ button. So, include your marketing message in the ‘visible’ part of the description and the most important keywords in the first few lines.

While writing this description, do it for humans; make it readable and valuable for your potential app users. Make sure you explain the main app’s features and how users can benefit from them in an attractive way.

SEE ALSO: Spotify Announces New Features To Its Family Plan Subscription

There, you have it, the two processes you need to optimize and follow diligently to improve your brand visibility. Remember, when it comes to building your presence in the digital space, it is never SEO VS ASO; but always SEO and ASO. Only with a balanced blend of varied online processes, you can improve your rankings, attract visitors and eventually improve your ROI. We hope this blog has helped you get a brief understanding of both the digital marketing terms and how you can use them. 

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