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SEO And ASO Optimization For Game Developers

When you’re marketing and promoting your game, you probably don’t think about one of the most important - and most traditional - types of digital marketing.

Content Crafter at GameAnalytics

If anything can be said to be ‘old school’ or ‘traditional’ when it comes to digital, it would be classic search marketing. That’s the case for nearly any product you want people to discover online, whether it’s a t-shirt, a gadget, or a mobile game or app. All of these can be searched for online, and are easier to find when good SEO has been applied.

Search marketing is about a lot more than just using the right keywords; you have to understand the philosophy and thought process behind creating your game’s app store listing and website in order to properly optimize it. Here’s how to get started.

Search Listings = Pull Versus Push

One of the first things you should remember and one of the main arguments for the effectiveness of search engine optimization (or app store search optimization as the case may be) is that it puts your product in the path of a user who’s ostensibly already looking for what you have to offer. You don’t necessarily have to sell them on your game completely cold if they are already searching for it or something like it when they arrive at the search results pages with your game’s listing.

This applies to users searching for your game (or similar games) on the web, as well as searching for your game in the app stores. You want to make sure that you’re easy to find when searching for your name and similar terms, as well as be linked in related content or lists of games in the relevant categories, complete with enticing screenshots and descriptions.

The same goes for organic search, especially if – or when – your game gets more popular and people begin seeking it out in various ways in addition to stumbling across it in the app store. So what’s the difference.

ustwo Games‘ Monument Valley 2 clearly divides each section of its app store description to allow for media quotes and selling points of the game itself.

ASO Versus SEO

One key thing to keep in mind that is although app store optimization and search engine optimization aren’t totally dissimilar, they are definitely two separate tactics and should be considered and measured separately.

The reason for this separation is that general search engine optimization (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo) requires distinct strategies in comparison to optimizing for showing up in app store search results.  SEO encourages you to treat it like a popularity contest, structuring so that you can show up and get noticed far more easily through general searching through clever use of appropriate keywords and finding the right channels for your game. Meanwhile, the best ASO comes from your ability to create an enticing listing that’ll catch the eyes of any would-be App Store scroller.

Oh my… who are these handsome devils?

That said, optimizing and controlling your app store listing (in terms of the content you supply, at least), is the start of it, followed by making sure your organic search engine results are squeaky clean and your own site (as well as any positive press) are at the top; it all starts with the listing in the app store and extends from there.

The algorithms for the app stores and the regular search engines aren’t totally within your control, but you can and should do everything you can to make sure your game is presented to the best of your capabilities, and here’s how…

Keywords Are Key

Knowing what keywords are the most relevant and successful for your game is perhaps the most important part of both search engine optimization and app store optimization. While some of the keyword targeting should be obvious (e.g. the name and type of your game), it’s also important to use the various keyword tools at your disposal, like Google’s Adwords keyword search tool – the keywords you uncover through the Adwords tools are useful for more than just paid search; these keyword lists can be great inspiration for crafting your app store descriptions as well!

You don’t want to stuff your descriptions in the app store with keywords, but finding similar terms to how you describe your game – or even the words your competitors use – can help you improve your game’s rankings and even exceed the competing games.

As Reigns proves, eye-catching visuals and any accolades your game has picked up are great for ASO.

ASO Tactics For Game Developers

App store optimization has been a buzzword or key topic in the game development world since the app stores themselves were created. While there is a wide range of variations and disparate opinions on the differences between optimizing your Google or Apple store listings – the general activities and best practices for both are pretty similar – but you do have a little bit more control over your app store listing than how your game appears in the app store search results, or listings in general.

That said, there are definitely some activities unique to optimizing your app store listing. Moz has a great rundown and this guide by the cofounder of Incipia is excellent as well, but perhaps the best tip is to think about how your customers would describe your game in their own words.

How best to market your games using ASO and SEO? It's dangerous to optimize alone, take this… Click To Tweet

Looking at your competition and the type of keywords and general language that they use is also essential. According to Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through the various app stores, meaning that it’s essential to have a listing that shows up at the top for relevant keywords and is as enticing as possible in regard to the title, description, images, number of downloads, and reviews. Granted, the latter two items aren’t things that you can always 100% control, but they are certainly influenced by the first three elements of your listing, which are absolutely within your remit.

This is where choosing your game’s name wisely (descriptive, inspiring, and easy to remember but sparking real interest – here’s a good guide to copywriting specifically as it relates to games in general), and describing in a way that hits popular triggers and inspires people to download it and learn more will go on to pay dividends. Again, that’s easier said than done, but here’s an article – and here’s another – that will get you started on writing compelling descriptions for your game that will inspire downloads and installations.

SEO Tactics For Game Developers

The app store isn’t the only place where your audience organically discovers your game, even if that is where they actually download and start to play it. Often their discovery can be via organic search, links from gaming blogs, gaming news sites and articles, and social media. It clearly helps if your game is at the top of the rankings for relevant search terms!

As Reigns proves, eye-catching visuals and any accolades your game has picked up are great for ASO.

Perhaps starting your own blog on your game’s website (you do have a website for it, right?) to help boost your search rankings with fresh content as well as documenting the process behind creating your game and helping your potential players feel more connected and involved. There are lots of other things you can and should do on your game or company website in order to maximize its value, and this article from DevDog outlines them well. Note that these things also apply to the individual game landing pages if your company has one website that covers multiple game releases.

How Do You Boost Your Rankings?

There’s a number of ways to improve your app or game’s listing search rankings, including making sure things are properly categorized and tagged, your descriptions are keyword rich and enticing, and that every piece of metadata or element in the app store listings are fully filled out.

What’s more, it’s important to keep testing and adjusting your descriptions and metadata if you aren’t getting the results you desire. What you initially think are the right keywords, descriptions, and even screenshots might not be the right choice in the long run, so that’s why it’s important to keep optimizing even once you’ve released your game into the wild.

Even after you get your game’s listing and website or landing page to an ideal place as far as search engine results rankings, there’s always something to tweak, watch, and optimize. SEO and ASO are things that require constant attention and an ability to keep up with the trends, and that starts with reporting…

Voodoo’s Helix Jump… leapt… up the free games chart on release, thanks to a simple explanation and short clips that easily demonstrated the gameplay

Tracking Your SEO And ASO KPIs

You’ll want to track all these activities along with the rest of your marketing efforts, and the KPIs for SEO are myriad but relatively easy to discern. The rankings are the obvious thing to pay attention too, but there are plenty of other metrics that you should care about as well.

App store ranking, search engine results page ranking, number of views, the corresponding number of downloads, number of positive reviews, number of click-throughs to your game’s website (if applicable) from search, and the corresponding number of downloads or installations that occur via your website. If you keep a close eye on these metrics, then you’ve already got a great head-start on knowing where your SEO and ASO are working, and where they need optimisation.

Tracking the effects of your efforts might be the most important factor of all; the algorithms for the app stores and the search engines are subject to change at all times, so you need to constantly be monitoring and adjusting in order to get the best results.

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SEO And ASO Optimization For Game Developers