Top Tips. to improve your mobile app s discoverability and organic search performance

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1 Top Tips to improve your mobile app s discoverability and organic search performance Making sure your mobile app is visible and searchable online is crucial to its success. Good visibility and strong organic search results will drive additional traffic to your app, increase app downloads and ensure that your customers can easily locate your app online. It is not difficult to rank highly in online search but in today s fiercely competitive search environment, companies need to dedicate time to optimise the searchability of their app to ensure it stands out from the crowd. In this document we have highlighted some easy-to-implement SEO and app discoverability tips to help improve your app s ranking in online organic search. We have included some examples from leading airlines to illustrate best practices. 1

2 Contents page 1.0 LANDING PAGE SEARCH OPTIMISATION Create and promote a dedicated landing page for your app Use keywords to improve your app s organic search performance Ensure your app s landing page has a SEO-friendly URL, Page Title and Meta Description Build internal links into your main website to promote your app Content is king create lots and update it regularly 2.0 APP SEARCH OPTIMISATION 09 Ensure your app is indexed with Google 3.0 MOBILE SITE OPTIMISATION Ensure your mobile site is responsive Keep your mobile site simple and easy to navigate Differentiate your mobile site s landing page Optimise Page Titles and Meta Descriptions Glossary of key termss About MTT 2

3 .0 Landing Page Search Optimisation 1.1 Create and promote a dedicated landing page for your app Landing pages allow you to promote your app in ways that Google Play and Apple App Store do not, giving you more control over how your app will appear in search. As the main entry portal for many of your users, landing pages enable you to introduce your app and to inform users what it can do and tell them why they need to download it. Most importantly, landing pages are a crucial way to ensure that your app appears in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP s), helping you reach even more potential users and increase your app downloads. BEST PRACTICE: easyjet Mobile App Landing Page Strong headline that is easy to read and catches the eye. Provide app sneak peeks with screenshots, review, features etc. Relevant content: including keywords and benefit-oriented language. Add links to support pages, relevant blog posts, capture queries etc. Call to action to download. These should be clear and easy to see. Visual clarity with reader-friendly, scannable content that is on brand. 3

4 1.2 Use keywords to improve organic search performance Keywords are the words and phrases in your web content that make it possible for users to find your site via search engines. A landing page that is well optimised for search engines "speaks the same language" as its potential visitor base with embedded keywords for SEO that help connect searchers to your site. Keywords should be used throughout your landing page content to ensure optimum organic SEO performance, for example in key headings, in-page content and image and link anchors. Keyword research Companies should typically start with 3-5 primary keywords, these should include the most obvious keyword search terms that users might use to find your travel app. Once you have selected your primary list of keywords and created the content, it is important to regularly monitor keyword performance and progress. You can do this via Google Analytics. To conduct a more extensive keyword research, tools such as Google AdWords, Keyword Planner or Google Webmaster Tools will give you key statistics around specific keyword performance and predictions. You can also track those keywords that are being used by your competitors using keyword competition tools such as KeywordEye, KeywordSpy or SEMRush. Avoid keyword stuffing Do not stuff your landing page with as many keywords as possible. Search engines can easily detect keyword stuffing and will penalise it. The best approach is to create concise, reader-friendly and helpful content. 4

5 1.3 Ensure your app s landing page has a SEO-friendly URL, Page Title and Meta Description The URL, Page Title and Meta Description are the first items that search engines detect when a web crawler scans a site. It is important that these items are fully optimised to ensure a high search ranking. URL To create an effective URL for your app s landing page that performs well in search, you should consider including the following items in the URL string: URL - Company/brand web address - Language or location codes - Short description relating to your app and brand You should aim to make your landing page s URL as appealing to the reader as possible. BEST PRACTICE : British Airways App Landing Page - URL Keep it short and not too spammy. Use one keyword in URL and make it strong. Page Titles The Page Title is the bold text that is displayed by search engines in their results pages. Page Titles are one of the most effective ways to indicate what the content on a given page is to search engines and users. BEST PRACTICE: British Airways App Landing Page - Page Title Keep it short with no more that 65 characters. Include one highquality keyword. Make it unique, it should be distictly different from other page descriptions. 5

6 Meta Descriptions A Meta Description is a 160 character description used to summarise a web page s content. Search engines sometimes use these descriptions in search results to let visitors know what a page is about before they click on it. An effective Meta Description tag should entice searchers to click through from the SERP to your site, especially if the description includes the keywords they were searching for. BEST PRACTICES: British Airways App Landing Page - Meta Description Keep it simple with characters. Unique: Should be distictly different from other page descriptions. Call to action: Should read like a CTA e.g. written to entice reader. Selective with keywords: Keep target keywords close to beginning and don t go overboard. 6

7 1.4 Build internal links into your main website to promote your app It is important that your app s landing page is clearly visible on your company s main website. Strong internal links will drive increased traffic to your page and will give search engines an indication of your page s topical relevance before it even has a chance to analyse the page, as well as highlight the page s popularity on the Web. Create strong link trees throughout your site to promote your mobile app. BEST PRACTICE: Delta Airlines Website Featured link. Homepage footer include mobile links in the homepage footer for additional exposure. Homepage drop-down menu. Travelling With Us section Point your most popular pages to the mobile app landing page. Avoid link stuffing Too many internal links can be off-putting to the reader. Links should only be placed on relevant pages within a website. 7

8 1.5 Content is king create lots and update it regularly Page Rank forms an important part of the algorithm Google uses. Search engines like Google measure page ranking according to the number of inbound links pointing to a webpage or site. The more online content with inbound links to your app s landing page, the better it will perform in organic search. BEST PRACTICE: Content that airlines have created to promote their apps Press releases Related landing pages Web banners Videos Social media shares Promotional videos YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world after Google and so it cannot be ignored when it comes to SEO. Ensure that your app s YouTube video is SEO-friendly by using the same keywords in the video s file name, headline, description and tags. 8 Avoid inactivity: Search engines are very sensitive to inactive content. It is important to update content regularly to ensure relevant webpages appear in organic search.

9 2.0 App Search Optimisation 2.1 Ensure your app is indexed with Google In 2015, Google announced that it will enable app content to be indexed within Google Search and enable developers to have their apps appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) of Android and ios devices even if the app has not yet been downloaded. This is an important development for App Search Optimisation because it means that users searching on Google can now discover your app and can directly access app content when conducting a relevant search query. For travel-related queries, this means that long-tail search queries relating to destination or a specific booking can be directed to relevant content within your app - significantly improving conversion. Most importantly, App Indexing is now used by Google as a ranking signal for all users on Android and ios, meaning now more than ever it is important to have your app indexed with Google to increase its visibility on search and improve ranking in the Google Play and Apple App store. Drive increased app installs: App Indexing means your app s content will appear in Google Search with install buttons to download app directly from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Boost app engagement: Use deep links to link directly to relevant content within your app via Google Search. This means users can access your native mobile experience quickly and easily. ENSURE YOUR APP IS INDEXED: Visit g.co/appindexing to get started. 9

10 3.0 Mobile Site Optimisation When it comes to your mobile SEO strategy, user experience (UX) is one of the most important factors for success. A good mobile design welcomes mobile visitors and helps them engage with your site. Google and other search engines have been suppressing mobile results that do not provide optimised experiences for mobile devices therefore it is important to get it right. 3.1 Ensure your mobile site is responsive While a segregated mobile site is better than no mobile site at all, Google has specified that it prefers websites that adapt, or respond to multiple devices. Google have made it clear that they prefer responsive design over all other mobile web configurations this will have an impact on organic SEO performance. 3.2 Keep your mobile site simple and easy to navigate When it comes to mobile search, less is more. Make every word count with valuable content that is optimised with the mobile perspective in mind. BEST PRACTICE: Lufthansa Mobile Site Easy to access with clear and functional navigation options. Optimise mobile site images for faster page-loading times. Large enough to read in a font that is legible on a small screen. Avoid overlays and popups: Google will penalise sites for this. 10

11 3.3 Differentiate your mobile site s landing page: Mobile landing pages should be different from your desktop or app landing pages. BEST PRACTICE: British Airways Mobile Site Strong call to actions should appear at top of the page. Minimalistic design is best. Text should be short and to-the point. This helps improve search performance (voice and text). 3.4 Ensure that your mobile site pages redirect appropriately in search BEST PRACTICE: British Airways Mobile Site SERPs Search engines can detect if the mobile-friendly versions of your webpages have not been correctly adapted. Duplications of desktop content will be penalised. Content that is not correctly adapted to mobile could negatively impact your brand s search rankings. Make sure search engines mobile content crawlers are directed (via setting the user agent) to the same mobile version that users are sent. Doing so avoids penalties, such as cloaking. Visit the Google Developers site for more information. 3.5 Optimise Page Titles and Meta Descriptions Remember that you are working with less screen space when a user searches using a mobile device. To show off your best work in SERPS, be as concise as possible (without sacrificing the quality of the information) when creating Page Titles, URLs, and Meta Descriptions. TOP TIP: Run your important pages through Google's free Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if they pass. 11

12 Glossary of key Terms Deep Links: In the context of mobile apps, deep linking consists of using a URL to link to specific content within an app. Google Analytics: a free online analytics dashboard where you can monitor your organic traffic and keyword performance. Once Google Analytics is set up for your landing page, you can click in the organic search traffic section to see the keywords people searched for when they arrived at your page. Google AdWords Keyword Planner: a free tool to help you research your landing page s keywords. You can search for a keyword, get historical statistics and view how keywords might perform. Google Webmaster Tools: a free tool that gives you data and tips to help you understand and improve your search traffic. KeywordSpy: tracks all search advertising activity in any given industry, giving access to marketing analytics, SEO intelligence, competitors keywords and their ad copies, plus other information. Long-tail Search Queries: are longer and more specific keyword phrases that users are more likely to use when they re closer to a point-of-purchase. E.g. Flights to Paris or Hotels in downtown L.A.. In recent times Google has placed more importance on long-tail search queries within its algorithm. Mobile Crawler: Google also has a version of their crawler for mobile too, it s called Googlebot Mobile. Mobile-Friendly Test: this test provided by Google will analyse a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design, therefore performing better in Search. Page Rank: is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to help determine the relative importance of a website. Every website is given a Google PageRank score between 0 and 10 on an exponential scale. SEMRush: a paid competitive keyword research tool that allows you to enter a domain URL and view the top-ten ranking keywords for that website, showing its position in search results, traffic percentage and other useful information. Search Engine Results Page: is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query. SpyFu: a paid tool that lets you know which keywords your competitors are targeting, both in organic search and in AdWords. Web Crawler: (also known as Web Spider or Web Robot) is an internet bot which systematically browses the World Wide Web, typically for the purpose of Web indexing. Web crawlers can copy page content for later processing by a search engine which indexes the downloaded pages so the users can search more efficiently. Google s version of a Web Crawler is called a Googlebot. 12

13 About MTT Mobile Travel Technologies Ltd. (MTT) is the leading mobile app and mobile technology provider for airlines and travel companies with an extensive customer base across the global travel industry. MTT s Mobile Travel Platform and comprehensive mobile travel product set enables airlines and travel companies to deliver sophisticated mobile services to increasingly mobile centric customers who want to manage entire trips via mobile, from travel research and booking to planning and preparation, to in airport, in-flight and at destination services. Voted Best Technology Provider at the 2014 Travolution Awards, MTT provides unrivalled travel industry experience, world-class mobile development, creative design and UX expertise. As a pioneer in mobile travel having first launched mobile bookings for airlines in 2006, MTT has remained a first mover in this space and its airline and other travel apps are now used by millions of travellers worldwide every day. MTT clients include Singapore Airlines, easyjet, LATAM Airlines Group, Saudia, Flybe, BCD Travel and transavia.com of the Air France KLM Group. For all enquiries, please contact: Tel: Website: 13

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