time is money

The holidays are upon us. For small businesses, that means the annual stress of going head-to-head with big-name competitors who always put the pocket dough before the pie dough, rolling out Black Friday deals on Tuesday (or worse). It’s rough to keep up, especially when all the price-cuts and overworked employees undermine the meaning of the holidays for you. Regardless, it is important to get your foot in the door with new customers during this time, and the best way to do that is through their phones.

Apps are great… if people download them. But for business owners that don’t know the intricacies of app store optimization, downloads aren’t a given. The Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store have over 1.5 million apps each, which means yours is just a blip in a sea of craftily keyworded results. We’ve all experienced poor optimization on the user side—your search becomes an endless scroll through the similarly named and the seemingly random just to find the right app. But this doesn’t have to happen to your customers! Combine these pro tips to bring your app higher up that list and save everyone the finger cramps from swiping.

1. Less is more. The character limit for app names is liberal. You have plenty of space to tack on frivolous words. Don’t. App names will end up with ellipses cutting them off in list results, rendering those extra words pretty useless to the user (and you). Succinct app names that get the point across and are easily identifiable are your best bet. In that same vein, keywords should be used wisely; avoid repeating your app’s name or playing with variations of the same term (e.g. Italian, Italian food, Italian restaurant). Instead, pick a few highly relevant keywords and don’t repeat yourself.

2. Add some flair. Creativity is a bonus when it comes to the name as well. The more unique you are with your words, the more likely the app is to turn up in unique searches, which yield less results and therefore better odds of discovery. This is a plus for the customers who are looking for your app specifically and for users who just happen upon it while browsing.

3. Don’t forget to market. Discoverability is still a numbers game in the end. The more downloads, the higher your app rises in search results. That also means the less downloads, the tougher it is to find your app. Kind of a bummer for the little guy, right? But there’s plenty you can do about it. Start with providing a direct route to your app for customers. Send them the URL to the app listing or, even better, generate a QR code for that URL so they can scan it from their phones and be routed straight to the download page. The simpler you make the download process, the higher your user count will rise—and with it, the higher your listing.

If you’ve just released an app or it’s been on the market for a while without much play, put these tips to use. Gradual improvements to your optimization mean more potential customers coming through your digital door—and ideally through your real one sooner. That’s something to be grateful for!