App Store SEO: How to Diagnose a Drop in Traffic & Win It BackMobile SEO
For some organizations, mobile apps can be an important means to capturing new leads and customers, so it can be alarming when you notice your app visits are declining.
However, while there is content on how to optimize your app, otherwise known as ASO (App Store Optimization), there is little information out there on the steps required to diagnose a drop in app visits.
Although there are overlaps with traditional search, there are unique factors that play a role in app store visibility.
The aim of this blog is to give you a solid foundation when trying to investigate a drop in app store visits and then we’ll go through some quick fire opportunities to win that traffic back.
We’ll go through the process of investigating why your app traffic declined, including:
- Identifying potential external factors
- Identifying the type of keywords that dropped in visits
- Analyzing app user engagement metrics
And we’ll go through some ways to help you win traffic back including:
- Spying on your competitors
- Optimizing your store listing
- Investing in localisation
Investigating why your app traffic declined
Step 1. Identify potential external factors
Some industries/businesses will have certain periods of the year where traffic may drop due to external factors, such as seasonality.
Before you begin investigating a traffic drop further:
- Talk to your point of contact and ask whether seasonality impacts their business, or whether there are general industry trends at play. For example, aggregator sites like SkyScanner may see a drop in app visits after the busy period at the start of the year.
- Identify whether app installs actually dropped. If they didn’t, then you probably don’t need to worry about a drop in traffic too much and it could be Google’s and Apple’s algorithms better aligning the intent of search terms.
Step 2. Identify the type of keywords that dropped in visits
Like traditional search, identifying the type of keywords (branded and non-branded), as well as the individual keywords that saw the biggest drop in app store visits, will provide much needed context and help shape the direction of your investigation. For instance:
If branded terms saw the biggest drop-off in visits this could suggest:
- There has been a decrease in the amount of advertising spend that builds brand/product awareness
- Competitors are bidding on your branded terms
- The app name/brand has changed and hasn’t been able to mop up all previous branded traffic
If non-branded terms saw the biggest drop off in visits this could suggest:
- You’ve made recent optimisation changes that have had a negative impact
- User engagement signals, such as app crashes, or app reviews have changed for the worse
- Your competition have better optimised their app and/or provide a better user experience (particularly relevant if an app receives a majority of its traffic from a small set of keywords)
- Your app has been hit by an algorithm update
If both branded and non-branded terms saw the biggest drop off in visits this could suggest:
- You’ve violated Google’s policies on promoting your app.
- There are external factors at play
To get data for your Android app
To get data for your Android app, sign into your Google Play Console account.
Google Play Console provides a wealth of data on the performance of your android app, with particularly useful insights on user engagement metrics that influence app store ranking (more on these later).
However, keyword specific data will be limited. Google Play Console will show you the individual keywords that delivered the most downloads for your app, but the majority of keyword visits will likely be unclassified: mid to long-tail keywords that generate downloads, but don’t generate enough downloads to appear as isolated keywords. These keywords will be classified as “other”.
Your chart might look like the below. Repeat the same process for branded terms.
To get data for your IOS app
To get data on the performance of your IOS app, Apple have App Store Connect. Like Google Play Console, you’ll be able to get your hands on user engagement metrics that can influence the ranking of your app.
However, keyword data is even scarcer than Google Play Console. You’ll only be able to see the total number of impressions your app’s icon has received on the App Store. If you’ve seen a drop in visits for both your Android and IOS app, then you could use Google Play Console data as a proxy for keyword performance.
If you use an app rank tracking tool, such as TheTool, you can somewhat plug gaps in knowledge for the keywords that are potentially driving visits to your app.
Step 3. Analyze app user engagement metrics
User engagement metrics that underpin a good user experience have a strong influence on how your app ranks and both Apple and Google are open about this.
Google states that user engagement metrics like app crashes, ANR rates (application not responding) and poor reviews can limit exposure opportunities on Google Play.
While Apple isn't quite as forthcoming as Google when it comes to providing information on engagement metrics, they do state that app ratings and reviews can influence app store visibility.
Ultimately, Apple wants to ensure IOS apps provide a good user experience, so it’s likely they use a range of additional user engagement metrics to rank an app in the App Store.
As part of your investigation, you should look into how the below user engagement metrics may have changed around the time period you saw a drop in visits to your app.
- App rating
- Number of ratings (newer/fresh ratings will be weighted more for Google)
- Number of downloads
- Installs vs uninstalls
- App crashes and application not responding
You’ll be able to get data for the above metrics in Google Play Console and App Store Connect, or you may have access to this data internally.
Even if your analysis doesn’t reveal insights, metrics like app rating influences conversion and where your app ranks in the app pack SERP feature, so it’s well worth investing time in developing a strategy to improve these metrics.
One simple tactic could be to ensure you respond to negative reviews and reviews with questions. In fact, users increase their rating by +0.7 stars on average after receiving a reply.
Apple offers a few tips on asking for ratings and reviews for IOS app.