The App Store: A Game of Hide and Seek

app store“Four score and seven years ago…” well, actually it was only about 6 years ago, in 2007 when the first iPhone was released and the modern sense of the smartphone became the new “thing” that everybody wanted.

These modern smart phones allow people to download and use apps that range anywhere from entertainment, to finances, to research. With the Apple App Store having almost 750,000 active mobile apps for download and the Android Market now has almost 500,000 active mobile apps for download, it can be very difficult for a new app on the market to be seen. So what’s the point?

The answer is simple. Just look at the Internet in general. There are billions of websites that can be found. Do a quick search on Google for “Internet”, my search returned 5,710,000,000 results. Somehow, though, certain companies have managed to get their one website to show up at least in the top 10, some are fortunate enough to be in the top 5 without paying to put an add at the top of the page. Fortunately, app stores work the same way. There may be hundreds of thousands available, but developers and marketers are able to give that app more visibility in many of the same ways that they could for a website.

Search Optimization

When submitting an app to the store, the developer needs to tell the store which categories it would go under. On top of that developers and marketers are able to assign keywords to the app. These keywords need to be based on what people may search in order to find your app. See, I told you it was a lot like making a website more visible! In that sense, it is the exact same as a website, no new skills needed. Proper keywords will help your app gain visibility and make the game of “hide and seek” in the app store much more tolerable for people searching the store.

The Apple App Store

That is no the the only way to gain visibility though. iTunes has a variety of categories your app has a chance to show up in as well. There is a chance that your app will show up on the “New and Noteworthy” category, which is up to Apple’s discretion, and will feature your app at the top of the app page on mobile devices and in iTunes on a desktop/laptop environment. A chance like this turns the game of “hide and seek” into “I’m standing right here out in the open now please come and download me”. Another category that is frequented by many users is the “What’s Hot” category, also on the front page when opening any version of the app store, which is based on the rating and number of downloads by users. So as your app gains visibility, it will continue to grow with the help of this category.

The Android Market

But wait, that was just Apple. What does it look like on the Android Market? When opening the Android Market, there are a few featured apps that will be showing, still not the best for app visibility, but wait, there’s more. With a simple swipe either left or right on the screen the “top” charts will be available for users without having to do any sort of search. Two of the categories are “Top New Paid Apps” and “Top New Free Apps”. Both of these work similar to a combination between the two Apple categories and give your app yet another chance to be seen in the Market.

Social Media

Let’s not forget about the social media power-houses either. Create a Facebook page and a Twitter account for the app to post information, get user feed back, and build a community of users. This may be a bit of work to get started, but as more people start liking and following these pages, your page will show up in the feeds of anyone associated with someone connected to one of your pages. Once these pages really get moving you will no longer have to worry about getting the word out, the community of followers and people who like and use your app will end up doing all of the marketing for you.

Launching an app can still seem like a very daunting task. Optimizing keywords, selecting the right categories, proper development techniques, and utilizing social media as much as possible will remove many of the obstacles that will make it difficult for users to find your app. It will take a little bit longer before the app can be released, but it will be well worth it in the end when you have a large following of users looking to use your mobile app. Stop playing “hide and seek” and start playing “here I am, come and get me”.

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