I wrote recently about the concept of location becoming more important than standard SEO in terms of mobile search, but with the proliferation of mobile apps becoming a de-facto branding method for many advertisers entering the mobile channel, optimization is taking on an entirely different role.
A great article published by Patricia Brusha on HospitalityNet discusses mobile apps and their growing popularity among marketers, and posses the simple question “could apps be the new search?” She describes the current state of mobile apps and likens it to a time 10 years ago when Websites were gaining popularity. At that time, consumers would ask a business “do you have a website?” and usually be quite impressed when the business would say yes. Today, not having a website means you’re really not a business, and the same concept will soon evolve with mobile apps as well.
In terms of optimization, a paradigm shift is beginning to happen in the mobile space whereby marketers are putting less importance on search keywords in hopes of driving consumer awareness of their Website, and instead are having to optimize different forms of media in entirely new ways. Mobile apps are a perfect example. Users usually discover mobile apps in app stores or other centralized repositories — not in search engines — and as such, those behind the mobile apps have to optimize their apps to be in a position where they’re noticed.
In Apple’s App Store, for example, a brand distributing their app has the opportunity to place 7-8 keywords as tags on their app. This alone has to suffice in making your app known to consumers searching for those specific keywords. With there still only being a limited number of apps available — around 140,000 at last count — basic tag-based optimization can be successful, but as the market is flooded with hundreds of thousands and even millions of apps, optimization methods will have to emerge much like it did with search.
What types of optimization methods are still yet to be known, but as app distribution evolves and the ecosystem surrounding the industry begins to take shape, we’ll undoubtedly be confronted with the new concept of MAO (Mobile App Optimization) rather than SEO.