Apple’s iOS 6 means big changes for iTunes, and developers have to adapt.
There are optimizations for the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 that users will expect. But there are changes in the new App Store that developers need to be aware of as well.
Some of these changes you can see right away when navigating the redesigned App Store. Others take a little more digging and the rest are really only known by Apple but will affect your game or app, too.
The Redesigned App Store
One of the nice things about the redesign is that users now pretty much get the same experience no matter which device they use. And that experience brings several new things.
Search results are now displayed “Cards-style.” No more lists showing 25 results for a search. Results are now displayed showing “cards” for each app. After a search, users see one result on iPhone and six on the iPad. On the iPhone, users have to swipe to see each additional result.
If you’re ranking between #11 and #100 under a keyword (or a combination of keywords), your organic downloads are most likely to be affected. That’s why you might want to choose keywords for which your app appears in the top 10 results. Also, make sure your first screenshot really shows what your app is all about.
Categories are now hidden. Search was already estimated to account for 63% of app discovery, according to Nielsen. With this change we can expect users to do more search and less browsing.
Apple bets on Genius for app discovery. Categories have been replaced by Genius, and that shows Apple trusts its algorithm to help with app discovery.
The Redesigned App Details Page
Several things have changed in the way a specific app is displayed, which are impacting App Store Optimization.
Screenshots are more important as they are now displayed above the description. Make sure they are relevant and put them in an order that allows users to understand how your app or game works. Once again, text can help understand game play and features. You have to use them as advertising.
As only the first lines of your description now appear on iPhone and iPad, you have to get them right. And don’t overlook the “What’s New” section, as Apple has made it almost as important as your description. Show that your app is getting better and being updated.
Reviews have now their own tab, which is great news. An “App Support” button appears next to the “Write a Review” one, so make sure you’ve specified a support address in iTunes and that it leads to a page where users can get help or contact you. Facebook integration in iOS 6 also means that users can “Like” your app. It might not be as important as reviews, but you can reach out to your community so you get as many likes as possible (who knows, Apple might use that in its ranking/search algorithm soon).
The Modified Search Algorithm
What people call the “Chomp” update started back in June, and we can expect it to keep changing the way search works. App Store Optimization experts like Appcod.es, SearchMan or MobileDevHQ have noticed several changes.
As plural form is now handled better, you can use single form to save some precious characters in your keywords. Also, don’t waste keywords on words like “game,” “center” or “free” (or even your category name). Apple adds them automatically. Finally, the time when your in-app purchase names served as keywords seems to be over.
According to SearchMan, another potential game changer is the fact that Apple might start taking into account external reviews of your game or app (as Chomp as been reported to do). In that scenario, a review would be an additional signal for Apple that your app is relevant.
These are the main changes and impacts on developers and App Store Optimization that have been observed so far. There are some things you can act on now, and some that are outside of your control. This new App Store and its search algorithm are kind of a big deal, and we can expect more changes to come so make sure you stay ahead of the curve to keep your app or game in the race.