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Viber case study: where big publishers miss free downloads

NOTE: Viber released an update shortly before I published this analysis, where they utilize several strategies mentioned below already (new keywords in the US title and subtitle).

According to Statista, consumers downloaded a total of 149 billion mobile apps in 2016. Apple claims that 65% of downloads are the direct result of searches on the App Store - that’s an incredible 96 billion downloads with an average of 263 million daily installs just from search!

These numbers show the huge number of downloads, but they also tell another story. Looking at these numbers it’s obvious that even very large publishers might benefit from App Store Optimization.

Projection of app downloads in billions by Statista

After using Apple Search Ads, managers quickly discovered that not every download is a result of a brand search. In order to stand out on the App Store and take a chunk of the massive number of organic downloads, they need to optimize their store presence.

However, most big companies still aren’t doing ASO properly. To help explain what I mean, I’ve decided to use the popular app Viber* to show the most common opportunities for optimizations improvement.

*Disclosure: Viber is not client of mine, and my recommendations here are based on publicly available data only.

1) Title & Subtitle

a) title

We know that Apple puts the biggest weight on the keywords used in the title and subtitle. As a result, every app should use these keywords wisely, optimizing them for maximum impact. Utilizing this strategy immediately can help achieve good rankings and more organic downloads, which can lead to more revenue.

Here is how Viber currently appears on the App Store:

First, let’s take a closer look at the title. The title allows us to use up to 30 characters, but if we look at Viber’s app it has only 15 characters.

I understand the branding and that the brand name has to be visible but it doesn’t mean that Viber couldn’t benefit from using more keywords in the title.

Viber ranks on the keywords “Viber Messenger” and “Viber” as #1. They have done a good job and have put the right keyword combinations there in terms of traffic score.

However, there is unused space that could be used to add more keywords. If we take a look at a combination of words “phone” and “calls” we get this.

I see an opportunity for Viber to try these keywords for the title. Keyword “phone calls” has a big traffic score (44), but as you can see, the Viber app doesn’t rank on this keyword at all. There could be various reasons for this, for example they didn’t use the word “calls” (Apple takes automatically singular and plural too, but sometimes it doesn’t have to be like this), Apple’s algorithm simply didn’t rank them for this keyword etc.

If you take a look at the second keyword “phone call” they rank #17, which isn’t very impressive either. However, we can try to improve it by updating the title.

Viber Messenger, Phone Calls

The reason for using these keywords is because they don’t rank for “phone calls” at all, and as I mentioned earlier Apple puts more weight on the keywords in the title. By using this strategy we can kick this keyword up again, and Viber can start to fight for a good ranking on this keyword.

Also, Apple’s algorithm automatically takes the plural and singular too (in most cases) and by utilizing this strategy we can also increase ranking for the keyword “phone call”. So we get double the benefit, targeting two good keywords by using only one.

b) Subtitle

The title and subtitle of every app should describe what it does. However, there should always be a balance between this and the search terms people are using.

This is Viber’s current subtitle:

I’m unable to access the exact search terms that Viber is targeting, but from my research, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for using such a keyword combination in the subtitle.

Let’s start with the keyword “connect”. I have tried to find possible combinations with all the keywords that include the word “connect” where Viber can rank.

In the image above we need to look at the Volume (traffic) Score. Number 5 means a traffic score of 0. That means that nobody is searching for this term.

If we look at this example there are a lot of those kinds of keywords where Viber ranks high, but traffic is nonexistent. Basically, Viber’s prominent ranking means nothing because those keywords don’t generate any downloads.

Viber is currently #6 for the keyword “connect”. We need to ask whether it is relevant and useful to this app and if it’s worth keeping it in the subtitle. The word ‘connect’ is potentially confusing, as users may be searching for ‘connect dot’ games like Dots, which fill up search results.

Also, when it comes to more specific apps like Viber, users usually search by using more specific terms rather than “connect”. It’s too generic and doesn’t represent any specific need.

The same thing happens when we look at the traffic score and rankings for the keywords “family” and “friends”.

It should be clear that it’s really important to create a title and subtitle that truly represents your brand and explains what app does, but still, include the keywords people are searching for.

2) Screenshots

New iOS11 gives you a great opportunity to showcase the features of your app in the search results, because now you are able to show three screenshots instead of two.

You get one additional screen, but the payoff is that the individual screenshots are now much smaller. That means that the size of text in each screenshot is smaller, and can be more difficult to read. You could potentially lose users because you only have a few seconds to catch their attention and not everyone uses a magnifier. To see what I mean, just look at those super tiny subtitles…!

Here you can compare Viber’s screenshots with YouTube’s to see the difference:

3) Spanish (Mexico) localization

Viber could double or even triple US keywords by using a very simple strategy. This trick has helped many developers and companies to achieve rankings for many relevant keywords with high traffic score.

Apple indexes Spanish (Mexico) keywords for the US App Store. If we put English keywords into the Spanish (Mexico) title, subtitle and keyword field we will rank for them on US App Store.

Instead of targeting 20 keywords in the US localization, by using this trick you can now target 40-60 keywords.

4) Secret sauce

With over 3 million apps on the App Store already it is becoming harder and harder to stand out from the crowd and be visible in a specific category.

Number of apps accroding to

Thanks to testing we have done on our apps we are pretty confident that we can help our clients to stand out from that crowd by using some effective techniques, and industry insights, that can help them rapidly increase rankings for the best keywords.

Here is an example of the ranking improvements we have managed for a client:

We were able to achieve a #2 ranking - up from #10 - for “flight tickets”, one of the most competitive keywords in the travel category.

Here’s another example for the keyword “airline tickets”:

I hope that you have found this article interesting and that it explains clearly why every app should use App Store optimization to improve traffic and increase revenue.

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