Whichever side you’re on, there are a number of reasons why developers are feeling the effects. In the new iOS App Store, the user interface encourages a slower search method (flipping through cards, not scrolling through vertical lists). Less attention is given to new releases and category-based “Genius” recommendations are given a higher billing. What’s more, App Store SEO (ASO) is basically a black box that no one seems to understand.
It’s difficult to parse the legitimate gripes about user interface and its subsequent impact on the long tail app developer community, but from the complaints arising from second-rate developers we know that less popular apps have lost ground and visibility. But there are still some things which developers should be aware of, whether or not they agree the changes.
1) The Shift To Horizontal Scrolling And Cards
The most noticeable, and also most critical, change is the way users are meant to navigate through search results. Before, apps would be presented in a list view, with five items visible per page, and the ability to quickly scroll down through the first 25 results for that search before having to tap to load more.
2) Using Descriptions & What’s New To Attract Users
For users who tap to view more info about an app, the first bit of text they’ll see which describes what the app actually does is right below the screenshot. That means developers have but a few of lines to really hone their pitch and capture user’s interest. Think Twitter pitch, not blog post.
3) Stuffing Keywords Into Titles Won’t Help Users
Another big change for developers is how apps’ names are now being truncated thanks to the new layout. While having keywords in a title may help with app search engine visibility (to what extent, only Apple knows), the practice no longer helps individual users figure out what your app does. That’s because with the new cards interface, longer app titles are cut off, leaving only the “…” where normally more of the title would display.
4) Exposure Via New Releases Section
Another change involves the list of New Releases, something many indie and new developers once relied on for exposure, especially if they didn’t end up making the top rankings and other featured lists within the store. Previously, when browsing by category, you would see Paid, Free and New Releases lists side by side. Now, when you’re in the “Charts” section, you’ll see Paid, Free, and Top Grossing instead. Meanwhile, the “new” apps are listed over in the “Featured” section, under their respective category. Here, you’ll find the Paid and Free Charts, as well as the “What’s Hot” list and a section called “New.”
5) Use App Store SEO!
As all the above sections have indicated, App Store SEO (ASO) will be increasingly important to take advantage of in order to get apps found.
Developers who have only paid a bit of attention to the techniques involved with app store SEO would do themselves a favor by learning the documented tips and tricks that are out there, and experimenting to see which work best for them. Some resources for this include Appcod.es, SearchMan, MobileDevHQ, and this handy App Store SEO cheat sheet (PDF) from Apptamin.