Snapchat is one of the top apps for taking and sharing photos, known for its many filters and effects. Yet for all its success, is it optimized for the App Stores, or could it do better with a proper ASO strategy? For this week’s App Store Spotlight, we look at Snapchat and all the things it does right or wrong.
Snapchat’s creatives on iOS are eye-catching and effective. The screenshots show off the various features, including the popular dog-ears filter, maps and stories. Each one is accompanied by callout text explaining the features and their benefits. Yet they only use four screenshots. The Apple App Store allows up to ten screenshots and each one is an opportunity to show off more features and benefits of the app. With only four screenshots, Snapchat is essentially saying there’s no more than four things worth using. As for Snapchat’s description, what it has can barely be classified as one at all. It is simply one line stating “Life’s more fun when you live in the moment” and a smiley. It doesn’t utilize any keywords, nor does it talk about the app’s features. The callout text on the four screenshots it has include more information about what the app does than the actual description. Looking at Snapchat’s search rankings, it’s clear that most of its highest-ranked searches come from “Snapchat” and variations thereof. It’s the top ranked app in searches for “chatsnap,” “snap,” “snap inc” and “snap photos,” but its ranking beings to drop once we stop looking at “snap” terms. If someone were to search for “photo app,” Snapchat ranks at #103. For “picture video,” another high-volume search term, it’s the 105th ranked app. It’s the 78th app for “Message pics,” which is very relevant to its functions. Considering that Snapchat is a photo app that lets users message pictures to each other, these are terms that it could target and rank much more highly for. Suffice to say, Snapchat’s ASO needs improvement on the Apple App Store. It’s not much better on Google Play either.
Snapchat on Google Play is nearly identical to the Apple App Store, with one significant difference: it has a video on Google Play. The video uses cheery music and shows people having fun taking pictures and applying filters on Snapchat, demonstrating the appeal of the app. It’s short, running at only 22 seconds, so it doesn’t bore viewers and gets right to the point. This is the sort of video that the Google Play Store allows but could not be used on the Apple App Store. Apple’s videos are required to only show the app and its features, so Snapchat wouldn’t be able to show groups of smiling people using the app there. While it could make a video showing pictures on the app, it would be far less effective than the Google Play video, and a poor video can hurt conversion rates as much as a good video can help them. That, however, is the only difference. The other creatives are the same four screenshots and the description is exactly the same. The poor description hurts Snapchat on Google Play even more than it does on the Apple App Store. Google crawls the description to determine keywords, so using a short description consisting of no keywords at all is a missed opportunity for the app’s rankings. As a result, we see Snapchat’s better search rankings appear primarily in search terms directly related to its title. “Chatsnap,” “safe snapchat” and “free snap chat” are all terms it ranks highly for. Yet it even falls to the #2 spot for terms like “snapchat send” or “snapchat face.” For “photo” terms, Snapchat ranks poorly as well. It’s the 155th ranked app for “photo caption,” and even comes in sixth for “snap photo.” It’s the 14th ranked app for “picture,” and 108th for “send pictures.” These are all terms it could rank highly for if it integrated the keywords into its description.
Although Snapchat remains a very popular app, its ASO is lacking in every regard. While its creatives are good on both App Stores, it has far too few of them, and its description is beyond sparse. To be fair to Snapchat, it did remarkably well to find a niche within the photo messenger app market and went viral as a result. It continues to add new features and filters that maintain a dedicated userbase, while growing to the point of becoming a household name. Yet the vast majority of its search rankings come from people searching for “Snapchat.” It is an app that survives of its brand and name recognition. Its poor ASO makes it rank poorly for many other relevant terms, but if it set a solid strategy it could improve its rankings for all of them. App Store Optimization helps apps get discovered organically through searches for relevant terms. While Snapchat is an app that hit the one-in-a-million chance to go viral, imagine how better its success could be with ASO.