The Adoption of Windows 8 and App Optimization

The newest operating system update by Microsoft comes in the form of Windows 8. With the world turning to more touch-based technology, Windows 8 is Microsoft’s largest attempt to lead the marketplace.

Windows 8 allows users to not only have an updated version of their classic operating system on their computer, but also helps customize apps whether for tasks or for entertainment across all devices.

This is made possible with Microsoft’s new Windows Store, utilizing apps for download much like iTunes and the Android Market. It makes sense that Microsoft would want to tap into the app marketplace, considering its main competitors are already generating revenue in the space, and Windows 8 is the company’s largest attempt at doing so to date. However, it won’t come without its challenges.

Windows 8 debuted on Oct. 26, 2012,with mixed reviews. Some praise its innovation and updated technology, while others are left confused and wondering where their traditional Start Menu went. Additionally, Windows 8 hasn’t had an easy journey compared to its Windows 7 predecessor.

About a month before Windows 8 launched, consumer previews of the new operating system were lagging compared to previews that had been downloaded from Vista to the Windows 7 platform. Consumers seemed much more eager to make the switch to Windows 7 with about 1.64% running the new software. Jump ahead to the Windows 8 preview and only about 0.33% wanted to try the update.

Compare this to the iTunes iOS 6 launch in September 2012 that produced a surge in adoption rates of about 60% and Android’s release of Jelly Bean 4.1 that grew about 1.47% in August 2012. It’s clear that consumers are more hesitant to switch from their classic Windows design to a completely different software aesthetic on non-mobile devices.

Possibly even more challenging are the hurdles that Microsoft will have to overcome to catch up with rivals in the same space. iTunes and the Android Market are already well-established entities that consumers trust and use, providing hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from and adding thousands more each day. Currently iTunes provides about 700,000 apps for its iOS users and the Android Market provides around 550,000 apps with close to 20,000 more added daily.

At the time of the Windows 8 launch only about 8,000 apps were available with a rate of about 500 new additions daily. Microsoft definitely has some catching up to do but more importantly the bigger challenge for Windows 8 will most likely be quality, not quantity.

At this crucial introductory stage of Windows 8 adoption, well-known apps will need to be a top priority, helping to bring users in to the new marketplace and engage them to stay. Microsoft needs to ensure that the apps within the Windows Store are high quality, easy to use, and provide a great user experience. Also important is to ensure development is made with seamless synching across all Microsoft and Windows devices to help encourage consumers to continue to use their products and services.

There is no doubt that Windows 8 will take some time to grow familiar with consumers and lure businesses into investing in making the switch from Windows 7. In a recent interview about the adoption of Windows 8, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer said Windows 8 represents a generational shift and will take some time for customers to understand and adapt. While it may take some time for it to ramp up, Windows 8 and the new Windows Store have the potential to become the next big entity in app technology.

Actionable Insights

What does this mean for SEO?
It means there is now another contender in the app optimization space, bringing it even more to the forefront of today’s online marketing world. This is supported by Google’s recent layout updates that added application search functionality. It is now more critical than ever to ensure proper optimization of best practices for today’s app-based technologies.

At Covario, we’re recommending the following best practices be implemented within the app marketplace in tandem with website pages and conventional search engine result pages.

App Marketplace Optimization

  1. Create an application title that displays the brand and the app’s function by using targeted keywords. Since the search engine bots cannot view the information within the image or video files (without structured mark-up or transcripts in place), it’s important to include text around these files that define and directly communicate the context of the app for the bots to see.
  2. Choose a category that best matches the app’s purpose. Also, consider categories that have a smaller amount of apps within them as this would be less competition, meaning there is a better chance for a well optimized app to rank highly.
  3. Much like a Web page description, the app description tells the consumer and the bots the app’s primary functions. Create a description for the app that engages the target audience and utilizes keywords for the bots to interpret.

App SERP Optimization

  1. Link to the app download page within the app marketplace from your company’s website. Consider building landing pages or an app hub with multiple pages for your company’s apps to ensure that these important links don’t get buried within the site.
  2. Include the brand name within the anchor text of the app download link. This helps show the search bots exactly which company brand owns the app. Who knows? There might be rel=author-like opportunities for apps in the near future.
  3. Provide QR scan codes on the company’s website that direct the consumer straight to the app’s download page. Ensure that the QR code is setup for the right device to be scanned.
  4. If a mobile site exists, ensure that the Smartphone Googlebot is crawling the app link pages within the mobile site.

Summary
Whether the Windows Store becomes an instant hit or takes some time to gather momentum it’s important to note that app optimization isn’t going away anytime soon. If anything it’s going to become more prominent and crucial to think about. Moving into a modern technological world of SEO and app optimization, it is key to utilize best practices that will ensure your company’s success both within the app marketplace and within the traditional search engine listings.

Resources:
Should publishers build Windows 8 apps yet?
http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/10984-should-publishers-build-windows-8-apps-yet?

Early Windows 8 adoption lags behind Windows 7’s rates http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/early-windows-8-adoption-lags-behind-windows-7s-rates-6239747

The Windows 8 App Store Is Growing By 500 Apps A Day http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/The-Windows-8-App-Store-Is-Growing-By-500-Apps-A-3988252.php

Microsoft: Windows 8 adoption will take a while
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/112912-microsoft-windows8-adoption-264624.html

SEO for Mobile Apps and App Stores
http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/3411-SEO-for-Mobile-Apps-and-App-Stores

5 SEO Tips To Get Mobile Apps Ranked In SERPs
http://searchengineland.com/5-seo-tips-to-get-mobile-apps-ranked-in-serps-104595