As you now know that most users find apps by searching the app stores, you probably realised that App Store Optimization is a must if you want to get your app in front of the right users. In fact, many people argue that optimizing your app is the most effective marketing strategy for mobile apps and games. Here is how you can benefit from App Store Optimization:
- Improve your Visibility & Stand out within the App Stores
- No matter how good your app or game is, if it cannot be found in the stores it is no good. So, don’t let your hard work go unseen, start optimizing!
- Always get discovered by Relevant Users
- It is not enough that your app is found, it has to be found by the right users – users that are actually on a hunt for an app like yours. This is what ASO helps you with as well.
- Increase your Organic Downloads
- A good ASO strategy is a great way to boost your organic installs and ensures long-term results. With regular monitoring and tweaking, you make sure your efforts are successful.
- Cut User Acquisition Costs
- Instead of spending money on ads, you can lower your user acquisition costs by focusing on organic growth with ASO. This not only saves you money but also ensures steady growth.
- Increase your Revenue and Conversion Rate
- Ads, in-app purchases and similar ways to monetize an app are just part of a medal. If users come to your page through ads and don’t download it, you lost them. That is why ASO is a must.
- Grow Your User Base Worldwide
- By making your app available in other languages you can find users from all over the world. ASO can help you take your app global.
Apple App Store & Google Play Store Ranking Factors
Google Play and the Apple App Store use sophisticated algorithms to sort search results. Even though the exact information is not available, it is possible to deduce factors influencing the app store rankings.
App Store Ranking Factors
Here are the Apple App Store Ranking Factors:
- App Name
- App URL
- App Subtitle
- Keyword field
- In-App Purchase
- Rating and Reviews
- Downloads and Engagement
- Some Hidden factors
While here are the Google Play Store Ranking Factors:
- App Name
- App Description
- In-App Purchase
- Rating and Reviews
- Downloads and Engagement
- Some Hidden factors
How is App Store Optimization done?
Now that you know where you want to publish your app it’s time to get down to business. To start improving your mobile growth with ASO, simply follow these steps:
1. First things first: Establish a Clear ASO strategy
Do your research and get to know your market. It is crucial to understand your customers so that you can use these insights when preparing your app information. What keywords are they using when searching for apps that are similar to yours? Which language are they speaking? Once you have this information you can move on to the next step.
2. Pick the Right Name for your App
The name of your app (aka App Title) is what every user sees first. That is why it is important to choose your app name wisely. Make sure that your App Title is relevant to your app, easy to read and unique. If the title is appealing, people will remember it, which in turn is giving your app a higher recognition value. When picking the right name, don’t forget to consider the character count.
It’s also important to use only URL-friendly characters in your title, particularly in the App Store, as iOS uses the app name to create your app URL. Also, avoid any special characters in your app name, like the trademark or copyright symbol. They will cause iTunes to refer to your app’s numeric ID to scan for relevant app store keywords instead of your app name.
Currently, you have 50 characters available in the Google Play Store and 30 characters in the Apple App Store.
Checklist for your app title:
- relevant to your app
- easy to read
- 50 characters long on Google Play
- 30 characters long the Apple App Store
3. Know how to do Keyword Research for your Mobile App
App Store Keyword Optimization Strategy
For a new app, choose the app store keywords with low difficulty and reasonable popularity. They help your app gain the initial momentum. After gaining the initial momentum, start using app store keywords with higher popularity and reasonable difficulty. They help your app stack up more downloads. Work your way up gradually as your app gets more popular.
The goal here is to establish a keyword set for which you want to be found within the app stores.
When doing your keyword research consider the following questions:
- What are the main features of your app or game?
- What are the synonyms describing the features?
- What are similar apps called?
- What is your app’s category?
- Which terms do people commonly use in this category?
Searching for the right keywords is an ongoing process, so don’t overthink your keyword set yet. There are many App Store Optimization Tools that can help you with that. App Radar is one of the most comprehensive ones on the market. It provides a neat interface where you can track your keywords, evaluate them and get customized tips to improve your ranking.
4. Write your App Description
The App Description is another essential part of your app’s metadata. It provides users with information on what your app is about and gives an overview of its main features.
The App Description is not only relevant for the users, but also for the app store algorithm.
Especially for the Google Play store, this is the place where Google finds the keywords to index your app. This does not mean you can just put all your keywords into the description and wait for the magic to happen. Try to incorporate your keywords into sentences naturally. This way your description is attractive for the readers and relevant for the algorithm.
The Description in the Apple App Store is less relevant in terms of keywords since you can specify them in an extra field. However, it is still a great way to convince potential users to download your app.
Ideally, your description is informative, easy to understand and clearly structured. You can get creative and use bullet points as well as emojis. Just remember that the description is limited to 4000 characters in both stores
Also, Play Store allows rich formatting (HTML) and emoji in your app description. As in the regular web page SEO, you can use <h1>, <h2>, and <h3> header tags as well as <b>, <i>, and <u> style tags to emphasize the most important keywords to Google.
That said, it’s important to incorporate keywords into the description in natural and sensible sentences. Use bulleted lists and paragraphs to make it easy-to-read.
Here is a checklist for your app description:
- easy to understand
- clearly structured (bullet points, emojis)
- includes keywords (especially with Google Play)
- up to 4000 characters long
5. Get the right App Icon by A/B testing
Now that you know the basics of how to write to make your app visible, it’s time to look at the other side of the medal: the visuals.
Your app icon is what catches a lot of attention and can be one of the main reasons people click on a search result. It is therefore deemed as another crucial element of app store optimization.
When designing your app icon, think about what your app is about and how you can convey that visually. If your app or game is playful, your icon should reflect that.
Remember that less is more, so avoid too many elements or text in the icon.
A great way to test what really works for your target audience is A/B testing. The idea behind it is to create more icon variations and find out which one got the most clicks. For instance, it might be interesting to test which colors or characters your users prefer. Once you have this information, you can adapt your icon accordingly.
Checklist for App A/B testing
- Analysis & Brainstorming
- Creating Variations
- Running the Experiment
- Evaluating Results
- Implementing Changes
- Starting Follow-up Experiments
6. Prepare App Screenshots & Videos
There is more to visual communication than just the app icon. Once you get the users to your app page, you have to convince them to download it. Although Screenshots and Videos may not affect your app ranking directly, they play a part in conversion optimization – which is a vital factor of App Store Optimization.
App Screenshots and videos give you an opportunity to demonstrate the functionality of your app and game and convey its essence.
In fact, around 50 % of people base their decision on the first impression, that is why you need to pay attention to detail with your visuals.
When it comes to screenshots, you can first choose between a Portrait and Landscape layout. In short, this means you can decide whether you want to have a vertical or horizontal screenshot. Similar to your icon, it might be a good idea to find out what works best with A/B testing. In general, well-designed Screenshots give your users a preview of your app and can even tell a visual story.
Visual storytelling can also be used in your videos. These are called App Previews in the Apple App Store (previously called App Store Connect or iTunes Connect) or App Store Videos in Google Play.
Checklist for your Screenshots & Videos
- Illustrate how your app looks like
- Highlight its main features
- Tell a visual story
- Pay attention to layout & size requirements
7. App Listing and Localization
Now that you have your app listing and visuals prepared, it’s time to take the next step. You probably did all that for English, thinking that everyone looks for apps in English, right?
Well, this is not entirely true.
If you want to take your app or game global, you have to adapt it to the market. We call this localization or international ASO. This does not mean you have to start from scratch. You can use your existing metadata, keywords or screenshots and localize them into other languages.
Why is localization important?
With localization, you can improve your app store search visibility and extend your target audience. Basically, you make your app available for users who search in their mother tongue. Presenting your app to a broader audience can lead to more downloads and revenues.
Users perceive an app in their mother tongue as more trustworthy – it is very likely that they will click on it and download it.
8. App Ratings & Reviews
Feedback from your users is an integral part of ASO. Both stores take into account the comments and review the user’s leave for your app.
The better your rating, the more relevant your app is considered by the stores and the higher it ranks.
How to get app reviews?
Users tend to leave reviews if they like the app anyway. However, you can also encourage them to do so within the app itself. If you have a game, a good time to ask for a review would be after winning a game. But be careful, you can get penalized if you push it too hard. On iOs, for example, you can ask for a review up to three times a year.
Find your niche and work your way up to the top. Instead of using the most popular keywords, try including keywords that are longer than one word (mid- or long-tail keywords). This is simply because popular keywords are harder to rank for at the beginning. If you have a fitness app, you can start off by using “fitness for college students” instead of just “fitness”. Once you rank well for that, you start working your way up top.
How to track apps performance?
Preparing your app information is one thing, but how do you know if it’s working? The answer is to track your app’s performance regularly.
Why is it important to track the performance of your mobile app?
Keeping an eye on your apps’ analytics can ultimately help you get more downloads and more revenue. This data can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your app and can be a good base for improving your ASO marketing strategy.