App Store Optimization Guide
Reading time: 10 minutes
How many apps are in app stores? How can yours stand out among them? What are the rules to play? The answers to these questions can help you take your rightful place among your competitors. Read the article to find out what ASO is, why you need it and how to implement it correctly.
What is ASO?
ASO is a set of techniques that allow an app to take the first place in the list of mobile apps in the stores. According to Statista, in 2020, users downloaded more than 218 billion app store applications. The principle of work of stores is similar to the principle of work of search engines: users search for products according to certain criteria, and the system shows the most relevant search results. Store algorithms, like search engine algorithms, are not fully known and are constantly changing. Important factors include titles, links, keywords used, and even icon designs. Search algorithms recognize a set of well-executed elements and will show a high-quality app among the first app store search results.
Why is ASO important?
According to Google research, users find 40% of their apps through store search. Therefore, if you don’t use this tool, you’re losing a significant part of your traffic. The right choice of ASO techniques will help you reach the top of app searches and win a large, loyal audience.
App Store and Google Play users see app information differently. For example, in the App Store, video previews and screenshots attract the most attention. Thus, you should try to put both the content of the app and its short description there. Android users see video and feature graphics at the top of the screen. These can also help you grab the attention of users and tell them about the app.
Now we’ve arrived at the heart of the question of how to improve app store ranking. In general, the rules are similar for both Google Play store optimization and iOS app store optimization. You can scroll through several pages of any store for apps and look for the details we describe below. You will see that they are well observed for high ranking apps and that the optimization quality drops in less-rated apps.
First, you should decide on the characteristics of the audience. Answer the following questions:
- What language do your customers use?
- Why do they need your app?
- Why are they downloading and using the app?
- Where do your clients live and what do they do?
- What is the average age of potential users?
- What is your competitive advantage?
- What keywords are your competitors using?
- Which keywords work well and which ones are not good for you and your product?
The answers to these questions will help you better understand your target audience and choose the best optimization strategy and optimization tools. In the next sections, we will go into detail about a few more important aspects necessary for the productive optimization process.
There are over 2 million apps on both Google Play and the App Store. You need to stand out and make your potential customers see your app on the first app store pages, when they’re flipping through the list of search results. Check your competitors’ icons to see what users will be comparing you to. Use two or three basic colors to keep the picture clear and not too bright. Avoid too much text because users will not spend time reading small letters. In addition, check the image requirements of the stores to make the app look harmonious on any device.
Our example of a memorable app icon is an app store image for the Russian development company. Although the icon is very simple, it creates a strong association with the company name “Cowberry.” The user clearly recognizes the berry against the “grassy” background. The consequence is high brand awareness.
App details: name, URL, subtitle
The title itself should be meaningful. Try to concisely and succinctly reflect the essence of the app so that users immediately understand that they’ve found what they need. In addition to the name, you can add a few words about your app. This will help the user learn more about the app. The app URL should also be meaningful and provide information about its functions. Moreover, if the name of your app is simple and memorable, then it will look better as a URL too. In the subtitle field, you will have more space to describe the app. If your promotional text here is bright and attractive, like an advertising slogan, you can garner greater interest from the potential user.
Use relevant keywords in each field. To find the right ones, use services like Google Keyword Planner. This tool shows the frequency of occurrence of particular keyword phrases. It’s advisable not to use the most popular keywords because the competition among them may be too high. Medium and low frequency keywords can work better if you combine them correctly. With this technique, you will narrow the target audience, and the hit will be more accurate.
The description of the app must also contain keywords. This will increase your chances of being discovered. In addition, when the name and the icon of your app interest users, they should receive comprehensive information about it in this description. So, don’t be lazy and be sure to make it as informative and structured as possible.
The first thing users will pay attention to is visual elements of the content, so not all of them will even open the long description of the app. However, if this happens, it’s important to make sure that the text is interesting and understandable. Avoid long, lengthy descriptions without paragraphs. For readability, you can add bulleted lists to reflect key details — people are usually more comfortable reading this kind of information. In addition, the user will be able to quickly scan the entire text and grasp the essence of the app without reading it deeply. Also, remember that the basic information should be contained in about the first three lines because users are most likely to read them.
Let’s take a closer look at the rules for using keywords for app stores. You will need them so that the text in the app closely matches the needs of users.
- Add the top keyword to the app title. According to research by MobileDevHQ, this alone can bring your app closer to the top positions in the search by 10%.
- When searching for keywords, try different versions: for example, singular and plural. Use the ones that show more positive results.
- Avoid using prepositions and conjunctions as keywords.
- Don’t write numbers in letters, use digits instead.
The experts of the mobile marketing agency INCIPIA conducted a study and found that people spend only 7 seconds on deciding whether to download an app. One of the first things they see are screenshots. Users may not be interested in the text at all. However, being able to see the interface is crucial for many. Make screenshots high-quality and attractive to keep users’ attention and push them to download. Don’t just post the app interface: if you add an explanation to it and graphically demonstrate how to interact with it, users will be more likely to download it.
Videos are as important as images because they show the user the content of the app and describe the main details and features. According to Statista, in 2020, about 17% of internet users between 18 and 25 spent more than 20 hours a week watching videos. This is one of the most popular types of content, so having a beautiful and engaging video is a big plus for your ranking and, of course, for your rating among users.
It’s important to place the app in the correct category to ensure that it fully meets the criteria of the users. Moreover, this helps with ranking too. However, some apps fall into more than one category. For example, this is often the case with educational games. In this case, you have several ASO strategies:
- choose the most appropriate and general category;
- see how many apps are in each category you need and choose the least competitive one;
- examine the estimated app worth (EAW) for apps close to the highest appstore ranks of each category and select the one with the lowest numbers.
Additional app store optimization tips
- Reviews. As soon as you have your first customers, try to get at least a couple of positive reviews from them about your product. This will help other people see that people value the app and that it’s safe to interact with it.
- Revisions. Regularly review app statistics, study trending keywords and monitor user reactions to the product. This will help you maintain top rankings and keep your app up-to-date.
- Localization. If you’re promoting an app outside English-speaking countries, develop it in the audience’s language. This will make it not only unique, but also more suitable for the customers who don’t speak English.
- External search traffic. In addition to the listed optimization tips inside stores, create interest in the app outside them too. Use social media, press releases, and online ads. Search engines will make your product rank higher, especially in mobile app stores.
- The number of downloads. Of course, you can’t directly influence this aspect: it’s the users’ task. However, all other mobile app optimization tools should improve your performance in this area which, in turn, will have a positive impact on your app’s ranking.
The use of the right ASO tools can improve your app’s search visibility and make your product recognizable and marketable. Even an icon can distinguish you from other market offers, and the combination of the described elements will allow you to perform an effective ASO and occupy the top positions. If you need help building a high-quality app, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to make a top product for you.