More than 2 million Android and iOS apps are on app stores, and thousands of apps are added daily, while most of the apps are still unexplored. In the Apps store, almost 60% of the apps in app stores have never been used or downloaded, and the number has only increased since then. They are also an outstanding marketing channel with over 500 million visitors per week on the Apple App Store alone. It means that making your apps more attractive to users and easier to find is the key to increasing sales and downloads. The reason is that only “the most popular and top applications” are constantly downloaded, and little is known about the others.
All this leads to no or less visibility of such applications and is never matched by the algorithm to display in search results. Visibility is related to the name, app icon, description, and localization, among other factors. App stores are more than just a place to publish apps. In order to higher rankings in the apps store, they must all be appropriately optimized and must adhere to the guidelines of the respective app store; a process is known as App Store Optimization.
What is app store optimization?
App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of increasing conversion rate and improving the visibility of apps in app stores. The main app stores are the App Store for Android is Google Play and for iPhone users is Apple App Store. In order to rank higher in app store search results, ASO also focuses on click-through rate (CTR). It means that you have to convince people to click on your app store page as soon as they find it. You can apply it by optimizing the app name, app icon, app title, app rating, and app screenshots.
Why ASO is important in 2021?
ASO is significant for the reason that you want your application to be successful. To release an app in a store and just wait for it to rank high is a thoughtless idea. No matter how high the quality of the application, without ASO, it will be lost in the batch and will probably never be found by users. Users find an app in a variety of ways – online advertisements, friends, blog articles, social media sharing, and more – but searching the app stores still the most likely method someone will find your application. A staggering 47% of US iPhone users agreed to have found the last installed app by searching the app store. The majority of app discovery comes from higher ranking and keyword searches, which directly impact downloads.
How does ASO work?
There are some known factors that influence app optimization for iOS & Android applications. Let’s start by breaking them down:
This process requires a critical understanding of the most relevant keywords, how stores operate, and the target user base, that potential users speak or type in order to discover apps and find out new ones.
ASO = Conversion + Traffic
There are several known factors that affect the optimization of an app for Android and iOS apps. Let’s explore these factors:
On-Metadata elements are those factors of a listing page or product that can be modified in Google Play Console or App Store Connect to improve visibility of the app store, download conversion rate, and keyword rankings which are one of the most important KPIs. These factors that are 100% under our control are Developer Name (Google Play Only), URL/Package, Description, App Name/Title, Short Description, Category, Subtitle, icon, Promotional Text and Keyword Field (Apple Only), video and screenshots. Optimizing your app’s on-metadata will help you rank higher in exploring and search.
As with SEO (search engine optimization from the world of web marketing) and external factors, off-page optimization, the Off-metadata are those external elements that are not in the developer’s control. Factors that we do not control 100%: ratings + reviews, speed and volume of installations, and possibly user engagement.
How to do ASO
If you are looking for more installations, you need to know how to optimize your application properly. We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to optimize your app placement on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, paying particular attention to the slight differences between the two platforms:
Google Play vs. Apple App Store
These two popular app stores have a lot in common. They each serve the same purpose (from an end-user perspective) and work in the same way: to encourage users to explore and install apps on their Android or iOS devices. However, each app store has its own algorithms and search system, and you need to understand these elements for your app ranking.
For quality and level of authenticity both Both app stores use a review system. However, it is worth noting that this process is usually longer for Apple. This is one key difference; for iOS apps, you have to leave at least a three-day buffer.
Another main difference is how keywords are used as a ranking factor. The Google Play store indexes all content (URLs, title, Mata description, etc.). In contrast, the iOS App Store uses a dedicated keyword field so you can focus on relevant keywords for SEO or ranking purposes. It’s important to note that none of the platforms revealed the intricacies or secrets of their algorithm. However, based on research, conclusions can be drawn to find out what is relevant for each platform.
Keywords play a significant role in the success of an ASO. While the iOS App Store allows users to include up to 100 characters of keywords in the keyword field, the Google Play Store doesn’t have this feature. Instead, it indexes keywords in other content items (pro tip: remember to include primary keywords in your title and description). On both platforms, you need to choose your keywords carefully and focus on the keywords that search engines use.
How users perform written searches is usually the same across all areas of the Internet. This means that the keyword research tools you use can help you determine how people are searching. Start by entering the main focus features of your app and note high-volume searches and trends. It’s also a good idea to take the time to analyze your competitor’s app titles and descriptions to determine the keywords they are targeting, which will be a good starting point for your research.
App Name & Keywords (Google Play & Apple App Store)
What’s in a name? Everything that exists. Sometimes a first impression is all you have, so make sure it’s a lasting impression. This is why it is so important to choose the right name for your application. You can use a maximum of 30 characters in the Google Play Apple App Store and 50 characters in the Apple App Store. So think about a nice and short app name that tells people what is good for them.
Common sense dictates that an attractive icon loads more often. According to one study, a better-quality app icon increased the number of app downloads by 560%. It means you should take some time to figure out how to create your video appealing to your audience. Look out for suggestions, recommendations, and templates in the app store for Android and iOS. It will help you optimize the app icon at a technical level, the dimensions are correct, making sure its colors are visible properly etc.
App Description & Short Description Tips
The App Store does not search for app keywords in your app description; however, the Google Play Store retrieves keywords from your description as your app store keywords. When preparing your app store keywords for your Google Play description, make sure the majority of your keywords are in the first few lines, as this has more impact than the entire description in the algorithm of Google’s ranking.
You can also use bulleted lists, emoticons, and spacing in the Play Store to keep your description memorable and easy to read. While preparing the App Store description, make sure you have properly researched your keywords and clearly write specs of your app, including commendations and awards, and, if possible, a list of full features in the description field. Don’t forget to add social media links and icons to your channels. Don’t go for too much detail and unnecessary keywords to your description to improve your search results.
Keyword Spot (Apple App Store)
Keyword Spot represents the achieved search ranking position for keyword combinations or keywords that are relevant to the Apple application. Ranked keywords alone shouldn’t be a KPI. In fact, we also have to consider the search volume for each keyword. The greater the search volume our keywords rank for, the better for our app store optimization strategy.
Usually, people want to try your app before paying, so a free demo is a great idea to get them to download the app and get more reviews. You should also take some step-by-step screenshots of your app so they can quickly check out what it looks like and how to use it. This will give users an insight into your application.
App Preview (Apple App Store) & App Video (Google Play)
One of the main goals of taking screenshots and previews is to showcase the superiority of your app compared to competitors’ apps. Portrait preview orientation will help you offer more insights to your target audience. Users can see three portrait app previews in the same frame. If you choose landscape orientation, per frame there will be three screenshots.
On Google Play, you can take a maximum of 8 screenshots, and the Apple App Store limit is 10. The number of app previews will depend on the features and specs of your application. If your app needs many preview representations, use as many previews and graphical representations as possible. If you have a simple game or app, you can use few screenshots. For iOS apps, all autoplay video results are disabled. There are a limited number of apps for Android with promo videos showing up in search bars. There is always a play button on the thumbnail of a promo video, so there is no autoplay option.
App updates (using keywords in update notes, this is a good approach)
Find ways to further improve your install frequency download volume and click-through rate. Feel free to update your app preview, keywords and try different descriptions, titles, subtitles. As with SEO, you will constantly tweak your strategy to see what works and produces the desired results. Be sure to update your images or videos, keywords and update them where needed, if you make changes to your app preview over time. These small tweaks and updates can move the needle towards a successful application!
How to measure ASO
Growing an application is like watering a plant; it takes patience, a lot of time and labor. It will rarely ever be successful overnight. There are many factors that affect rankings and your application, so you should keep an eye on the measurement factors. If users are happy with the features and experience they receive, interact with your game or app, retention will be high, and among other obvious benefits, app stores will rate such apps higher, include them in the top charts, etc. Also, if your app is good and works without major crashes and bugs, users will share it on social media, recommend it to their family and friends, and you will get credibility. Below we have listed some of the main KPIs that any ASO professional can use to measure the success of their iOS or Android app organic efforts:
The mobile business is constantly changing, and the Google Play stores are changing too, so your app should always be ready, just like your ASO. Your best bet is to track your most important KPIs installs (organic + non-organic), weekly (ideally daily) keyword rankings, top charts (categories and overall etc.), reviews and ratings. Change the keywords and remove the ones that no longer work, try experimenting more with graphic elements, and keep testing until you find the most effective combination of elements for your ad on the Google Play Store or Apple Play Store.
Organic install tracking
When it comes to ASO, the number and frequency of installs aren’t everything. There is another metric known as organic growth (or organic multiplier), which refers to the natural increase in organic traffic from paid marketing activities. This indicator is determined by the ratio of the percentage of organic and inorganic installations. That is, the higher the organic growth value, the lower the user acquisition eCPI). Moreover, paid installs can help your app rank in top charts and search results and top charts. Thus, your application becomes more visible and has a better chance of attracting regular users.
Reviews and Ratings
Reviews and ratings also play a vital role in the success of the app. To be more specific, (1) they can really help an app with its top charts and search rankings (2) significantly influence users’ download decisions. The more ratings and reviews we have, the more they affect the visibility and rating of the app. That is why the number of ratings and reviews your app receives is a significant KPI to track.
Best app store optimization tools
Getting started with App Store Optimization can be a bit difficult, and it seems you are going to launch your app without any idea. However, this is not entirely true as there are so many best ASO tools out there that are solely focused on providing you with the great ASO strategy possible. App store optimization spans many areas, and ASO tools come in many different packages and types. You can select tools according to your niche and strategy. The best app store optimization tools are listed below.
- App Radar
- Mobile Action
- Priori Data
- Sensor Tower
- Keyword Tool
Remember, ASO is not an SEO replacement, but it is a significant part of the marketing and growth you need to do for your application. These tools can help you increase the ASO of your app and attract more potential customers to it when they search or explore on the app store.
Your Google Play or Apple app store page is a great opportunity to experiment and optimize different factors to find out the ideal combination that will boost your search rankings and top listings by convincing users to download your apps and thus increase your install conversion rates. If you want to have a successful app with great downloads and popularity, revenue potential, you should pay close attention to your App Store optimization strategy. While Apple and Google do not share their exact tricks and methods for determining app rankings, it has been found that there are many elements that will positively affect how great your app ranks. To develop your marketing strategy, you need to know these factors and choose the most appropriate ASO tools accordingly. Don’t forget about the tips in this article, and don’t forget to check your ASO performance regularly and revise if necessary.