The Beginner’s Guide For App Store Optimization

If you have an app or on the point of developing app, you heard of app store optimization which is ASO in short. ASO is optimization of mobile apps to have higher search results in the app store. It is like SEO. The difference is that ASO is related with app optimization while SEO is website optimization.

I seem to hear asking “Why?” I think simple two graphs indicate the importance of ASO.

As you can see, both iOS and Android users found the app they downloaded lastly by searching on the app stores. Being able to be found easily is possible with ASO.

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What Is App Store Optimization (ASO)?

As I said before, app store optimization helps you acquiring higher rankings in app stores. There are over 3 million apps and it makes competition tough. 47% of iOS users and 53% of Android users find and download the app they are seeking through app store searches. It brings the importance of ASO to light undoubtedly.
The ingredients of ASO in bold outline;

  1. Keyword Optimization
  2. Title Optimization
  3. Description Optimization
  4. App Screenshots
  5. App Icon
  6. App Preview Video (if yes)
  7. Localization
  8. App Pricing
  9. Necessary Updates
  10. Reviews & Ratings

There are underlying points while determining the keywords.

  • Relevance: Make sure that keywords overlap with your purpose and core functions.
  • Competition:  Target being at top 10 for any keyword. To achieve this, track your rankings and ignore ones which don’t give you high traffic volume. Don’t forget to look at competitor’s rankings.
  • Volume: You can target high volume keywords as well as keywords that have lowest competition. There are multiple synonyms or similar keywords. You can pick the one that has the highest volume.


The Recipe of ASO

Let’s dig deeper for each point of app store optimization.

Keyword Optimization

It is important to find relevant keywords at the beginning because you benefit from them while forming a title and description.

There are several keyword tools which are;

Keyword Rankings which lets you see top 100 apps rankings for your specific keywords.
Keyword Research which shows the rankings of top 100 for specific keyword.
Keyword Suggestions which gives potential keywords related with your seed keywords.

App Title Optimization

According to research, having keywords in title boosts your rankings up to 10.3%.  App stores’ algorithm is so they scan the app name to match the keyword in its title and the keyword a user searches. If your app name includes the search keyword in title, it gets high priority in rankings.

While adding an app name, keep it short and simple. Then feed your app name with a few keywords.

  • Google Play Store is limited with the maximum of 50 characters.
  • iOS App Store is limited with the maximum of 30 characters.
  • iOS App Store lets you add a subtitle appearing under your app name. It was introduced with iOS 11. Again the limit is 30 characters at most.
  • Apple uses your app name while creating app URL, so avoid using any special character.


App Name Format

“Brand Name: Keywords” or “Brand Name – Keywords”

App Name Examples

Messenger – Text and Video Chat for Free
My Boo – Your Virtual Pet Game
LOOKS – Real Makeup Camera

By the way, it is important to keep in mind that keywords in the title rank 2x better than keyword field. I want to support this by an example. Pink Cloud raised its ranking of one keyword from #23 to #3 by moving it from the keyword field to the title.

Description Optimization

App description results in highlighting the features and benefits of  your app. While writing an app description, it would be better to try to understand your potential users. Read your app description with their eyes. Or you can read different kind of apps to find out the points drawing your attention. The points you should keep in mind;

  • The limit of short description is 255 characters which come up to a few sentences for iOS App Store while 80 characters for Google Play Store. So, try to give the underlying and attention-grabbing values of your app. It creates the first impression.
  • Expanded description is your playground. Add bullet points, social proofs, awards, mentions about you or anything else.
  • Use the tone of your brand and the terminology your potential users get understand.
  • Both app stores have a limit of 4,000 characters for the full description
  • Google Play Store lets you use rich formatting and emoji in the app description.
  • Use sub-headings to divide it into sections.
  • Use white spaces between paragraphs.
  • Be sure there is no typo.

There are two copywriting rules you should bear in mind.

  • KISS – Keep It Simple & Stupid

Try to avoid excessive and redundant words.
Don’t let the repetition of your app title waste the character limit.

  • WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?

Satisfy your users’ curiosity about what they will get experience if they download your app.
Match the expectation of your customers with the value of your app.

If we summarize the first three steps;

Learn More:

Do you want to explore what 8 tips for successful pre-launch app marketing strategy are?


App Screenshots

Screenshots show the world your users enter after begin using your app. Therefore, it is important to choose the most representative screenshots. They should make feel a great joy.

According to StoreMaven, 60% of users don’t attach an importance to the screenshots EXCEPT FOR first two screenshot images. Qualified first two screenshots can boost your conversions by 25%.

  • Keep the screenshots vertical so that users are comfortable with any screen including narrow ones.
  • Show each and important feature with one screenshot. Don’t repeat yourself.
  • Give attention to the resolution of screenshots.
  • You can add short caption texts on your screenshots to say that it is which part of your app. But, keep them short and clean.  
  • Avoid login, registrations, purchase forms, ads and even “Welcome” screen in your screenshots.


App Icon

App icon is the first thing your users see. So, you want people to remember your icon after the first sight. According to the survey by Split Metrics, a better icon can raise your downloads by 560%. To have a better icon;

  • Keep your design simple and attention-grabbing.
  • It should be look good even scaled down to the smallest size.
  • Look good on both light and dark background.
  • Should be different from your competitors.

To gain inspiration, you can review the top-rated apps  in app stores.

App Preview Video (If yes)

It is not compulsory because making a video might be hard. According to StoreMaven, adding a preview video raise the download rate by 23%. Essential elements of creating a preview video;

  • The first 5 seconds should grab the attention.
  • It should be effective even its sound is mute.
  • Add the best features instead of all features
  • Use a good poster frame in iOS and feature graphic in Google Play

Users don’t watch after first 12 seconds, keep in mind!


Localization requires translating your app name, keywords, description etc. Before localizing the whole app, you should consider on this issue.

According to a localization experiment conducted by Make App Magazine, the download ratio raises by 767% by localizing the app name, keywords and the top line of app description. While its downloads were coming from US. mainly,  it is like below after localization;

To find the best countries suitable for localization, you can find the countries who have the highest number of app download and highest revenue.

Learn More:

Do you want to increase the number of app downloads via app localization?


App Pricing

There are different app pricing strategies. You can develop a free app with in-app purchases, free app with ads and paid app.

  • Free apps with in-app purchases let you make money via different kinds of in-app purchases like buying in-game currencies for passing a level.
  • Free apps with ads let you make money via ads. It would be better to choose native ads as they fit the exact context of the app.
  • It requires paying money to use a paid app. $0.99 or $1.99 can be a good amount for a starting point.


Necessary Updates

There is a correlation between the update frequency and rankings. The graphic below shows the average number of days between last two updates for top 25 iOS apps.

It is optimal to update once a month. And don’t forget to alert users in case of an update.

Mobile marketers:

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Reviews & Ratings

It might be the most important part of ASO. Together with the importance, it is not controlled by you completely. The important numbers that show how important app store ratings are as below;

  • 4 star out of 5 is the average rating of the top 100 free iPhone apps.
  • %67 of the top 100 free iPhone apps have a 4 star ratings or better.
  • %92 of the top 100 free iPhone apps have a 3 star ratings or better.

Ratings affect consideration. All consumers consider downloading 5 star apps while more than 85% of consumers consider downloading 4 star apps.

I said you don’t have a control over your app totally. But you can improve your reviews and ratings.

  • Track a user’s behavior and ask for reviews at the most opportune times. The features of event triggered messages, real time personalization and intelligent events help you catch these times. It can be after a purchase or level completion.
  • While asking for reviews, avoid over-messaging. It annoys users and create a negative impact.
  • You can conduct A/B testing for your messages to find the most valuable one.
  • Give users a place to talk directly to the developer
  • Reply to app reviews and feedbacks as soon as possible

It is the most effective and also the most effortful step. There is a tricky dilemma. If your number of download is high, your review and ratings are good anyway. The thing is here to push users to leave comments and give a rating if they like.

Final Thoughts

To see the results of ASO, you need time and effort. Your job doesn’t end after completing everything. You need to observe and review ASO each month not to miss any trend of app ranking change. Now complete the changes, track the rankings and monitor the trends!

App Samurai is an AI-powered, secure mobile growth platform. Register, add your app and start driving high-quality users.