Best App Store Optimization Strategies
In this article, we talk about app store optimization strategies, explain the difference between ASO and SEO, and give a few tips on how to do it.
App store optimization (ASO) is the process of improving the visibility of apps in app stores and increasing app conversion rates.
The main app markets are the Apple App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android. In addition to helping apps rank well in app store search results, app store optimization, or ASO, focuses on increasing the click-through rate (CTR) from the search results screen from the search results page.
You can do this by optimizing your app’s name, title, icon, screenshots, and rating. After people navigate to the listing page for your app in the App Store or Google Play Store, you then need to make sure they download or purchase the app. This part of ASO is known as conversion rate optimization (CRO).
What is the difference between ASO and SEO?
ASO is often referred to as search engine optimization (SEO) for app stores. ASO and SEO share common traits such as keyword, backlink, and conversion optimization. The main differences between app store optimization and search engine optimization relate to ranking factors. Also, ASO is used for mobile applications, whereas SEO is used for websites.
There are over 200 factors that affect a website’s ranking in Google search results, and the list continues to expand. The list of factors that affect an app’s ranking in app store search results is much shorter; however, many people are not sure which Google and Apple use. It’s time to end this confusion!
Why app store optimization is important for app growth
More than 5 million apps are available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Chances are, your application will face serious competition.
The main goal of app store optimization is to increase the number of downloads and the number of loyal users. The first step to maximizing downloads is to make your application easily discoverable by the right users. But how can you do that? To understand how to accelerate organic growth, you first need to understand how people search for and find apps.
How do users find and download mobile apps?
People mainly search for apps directly in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. A whopping 70% of mobile users use search to find new apps. Moreover, 65% of all downloads occur immediately after a search. Searching on an app store is the most common method of finding new apps.
Moreover, the position of an application in the search ranking directly depends on the number of downloads. The higher your app ranks in search results, the more relevant it appears to users. Higher ranked apps also receive more downloads, as users usually don’t see all of the search results.
Users generally look at the first five results. This is why achieving the highest ranking is critical to the success of your application. Without app store optimization, you’re missing out on the largest marketing channel for mobile apps and games.
Track App Store and Google Play rankings
Learning ASO and investing time in it will be your secret weapon for app growth. ASO produces long-term and long-lasting results. Want to know more about the benefits of ASO? Just keep reading!
What are the benefits of app store optimization?
Now you know that most users find apps by searching in app stores. Because of this, app store optimization is essential if you want your app to be seen by 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 visibility and stand out in the app stores
People can’t download and use your app if they can’t find it. As cool as your application is, if it’s not easy to discover, you won’t get the success you deserve. Don’t waste money on all your hard work; start optimizing!
Always get discovered by the right users
It’s not enough that your app is found. It must be found by the right users who are actually looking for an app like yours. App store optimization helps you find the right users by matching your app with relevant keywords. These are the search terms people will use to find your application.
Increase organic app downloads in a sustainable way
A good ASO strategy will surely increase your organic installs and deliver long-term results. This is because when people search for keywords related to your application, they will always find your app. Through regularly monitoring and updating, you will ensure that your efforts are crowned with success.
Cut user acquisition costs and achieve continuous growth
Instead of spending money on advertising, you can lower your user acquisition costs by focusing on organic growth with ASO. This not only saves you money but also ensures sustainable growth.
Increase app revenue and conversion rates
There are different ways to monetize your app, including in-app advertising, in-app purchases, and subscriptions. As a result, many app owners may decide to run ads in order to attract more users and therefore increase revenue. But if your app store listing page doesn’t convert, which means people are not being persuaded to download your app, your ad spending will be wasted. Remember that app store optimization also includes conversion rate optimization to get people to click and download.
Reach a global audience with your app
By making your app available in other languages through an app store optimization process called localization, you can engage users from around the world. ASO can help you make your application global.
How does app store optimization work?
Once your app is developed and you are familiar with the basics of app marketing, you must decide where to publish your app or mobile game. Most developers choose the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android. If you choose to develop an application for both operating systems, you can publish it on both app stores. Let’s take a closer look at them.
App store optimization for Google Play vs the App Store
Both app stores provide a platform for users to find and download applications and games. However, this does not mean they work in the same way. We’ll take a look at their histories, key differences, and algorithms.
History of mobile apps
With the frequent use of mobile phones, the application industry began to flourish. The number of applications in the Apple App Store has increased from 800 since its launch in 2008 to 2.2 million in 2019 (source: Business of Apps). The number of apps available on Google Play reached 3.6 million in March 2018. The market is clearly highly competitive. If you want to grow your mobile business, you need to be quick and flexible when it comes to app store optimization.
Mobile app trends in 2023
Apps that crash frequently and receive updates infrequently are considered low quality and therefore have a lower rating. Likewise, defective or fraudulent apps should be removed from app stores. As more people develop mobile apps and games, Google and Apple are becoming more selective about which they publish on their app stores. Frequently updated apps that people use often are rewarded and ranked higher in app store search results.
Key differences between the App Store and Google Play Store
One of the main differences between the App Store and Google Play has to do with publishing. Both Apple and Google have implemented an app review process to ensure they have high-quality apps in their stores. However, Apple’s verification process usually takes longer than Google’s. You should always consider a three-day buffer when releasing a new app or update. Once your app is approved, it will be available on the App Store or Google Play within 24 hours.
While keywords are important for ASO in both stores, they are valued differently. The indexing process on Google Play is similar to the indexing process used by Google search. This means that Google takes into account all text elements when indexing keywords for your application. You will also want to repeat your keywords three to five times across all fields to increase their rankings.
On the other hand, the Apple App Store has a dedicated field for keywords. In some cases, it even gets them from your competitors and category names. Unlike on Google Play, you don’t need to repeat keywords in any fields for iOS apps on the App Store.
Apple App Store & Google Play Store ranking factors
Google Play and the Apple App Store use sophisticated algorithms to sort search results. Although we don’t know exactly how these algorithms work, it is possible to determine the factors that influence the ranking.
App Store ranking factors:
- App name
- App URL
- App subtitle
- Keyword field
- Availability of in-app purchases
- Ratings and reviews
- Downloads and engagement
- Other hidden factors
Play Store ranking factors:
- App title
- Short description
- Long description
- Availability of in-app purchases
- Ratings and reviews
- Downloads and engagement
- Other hidden factors
10 app store optimization strategies
There are ten basic strategies for optimizing your app for an app store. Following these strategies will help you effectively market your app, identify your top competitors, and take your app to the next level.
#1. Use relevant keywords
Finding the right keywords for your audience is very important. You will need to identify exactly what keywords your potential customers are looking for, and ideally the keywords your main competitors are using. Matching your keywords to your customers’ needs will help customers find your app.
- Do not use keywords that are not related to your application, as this will harm your rankings.
- Use only one form of the keyword (singular or plural).
- Don’t use keywords that contain the word “app” or your competitors’ brand names.
To help with your keyword research, we recommend starting with Google Keyword Planner and moving on to app store optimization tools like Mobile Action and Sensor Tower.
#2. Optimize your keywords
Optimizing keywords is the starting point for any app store optimization strategy. ASO has always required an understanding of which keywords are relevant to the application you’re trying to optimize, what terms are frequently searched for in the mobile app stores, who the main competitors are, and what their tendencies are. Proper keyword selection can increase the visibility of an app in search results in the app stores and attract more potential users.
Many apps and businesses have seasonal periods of high interest. The timing of peak demand has remained the same for some apps during the pandemic, while others, such as apps that are most popular during back to school and vacation seasons, have seen their demand peak off schedule compared to past years. It is always important to plan, where possible, to benefit from seasonally high demand, but it is also important to continually assess trends in the app stores in order to monitor user behavior and search interest and change direction when necessary.
Choosing the right keywords at the right time has always been an important part of ASO.
#3. Optimize your title and description
Titles are the most important metadata you can use to increase your downloads. Focus on writing a title less than 25 characters long so the entire title is visible on the app’s view screen. The title should also be memorable in order to increase the number of downloads. Using your company name and primary keyword in your title will make your app easier to find.
Once you’ve chosen a name, try searching for your app. If there are thousands of results, your name isn’t creative enough. Your app’s description should include as many relevant keywords as possible in the first 250 characters. Anything outside the scope of this initial description requires the user to click for more details.
#4. Optimize creative assets to convert
Once your app is found, whether in search results or through some other method, users will have to decide whether to download it. While there were many changes in user behavior and the user experience in 2022, the visible assets in app listings that influence download decisions have remained the same.
Creative assets, including the application icon, screenshots, and videos, have a great impact on a user’s decision to download an app. A similar strategy for analyzing keyword interest and major competitors is important here: understanding what new trends are emerging and what elements you can test in your application.
Along with optimizing keywords and creative assets, iteration has been and remains the cornerstone of app store optimization. Iteration requires analyzing what exactly was deployed, how it was done before and after the upgrade, and how to improve what works.
While 2020 is the most powerful and far-reaching example of how user behavior can change and marketing strategies must change with it, changes to user behavior can happen in any industry at any time. It is important to keep in mind the past performance of an application, what marketing tactics can be used to take advantage of seasonal trends, and what changes in user behavior should be considered in future updates.
The success or failure of a marketing strategy can be the result of understanding trends, choosing the right keywords, and highlighting the right features in creative assets.
Doing these things sounds simple enough, but to be successful, it needs to be carefully studied and analyzed, then executed properly and in a timely manner.
Without the use of proper ASO software to quickly understand the changing trends and which terms have high search volume, what competitors are doing in creative assets, and which applications are gaining traction, it will be impossible to keep up with trends.
#6. Include compelling icons and screenshots
Attractive visuals can give you an edge in the app markets. Choose an app icon that’s easy to recognize and that makes it easy to remember your brand. Try to use colors other than those of your main competitors so as not to confuse potential customers. Most people will look at your screenshots before they decide to download, so don’t skimp on those either. We recommend using as many screenshots as the app store allows you to upload.
Use a colorful template to make your screenshots look professional and aesthetically pleasing. Text should not be the center of attention. Include visual features that show how your app is more valuable than its competitors. “Always test your creativity, screenshots and video previews. This will greatly affect your ASO performance,” says Emery.
#7. Add video
Adding a video to your app page can increase downloads by 35%. This significant increase isn’t just due to headline optimizations (15%) and visuals (30%). Each increase in downloads is also an increase in your app’s rating. Since most people prefer to search and download an app in minutes, upload a video that demonstrates the most valuable feature of your app.
#8. Research your competition
Although understanding who your competitors are and their business strategies is important for any successful business, it’s particularly important for ASO. Before adding your application to an app store, you must choose the best category for. Factors to consider when choosing a category include:
- number of competitors
- number of apps that are constantly updated
- how popular the category is (in downloads)
Once you’ve added your app to the marketplace, you’ll need to continually track the top performing apps in your chosen category. See if their ranking changes when they add a keyword or change their metadata. Do your best to rank for new keywords before your competitors can. You will also want to track competitors who have a similar purpose, app features, and even apps that use the same popular keywords as you do.
#9. Build backlinks
To create better backlinks, your app must have be actively linked to websites that are relevant to your app and are trustworthy according to current Google algorithm standards. Backlinks can be in text form or in image form using the ALT (ALTernative text) tag. While there is some controversy about the performance of backlinks versus ASO, there is no doubt that quality over quantity is the preferred method of backlink success.
#10. Drive traffic (and downloads) to your app store page
Having an SEO-optimized website to publish your app information on will allow you to drive traffic directly to your app store pages. Using this website for your app can also help you rank on Google, allowing those who are doing a simple web search to find and download your app.
You can also use paid app ads to drive traffic to your app — for example, Apple Search Ads (ASA) or Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC). “You should always use your ASO knowledge to support your paid media efforts to make your money work harder,” says Emery.
Like SEO, ASO is a process that needs to be monitored and constantly adjusted over a period of time. Your optimal set of keywords is rarely the set you first decide to list in the app store.
In most cases, few or no keyword searches are performed before submitting an application, leaving most applications hidden and with a relatively low chance of detection. Taking advantage of ASO takes time and effort. But if you do this, you will have a consistent channel to drive traffic to your application.
Being discovered is one of the hardest problems for mobile apps, but you can actively overcome it by following the strategies above.