App Store Optimization is a confusing concept to first time app developers, but it’s even more confusing to implement.
App Store Optimization is an essential app marketing strategy for all app developers and marketers out there. If you don’t have an optimized product page, standing out from the crowd, increasing visibility and generating organic downloads (and lowering user acquisition costs) is unimaginable.
We’ll outline everything you need to know in this article, but let’s start from scratch...
What is App Store Optimization?
App Store Optimization, aka: ASO or App Store SEO, is the process of optimizing an app to maximize its visibility in the App Store or Google Play Store. There are two different type of factors that impact or influence the ASO strategy:
These elements are present in the product page and can be easily modified from iTunes Connect or Google Play Console:
● URL / Package (GP)
● Developer name (GP)
● App Name / Title
● Subtitle (App Store)
● Description & Short description (GP)
● Keywords Field (App Store)
● Category, Icon, Featured Graphic (GP), Screenshots and Video.
These are external elements that aren’t under app marketers or developers’ direct control:
● Volume and speed of installs
● User ratings & reviews
● User engagement
ASO - Visibility in the Stores
Visibility is the starting point because your app can be discovered in different ways: Search results or Browse (Top Chart Rankings, Featured apps / games and appearing among suggested apps). There are many aspects of the app store listing that can be tweaked to improve visibility:
Keyword optimization (Search)
With search, you need to find the most relevant keywords for your app. For example, you can conduct keyword research with TheTool. Take advantage of free trials.
Start by brainstorming what your app’s value proposition is - what problems does it solve?
Widen your keywords set - try to come up with as many keywords as you can and think of possible keyword combinations. Our tip is to always try to rank for mid- and long- tail keywords. Don’t focus on generic search terms because it’s more difficult to rank for them.
Make sure that you are ahead of your competitors and spy on their keyword strategy. If you don’t know what they are doing, how can you get better in Search results and boost downloads?
Use free ASO tools that provide the necessary keyword data (traffic, difficulty,etc.) to help you track your keywords set and evaluate which keywords to target - take the right decision and optimize Search Visibility.
After the research step, it’s time to decide how to prioritize keywords and where to place them. Keywords are indexed in different ways in the app stores - in Google Play all fields are important, even the URL / Package, whereas in Apple App Store, there are certain fields that are not that important when carrying out keyword optimization.
Here’s where to include your optimized keyword set in each store:
App Name / Title
Keep your brand name short and include your core keywords here: you are allowed a maximum of 30 characters in the App Name (App Store) and a maximum of 50 characters in the Title (Google Play).
Subtitle - App Store
You can use these field to include important keywords and also as a call-to-action message that would tease users to click on “download” - do not miss the chance to improve your Conversion Rate.
Short Description - Google Play Store
In Google Play, you have an 80-character field to include and combine keywords that you want your app to rank for. At the same time, this field could help you improve your Conversion Rate. Make sure to highlight the best features of your app and create interest towards your product, including important keywords. Emojis are welcome!
Keyword Field - App Store
You have a specific 100-character field to include the keywords you want to rank for in the App Store. Separate the keywords with commas because Apple is going to mix these keywords and create combinations. And remember - don’t include the same keywords as you have already included in other fields, because it only counts once.
Description - App Store
Since the introduction of the latest version - iOS 11, developers are not allowed to change the description without submitting a new version. As far as we know, the description does not affect keyword rankings in the App Store. However, you still need to make use of the 4,000-characters field. Note that the first sentence is the most important because this is the only part users can see before reading the rest of the description.
Focus on clearly and concisely conveying your message and value proposition!
Long description - Google Play
Provide an extensive and clear description of your app - write short paragraphs and include bullet points for feature highlights.Make use of the 4,000-field and include your keywords and keywords combinations a few times: the first and last lines of the description are the most relevant ones for Google Play ranking algorithm, but you should also include keywords all along the text.
This is an extract from Learn languages with Memrise:
As for the App Store, App Name, Subtitle and Keyword Field are the most, and arguably the most important fields for the ranking algorithm.
At TheTool, we found out that the keywords included in the URL / Package are also important for Google’s ranking algorithm: so keep this in mind and include keywords here as well. And, in addition, the Developer Name field can also contain a couple of keywords.
Choosing the right category (Top Charts)
In order to push visibility, it’s also necessary to choose the right app category. Think of your product and what it offers and also think of your target users, in what category are they likely to look for your product?
Research the app stores and find out where your competitors are categorizing themselves. This will help you determine what the best category for your app is in terms of competition.
Both app stores display Top Charts in which the best performing apps can be found along different dimensions: category, country and monetization. But how can you appear in the Top Chart Rankings?
There are two main elements that both Apple and Google take into account to calculate Top Chart rankings: velocity of downloads (top free / paid apps) and app revenue(top grossing, only on Google Play).
Track your Top Chart evolution and check out if your ASO strategy is having an effect. Climbing up Top Charts and reaching the highest rankings would directly influence organic installs and reduce user acquisition costs.
When you analyze your app Top Chart Rankings change, you should also keep an eye on your competitors’ rankings changeas well.
There’s no better way of getting discovered than being promoted by Apple or Google. Here’s what you need to have:
● A remarkable and innovative product: make sure you have something new to offer.
● Interesting and relevant product metrics (usage, user feedback, etc.).
● An updated product.
● A good app store presence.
Also, be proactive and establish communication with the store managers!
TTR & Conversion Rate to Download
Once you have worked on increasing your app’s visibility you should focus on improving TTR (Tap Through Rate) and Conversion Rate to Download.There are many app publishers that complain: Why do I get a lot of visits to my product page but yet my Conversion Rate is still low? How can I get more traffic (visits) to my app store listing?
In order to improve Conversion Rate to download, you should pay attention to Ratings & Reviews, Visual Assets and Video. Your App Icon is extremely important, because it’s literally the face of your app and the first visual impression.
Let’s get to the nitty gritty of improving conversion rate to download!
User ratings & reviews
User feedback on the stores is a determining factor in improving Conversion Rate - 99% of the top grossing Apps have 4 or more stars.
Even though ratings & reviews are off-metadata factors, there’s a lot you can do to improve them:
● Create a flawless app: Don’t rush launch if you’re not sure it works in the first place.
● Implement a good in-app feedback system: Make it easy for users to rate and review your app.
● Figure out the best moment to ask for feedback: After a purchase, after completing a level, etc.
● Always reply to reviews, especially if they are negative: You can easily turn negative feedback into positive experiences by replying and taking care of issues users have.
Track your performance, study your competitors and analyze your target market.It’s essential to learn what exactly you want to communicate through your visual assets.
After a thorough analysis, it’s time to set the goals and start optimizing. Most of the time, Conversion Rate to Install can be improved by optimizing your visual assets and video.
An eye-catching and original icon would always invite browsers to click on your app or game when they appear in Search results.This action is known as CTR (Click Through Rate) or TTR (Tap Through Rate) and it’s the first step in improving Visibility.
Eye-catching screenshots that highlight your app best features and describes what users can do on the app is always a good idea.
Creativity plays an important role because users love new things- be innovative and pique curiosity, because people are always looking for novelty!
You can display up to 10 different screenshots in the App Store and up to 8 different screenshots in Google Play.
A great, short video is crucial in improving Conversion Rate to Install - be thoughtful when creating your video because users decide whether or not they’ll download the app within a couple of seconds.
The goal is to tease your potential users and show them the cool things they can do with your app. You can find inspiration from these 39 Amazing Promo Videos You Can Find On Google Play Store.
*IMPORTANT:Run A/B tests and find out which variations of your listing visual assets perform better in terms of conversion rate. We recommend starting with the icon, finding the one that gets more traffic to the product page, and then A/B testing the rest of elements.
Make sure that you have defined your KPIs - this will help you check if you have met your expectations when analysing the results.
In this ASO guide we provided you with the essential information you need to be aware of in order to achieve your goals when doing ASO: increase visibility and improve Conversion Rate to Download.
Before you start on ASO, ensure that you have a functioning, bug-free app, otherwise all your efforts will be in vain. And remember that it’s essential to research, optimize, and track and iterate. The app stores are constantly changing their algorithms so you need to keep up with these changes. ASO is a never-ending cycle.
Cristina Stefanova is Social Media Manager and Content Marketing Specialist at TheTool.io. Cristina likes writing about App Marketing and Mobile Growth. She is passionate about music, languages and technology.