Guide to a Great App Store Optimization (ASO) Strategytips 12 min read
Since their very first appearance 10 years ago, mobile apps and games have evolved a lot, shifting the way we interact with others, how we connect with brands and how we satisfy our needs. Almost every well-known brand offers mobile experience, and with the increased use of smartphones, a lot of developers and marketers have seen the perfect niche in the app industry.
In the last ten years, the main app stores have gone through a massive growth. The competition level has increased alongside the release of new apps every day, leading app marketers and developers to build solid strategies and market their products in the best way possible.
App Store Optimization has taken the key role in the app marketing strategy nowadays. In this guide, we are going to help you approach and understand ASO, and share actionable tips that will help you gain visibility in the app stores and boost your organic downloads!
What is App Store Optimization (ASO)? Check these factors and tips to supercharge your strategy
ASO, or App Store Optimization, is the process of optimizing a mobile app or game in order to maximize visibility in the stores, drive more traffic to the listing, improve Conversion Rate and in the end, get more downloads.
There are two different types of factors that can influence an ASO Strategy: on-metadata factors and off-metadata factors.
On-metadata factors are those elements of the app's product page that can be easily modified from the Developer Console and App Store Connect: App Name / Title, Subtitle (only App Store), Description, Short description (only Google Play), Keywords Field (only App Store), URL / Package (only Google Play), Developer name (only Google Play), Developer name (only Google Play), Category, Icon, Featured Graphic (only Google Play), Screenshots and Video.
Off-metadata factors are external elements that are not directly controlled by developers but can be influenced: volume of installs, the speed of installs, user ratings and reviews, engagement, and SEO backlinks (only Google Play)
Continue reading this guide and learn how to make the most out of your ASO strategy!
Optimizing your textual elements is crucial for achieving visibility in search — keywords are powerful ASO elements. In order to optimize your app keywords, follow these steps:
1. Conduct a deep Keyword Research
Start by brainstorming and make up a list of keywords that could be relevant for your app (think of your app's value, its main features and the problems it solves). Study your competitors and analyze the keywords they are using, are they also relevant for you? Do you think you want to use the same keywords? In addition, you should look for keyword suggestions and include mid- and long-tail keywords in your new keywords set.
Make sure you have a large set of keywords — we recommend working with at least 60-120 keywords per country ;)
2. Analyze and prioritize keywords
In order to take the best decision about which keywords to target, you need to take into account: traffic and difficulty estimations (look for a good balance of high traffic and low difficulty / competitiveness level), competitor rankings, and the keywords that are driving installs for your app (read more about the Installs per Keyword for Android apps here).
3. Optimize textual elements
When you have the list of keywords to target, it's time to optimize the textual elements of your listing. Include the most important keywords in the App Name / Title, Subtitle or Short Description and the Keywords Field — those are the fields that have the most weight in the ranking algorithms.
Then, include the rest of your keywords and keyword combinations in other fields: Description, URL / Package, and Developer Name. On Google Play, you can repeat your main keywords or keywords combinations more than once (in a natural way, of course) but on App Store try not to repeat keywords — the space is limited, and Apple will already mix and match your keywords from different fields.
4. Track keyword rankings
The textual elements in your product page are optimized — now it is time to get insights from the results. Keep track of your keywords rankings and benchmark with your competition — at this stage you need to understand the impact of your search visibility optimization on app downloads:
Screenshot from TheTool
Remember — Keyword Optimization is a cycle, and tracking the results is not the last stage — instead, tracking will help you understand if there is room for more improvement!
Visual elements & Video — A/B testing
Visual assets and video have a great impact on Conversion Rate to download — use them to expose your app's uniqueness and include a strong and catchy message.
The app icon is the first visual impression of your app or game, and it is highly influential, helping you convince the users to visit your app store listing and download your product. Your app icon should be a perfect visual representation of your app — users have to associate the app icon with the app itself. Keep it simple, don't include words (unless it's really unavoidable) and be innovative — standing out from the crowd is a must!
Source: Cabify — Own the city on Google Play Store
Screenshots are also important attention catchers, especially on the App Store, as they appear in the Search results page. Use your app screenshots to show users and visitors what value does your product bring and how does it feel to use your app. Some tips about screenshots:
- Use them all — up to 8 different screenshots per device on Google Play and up to 10 different screenshots per device on the App Store.
- The first 3 screenshots are the most important ones — make them attractive and push users to scroll through all of them!
- Use your screenshots to display your best features and create a storyline to engage your users to see more and end up downloading your app.
- Include text to accompany images and explain your key features and value.
Source: Bumble — Meet New People on App Store
App Preview and Promo Video
Videos are the best way to showcase your product in action, and in addition, users that watch your video are more likely to download your app. Videos have different roles in the main app stores:
- On the App Store, you can upload up to 3 different video previews and they would as well appear in search results (autoplaying on mute). For this reason, they are much more likely to influence users to download your app and increase Conversion Rate.
- On Google Play Store, you can upload only one YouTube video (the thumbnail will act as a feature graphic). Users are less likely to watch videos on Google Play, but if they do, they show a higher download intent.
The Feature Graphic, alongside the app icon is one of the most important visual elements on Google Play Store. Feature Graphic acts as an attention-grabber banner — design an outstanding image that will convince visitors to download your app / game straight away!
As we stated above, visual assets and video have a big impact on Conversion Rate to Download. For this reason, you need to optimize them and carry out A/B tests to find out what version brings the highest traffic to your product page and performs better in terms of conversion. When A/B testing:
- Test one element at a time — we recommend starting by A/B testing your app icon.
- Test different creatives and skip small changes.
- Test for around a week with a consistent traffic to really be able to draw conclusions.
You can use Google Experiments for Google Play and third-party solutions for the Apple App Store.
User Feedback — Ratings & Reviews
User Ratings and Reviews are powerful and highly influencing off-metadata factors — a large percentage of visitors would check out the Average Rating and the Reviews to decide if an app is worth downloading. They also help maximizing visibility on the app stores. Check out the following tips:
- Implement an effective in-app feedback system and identify the best moment to ask users to rate and review your app or game.
- Make sure your app is flawless before you submit it to the stores — you want to stay away from negative feedback.
- Stay close to your users — ask for feedback and make them feel special. If the feedback is negative, try to come up with the best solutions and turn negative feedback into a positive one.
Source: Wallapop on App Store
Bonus tip: keywords in the reviews are taken into account by the Google Play search ranking algorithm — take advantage of it!
Monitoring the ASO KPIs is an essential part of every strategy — what is not measured, can't be optimized. The most important ASO metrics to track are:
- Keyword rankings
- Top charts rankings
- Featured slots
- User feedback
- Conversion Rate
- Volume of installs
- Competitors ASO performance
Don't forget that ASO is a never-ending process where there is always room for improvement. You have to stay up-to-date and adapt to the changing algorithms of the app stores.
App discoverability, user engagement, and retention have become crucial metrics in an overcrowded industry of mobile apps. Product page localization is certainly one of the best moves you can do to overcome these challenges. By opening your app to different countries, you can get exposed to new audiences, improve your discoverability worldwide and get more downloads. Localization has numerous benefits — use these tips to make the most out of it:
- Start by localizing the store listing and, if the results are good, continue with localizing the full content of the app.
- Study the market and define your competitors per country.
- Carry out Keyword Research and Optimization process per country and aim to rank for the local versions of your main keywords.
- Don't forget about the visual assets — they should also be adapted to different markets.
Localization is a strong growth strategy for your mobile business. Help yourself out with app localization and take advantage of the worldwide presence!
Learn more about localization in this article: How to scale your ASO Strategy internationally.
App Store Optimization Guide: In a nutshell
In this article we covered the most important points you need to take care of when designing and implementing an ASO strategy for your mobile app or game.
We have seen that keyword optimization is crucial — conduct a deep research, come up with an extensive list of keywords (including long-tail keyword combinations), and include them in the most important fields, in order to rank higher in search results.
Take care of the visual assets and the videos, as they play a major role in Conversion Rate to install — A/B test and do your best to encourage users to install your app or game. Stay close to your customers and provide them with the best in-app experience if you want them to leave positive feedback.
Don't forget to keep track of your optimization — ASO is a long process, so never stop tracking and optimizing!
We hope this guide helps approach your own ASO strategy!
Author's bio: Cristina Stefanova is a Content & SMM Strategist at TheTool, a powerful self-service platform for App Store Optimization, helping developers with the ASO of mobile apps and games in over 90 countries. Cristina writes about mobile app marketing strategies and she is interested in languages & technology.