Mobile apps can help generate revenue, engage with users, and increase brand awareness. However, with approximately 6 million other apps striving to do the same in app stores, getting your app discovered can be one of the most significant challenges you may face. In such a competitive landscape, you need to take a special step to stand out and ensure your target audience can easily find your app. App Store Optimization (ASO) can be the solution for this. In the ASO process, you can do many things, from keyword analysis to regular content updates, multilingual SEO service to optimizing titles and subtitles.
What is App Store Optimization?
App Store Optimization (ASO) is the continuous process of optimizing a mobile app to improve its visibility and achieve higher rankings in app store search results. The higher your app ranks in the search results, the more it will be noticed by your target audience. In essence, ASO makes it easier for users to discover and find your app. Increased visibility results in more traffic to your app’s page in the app store.
The key factors to consider for ASO include:
- App name and title
- App description
- Ratings and reviews.
How Does App Store Optimization Work?
In App Store Optimization, app store users use search queries to find different apps and games. Additionally, app stores recommend new apps based on user preferences and the popularity of apps. In this aspect, App Store Optimization can be compared to search engine optimization (SEO). Typical ASO tactics include keyword optimization, search and paid ads, category rankings, and featuring apps or lists in Google Play or the App Store.
To achieve organic growth, you must first understand how users search for and find apps. The first thing you need to do to maximize downloads is to make your app easily accessible to the right users.
Why is App Store Optimization Important for App Growth?
First and foremost, ASO is crucial because it allows you to control the visibility and discoverability of your app in increasingly competitive app stores.
Over 80% of users discover apps either by browsing app stores or considering the recommendations provided. This means that most users download apps they discover in the app store. In short, if you’re not using ASO to improve your app’s search ranking, you’re missing out on the most critical discovery channel available to your app.
The Benefits of App Store Optimization
App Store Optimization allows you to reach your target audience more easily and highlights the unique features of your app. A well-implemented ASO can significantly increase app downloads and make your app more noticeable among millions of other applications.
The main benefits of App Store Optimization include:
- Increase in organic traffic.
- Improved visibility of the app in app stores.
- Acquiring loyal and high-quality users.
- Lower user acquisition costs due to improved search indexing.
- High conversion rates.
- Continuous growth.
- More downloads
- Increased revenue.
App Store Optimization for Google Play & App Store
App Store Optimization (ASO), which aims to increase the visibility of your apps and make them easier for users to find on mobile app stores, involves notable differences for Google Play Store and Apple App Store. To briefly touch upon the differences between these two platforms:
Publishing Processes for Apps: Apple and Google both subject their apps to a review process to ensure a certain level of quality before they are available. This process differs between the two platforms and tends to be longer for Apple.
Keywords: Keywords, a critical aspect of ASO, are important in both app stores, but they are evaluated differently. In Google Play, keyword indexing works similarly to Google Search, considering all textual elements. Thus, repeating keywords in various fields might be necessary for ranking.
In contrast, the Apple App Store provides a specific field for keywords. Sometimes, it even derives keywords from competitors’ names or category names. Unlike Google Play, you should avoid repeating keywords across any fields for iOS apps.
Ranking Factors: Ranking factors are part of the complex algorithms that sort search results. While exact information about these algorithms isn’t available, we can infer some factors that influence app store rankings:
- App name & title
- App URL
- App subtitle
- Keyword field
- In-app purchases
- Ratings and reviews
- Downloads and engagement
- Hidden factors
- Keywords and core algorithms
Strategies for App Store Optimization
Up to this point, we’ve been discussing how App Store Optimization (ASO) applied to app stores is crucial for increasing visibility and improving rankings of your app. Now, let’s take a brief look at what a successful ASO strategy should encompass.
1. Add Keywords (Apple App Store Only)
App store search engines recommend apps that align well with the keywords used for searching, making keywords the cornerstone of a solid ASO strategy. Therefore, it’s crucial to utilize keywords in every available field provided by app stores.
In the Apple App Store, there exists a space where you can input keywords that describe your app and that you wish to appear for in search results. Apple takes these keywords into account when ranking your app.
You can input as many keywords as you want in the Apple App Store, but remember there’s a 100-character limit, and keywords should be separated by commas without spaces.
2. Optimize Your App’s Title and Subtitle
In a good ASO strategy, another crucial element to optimize is your app’s title, also known as the “app name” in the App Store. This is because your app’s title is not only the first thing a user sees in search results but also one of the most influential factors for app store rankings.
Titles and app names are limited to a maximum of 30 characters. With limited characters available, it’s essential to be smart and careful in how you utilize them.
Using keywords in your app’s title is important and beneficial. However, you should avoid overdoing it and using them in unnatural ways.
The Apple App Store also provides an additional subtitle field where you can provide more context about your app. You have up to 30 characters for this space, which can be used to include more keywords and better describe your app.
3. Write App Descriptions
App description fields play a significant role in your ASO strategy due to their ability to provide a much more open-ended opportunity to describe your app and its features.
However, whether considered for ranking or not, this field remains crucial. It has a substantial impact on users and directly affects how your app is perceived.
4. Add Compelling Visual Elements
Encouraging users to click on your app and download it is also a crucial part of the ASO strategy. As it directly impacts your ranking, using captivating descriptions and visuals to prompt people to download your app is highly important.
Feel free to be creative with visual element usage, but you must still adhere to certain rules:
Apple App Store guidelines:
- You can use up to 10 visual elements.
- Among these, three can be videos lasting 15 to 30 seconds. However, it’s more effective to use one well-prepared video.
- Videos must be related to in-app content.
- Utilize all 10 available slots and create images of appropriate sizes for different devices.
- You can include text on the images, but ensure they stay up to date.
Google Play guidelines:
- You can use up to 8 visual elements, including one video that can be up to 30 seconds long.
- Set appropriate screenshot sizes for all devices.
- Your video must have a YouTube URL and ads should be turned off.
- Visual elements should reflect the user experience.
5. Encourage Reviews and Ratings
Reviews and comments are indicators of how popular and quality your application is. If your application receives negative reviews or low ratings, the likelihood of appearing high in app store search results is very low.
The biggest challenge you may encounter here is determining when to ask for feedback from users. Requesting feedback too frequently or after experiencing issues in the app can lead to receiving low ratings.
- Ask for ratings and reviews after positive actions.
- Use other channels to request ratings and reviews.
- Offer alternative communication methods for negative reviews.
- Request ratings and reviews after updates.
6. Update Regularly
Keeping your app up to date is a crucial aspect of App Store Optimization (ASO), as both the Apple App Store and Google Play consider the regularity of app updates as a ranking factor. This is primarily because app stores and users alike value applications that continually evolve and improve, leading them to prioritize such apps.
You can inform users about the changes you’ve made through the “What’s New in This Version?” section on the App Store or the “Release Notes” section on Google Play.
Even if it’s solely for bug fixes, consider updating your app at least once or twice a month.
7. Go International
To increase visibility and reach a broader user base, you can take a direct approach by expanding your app to more regions.
The Apple App Store, available in 175 regions and 40 languages, and Google Play, available in 143 regions and 49 languages, offer the opportunity to localize your app for dozens of different regions and languages.
Mobile app localization is more than just checking a box and translating in-app text to another language. It involves a thoughtful and effective approach to make your app more visible to potential users in different regions, rank higher on app stores, and consequently, receive more downloads.