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What is App Store Optimization (ASO) and How Does It Work? – A Comprehensive Guide to App Store Optimization for businesses and brands

by | Digital Marketing | 2 comments

With around 5 million apps in the mainstream app stores, getting your app visible in front of the users is one of the biggest challenges today. Therefore, understanding app store optimization (ASO) is an essential task for mobile app publishers nowadays. 

So let’s discuss the whole game, what actually app store optimization is and how you can make the most of it. 

App Store Optimization - ASO
What is App Store Optimization (ASO) and How Does It Work? - A Comprehensive Guide to App Store Optimization for businesses and brands 1

What is App Store Optimization? 

App store optimization, commonly known as ASO, is a set of practices of optimizing apps to rank higher in a mobile app store’s search page. The higher you can rank in a mobile app store’s search page, the more visibility your app will get to your potential customers. 

The increased visibility can attract more traffic and higher the chances of downloads of your app in the app store.  

The basic goal of an App Store Optimization activity is to attract more visitors to your app’s page, increase the rate of downloads as well as the number of users. 

A critical understanding of your target audience is also an essential part of the ASO process. You should have a clear concept about the keywords your prospective customers are using for searching apps similar to yours. 

The more you will learn about the search phrases and keywords of your potential customers, the better you will understand which keywords are the most relevant to use. 

Related Reading: Guide to mobile marketing

App store optimization factors to consider: 

Here is a list of ASO factors that influence the rankings of your app on the app store searches. 

  1. App title 
  2. Description
  3. Keyword list 
  4. Subtitle 
  5. Reviews and ratings 
  6. Downloads 
  7. Retention 
  8. Screenshots 
  9. Preview videos 

Before we get started discussing how to optimize each of these factors, it’s worth knowing why ASO matters. 

Why ASO is Important 

According to major resources, almost 50 % of apps get visibility through app store searches. However, searching in the app store is the most used process for finding and downloading new mobile apps. 

With millions of apps in multiple app stores competing to rank higher than one another, app store optimization is the only reliable weapon for your app’s long-term ranking and success. But it’s not an overnight game, make sure you have a consistent plan for improving your ASO. 

App Store Optimization (ASO) Video Tutorial

ASO, or app store optimization, is the process of optimizing your app for the app store in order to improve its visibility and ranking. There are a number of factors that app store algorithms take into account when determining ranking, including app name, keywords, app description, and user reviews. By following some simple tips, you can improve your app’s ASO and increase its chances of being seen and downloaded by potential users.

First, choose an app name that is both unique and relevant to your app’s content. This will help it to stand out from the millions of other apps in the store and make it more likely to be found by users searching for related terms.

Second, carefully select the keywords you want to target. In addition to using relevant keywords, also consider using keyword stuffing – strategically adding extra keywords in your app’s title and description to improve searchability.

Finally, keep your app’s description concise and up-to-date, highlighting any new features or updates. By following these simple tips, you can optimize your app for better visibility in the app store.

How to rank your app on app store searches: ASO basics 

The basics of app store optimization can be divided into 2 major parts – main ASO factors and secondary ASO factors. 

Main ASO factors 

These factors have the highest impact on the rankings of your app. Therefore, you will need to pay special attention to these factors.

Main ASO factors include –  

  • App title or name – the highest search volume keyword should be placed in your app name or title. Take adequate time for researching to find out the heaviest search volume keyword about your business. 
  • Keywords – you have to figure out the most relevant and the most often used keywords to rank your app higher in the app store searches. 

The title and keywords can be modified from time to time, but you should focus on optimizing keywords rather than changing the title because changing the title makes it difficult for your potential customers to find your app and it will negatively impact on your reputation. 

Secondary ASO factors 

Secondary ASO factors are factors that have a high impact on your app rankings, but you can’t directly control these factors. 

Secondary ASO factors include – 

  • The total number of downloads – your total download numbers have a significant role in app store optimization, but you directly can’t control it. 
  • Reviews and ratings – reviews and ratings are also important for your app rankings. Though you can encourage your customers to review on your app in several ways, you don’t have direct control over these factors. 

Here’s a complete breakdown of all the important factors to consider while optimizing your app to rank higher in the app stores. 

  1. App title 

The title is one of the most important factors in online marketing including app store optimization. Putting keywords in the title may help you increase ranking in the app store searches. But app stores are highly regulated and obviously, you have some limitations to apply this method. 

Apple allows only 30 characters for the title and keyword stuffing is a common cause of bans. Users also avoid shady-looking apps to download for privacy concerns. 

The maximum character limit of the app titles in the Google Play Store for Android apps is 80. You have to be smart enough while optimizing your app title.   

  1. Description

Though the app store algorithm avoids the description technically, users want to find the details of the app. You should focus on explaining the benefits and features of your app here, rather than optimizing for SEO. 

You will probably see a lot of space in the description field, but it actually doesn’t work. Truncated snippets are shown with a click more option. 

You have only 252 characters to explain your product or make a pitch to convince users you are worth downloading. So, you have to keep it short and sweet. You might need to A/B test different iterations to see what works best.  

  1. Keyword list 

The description doesn’t affect rankings of keywords in apple’s app store in comparison to the Google Play store. Apple allows you the maximum of 100 characters for entering keywords separated by commas. These keywords help your app get found through searches in the app store.

Here’s a list of tips to enter keywords efficiently – 

  • Choose less competitive keywords to increase the chance of ranking higher
  • Always use shorter versions of keywords 
  • Don’t enter both singular and plural numbers of any keyword 
  • Avoid using articles and prepositions 
  • Don’t use app name repeatedly 
  • Enter comma to separate every keyword 

You can do some in-depth keyword research using Apple Search Ads. This feature is a unique feature that is only available to iOS users and it’s an indispensable tool for listing a project. 

You may also use Ubersuggest or any keyword research tool to find the most common key terms. Make sure you fill in all 100 characters so that your app would rank for whatever you put in this field.  

  1. Subtitle 

Apple’s app store allows fewer characters for app titles compared to the Google play store. Luckily it has a subtitle field. It provides the opportunity to enter additional information or emphasize the unique feature of the app. 

A subtitle is shown just below the title in search results. This feature is also limited to a maximum of 30 characters. It gives you another opportunity to enter more descriptive keywords. As it has a direct impact on the rankings of your app, you should obviously consider entering essential keywords to target in the subtitle as well. 

It’s important to remember that you can update subtitles only while a new update or feature is released. Therefore, you should test diverse versions in each update to figure out the most impactful and beneficial subtitle that can convert the highest number of potential customers. 

  1. Reviews and ratings 

Reviews and ratings are undoubtedly an essential consideration for users, especially for those who are unfamiliar with an app brand. 

Apps with higher ratings would also rank higher. This process evokes a dilemma – you need more reviews and ratings, but no negatives. Therefore, you will need to have an option to connect with your users inside your app, giving them a space to express and engage directly with the publisher. 

On the other hand, you need to encourage your happy and satisfied customers to leave a positive review. 

Quality matters a lot. The lower your rating, the fewer users will be interested to download your app. Think for yourself. Would you like to download an app with a one-star rating? Obviously not. 

Rating is also an influencing factor for conversions. It takes a lot of work and time to raise from one star to four stars. 

Ask your customers to leave a rating without being too spammy within the app. Try to reply to each review, especially negative ones. 

It’s possible that a customer got a bad experience due to a technical error which has been corrected. Inform your customers that the issue is corrected and your customers may consider revising their reviews and ratings. 

Always thank your customers for their reviews, positive or negative, and solve the issues as soon as possible. You need to gather a lot of positive feedback.   

  1. Downloads 

Downloads have a vital role in app store optimization. The total number of downloads is a key indicator of the popularity of your app and it influences the ranking on the searches. 

Both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store use the total number of times your app has been downloaded to decide your app’s ranking. More specifically, it’s the current rate of downloads. 

For instance, while an old app might have one million total downloads, a new app may rank above it by achieving more downloads this month. 

Apart from app stores, users also consider the total number of downloads before making a decision. A low number of downloads indicate either an unpopular or a poor app, and users are likely to avoid it. 

However, if you deliver your promises, solve issues, and focus on ASO efficiently, then you don’t need to worry about the number of downloads.

  1. Retention 

Retentions are also an important factor and it’s associated with the number of downloads. You may get a large number of downloads by awarding or paying users in some other ways, but this black hat ASO technique doesn’t work for long term. 

There are many apps in app stores that get plenty of downloads but users never use them. App stores take into account the rate of retention together with the total number of downloads to rank the app. 

  1. Screenshots 

Screenshots are very important visuals that influence ranking and conversion. Most users make a decision about an app just by seeing the screenshots of the app. 

Here is a list of tips for including screenshots. 

  • Be very careful about the screenshots you want to put. You should consider only the best features of your app. 
  • Try to put some texts that explain the picture. 
  • Enter a call to action where needed. 
  • Perform A/B testing to figure out the best ones. 
  • Always localize. 
  1. Preview videos 

Apart from the screenshots, you will get an option to use a preview video on your app page. Videos are more effective for increasing the conversion rate nowadays. 

Adding a preview video to the app page is very simple. As YouTube is linked in this process, you can simply put the video link copied from the YouTube channel into the app page section. Interestingly, your YouTube views count will also increase while users will watch your preview video on your app’s listing page. 

Your video should show the best features of your app. The first 30 to 60 seconds are very important in any marketing video as well as in the app preview videos. Make sure your unique selling points (USPs) are featured at the very beginning of the preview video. 

Just like search engine optimization, app store optimization is a process that requires to be monitored and consistently improved over a long period of time. You will need to invest a lot of energy and time to reap the benefits of app store optimization in most possible ways. If you can do ASO efficiently, you will attract quality traffic to your app consistently.

Mobile Marketing And App Store Optimization Course from Seven Boats

Get started your ASO with 7boats 

As a full-scale digital marketing agency, 7boats can take your app store optimization to the next level. If you want more downloads from the major app stores such as Apple App Store, Galaxy App Store, and Google Play Store, you should definitely consider choosing our ASO service. 

With more than a decade of experience and expertise, 7 boats can help you – 

At 7 boats (Seven Boats), our highly qualified professionals understand the difficulties and benchmarks of the algorithms that form the app store optimization (ASO) process, and we use our expertise to make your app as well as your business a successful brand digitally. 

Contact our expert team to get a personalized ASO plan for your app that will make your business successful.  

Debajyoti Banerjee is the Founder, Director & CEO of Seven Boats - A leading digital marketing agency & digital marketing training institute in India since 2011. He is a Google & LinkedIn Certified Digital Marketer & Trainer, Brand Strategist, Consultant & Entrepreneur. Debajyoti has 17+ years of domain expertise & successful track records in Digital Marketing & emerging technologies. Learn more Schedule an appointment with Debajyoti Banerjee

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2 Comments

  1. Subham shaw

    Very detailed write-up. I plan to launch my App very soon and was looking for an excellent guide to get me started. I will indeed implement everything which you mentioned in this guide. Adding the right keyword is very important to make the App appear when someone searches for it—beneficial information about uploading a screenshot. I will surely keep them in mind before uploading.

    Reply
    • Debajyoti Banerjee

      Thank you Subham. Wish you all the best for your mobile app.

      Reply

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