You’ve built a great app and you’ve got your promotional plan in place. All that’s left to do is representing your app in the Apple App Store and Google Play in the most beneficial way. If you want your app to have the best chance to be discovered by people searching the store, you’ll need to be sure to pay attention to app store optimization. There are more apps added every day, and in order to get those views, you’ll have to help your app store page rise above the rest. You need to optimize your app store page!
App store optimization, or ASO, is very similar to search engine optimization (SEO), which is already well-known by most business owners. ASO is the process of improving the rankings of your app page for certain search terms that are important for your app. The better your app’s position in app store search results, the more views (and thus downloads) your app will receive. ASO differs a little from SEO in that, while it does focus on rankings, the main goal is encouraging downloads. When speaking about ASO, digital marketing professionals usually mean app store search rankings as well as download rates.
Many of the well-known aspects of search engine optimization also apply to app store optimization: keyword selection, keyword density, links, name, content updates, etc. Then there are things that are more specific to ASO: category selection, app product updates, and user ratings and reviews. Let’s take a look at ways to address these factors and make sure your app and its app store page are designed to get the best results.
Name your app wisely
You know that it’s important to have a name that stands out to users, but your app’s name is also important for app store optimization. A short catchy name might sound great, but you’ll want to consider including your most important keywords in your title. Try not to closely copy other apps inside your category, and don’t use keywords that are too generic (the more generic keywords you use, the more competition for the search result positions you face). A descriptive title with some carefully selected keywords will appeal to users as well as the app store search algorithms, so take some time to think about your app’s name. And remember that the first 25 symbols are the most important!
Choose the right categories
Find the categories that are the most accurate for your app—the more specific, the better. Your app may have social networking features, but if it’s primarily about music or health, you need to make that the primary category. Be sure to browse through the categories in the app stores carefully and assess your competitors and opportunities, because finding the best category is very important for your long-term success!
Write a user-friendly description, trying to be app store bot-friendly
You know the importance of keywords, but long gone are the days when you can just stuff a block of text full of keywords (that no person wants to read) just for the benefit of the search rankings. As there are many apps available in each category, people are much more demanding now. You’ll want your app’s description to contain relevant keywords, but first and foremost, you should make sure that it’s easy to read and describes your app together with its benefits clearly and accurately. Break up your text with short paragraphs and bulleted lists to improve readability. Include update notes, too. Don’t forget about localization: only 5% of the world’s population speaks English at home. Localized descriptions, keywords, and screenshots will deliver you tons of new downloads and active users (even if your main app interface is only in English).
Start your description with a summary
The first few lines of your app’s description are the most important. Not only for users (many of them read only the first few lines), but also for app store search bots. Make sure those first lines contain a short version of the whole description, so that users can understand your app without having to “read more” or scroll through too much text. These days, users generally know exactly what they’re looking for when they search the app store, and if they don’t see what they want in those first few lines, they’ll quickly move on.
Target more specific “long-tail” keywords
Just as in your title, your app will see more success if you focus on the specific rather than the generic keywords when preparing your description and the Keyword list (Apple App Store). Keywords with medium-low search volume but low competition are the best place to start. It is much easier to rank in the app store search, and the conversion of these keywords is considerably better, as the people searching for these “long-tail” keywords usually know what they want. Moreover, if your app is near the top of the rankings for a search term, users will be more likely to go ahead with the download.
Create a great app icon
You may not think that your app icon really matters for app store optimization, but remember that what ASO is meant to do is get your app downloaded by more people. One of the best ways to get people to actually click, read, and download is by having a great eye-catching app icon. Try to create an app icon that will have high CTR (Click Though Rate) from the app store search results, and search bots will award your app with better search visibility for future searches. A clean, flat, crisp, professional icon will draw people’s limited attention. Think about your colour palette and don’t use small text, photos, or detailed images. In case you carefully describe your task in detail, you can create a super stylish app icon on Fiverr for as low as $5-$10.
Screenshot choices matter
While it’s good to have enough screenshots to thoroughly display your app’s features, the ones you show first are by far the most important since they’re the first things that users see. As the saying states, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Showcase your app’s best features with these first screenshots. Chronological progress through the app is less important than putting the best parts right up front. This is extremely important to get higher conversion rates, as your final goal is to make the person download your app. Video introductions are very important too. Your video preview should usually take the place of your first screenshot, because videos generally work better in terms of making that good first impression. The recommended length of the app intro video is about 20-30 seconds. This kind of intro video can be easily created on Fiverr too.
Solicit great reviews
Great reviews are important for rankings as well as the conversion rate (view to download rate). Actively solicit reviews from your users by directing them back to the app store to give a rating and review once they’ve been using your app for a while and gotten some real benefit from it. Start with the most active users (these are obviously the people who are the most satisfied with your app) and give them a small in-app award for writing a 5-star review. In general, the best time to ask for a review is about 14 days since the download, or 5-6 hours of in-app time (depending on which way better relates to your app category). Interacting with your user community by replying to reviews will also be beneficial – this tip is an important part of any ASO guide. Ratings and reviews are a big part of the mobile app ecosystem, so pursue those 5-star reviews to help keep your search rankings up.
Try to keep your app size down
Your app size matters when it comes to getting those downloads. The app store will ask users if they want to download larger apps if they’re not on wi-fi. It’s unlikely that users will come back to an app later, so it’s important to get that download immediately. Currently, the maximum recommended app size for iOS is 150mb, and for Android, it’s 100mb. This is one of the app store optimization tips that need to be considered on the app development stage. So, make sure that you don’t have a problem with losing downloads because of the size of your app.
Take the benefit of A/B testing
A/B testing, also called split testing, is a kind of marketing experiment where you split your target audience to test a number of variations of an image, text, or campaign and find out which performs better. It is a great way to determine what works better for your app. It may seem tedious, but it’s important to test titles, icons, keywords, screenshots, and descriptions to find out what users prefer. If you aim for long-term successes, it is definitely worth it! Some ASO tools will help you A/B test your app page. Don’t trust your app’s success to a best guess or settle for “good enough.”
Use ASO tools to save time and money
There are many tools available to help you with your ASO activities. These tools can provide useful analytics about your app users, help you with A/B testing and evaluation, and even provide information about the keywords that competing apps are targeting. This helps you make right decisions about how to proceed with updates to your app and your app store page. ASO tools are usually offered as a kind of online software, and they will cost you money, but the benefit and the competitive advantage you get are worth much more.
Make ASO your regular task
App store optimization is not a one-time thing. The algorithms that the app stores use to determine search rankings change frequently, and new apps are added all the time. Competitors improve each day. It’s important to regularly re-evaluate your app store page (at least once per 4-6 months) and revisit your keywords and descriptions. ASO tools can be a great help, plus, you’d best keep an eye on new ASO studies appearing on the market regularly. Some large mobile marketing agencies which provide ASO services are busy with researching the app store search bot behaviour, as well as some major industry-related trends. So, you will want to make sure you get this vital information in time.
Update your app regularly
Your app will be ranked more highly by both the app store search algorithms and by users themselves if it gets regular updates. Be sure to include change notes in the description of your app, and update the corresponding parts of your description and screenshots after any significant changes. Don’t forget about screenshots; they’re an eye-catching feature of the app page so if you’ve made any graphical updates, don’t forget to reflect those. Even if nothing changed, updating screenshots from time to time helps to keep your app perceived as “alive”.
Update your app-supporting website, too
Your website may not seem relevant for app store optimization, but it is actually super important. Referrals from your website to your app store page can be a strong source of views (as there are so many ways to get traffic to your website nowadays), and getting traffic from an external source like your website will improve your app store search rankings a lot. Any external sources that send traffic to your app’s page also help to increase your rankings and visibility, but your own website will send the most quality traffic, as only you control who these visitors are!
Keep up with app promotion
Running regular promotions for your app will help you get a fresh infusion of views on your app’s page. This boost in views itself will help your app rise in the search rankings, delivering more views. Promotions can be as simple as sending a discount code out to your customer list, or you can arrange for promotions with various websites that feature mobile apps. Discounts lead to downloads, downloads lead to more ratings and reviews, and all these factors are so useful for boosting your search rankings as well as brand awareness.