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A Complete Guide to ASO (App Store Optimization)

Home » Mobile Marketing » Mobile Apps » A Complete Guide to ASO (App Store Optimization)

Matija Hanicar

Created: March 14, 2019

Last Update: August 22, 2019

The process of ASO (App Store Optimization) consists of two main parts – optimizing the app page and optimizing the search page. Ranking high in the search results means your future user will find you more easily. It is similar to being on the first page of Google – you’re more likely to be noticed. With more than 2,5 million apps in the Google Play Store and 2,45 million apps in the App Store, it’s not that easy to stand out. You’ve already done the hard part – you’ve developed an app. Now you have to let people know it exists and help them find you.

1. Do the Research

Research your target market before launching the app. Understand your audience, their needs, and behavior. Don’t try to target everybody – your app will fulfill the specific needs of your users. If you’ve just published a game, research similar games, and their players.

Research checklist:
– What language are your users speaking?
User – Why did he download the app? Define the demographics, psychographics, habits, lifestyle of your (potential) users.
Social proof – How would a user describe the app to a friend or family member?
Competitors – What is your app advantage in comparison to the competitors?
Keywords – What keywords are my competitors using – how easy/difficult is ranking on those keywords?
Keywords ranking – Are you targeting the obvious keywords or the less obvious (with less traffic)? It’s easier to be noticed for a keyword with less competition.

Keyword research

At the beginning of your ASO, start with deciding do you want to rank in top 10 results for a more difficult keyword with much more traffic or your goal is to be on the top of the results (top 3, for example) list for a less difficult keyword.

Put yourself in the shoes of your user – and try to imagine his way to your app.

2. Choose the right App Name

App Name isn’t just about branding – it is an important part of ASO. According to TUNE (Mobile App Analytics Platform), apps that included relevant keywords in the title, on average ranked 10,3% higher than apps without a title keyword.

Truncated App Title

Did you know that titles in the App Store can be up to 255 characters long? That means you can use incorporate a lot of keywords and phrases. But don’t spam your future users with phrases that aren’t relevant to them. App Name should be a compromise between a catchy name and keywords relevant to your app. Longer titles will be truncated, meaning the user will only see the beginning of the title of your app in the search results. For the App Store, titles get truncated after the 23rd character (including spaces), and in the Google Play, you can fit a bit more characters. To be exact, in the Google Play store the title of your app will be truncated after 30th character.

3. Optimize the keywords

Keyword optimization will be different depending on where you are publishing your app. App Store and Google Play have different approaches when it comes to ASO keywords.

App Store Keywords
In the App Store, there is a 100-character keyword field. Your app will rank in the search results based on how relevant the keywords are to the search query. Considering that, use all the characters you can to describe most of your app.

Google Play
In the Google Play store, there isn’t a designated field for entering keywords. ASO on the Google Play Store is more similar to modern SEO. Google Play takes into consideration every textual element in the apps’ description. Developers need to fill in 3 fields on the Google Play – name, short description, and long description. Some suggest putting keywords in the short description as well as in the developer name and URL/package. For a new app, it will be very difficult to hit the top of the charts for often used keywords. If you’re starting, use long-tailed keywords that are more specific, but fewer apps are competing for them. It means you’ll be able to rank faster and with more ease.

4. Intrigue your users with App Description

Beside mentioning a few keywords, the description of your app should be aimed at your user base, not at the search engine. It should intrigue the user to download the app and describe what your app does. The description should be short and easy to understand.

First three sentences should be attention grabbing since a customer will probably check out a few alternatives before deciding which app to download. In the Google Play store, there is a category of “similar apps” which is not to be confused with the related apps ads section.

Think of the apps’ description as a living document, as you update the app, you should update the app description.

5. App Icon – stand out and make your users remember you

App Icon is maybe a small, but very significant part of your App Page. It is the first visual element of the app store the users see. App Icon is the part of your app the users will see each day through their use of the app – if they download it. App Icon should make your app stand out from the competitors and encourage users to re-open the app once is on their device.

It is not enough just to design and implement an app icon, try testing multiple alternatives to see which icon drives conversion rates. Optimized App Icon has the potential to boost conversion rates by up to 30%. But have in mind that different stores will require different strategies. The design of the App page on the App Store and on the Google Play is different. An icon can boost CVR from 11% (Google Play) to 18% (App Store).

6. Tell the story of your app with screenshots and videos

You can upload up to five screenshots for an iOS app and up to eight for an Android app. Screenshots and videos won’t have a direct effect on search rankings, but they will drive the downloads.

Revolut App Screenshots

The screenshots are the first thing the users will see from your app and they should tell the story about the app. The user will only see the first 2-3 screenshots on the page load – choose the first screenshots wisely.

7. Localize, localize, localize

Importance of localization has been proven over and over again.

The process of localization of your app would consist of customizing your app page in the App Store or Google Play store, but also optimizing the whole app to work in different languages. Have in mind that some users don’t speak or understand English, another reason why it’s important to define your target audience in advance.

App localization isn’t only about translating the app into a different language, you need to adapt it to a different country, customs and habits of their citizens. Think about different keywords users might enter while searching for your app, they probably won’t be the same in the UK, US, and Australia.

8. Index your App

It’s not enough to publish the app in the app store and wait for users to stumble upon it. App Indexing is an option that gets your app into Google Search. If a user already installed your app, they can launch your app and go directly to the content they’re searching for. To get your app’s content indexed by Google, use the same URLs in your app that you use on your website. Google will then crawl the links on your website and serve them in search results.

App Indexing success of Ali Express

For example, AliExpress significantly improved the engagement of their users after implementing app indexing. App Indexing lets Google index apps just like websites, so the links from your app will appear in search results. Your users will much find what they were searching for more easily. According to a Firebase case study, AliExpress has seen an average 80-90% increase in search impressions and 30-40% increase in clicks for eligible searches.

9. Update the app listing frequently

It’s important to update the app listing frequently, as you publish new features or as you update the app. As the new functionalities are introduced, and the bugs from the past are fixed, encourage users to install the updates.

Communicate with the users in the comments, they can often reveal bugs and problems in the comments. Managing the negative reviews when they appear is crucial for maintaining a good relationship with your users.

10. Encourage the user reviews and comments, and reward your users’ engagement

Have you ever experienced finishing a level in a game or using the app when your experience was interrupted with a pop-up about rating the game? It has probably annoyed you when it appeared, but the fastest way to actually get reviews from your users is to ask them. But be careful how you do it, Apple has very clear App Store Reviews Guidelines – and if you try to trick your users or manipulate ratings your apps will be removed from the store.

App Review Popup in the App Store

Apps with the highest rating are those who keep their customers engaged and take their users feedback into consideration. But have in mind that usually the reviews will be given by the vocal minority, those who either love your app or hate your app. Having good ratings will have a positive impact on anybody checking the app page in the app store and eventually it will drive the download of your app.


App Store Optimization (ASO) is a crucial piece of your marketing efforts. It is an ongoing process of trial and error. Nowadays, it is crucial to be data-driven. Get to know your users with an implementation of an app analytics platform. Run the tests and readjust as you figure out what works the best for you app, game or audience.

ASO is a necessary part of any user acquisition strategy, all the puzzles need to work together to ensure your marketing investments come back… and stay.

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