Complete Guide to App Store Optimization

Complete Guide to App Store Optimization

by Andrea Knezovic

The process of App Store Optimization consists of optimizing the app page and things like keywords, descriptions, and screenshots. 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 millions of apps across the app stores, it is not 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.

Do Your Research

Research your target market before launching the app. Understand your audience, their needs, and their 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

  • Language – 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 apparent keywords or the less obvious (with less traffic)? It’s easier to be noticed for a keyword with less competition.
app store optimization
Keyword research

At the beginning of your App Store Optimization, start with deciding do you want to rank in the 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 users – and try to imagine their way to your app.

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.

app title aso
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 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 the 30th character.

Pick out The Right Category

Since a lot of app store users are browsing apps by category, it’s very important to place your app properly. This is not only useful for the users, but it can also help your app rank better.

Can’t decide on just one category because your app can fit into multiple categories?

Here are a couple of ways to address this issue.

First, choose a couple of categories that seem to be the best fits for your app. Once you do this, analyze them. Observe how many apps can be found in every category and which of those apps are your strongest competitors. You can then decide on a category that gives your app the most possibility to rank high.

Wondering what happens if you pick out a completely wrong category?

You will probably face some consequences.

When you submit an app to the Apple App Store, Apple will review it before it’s published. Therefore, if the app is in the wrong category, it will probably get rejected.

In Google Play, you’re dependent on the app store users. If they notice any violations, users can submit your app for review. And if your business app is in the food & drink category, be assured – someone is going to react.

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 App Store Optimization 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 your app or game.

Google Play

In the Google Play store, there isn’t a designated field for entering keywords. App Store Optimization 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 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.

Intrigue Your Users with App Description

Besides 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.

The 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.

Make sure to include all the main benefits and features of your app or game – this will make users want to download it.

Here’s a good example of a Google Play description for Lily’s Garden, a puzzle game.

lily's gardern puzzle game description google play

As you can see, the first couple of sentences are very catchy and make you want to read more. This is a good example of how to intrigue users right away and keep them interested.

Then, all benefits and features are presented i.e. what this game is about and why you should play it. In this case, some of the features are: renovate, match, enjoy, explore, and relax. When writing a description for your app or game, think about what’s your USP and what features would users gravitate the most to.

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. The app icon should make your app stand out from the competitors and encourage users to re-open the app once it is on their device.

Another very important thing about the app icon is to stay original. We’ve seen a lot of apps copying others’ icons.

It is not enough just to design and implement an app icon. Before you even launch your game, try testing multiple alternatives to see which icon drives conversion rates. An 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 Google Play is different. An icon can boost CVR from 11% (Google Play) to 18% (App Store).

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.

guide to aso
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.

The most important thing about screenshots is that they’re visually appealing and give users more info on the app/game. For example, you can use screenshots to present the best features of your app, the benefits of using it, as well as explain how to use it.

Just like with the icon, it would be ideal to test several screenshot options before you launch an app.

Boost Organic User Acquisition with an App Store Promo Video

App description and screenshots can only get you so far. If you truly want to increase your user base, you need to add a promo video to your app store page. Put simply, there’s nothing that converts more users than video. It’s a fun and quick way for potential users to get the most important info on your app or game. Think of it as a video ad.

In the promo video, make sure to include the best features of your app or game. It’s also a good idea to explain how to use the app. This is beneficial for a couple of reasons. First, it makes the user more likely to download your app, and secondly, it makes him/her more likely to continue using the app.

Make sure that the promo video is visually appealing and engaging. You don’t need a huge production budget to create a fun and catchy video. When it comes to length, keep it under a minute – about 30 seconds is usually enough to get your point across without it getting boring.

In the Apple App store, promo videos are actually limited to 30 seconds. In Google Play, it can be up to 2 minutes, but only the first 30 seconds play automatically. Besides keeping it short, you should also aim to showcase your app’s best features early in the video – preferably in the first 10 seconds.

Promo videos are especially important if your app is a mobile game. According to Mobile Action, more than 50% of top mobile games have a promo video.

There are many reasons why more and more apps are adding promo videos to their app store pages. Here are some of what a good promo video can do for your app:

  • More conversions
  • Attract high-quality users
  • Boost post-install engagement

Finally, don’t forget to include a CTA at the end of the promo video since your goal is to get people to install the app.

Localize, Localize, Localize

The 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.

The Apple App Store is available in 155 countries and you can localize content for 40 different languages. For Google Play, you can choose from 77 different localizations. However, that doesn’t mean you need to localize for all languages – choose the ones based on your target market.

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 aliexpress
App Indexing success of Ali Express

For example, AliExpress significantly improved the engagement of its 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.

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.

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
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.

The Main Benefits of App Store Optimization

Still not convinced if you should put this much effort into ASO? Here’s a list to chase the doubts away. Yes, no one knows exactly how the app store algorithms work.

However, all the things we listed above appear to have an effect on app store ratings. A well-done app store optimization strategy can result in:

  • Improved visibility and discoverability
  • Relevant, high-quality users
  • More organic app downloads
  • A global audience
  • Increased install rates
  • Long-term results

Conclusion on ASO

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 your 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. Let us know your thoughts, tips & tricks on app store optimization in the comments section.


About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 200,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018.

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