With App Store Optimization (ASO), you optimize a mobile app to maximize its visibility, the number of downloads, and ultimately sales. You need to optimize your app because your competitors already do it - and you have plenty of competition.
According to Statista, in the first quarter of 2021, there were 2.22 million apps for iOS in the Apple App Store and 3.48 million apps for Android in the Google Play app store. Of course, Google Play is the most popular and used, but it is helpful to have your app in both stores to expand your reach and to both Android and iOS smartphone users.
Understanding App Store Optimization (ASO)
App store optimization (ASO) - sometimes referred to as app store SEO, mobile app SEO, or App Store marketing - improves an app’s visibility when users search in the app store or browse the app store. ASO is essential to improve an app’s click-through rates (CTR) and the number of downloads, meaning conversion rates.
Data from the Apple App Store shows that most users - about 70% - use search to find apps, and 65% of these searches result in downloads. To search the store, people employ different keywords - pretty much like they do when they use a traditional search engine (Google, Bing, etc.). So, this means that ASO has some similarities to SEO: But there are also differences. ASO is optimizing apps for search in the app store, while SEO deals with optimizing websites to rank well in the search engines. Both strategies deal with visibility, improving CTR, and conversion rates. Here are the main differences between the two methods:
- ASO optimizes for search engines in Apple App Store and Google Play app store. In contrast, SEO optimizes for Google search, Bing, Yahoo!, and others.
- On-page ASO means optimizing the app’s name, description, and keywords for iOS. On-page SEO deals with title tags, H1, H2, keyword density, and page speed.
- The ultimate goal of ASO is to gain users (boost the number of downloads). SEO aims to increase traffic and website ROI.
It is critical to optimize your app for search because its ranking will influence the number of downloads. If an app doesn’t rank among the top ten, you cannot expect many downloads.
With ASO, you can improve your app’s visibility and discoverability by reaching committed users organically without investing in ads.
ASO for Google Play vs. App Store
These are the two leading app stores users choose when searching for apps. Android users search for apps in Google Play, while App Store is for apps that work on iOS devices. Although the two stores have the same purpose - reaching consumers - they require different ASO techniques.
5 ASO Tips for Google Play
The ranking factors for Google Play include the app title, short description, long description, in-app purchases, ratings and reviews, updates, number of downloads, and engagement.
To optimize your app for Google Play, you will work pretty much as you would performing SEO for a webpage.
- Optimize the app title: it has a 50-character limit where ideally, you include the name of the app and its most important keyword phrase.
- Optimize the short and long descriptions. The short description of your app has an 80-character limit in Google Play. Therefore, it should be engaging and relevant. Sometimes it is helpful to include keywords here, but you also have the 4000-character long description to add keywords as they flow naturally. Avoid keyword stuffing: use your primary keyword phrase a couple of times, then add related terms and synonyms. Writing a keyword-rich description for your app is critical for this store, as Google Play does not offer a separate field for keywords.
- Respond to user reviews. Ratings and reviews are indirect ranking factors - you cannot control what users think about your app. Therefore, you must meet their expectations, offering an app that performs well, is useful, and responds to the needs of your target audience. Google Play crawls reviews for keywords, so it is helpful to respond to reviews using the relevant keywords.
- Keep your app relevant. Update your app frequently and motivate users to download it by highlighting its benefits, new features, and adding usage incentives. Usage is a ranking factor for Google Play: if a user has your app installed on a smart device without opening it, the algorithm interprets this as a sign of irrelevance and poor quality.
- Have a consistent backlinking strategy. Like SEO, ASO should also focus on getting some backlinks from other websites to the app listing in the Google Play app store. Try to find blogs and nice-specific sites to link back. Backlinks enhance the traffic to your app, counting as a signal of user interest and relevance for Google Play.
5 ASO Tips for Apple App Store
Improving your app’s ranking in the App Store involves having a solid ASO strategy. The main ranking factors for the App Store include the app name, app URL, app subtitle, keyword field, in-app purchases, ratings and reviews, updates, and downloads and engagement. Here are five essential ASO tips for the App Store:
- Optimize your app name: you have a 30-character limit for the name and the essential, descriptive keyword. Use it wisely. It is the strongest ranking factor for your app in the App Store.
- Optimize your app subtitle: You can add other keywords in the app subtitle, but incorporate them as they flow naturally in a catchy, engaging text. The subtitle has a 30-character limit too. Since it affects keyword rankings, adding other keywords here without repeating the one you used in the App Name field is the right strategy.
- Add the relevant keywords in the keyword field: Apple allows 100 characters for the keyword field. Choose your keywords carefully. Use a keyword research tool like The Tool by App Radar for keyword research and track installs, keywords rankings for your iOS / Android apps and competition, user ratings, conversion rates, revenue, and much more. You only have 100 characters for keywords, so don’t include plural forms if you already have a singular form and separate the keywords with commas without using any spaces.
- Optimize your Promotional Text. The Promotional Text is a 170-character field above the long description, which is 4000 characters. While it doesn’t affect rankings directly, it can impact conversion rates. Write a text that highlights the main features of your app and its value for the users. Make it relevant and engaging. Then, you have the long description to focus on other details.
- Use previews and screenshots to boost conversions. While not affecting your search rankings directly, video previews and screenshots should be used to show customers the best features of your app and anything else relevant (special offers, in-app incentives) to convince them to download and use the app.
Optimize Your App Icons
Icons are important for both Google Play and App Store. However, for consistency, you should have the same design in both stores. Having a different icon for iOS and another for Android may confuse users and negatively impact your app branding efforts.
Consider that icons are the first elements users see in search. Therefore, create one unique, recognizable, and eye-catching. Make it scalable and make sure it will be clear and recognizable against any background.
Don’t Forget App Localization
Localization brings your app in front of different audiences, which may differ in language and cultural and behavioral habits. For example, when you target a new country, a simple translation of your app title and description may not be enough. Instead, you will need to provide videos and screenshots in that language and adapt the description to the specific culture of that country. Every time you open your app to a different country, don’t ignore ASO - the process is the same, but it’s not enough to just translate your metadata. Instead, adapt search phrases to local search queries and write texts that follow the linguistic nuances of the country you are targeting.
In conclusion, ignoring ASO is a disservice to your business. Without app store optimization, you will not reach active, dedicated, high-quality users, and the number of organic downloads for your app will be significantly lower. In addition, ASO costs less than advertising and provides long-term results that will only enhance your bottom line.