App Store Optimization (ASO) – The Ultimate Guide For Mobile App Success
August 21, 2020
If you want your mobile app to be found by your target audience in app stores, focus on App Store Optimization, aka ASO, ASO Marketing, and App Search Optimization,
What is App Store Optimization or ASO?
Here’s the definition of ASO –
A unique specialization of traditional SEO, ASO is the process of optimizing your app’s presence in app stores, such as the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, to improve its visibility and ranking.
ASO also makes your app listing more attractive to audiences, so it helps increase the click-through rate and downloads.
Additional Read:- What is SEO & How it Works?
Why Should You Focus On ASO Marketing In 2023?
Surely you can use paid app marketing, but if you’re looking for a sustainable and organic way to increase app downloads as well, focus on ASO.
And today, you need to focus on ASO because there are a plethora of apps on app stores. In the infancy stage, Apple’s App Store had only 500 apps. It’d have been relatively easier to get your app listed with just a little bit of work.
But by 2022, this number had gone up to 1.96 million – that’s a lot of apps. The same is true for Google Play Store – it boasts over 2,6 million apps (source: Statista).
So if you want your app to reach your target audience, trial and error won’t work. You need a carefully planned ASO strategy with the right best practices.
To build a successful ASO strategy, we need first to understand how app stores work.
Understanding the App Store Algorithms
Both Apple App Store and Google Play Store use various ranking factors to decide where to place an app in search results and categories.
Unfortunately, these factors aren’t known to us and change frequently – thankfully for the users’ benefit.
So just like search engine optimization, we need to rely on intuition and proven app store optimization strategies to determine app store ranking factors, which are –
- App quality
- App Usability & Benefits
- App’s Scale
- User Signals – reviews, ratings, downloads, engagement, etc.
We also need to rely on the guidelines that app stores suggest. For instance, Apple App Store states choosing accurate keywords, compelling app name, title, and description, assigning the right category, fostering positive feedback, etc., are pivotal in optimizing for App Store search.
You can improve your app’s visibility by optimizing these elements, which fall in the forte of ASO. If done correctly, ASO can give you transformative results. Using a carefully crafted ASO strategy, we increased app monthly installations by 122% for the Bajaj Finserv App (Read the case study here).
So How Does ASO Work?
ASO is an ongoing process.
Simply put, ASO focuses on optimizing the elements of your app, such as app title, app description, videos, and so on, by selecting the right keywords.
However, ASO is much more than using keywords.
First, you need to know two factors: on-metadata and off-metadata.
On-metadata factors are completely under the control of the developer, while off-metadata factors aren’t.
Since on-metadata factors are under your control, let’s learn how you can optimize them.
Begin With Keyword Research
Keyword research helps understand what your target audience is searching for in app stores.
You’ll need the help of a few tools to do keyword research. Surely, you can do the basics by checking the terms the app store suggests for a particular keyword.
For example, take a look at the snapshots of the App Store and Google Play Store of suggested keywords for the term “loan” –
Goole Play Store & Apple App Store Suggestion for the Term “Loan”
You can also use ASO keyword tools like App Annie and Sensor Tower to get a deeper understanding of popular keywords. We recommend using tools because this helps highlight keywords related to your app’s features and benefits based on the search volume and competition or difficulty.
Remember, the emphasis is on finding the right keyword, especially if it is a new app. If you end up targeting a broad term with higher competition, it’ll take a long time to drive results as market leaders are dominating this universe.
Instead, target long-tail Keywords – these are long and specific, and have comparatively less search volume but higher conversion value.
Let’s look at how ASO works by understanding what activities fall under it and what you ought to work on.
Pick a Compelling App Title
Your app’s name explains what your app is about to a prospective user, but it’s also important for rankings.
If you have a compelling app title with the right keyword and placement, the ranking can be higher, as well as the click-through rate.
Both Apple App Store and Google Play Store only allow 30 characters for the app title, so you have to be intelligent while placing your target keyword here.
Let’s take a look at Nykaa’s app title to get an idea:
It’s concise and conveys what you’ll get after downloading the app.
For a loan app, we also went ahead with a thoughtful approach to optimizing the app title by replacing “Insta Loans” with “Instant Personal Loans.” This exercise, among other things, helped increase the app installations by 243% (read the case study here).
Add Engaging App Creatives
An important aspect of ASO is app store creatives – the app icon, screenshots, and videos.
Only 13% of these prospective customers are going to scroll through the screenshots and videos (source: APPAGENT). Thus, you have to leverage the first two screenshots to convey your app’s story and offerings.
To optimize your app store creatives, you should follow the best practices such as
Using a clear and memorable app icon
Showcasing your app’s key features and benefits in screenshots
Create an engaging and informative video
You must also use A/B testing to experiment with different creatives and see which ones perform better.
Add an Equally Engaging App Description
Why do you need to focus on writing an engaging and descriptive app description?
Apple App Store and Google Play Store take into account metadata as a ranking factor, and app description is a crucial component of it.
So write a good app description by adhering to the following best practices:
- Introduce the app clearly and highlight its features
- Use proper structure and grammar
- Outline what problems it aims to solve
- Add persuasive elements on why people should download your app
- Refer to the app description of your competitors and popular apps
Another thing to note here is that app stores just show a snippet of the description with a “more” or “read more” sign, and rarely, people would click on this sign.
So even though you have some space to talk about your app, the introduction needs to be compelling. You can find what’s compelling, though, through A/B testing and see what works.
Let’s look at a snapshot of the app description used by Groww, and you’ll realize how they have got everything right:
Focus on User Review & Rating
User reviews and ratings are a crucial part of ASO, helping with three things:
Social Proof: They serve as social proof that your app is worth downloading, and when people encounter positive reviews and ratings, they’re more likely to download the app.
Feedback: Reviews also provide feedback on your app’s functionality, UI, features, and basically, the experience people have had with it.
Ranking Signal: Reviews and ratings are crucial ranking signals for app stores. Apps with a positive rating are more likely to outrank ones with lower ratings and negative reviews.
So how do you go about focusing on positive reviews and ratings?
Encourage users to leave reviews by simply asking them through relevant communication channels.
Respond to positive and more importantly negative reviews with the help of customer success teams and address their concerns or issues promptly.
Monitor reviews and ratings regularly to identify if there are recurring issues or complaints
Track ASO Success Metrics
ASO success metrics are quantifiable data points you can track related to the app’s performance.
- App downloads or app installs measure the number of times your app has been downloaded from the app store.
- App uninstalls also help you check the number of users who have uninstalled your app.
- User engagement measures how often users interact with your app by tracking things like session duration, screen views, etc.
- User retention measures the percentage of users who continue to use your app over time.
- Ratings and reviews measure the ratings and reviews that users give your app in app stores.
- Keyword rankings measure your app’s ranking in the app store search results for specific keywords you are targeting.
Now, just like Google Analytics 4, you’re going to need ASO tools to track these metrics. Some of the most popular ASO tools are AppAnnie, The Tool, Sensor Tower, Appfigures, etc.
We suggest using ASO tools because they give an accurate picture of all the success metrics, which can help you track your success and identify what you’re doing wrong.
We’ve all you need to know to get started with app store optimization. Remember, it is an ongoing process, and you’ll need to plan an ASO marketing strategy to get results.
If you need help with optimizing your ASO strategies, book a consultation with our ASO experts today.