Why read about ASO tips?
Because ASO is for mobile apps what SEO is for websites.
It means creating a power-packed app listing that ranks well in app store search results. Considering that one in three consumers discover mobile apps through app store searches, getting your ASO right can be a gamechanger for app makers.
App store optimization makes your mobile app more discoverable, which in turn helps drive organic downloads. More downloads mean more revenue in the form of in-app advertising and purchasing. In 2020, mobile apps generated $188.9 billion in revenue through in-app ads.
Is your app ready to be a part of this billion dollar club? Is your app getting a large number of organic downloads?
Then, understand one thing..
Your app can be discovered through multiple channels – website, social media, ads, etc. But all that traffic is funnelled to your App Store page only. So, if your App Store page isn’t attractive, compelling, or keyword-optimized, you can lose all that free and paid traffic in seconds.
That would be a pity after all the hard work and money you invest into developing and promoting your app.
That’s why you need to start working on your ASO immediately.
But where should you start from?
ASO is as vast and dynamic an area as SEO. Moreover, as more apps enter the marketplace, app store search algorithms also evolve. As a result, ASO best practices that gave results last year may be ineffective now.
To keep you ahead in the app game, I’ve put together six app store optimization tips that are in vogue today. Leverage them to beat the competition and drive organic downloads.
Surveys and studies might paint a rosy picture for the mobile app market, but the truth is that consumers are not too keen to download another app. Unless your app store page delivers instant value, it’s unlikely that users will hit the “Install” button.
Scary, isn’t it?
Of course, it is.
Since your mobile app is battling great odds, your app page needs all the help it can get. But first, you need to get your app page in front of the right people. That’s where ASO tips can come in handy. So, go ahead and follow the ASO best practices explained below.
For most app developers and makers, there are two main App Stores that matter – Google Play (for Android users) and App Store (for iOS users). Depending on your marketing goals and budgets, you might decide to publish your app on one or both of these platforms.
For your app page to rank well on these play stores, you need to be aware of how their search algorithms work and which ranking factors are important.
While both play stores aim to bring relevant, trustworthy apps to their users via search, they evaluate apps differently. Their app review process also works in different ways.
The table below shows the main ranking factors for Google Play and App Store:
|Ranking factor||Google Play||App Store|
|Rating and Reviews||Yes||Yes|
You need to optimize your app page for these ranking factors. To understand the placement of these page elements, check out the image below:
Image via Business of Apps
These ranking factors can be broadly categorized as:
Let’s elaborate on them.
Your app’s metadata includes its name, title, icon, and developer’s name. They are easily the most crucial discovery elements on your page. If these elements do not conform to play store policies, your app will be overlooked by search algorithms. So, invest time in getting them right in one go.
Your app’s name should be catchy, contextual, and easy to spell. It should not exceed 30 characters.
Try to avoid including promotional terms (like “Free” and “Top”) and pricing information in your app names. Here’s an example of an overly promotional name, title, and icon. It’s not a good practice to game the algorithms by using such black-hat tactics.
Instead, use titles and subtitles (only in Apple’s Play Store) to provide contextual information about your app, like shown below:
Image via Google Play
It’s also a good idea to include your app store keywords in your titles. This can be easily overlooked by many brands, but it’s a great way to uplift your app ranks. Keeping your title under 80 characters, add your keyword at the end separated by a semicolon or hyphen.
Need an example?
In the screenshot below, you can see how eBay and Pandora have used a hyphen to add their keywords.
Don’t use extra emojis, capital letters, and excessive formatting that are irrelevant to your app. They tend to mislead users and pull down your ranking.
Additionally, stay away from using trademarked terms and popular app names to avoid plagiarism issues.
For this, it’s important that you spend some time researching what app names already exist and how you can differentiate yours. Play stores frown on any attempt to abuse their system. They may change your keywords or simply demote your listing if you violate their guidelines.
There’s no provision for subtitles in the Google Play Store but there is in the Apple App Store. So, if you plan to launch an iOS app, you need to think of an effective subtitle for it. For your iOS app, the limit for the subtitle is 30 characters and it will appear right below your app name.
You can leverage this space and highlight some of the best functions of your app using keywords. The keyword you use in your subtitle will be indexed in Apple’s App Store. So, use the best possible keywords to describe your app.
Image via Google Play
After deciding on your app name, format, length, size, and subtitle, you need to create an icon for your app. If you think your icon is not that important for your app, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Your app icon will attract your potential users to check out the rest of the features and qualities of your app. And this can have a major impact on your organic downloads. So, leverage your in-house team or hire experts to design an icon which will help you get the attention of users.
However, don’t get carried away with creativity. One of the best ASO tips is to ensure that your app icon is relevant, simple, and high-quality. A relevant and identifiable app icon leaves a very good first impression on the minds of your potential users. When done correctly, this can multiply your app’s organic download manifold.
For example, the icon of the app, File Manager, perfectly fits the description of the app. The icon shows a folder with files inside it. The app has been rated 4.8 by more than 400K users.
Image via Google Play Store
One more thing.
As explained before, focus on authenticity while creating icons and other graphic elements. If you use push phrases and unverified claims in icons, you can earn a penalty from play stores.
These pictures depict some bad examples of icons:
Pro Tip: Create many iterations of your app icon and A/B test them rigorously. Finalize the icon that gets the most clicks in real-time.
Preview assets include your app’s screenshots, preview videos, feature graphics (in Google Play), and short descriptions. In short, these are assets that demonstrate your app’s value and working to potential customers, without having them install the app.
Apps with preview assets that don’t adhere to playstore guidelines are not promoted or recommended adequately by app stores.
While creating preview assets, evaluate them for the following aspects:
Once you fulfill the above general guidelines, dive deep into each preview asset one by one and optimize them for their host platform.
One of the best app store optimization tips is to add screenshots of your app. The screenshots will help your potential users understand your app in a better way. Make sure to highlight the main functions and all the best features of your app in the screenshots.
It’s better to take screenshots directly from the app as the images will have better picture quality. Then you need to upload it to the app store. You can also ask your graphic designers to create attractive screenshots of the app.
You can even use tools like the App Screenshot Tool to create precise screenshots. Pixelated, distorted, and blurry screenshots get a thumbs down from play stores and users.
Take a cue from the Google One app. As you can see, their screenshots highlight the best features and functions of the app.
Image via Google Play Store
Now let’s take a look at screenshot creation best practices for the two play stores.
In Google Play Store, you can include 4 to 8 screenshots per app. Their resolution should be more than 1080 px and dimensions should be between 320px and 3840px.
You can include taglines as long as they don’t consume more than 20% of the image area. Avoid cluttering your images with illegible fonts.
The iOS App Store provides 10 slots for screenshots. We recommend you use all ten to show your app from different usage angles. Apple is vehemently against using splash screens and title art in place of actual in-app screenshots. If you want a good app ranking, adhere to their guidelines strictly.
Pro Tip: Display your best images in the first three screenshots and ensure they render perfectly on all screen sizes. You can use stylized pictures for the remaining screenshots.
Although app preview videos are not mandatory, they are highly recommended, especially for game apps. In fact, Google Play Store requires game apps to include an app preview in certain sections of their page listing.
A preview video can be used to portray an app’s functionalities as well as look and feel. Being dynamic, videos offer more scope than static screenshots to show a lot of content in limited time. It’s a powerful tool for app marketing and app store optimization.
Depending on a user’s device and network settings, app preview videos may autoplay the first 30 seconds in muted mode. If not, a Play button overlays these videos.
So, how can you create winning app previews?
Looking for inspiration?
Then, look no further than the Lose It! app. The calorie counter app delivers quite a punch by starting their app preview with compelling social proof. That done, they straight jump into how the app works, recounting all its benefits with well-paced video frames.
Image via Google Play Store
There’s a bonus benefit of creating such hard-hitting preview videos..You can easily repurpose them for your mobile marketing strategy – a double whammy with little or no investment!
Let’s take a look at one more app parameter that has a bearing on your rankings – app size.
It’s recommended that you limit the size of your Android app to 100MB and your iOS app to 150MB. This is because it’s quite difficult for users to download apps larger than these sizes.
What if a user tries to download your app while they’re traveling but can’t do so because of its size. Do you think they will remember your app and try to download it once they reach home? Most likely not.
So, make sure to keep the size of your app within the acceptable limits. This is one of the best app optimization tips that can help you increase the number of organic downloads of your app.
With your app page’s foundational elements sorted, we come to the next important area of app store optimization – app description.
Both Google Play Store and App Store allow 4000-character long descriptions. App descriptions not only tell potential users about your app, but they are the best place to add app keywords.
An app description can have five basic components:
The introductory line of your app description is the hook. As the name implies, your hook should be riveting. Either sum up your app’s purpose in one line or mention its biggest achievement. Either way, the aim of your hook is to encourage users to read further and engage with your listing.
Google Play Store allows emojis in descriptions so use them to showcase your brand personality.
For example, Snapchat’s hook is simple yet effective, with their signature emoji loaded at the end.
You need to provide a brief synopsis of your app in your listing so that consumers can evaluate your app’s value proposition in a glance.
Short descriptions are expandable. They are followed by a “Read more” link that reveals a detailed app description. But with click-happy consumers, you need to make a powerful first impression via your short description itself.
To do that, ensure that your short descriptions:
Now that you know the dos of creating short descriptions, familiarize yourself with the don’ts as well.
Avoid short descriptions that are:
Need an inspiring example?
Then, take a look at Airbnb’s short description. It’s succinct, impactful, and transparent – things that appeal to both users and app store search engines. That’s smart app store optimization!
Image via Play Store
Once users click on “Read more,” they can access your app’s full description.
We recommend breaking down lengthy paragraphs into bulleted lists. They are easier on the eyes that way.
Don’t restrict yourself when you come to this section. Create compelling content that highlights your app’s strengths and benefits.
Take a look at Stellarium’s app description for inspiration. They use custom star-shaped bullets to emphasize their celestial connection. Complex information is broken down into nested lists for easy readability.
App stores allow you to display user reviews and ratings from existing app users on your app store page. They are a great opportunity to offer “social proof,” build rapport with customers, and attract new customers.
It won’t be wrong to say that out of all page elements, ratings and reviews are the most powerful user acquisition tool.
There are many people who judge an app solely on the basis of ratings and reviews that other users have given it. So, getting tons of positive user reviews can at least help get your app noticed, if not installed.
For iOS apps, Apple provides an App Store Connect service to manage and respond to your user reviews and ratings. You can use their system prompt to ask users for their feedback. It’s also a good idea to include social media links to add weight to your user reviews.
For Android apps, Google Play Console can be used to access user ratings. Leverage advanced app store analytics to identify trends and topics that impact your ratings.
You can’t really pick and choose the reviews and ratings to display in your app listing. Play stores have machine learning algorithms that select the most relevant and recent user reviews to display.
One way to control how users respond to and rate your app is by being strategic about review gathering. Ask users for app reviews when they’ve just completed a transaction. Try not to disrupt the user experience, especially if they are performing a time-sensitive or stressful task (like check-out).
According to the latest guidelines, app ratings depend on the frequency of app use. It’s not only about app installs anymore. It’s equally essential to keep users engaged and offer them an unmatched user experience. So, try to be proactive about answering user concerns and asking for reviews.
Last but not least, provide a stellar experience, both during and after conversion. That’s the best way to lock in customer loyalty and gather impressive user reviews.
Though not compulsory, FAQs are another opportunity to improve your app visibility. You can load them with keywords so that your page is indexed for relevant search queries. In addition, you can address typical concerns of potential buyers.
For FAQs, talking points include pricing, in-app purchases, terms and conditions, onboarding, and customer service.
App store keyword optimization is critical to your ASO strategy.
Why, you ask?
It improves your app’s visibility and discoverability on play stores. If your app listings have the right keywords in the right places, they can be found by the right users. When everything falls into place, your app rank improves and your organic downloads increase naturally.
Before formulating a keyword strategy, you need to understand a few basics:
Image via App Radar
To identify the first set of keywords for your app, think along these lines:
Once you find the right keywords, use this pro tip:
Include your main app keyword two to five times in your app description, and at least once in your app name, title, and short description. This way, you can get your app indexed for the concerned keyword.
App stores also provide you with a set of “free keywords.” These keywords are typical for your app category. For example, if your app is in the “Health Food” category, health and food are automatically added as your target keywords. You need not optimize your textual content for these words. You can use their space for other keywords.
You might think it’s a good idea to opt for short, generic keywords like fitness or apparel, for your ASO. But these keywords are very competitive, which means you have fewer opportunities to rank for them.
It’s better to be specific in your keywords so that you attract relevant search traffic. Though not as popular as generic keywords, specific keywords (like circuit training or camping gear) are not fraught with stiff competition. Moreover, they attract searchers who are clear about what they are seeking. It’s easier to convert these searchers into customers.
There is one more pitfall in the keyword optimization area.
Some app marketers tend to include popular keywords that are completely irrelevant to their app in their app listings. Sometimes, they steal branded keywords from competitors in order to game the search algorithm.
Resorting to such unscrupulous practices will only undermine your brand’s credibility with play stores. You can even get blackballed and lose out on valuable search traffic.
Both Google Play Store and Apple’s Play Store offer varied business models to app makers. Choosing the right pricing structure can not only help with user acquisition, but also boost your app store optimization efforts.
Currently, the iOS App Store allows these pricing structures:
As the name suggests, free apps don’t charge users for downloading their app. Since they don’t have price barriers, they tend to convert faster.
Free apps are further divided into four categories:
Freemium apps are also free to download, but offer optional in-app purchases to users. These apps charge for additional content, advanced features, digital goods, or subscriptions. If you opt for this pricing strategy, you need to update your offerings on a regular basis to stay competitive.
As of now, you can offer these types of in-app purchases:
Users are charged a one-time fee for downloading paid apps. There are no subsequent in-app purchases or subscriptions required for accessing premium features. Users get to enjoy the full app experience.
If you want to monetize your apps this way, make sure you position your app brilliantly. Invest in the outstanding content, marketing, and functionality to justify your price tag.
A combination of freemum and paid models, paymium apps have the best of both worlds. They have a one-time download fee plus an option to purchase premium content/services. Bear in mind that gating advanced functionality behind paywalls can result in negative customer sentiment.
Before you decide a price for your app, you should do some market research. This will give you an idea of how your competitors have priced their apps. Based on that study, you can decide an affordable price for your potential users.
One of the best app store optimization tips is to not price your app more than $2.99. If you do, it will not help you generate money or increase downloads. So, use this ASO tip now and boost your app’s organic downloads.
Release app updates frequently, as it will help you engage your users better. Also, the iOS store and the Google Play Store love regular updates to your app. It indicates that you and your company are committed to the app and are trying to make it better every day.
Updates also help you improve user loyalty and win their trust. The chances of users forgetting your app also decrease as your app shows regular notifications of updates. Make sure to send such push notifications once a month or every 15 days.
One of the best app store optimization tips is to send alerts to your users whenever there is a new update. This will have a direct impact on your organic downloads. You can send a message such as – “Hey! Check your app store for recent app updates.” Keep the language friendly.
A word of caution.
Never update your app just for the sake of doing it. The update needs to improve the performance of your app and enhance the user experience.
Android app developers can use the Play Core library to configure app updates and notifications. There are two kinds of in-app updates available in the library:
When you want your users to continue using the app while new features get updated, opt for flexible updates. This kind of update is appropriate for updates that don’t interfere with core functions of your app. The update happens in the background and the app UI remains untouched.
Image via Android Developers Blog
Immediate updates impact the core functionalities of your app. If a user opts for these updates, Google Play restarts the app once the update is downloaded. It’s only after the restart that users can use the newly added features and functionalities.
You need to localize your app if you want to go global and expand the reach of your app. But remember app localization is much more than just translating the app from one language to another.
To localize your app, you first need to conduct keyword research for countries you want to localize for. Once the keywords are identified, you need to localize your app listing. Now you can analyze the performance of your app in different countries. Wherever your app is performing exceptionally, you should localize the entire app for that country and release it.
However, don’t use translating tools to translate the language. It’s highly advisable to use a language expert for the job. Also, be careful with the colors of your screenshots and icons as you might need to change them according to the particular country.
This is so much more than just an ASO tip. It’s a strategy to grow your business.
For example, Google Maps is globally popular because they have localized their app based on the country’s language and culture.
Image via Storemaven
There are many disruptive trends in the app store optimization domain that app makers and marketers should be aware of. Here are the main ones:
In September, 2020, Apple announced the IDFA or Identifier for Advertisers device. It is a random device assigned to a user’s handset by Apple.
Its purpose is to track user behavior in real time to facilitate more targeted advertising. To prevent data privacy issues, IDFA is offered as an opt-in to users.
That’s good news for iOS app marketers, you’d think.
Actually, it’s not.
Because Apple users are increasingly opting out of IDFA – a huge blow to the user acquisition strategy of app marketers. In-app ads can’t be targeted or attributed accurately if users opt to remain opaque to IDFA.
Focus on app store optimization to build brand awareness since ad reach is prohibited. You can not only drive organic downloads but also reduce user acquisition costs. Leave no opportunity for highlighting your brand personality. Build a memorable brand that stands out on Apple search ads so that users reach out to you whenever they need a new app.
User attention span seems to be dwindling every year. Users don’t have the patience to read through lengthy app descriptions or user reviews. That’s why visual creatives are important in 2022.
As mobile marketers, you need to use smart visual salience strategies to differentiate your app from peers. You need to give silent visual stimuli to encourage users to tap on your app listings again and again. Capitalize on your visual assets (logo, feature banner, and screenshots) to take advantage of this ASO trend.
Size, orientation, and color are the three components of visual salience. Optimize them in your visual assets by:
Currently, the mobile app space is saturated. For every niche, big or small, there are thousands of apps competing for limited user attention. Performance-based marketing based on data-driven ASO strategies is the only way to outrank the competition. For mobile marketers, data-backed insights can be accessed only through A/B tests.
While A/B testing your app, pay special attention to your preview video, video cover, and first two screenshots since these will be visible on all mobile devices.
Include the most important keywords in the first screenshot. This way, you funnel relevant search traffic straight to the screenshot.
The Apple App Store has added a couple of new sections to app listings, changing the equation drastically for mobile marketers.
It shows details about the data app makers are surreptitiously collecting from users for their tracking and attribution purposes. Earlier, this information was accessible to users only after they installed an app.
What does that mean for you?
Users may be unwilling to install your app if they know that you’re collecting tons of their data to run your app. This can seriously harm your conversion rate and user acquisition strategy.
Run A/B tests to analyze users’ response to your data collection. Figure out what kind of data points they are averse to sharing, and avoid collecting it.
Users can now download a mini version of your app to try it out instantly or solve an immediate challenge. For app makers, this is a great user acquisition opportunity. If you are able to provide instant value in a user’s moments of need, you can score a conversion right there and then.
Optimize your app clip for your secondary keywords. These keywords should be anchored to the particular service for which a user installs your app clip (take away service, book a taxi, find a barber, etc.).
Ensure that your clip’s textual and visual assets are on-brand so that users remember you when they go for a full app install.
As explained before, the IDFA will have a negative effect on in-app advertising. In view of that, Apple search ads campaigns have become more valuable than ever. They are the only opportunity to drive app installs through ads, without taking user consent. So, optimize your Apple search ad campaigns to exploit their full potential.
Conduct Keyword tracking of your competitors to steal a part of their search traffic. Use Apple’s built-in A/B testing tool, Creative Sets, for optimizing your preview videos and screenshots.
If you have some apps ready to pre-order, do pre-launch testing for them to assess your ASO efficacy. You can always tweak your app store optimization strategy is the test results are unsatisfactory.
Q1. How do you optimize an app?
A. You can optimize an app by formulating a result-oriented app store optimization (ASO) strategy. To do that, you need to understand the ranking factors that matter in app stores, namely your app’s name, title, description, ratings and reviews, updates, and pricing. Once you know these factors, you can optimize your app listing by using industry best practices.
In addition, your app’s listing should be optimized for relevant keywords. You can use tools like App Radar for keyword research. This way, you can identify app store keywords with a high search potential and moderate competition. Then, incorporate these keywords into your app’s metadata and visual assets as well as you can.
Another thing that gives your app a competitive advantage is its pricing model. Analyze what kind of pricing your competitors offer. Offering better functionalities at comparable or lower prices will help you outrank similar apps.
Additionally, release frequent updates to offer best-in-class features/services to your customers. That also has an impact on your app stores rankings.
Lastly, localize your app so that you can cater to audiences from different regions. Turns out, app stores rank localized apps better than single-source ones.
Q2. What are the benefits of app store optimization?
A. App store optimization offers many benefits to app publishers, including:
Q3. How long does it take for ASO to work?
A. When done right, ASO produces results in about 3-4 weeks. You can use app stores’ built-in analytics or tools like AppFollow or AppTweak to track your metrics and evaluate your ASO performance.
Q4. What are ASO techniques?
A. The top ASO techniques include:
Q5. What are ASO tools?
A. To simplify your app store optimization, you can use ASO tools for:
Q6. How do I get more app downloads?
A. To get more app downloads, you need a powerful app optimization strategy. It includes the following steps:
Q7. How many downloads is good for an app?
A. Though app download volume varies widely for different countries, devices, categories, platforms, and even different months, an average app should get about 250-500 downloads daily. Blockbuster apps like Facebook and Amazon clock more than 500 downloads on a daily basis.
If your app category includes games, photo-sharing, entertainment, utilities, or shopping, you can expect to get more than average downloads in the U.S.
Q8. Is it good to optimize your apps?
A. Yes, app store optimization (ASO) is non-negotiable if you want to get app downloads organically. In addition, ASO offers many other benefits to app publishers, including:
Q9. What are ASO ranking factors?
A. The top ASO ranking factors include:
App metadata (name, title/subtitle), app description, preview assets (logos, preview videos, screenshots), and developer’s name (for App Store). Besides, your app updates, localization, and printing also has an indirect impact on your app rankings.
Q10. What are the benefits of mobile apps?
A. There are many advantages of mobile apps. Some of them are:
Some brands might overlook small things like an app’s name or screenshots. But now you know why and how these small app store optimization aspects can lead to a better app rating and more downloads.
Now that you understand the basics of app store optimization as well as the latest trends, use them to your advantage and improve your app store rankings.
If you face a challenge with any of the tactics mentioned above, feel free to share them in the comments. We will try to get back to you with practical solutions as soon as possible.
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