App Store Optimization (ASO) is increasingly important for brand positioning and mobile marketing. There are currently 3.8 billion users of smartphones globally. As the mobile app industry is booming, brands that do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or even Social Media Optimization (SMO) need to consider developing their own apps and seriously implementing ASO strategies.
Mobile apps improve modern businesses. 88% of mobile usage from 1.14 billion tablet users worldwide is app-related. Mobile apps will continue to generate huge revenues, estimated at over $935 billion by 2023. In revenue alone, it is clear that mobile apps are better than web apps.
Strategies for App Store Optimization to Improve Mobile Marketing
App Store Optimization (ASO) functions like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Optimization (SMO). It aims to increase the app’s exposure and conversation rate (app installations or updates) on different app stores.
Also called “App Store SEO,” it is all about traffic and conversion. The end goal is to It’s about conversion as well. If the amount of visits to product websites and updates of software rises, the number of active users also increases. Boost the app or the game’s monetization performance.
The first step to optimizing your downloads is to make your app easily discoverable by the right users. But t But how do you do that?
To improve your mobile app’s organic growth, you should first understand how people search for and find apps.
Due to the broad spread of mobile devices, people prefer to search inside app stores like Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. 70% of mobile phone users use search to discover new apps.
Often, higher ranking apps get more installs because users don’t usually browse every search result. Usually, they take a look at the first five or so. That’s why gaining a top ranking is critical to the app’s success.
You are losing out on the most comprehensive marketing platform for mobile apps and games without App Store Optimization.
Advantages of App Store Optimization
App Store Optimization is key to your mobile business. Without working on an ASO strategy, it will be tough to get the result you expect, both in ranking and discoverability.
ASO is crucial for your app to get more organic downloads and enable you to spend less money on paid downloads. The ASO strategy should be prepared and implemented hand in hand with the UA strategy to get the best results.
ASO enables your app to be more easily accessible because more easily findable and discoverable. Many users browse the stores without knowing what they want to download, so it is a great opportunity to get new users to find your product.
Working on ASO together with your UA (User Acquisition) strategy could also bring out great results. UA has an excellent impact on organic downloads, and working on them both is key to develop a long-term growth strategy. Thanks to UA, you increase your app download volume and grow in featured sections of the stores. Working on UA and ASO together also enables you to improve organic uplift.
App Store Optimization is more than important if you have a mobile business. It is constantly evolving, so you need to keep an eye on the stores and how they change. ASO is a long-term investment that could definitely change the results you get from your app.
How does ASO work?
Some known factors influence app optimization for iOS & Android applications. Let’s start by breaking them down:
On-metadata factors are those elements of the product page or listing that can be modified within App Store Connect or Google Play Console to improve app store keywords rankings, explore visibility, and conversion rate to download, one of the most crucial KPIs.
Under our control, these elements that are 100% under our control are URL / Package, Developer name (only Google Play), App Name / Title, description, short description, subtitle, promo text and keywords field (only Apple) category, icon, screenshots, and video.
Optimizing on-metadata will help you rank higher in Search and Explore.
As it happens in SEO (Search Engine Optimization from web marketing world) and off-page factors, Off-metadata factors are those external factors that are not under the developer’s control.
The elements that are not 100% under our control are volume and speed of installs, ratings + reviews, and, maybe, user engagement…
App Store Optimization (ASO) = on-metadata + off-metadata
App Store Optimization strategy for Mobile Apps & Games
You know you have to optimize your mobile application, and that stuff is cool, but… how to do it? How to do App Store SEO the right way to improve visibility and increase downloads? Let’s take a look at the process of your ASO marketing strategy:
1. Keyword research/market research
Much like SEO, keywords are a crucial aspect of marketing. They help your app to be discovered within app stores.
Research which keywords or keyword phrases related to your app is currently trending. Try to use the ones that are ranked the highest on SERPs.
The goal is to create a keyword set that you can utilize to promote app store listing optimization. Every element of the app’s listing in the app store affects ASO. For instance, including select keywords in an app’s title and description can improve rankings anywhere from 80-100 positions and 10-20 positions, respectively, as stated in the research from Fiksu.
While you research keywords, find those that:
- Describe the main features of your app
- Are synonyms of words describing these features
- State the app’s category
- Are common terms in this category
During the research, learn about the traffic, difficulty, and demand for these keywords. Know how many apps are already using them. More importantly, are the top apps using them? Keywords with high traffic that are used by a moderate number of apps are a better choice.
Apple App Store and Google Play handle keywords differently. You will only have 100 characters for keywords in ASO for iOS.
With Google Play, there is no specific keyword field. However, the app description is searchable. For the best results in ASO for Android, utilize the most effective keywords in your description up to five times. But do not overdo it; otherwise, you could get penalized by Google.
Remember that searching for the right keywords is an ongoing process. Various tools facilitate app store keyword optimization. They not only track keywords but also evaluate them and provide customized tips to boost app rankings.
- Use words rather than phrases.
- Singular vs. plural- research which one is ranking higher
- Avoid using conjunctions and prepositions as keywords.
- Use commas to separate keywords instead of spaces.
- Use digits instead of spelling out numbers
2. Optimize for Visibility (Search + Browse) & Conversion
It’s all about app optimization when it comes to improving visibility and Conversion Rate.
Apple iOS App Store
Add keywords in the App Name (30 characters), Subtitle (30 char), and keywords field (100 characters). So, a total of 160 characters, although there is a “hack” that allows using much more than 100 characters in that special field…
Google Play Store
Add keywords in the title (30 char), a short description (80 char), description (4,000 char). Unlike Apple, Google indexes almost all text that appears in the store listing. Google Play, when it comes to Search, is much more similar to SEO.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
A/B test listing elements like icons (to increase CTR in lists), feature images, or screenshots to boost conversion rate and get more installs with the same traffic.
3. Track/monitor the main KPIs of App Store SEO
Track all KPIs: keywords, competitors, Top Charts, organic installs (by country), Similar Apps visibility, conversion rate to install, revenue from organic installs (IAP, advertising…), and competitors’ updates/changes in listings (on-metadata).
4. Choose the right name
There’s a lot to be said about the name of your app. It is the first thing about your app that people see. Though they need to be concise, a good title makes your app known to potential users. Just by looking at the name, they get an idea of what the app does. So, titles with app descriptions can boost conversions.
A descriptive title can also improve app rankings, mainly if it contains a keyword or two. Mobiledevhq.Com says that an app can rate nearly 10% higher. This is where having adequate and current information about keyword optimization comes in handy.
Depending on whether you’re marketing in Apple or Google, you will have distinct guidelines. Google Play Store gives you 50 characters while Apple App Store offers a mere 30 characters.
4. Write accurate app descriptions
This is an essential part of an app’s metadata, where you will be given a 4000-character limit. Users can find information about the app and its main features. Utilize natural flowing sentences to attract and persuade people to your app. Above all, it should be informative and easy to understand.
It helps to provide the following answers in bullet points:
- What does the app do?
- What problem does it solve?
- How will it make the user’s life easier?
- What is the price?
Moreover, the description makes an app relevant to app store search algorithms. Google utilizes keywords from this portion to index an app. On the other hand, keywords in descriptions of the Apple App Store are less applicable.
5. Don’t negate the importance of the app icon
As a visual aspect, the app icon should be engaging yet eye-catching. Select a color scheme, size, and geometry that instantly makes a good impression and helps convey what the app does. This will let your app stand out against millions of others. But make sure that your app icon is not similar to other ones.
Both app stores have their standards when it comes to app design.
- With iOS, the minimum size must be 1024X1024 pixels. Depending on the use of the icon, it is accordingly scaled-down. For instance, app icons are 180X180, navigation icons 66X66, and tab bar icons 75X75. So make sure the image looks good even after being scaled down.
- And with Android, the minimum size must be 512X512 pixels. Google has set guidelines that you should follow.
6. Prepare high-quality screenshots
Once a customer lands on the app page, you have to convince them to download it. As a valid form of visual communication, screenshots help demonstrate your app’s functionality, give users a preview of the app, and tell a visual story.
And because 50 % of people base their decisions on first impressions, these visuals must impress. So pay attention to the finer details, such as layout and size requirements. Mobiloud.com points out that screenshots are the second most influential factor that convinces someone to download an app, second to app ratings.
Therefore, screenshots play a crucial role in conversion optimization, a vital aspect of ASO. However, your screenshots or video do not directly influence app ratings.
Screenshots that optimize app store presence:
- Use large captions
- Show off the brand
- Combined screenshots
- Highlight unique functionality
Google Play Store allows you to upload up to 8 screenshots, while Apple’s App Store allows up to 10. Consider using tools such as Figma and AppLaunchpad to help create forceful app screenshots.
7. Add a preview video
Chipthompson.com states that 85% of the US audience watches videos online, over half of which is consumed on mobile. So posting a video on an app store page can boost conversions. Focus on including footage that showcases the functionality of the app or previews the gameplay. App previews can be up to 30 seconds long, but you can upload up to 3 on iOS.
8. Ratings and reviews
Feedback is an integral part of ASO’s success. Both Google Play and Apple take into account comments and reviews from the users. The better the rating, the more relevant an app appears, and the higher the rankings.
The quality and quantity of positive ratings and reviews influence ASO. Apptentive says 90% of consumers consider star ratings as an essential part of app evaluation. 79% of consumers check ratings and reviews before downloading an app.
But alongside ratings and reviews, frequent updates and external promotions, such as app store ad campaigns, can also improve your app store rankings.
How can your app be at the top of the app store searches?
Well, that’s a highly guarded secret. Neither Google nor Apple shares their exact methodology for app rank. Much like SEO, the algorithms that set the rules for ASO are continually changing.
By paying attention to the following app store optimization tips, you can positively influence your app’s rankings.
1. Place the app in the proper category
Putting your app in the wrong category can lead to trouble. It could mean a rejection stamp in Apple. So if your app fits into more than one category, select the one that best describes the app. Or choose the least competitive category to give the app a better ranking opportunity.
2. Know your keyword strengths
Both app stores provide certain free keywords. For instance, the word free and the category name of the app are not counted. Use this extra space for other relevant keywords.
Moreover, instead of using only popular keywords, utilize mid- or long-tail keywords as well. This is because popular keywords are harder to rank for.
3. Revamp visual content
- Avoid unnecessary elements or text in the icon.
- Use clear, visible CTAs.
- Pages that have screenshots or videos ranked better than those with no visual content.
- Screenshots with real devices rank better than animated ones.
- Adjust listing graphics to seasons, special events, and holidays.
- Play Store app search optimization has recently adopted multiple innovations.
- Test screenshot orientation to make sure visuals are up to par. Horizontal screenshots convert better in app store search results, while vertical creatives perform better on product pages.
- Be careful with screenshots in a split mode; the distance between them has increased.
- Make sure the font size doesn’t hinder readability.
- Make sure the first seconds of your video is optimized for high conversion. According to SplitMetrics, only 20% of users watch longer than 7 seconds.
- Often people’s videos on autoplay with muted audio. Incorporate text overlays to explain the features that you’re showing.
4. Encourage positive reviews
Nothing is better for ASO than a great UX. If people like an app, they’re going to be happy to provide a positive review.
Encourage users to leave a review of your app, either through push notifications or in-app pop-up notifications. But wait until the user has opened and used the app several times before asking for reviews. Also, be careful about the number of times you ask for reviews. For example, on iOS, you can get penalized if you can ask more than three times a year.
5. Localize app listings
Are your app listing and visuals prepared only in English? For an app to make a global impression, you need to implement international or localization ASO. Use your existing metadata, keywords, or screenshots in the local language to reach a broader user base. Not only does it improve app visibility, but it also increases downloads and revenues.
6. Maintain the quality of your app
ASO works only if you maintain the quality of the app. Bugs and bad UI will turn away any user. Apps with high crash rates or ones with few updates are considered to have poor quality and will rank lower. Efficient app management tools can help keep apps up to date and rank higher.
To ensure users get the best UX, check the performance of your by:
- Running tests routinely
- Ensuring navigation is smooth and quick.
- Keeping loading times optimal
- Making sure the app is compatible with all devices
- Providing frequent version updates
7. Use app store analytics
You’ve done the hard part, developed a success-ready app, and perfected the ASO strategy. Now you need to monitor conversions.
You’ll need to utilize app store analytics tools to boost your app’s marketing strategy. Furthermore, they help pinpoint specific elements that you can improve. Understanding the ASO funnel is vital for all apps, from impressions to page views to installs.
Review the data and make alterations is any ASO aspect that isn’t working for your app. However, to pinpoint what the problem is, consider making changes one at a time. Moreover, be fast and agile when it comes to implementing ASO techniques. It can substantially boost conversions.
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How do you promote apps in the Amazon Underground App Store? Amazon Appstore is a high-potential app store outside of the Big Two: Google Play and Apple App Store. Heapp Games jumped into this platform head-first and managed to get their game in the Top 20. In this article, they share their findings for promoting apps on this store. The experiments were done on a Kindle Fire.
Amazon Appstore stands out from other Android app stores because it’s the only way to promote Kindle Fire devices. For comparison, the app store for South Korean giant Samsung Galaxy only offers apps for its own devices and competes with Google’s Play Market. It’s not hard to guess who gets all the glory. On top of that, Kindle Fire tablets have the potential to grow a new audience. They run on Android OS, and adapting an app for this line of devices is easier than it seems. Having the app store for its own product line puts the company on par with Apple. And as we worked on ASO, we noticed that the two have a lot in common.
Amazon had been fighting for top rank in the app Shopping Category, never reaching first place. Recently a conflict of interest with Google’s app store policy forced the company to rebrand their app completely. The resulting app store optimization (ASO) of the Amazon brand allowed the newly relaunched Amazon Shopping app to surge in rank from 300 to 1st place in less than two weeks.
We compared the app’s performance before and after ASO to see how smart rebranding coupled with keyword optimization allowed Amazon to reemerge with an even better shopping app.
Amazon Shopping is on the rise. Amazon’s rebranding efforts allowed the eCommerce giant to flourish despite the app store setback. The crucial addition of the highly competitive “Shopping” keyword to their ASO strategy was a key factor in their success. It helped them take the top rank in the lucrative shopping category.
App Store Optimization is a continuous process, so keep on trying new things and optimizing your Google Play Store listing. Keep on monitoring the evolution of your app and your competitors. Test everything and be updated with Google Play Store news and changes, never to miss any trend.
Getting your app a higher ranking on the Google Play Store is easier said than done. While some of the approaches are similar to SEO, it still takes a lot of time and effort to improve your ranking gradually. So do not be disheartened and discouraged if you fail in your first approach. The secret is to identify your mistakes early and keep improving them until it turns out as per your expectation.