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App Store Optimization (ASO): 6 Best Practices

Did you know that over 50% of users discover apps merely by searching them in the app store?

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It may seem like a no-brainer, right? However, most product owners tend to focus on getting publicity for their app and pushing it on social media, instead of doing one simple thing – performing app store optimization (ASO).

To make it clear from the start, ASO just like SEO isn’t some sort of wicked voodoo magic. In a nutshell, it boils down to creating an app store optimization strategy, which impacts the “discoverability” to your app. For instance, when people search for a business networking app for entrepreneurs, your app pops up closer to the top.

Similarly to Google, both Apple Store and Google Play take certain factors and signals into account when they decide which apps to show first to the user.

And in this guide, we’ll break down the key app store optimization practices to follow.

How to Make App Store Optimization: 6 Key Steps

While neither Apple nor Google discloses the exact ranking factors they deploy, the following elements have proven to have the most impact on your rankings:

  • App Meta Data (Title and Description)
  • Keywords
  • Number of downloads & Engagement
  • Ratings and Reviews
  • Hidden factors

Step 1: Naming Your App

Okay, I have a brand name already. That should be enough, right? Well, if your niche is competitive and your product name hasn’t yet become the common household name, it’s worth optimizing it additionally.

Spice up your title with a few descriptive keywords people may use when looking for similar products. Here are two descriptive titles for to-do lists apps, which currently rank in top-6 for “to-do list” search:

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According to a recent case study by Tune apps with keywords in title tend to rank 10.3% higher than those without keywords:

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However, do mind the official App Store Review Guidelines, which clearly disapproves keyword stuffing in app titles and descriptions:

app-store-review-guidelines-apple-developerNow, how do I find the best keywords for my app?

  • Tap into App Annie and search for your competition. Pay attention to the keywords they use and how well they rank.
  • Keyword Tool for App Store will suggest you a bunch of related keywords for your search term.
  • AppTweak offers a comprehensive custom ASO report for free and also offers some premium optimization tools.
  • Searchmen is another great tool, offering comprehensive reports, keywords, and stats on competition both for iOS and Android apps.

When performing app store keyword optimization do mind the respective character limits:

  • App Store allows 50 characters in titles and 100 characters in keyword. Note: your title will be truncated in search results after the 23rd character including spaces.
  • Google Play considers app titles as the most important elements of metadata, which have the highest impact on search rankings. However, the titles are limited to just 30 characters.

Character limits: Google Play vs. App Store

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Bottom line: Keep your title short, sweet and descriptive enough to leverage your product exposure.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

Okay, so what makes a good keyword to use in your app title and throughout the copy?

  • It’s relevant aka it exactly describes what your app does. For instance, ranking in the top for a keyword “travel” is nice for a hotel booking app. But ranking for “travel booking” would be much better in terms of actual downloads and conversions.
  • Mind the competition. Focus on ranking in the top-10 for low competition keywords at first. After your app gets plenty of reviews and downloads, you can optimize it further for more competitive search terms.
  • Monthly searches. Users actually use the exact wording to look for similar products and do that often-ish enough. What’s the point of ranking #1 for a keyword just 3 people search for per month.?

The keyword tools mentioned above will give you enough data and tips for researching these metrics and composing a list of the top-20 highly relevant, middle to low competitive keywords with a decent amount of monthly searches.

App Store has a dedicated keyword field (100 characters max). These keywords will directly impact the search results where your app will show up.

Google Play scans your app description texts and picks the most relevant keywords from it to rank it accordingly. That is close to how Google search algorithms work.

Refrain from stuffing your keywords in each and every sentence. The description language should sound natural. According to Sensor Tower research, it’s best to use your main keyword with variations 5 times within the description texts. Speaking of descriptions…

Step 3: Create a Killer App Description Copy

While keyword app search optimization is important, your copy should be geared towards the end users, not search algorithms.

Here are some magnetic ideas to attract those downloads:

  • Your unique value proposition/sales pitch. Crisp, sharp statements of why your product is worthy of the user’s phone space.
  • Your “ideal for” statement, which clearly outlines who this app is designed for e.g. frequent travelers hunting for promo fares.
  • Snippets from product reviews/endorsements from other users or influencers and accolades (everyone wants the best app, right?)

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P.S. VOX app was created by Alty developers. You can check out the full case study here.

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  • Number of users/downloads proving your popularity.
  • A prominent bottom line call-to-action.

Now, creative copy flair aside Considering that you have 4,000 characters, it’s also worth mentioning the following useful snippets of information:

  • How your app works in a nutshell. Not all users may understand exactly what the app does from your screenshots and catchy promo lines.
  • What’s in it? The key features and functionality.
  • How much space does the app take?
  • Are there any enticing specials you can unlock within the app?
  • If the app is paid, how can kids convince their parents to purchase it?
  • Have you developed other apps? If those were a blast, it’s worth mentioning it in the copy e.g. from the creators of Candy Crush.

Here’s a quick dirty tip: go to app store, look at popular apps in various niches and reverse-engineer the copy.

Step 4: How’s Your Icon Doing?

Your app store icon is another massive connecting point with the target audience. Make your visual first impression count.

Mind the fact that Google Play and App Store have different requirements to app icons in terms of size and design.

  • iOS icons should be sized at least 1024 X 1024 pixels.
  • Google Play requires 512 X 512 icons.

We’ve previously written a bit guide on creating great app icons. Go check it for a start.

Step 5: Add App Screenshots/Video

While screenshots do not directly impact search rankings, they do drive more downloads (which do impact your app rankings).

Again, just like icons, screenshots are another visual bait to attract users and entice them into downloading your app. Here are some of the key best practices:

  • You can add 5 screenshots to App Store and 8 screenshots to your Google Play listing.
  • It should go without saying that app screenshots should be crisp, bright and visually appealing.
  • Screenshots should illustrate the most appealing in-app functionality and key features.
  • You can add some custom graphic overlays to your screenshots to comment on the specific features.

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Step 6: Build Mo’ Traffic With Outside Promotion

After all, on-page app store optimization is just part of the deal. To make your listing rank in Google search results, you should focus on driving “outside” traffic, as well as Google counts page visits as a ranking factor.

Obtaining links should be part of your app marketing strategy as well. In fact, we wrote another big fat guide for startups and established businesses on how to promote your app to the world.

And if you don’t have an app just yet or planning to build a new one, let’s chat. You can use the contact form below to ask any questions about pricing, project scope etc. No strings attached

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