What You Need to Know About App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) is a buzz-word these days. And if you have no idea what it is, let me start with a short anecdote. Do you remember the time (nearly a few years ago) when the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) appeared? Few people knew a thing about it back then. As of now, a lot of people know what SEO is and a lot of them use it to improve their websites’ search rankings.

As you might have already guessed, while SEO works mostly for websites, ASO is something that has to boost app visibility in Google Play, App Store, etc.

Do you need to invest in app store optimization?


Can you do this in-house?

Probably yes.

So, if you want to do ASO in-house, let’s see what you need to put more emphasis on. Here we go!

Understand your app users

app store optimization

An app store listing page is like a landing page in many ways. This is where the user lands after typing a keyword or an app name in the search bar. And the first rule of sales is to speak the language of your potential customer. With that in mind, it’s key to make the message on your app store page truly attractive. Ask yourself the following questions first:

  1. What is the main problem my app users have?
  2. How do they describe it and search for it?
  3. How do I solve that problem with my app?
  4. What do my users like about my app?

You feel like you know the answers to these questions, right? But often, app makers or developers fail this test. Sometimes, they get trapped in their own heads. And the features which they think are the best, do not end up being used by most of the users.

So, if you want to answer these questions, ask them to your users. Collect app usage data, analyze it. Do not assume, do not rely on blind guesses. If you put yourself in your app users’ shoes, you will be able to use the language they use when browsing the app store.

Create the best app icon you can

app store optimization

With a good app icon, you may have increased chances of app downloads. Though design is something very subjective, there are still a few things you can keep in your mind:

  • Make it simple yet eye-catching
  • Do not stuff the small space with words/items
  • Let the icon design be consistent with app design
  • The icon should look good both against light and dark backgrounds

Extra tip*  The color scheme of your app icon should depend on the type of your app. Make sure you follow the science of colors while designing.

Find the right keywords

Start the hunt for quality keywords! Think of some 40-50 app store keywords. There are online tools that you can use to measure the popularity of a keyword (for example, see which apps usually appear in search results when you type that keyword).

Overall, your keywords should be descriptive and simple enough. You can find a few good keyword ideas by reading user reviews, too. Users often get really sincere in app reviews. So, review mining will help you pick the words that they are typically using to describe apps similar to yours.

As soon as you have found around 50 keywords, start filtering out those that might be difficult to type or pronounce. For a new app, it’s better to choose keywords with low difficulty and medium popularity. This way, you will get the chance to gain your initial momentum. Later on,  you can start using some more app store keywords, those that are a bit more popular and difficult too.

app store optimization

One more important thing to remember: choosing app store keywords should be a regular thing. In addition, remember to drop off keywords that do not work and replace them with new ones in your next release.

Extra tip* Like in SEO, in ASO, as well, make sure to use long tail keywords. They usually help outrank the competition.

Put the keywords in the right places

Now that you know what keywords you are going to use, make sure to include them in the following places:

  1. App name/title: but remember to never compromise the creativity of the app title
  2. App subtitle (for iOS App Store only): here you have 30 characters to communicate the value of your app in a very engaging way
  3. App description: use the first 2-3 lines to stress the value of your app and catch visitor’s attention
  4. App store keyword field: this feature is available only for iOS App Store

Write a catchy description

You already know that after the app title, the description is another place that should hold your keywords. Both Google and Apple allow up to 4000 characters for app description. The number one tip here is to write your app description with the users in mind. Most of the time, you will be allowed to format the text and to add bullet points. Do so whenever possible. List everything that can be of value to your potential users.

A lot of users never press that “Read more” button near the description text. But that does not mean your description should be dull and faceless.

Extra tip* Add any awards, prizes, and media mentions that your app has received. Update this list constantly.

Make your screenshots speak

One important app store optimization best practice is making sure each screenshot is communicating a single message about the app. Note that a lot of people do not even swipe past the first 2-3 screenshots. This means that you have to make them really impressive by displaying your strongest messages through them.

app store optimization

Image source

Some bad screenshot ideas include:

  • Sign up or login pages
  • Purchase forms
  • Welcome pages

Extra tip* Adding a short descriptive phrase/caption for each screenshot would be quite useful for your potential users.

Use a high-quality preview video

This is by no means an explainer video. Because usually, people agree to allocate up to 2 minutes to watch an explainer video on an app landing page. However, in App Store or Google Play, they are usually giving it some 5-10 seconds. So, make sure to tell them about your most booming features. Not all of them! Think of a preview video as some kind of a teaser. We all have seen a few cool movie teasers, right?

Extra tip* Your video should make sense even when the sound is off. But do not forget a call-to-action, anyway.

Decide on app localization

This is yet another app store optimization tactic. However, it also means localizing the whole app. If you really want to reach out to a larger audience, then app localization might be a good idea.

First, you can only translate/localize your app name, keywords, screenshots, app description. And later on, when you see that your app listing is getting a lot of views in other countries as well, you can start localizing the app itself.

At the end

Now that you know a couple of app store optimization tricks, you can go and start experimenting. Remember that pretty much like SEO, ASO is not a one-time thing either. You need to do A/B testing to measure the performance of keywords, texts, color schemes, and call-to-actions.

Have best practices you would like to share with us? Feel free to do so by dropping us a comment below!

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