Article Originally Written By Laurie Galazzo from AppTweak
App Store Optimization (ASO) or “Mobile SEO” has become inevitable. It is essential to optimize your app for App Store search engines, as increasing your app’s visibility will ultimately result in an increase in app users.
Just like the app stores, ASO is evolving. It seems that with the latest algorithm changes and app marketing analytics improvements, app retention and engagement are becoming that much more important.
Quality is taking over quantity. That is why it is important to focus on acquiring organic users, as they will most likely continue to use the app longer than others.
Once you have a great app that’s bug free, well-designed, and that is solving a problem or entertaining the end user, it’s time to focus on getting that app into the hands of as many users as possible. ASO, PR, Social Media, SEO, content marketing, cross promotion… don’t miss any inbound technique to create a powerful dynamic that will drive interest and users to your app. This post will review the 9 most important ASO elements and their best practices.
#1: App Icon
Your app icon is basically your app’s first impression. It is the first element that people see when they’re browsing the app store. Visual components are increasingly important and can increase conversion drastically.
Therefore, it is necessary to create a well-designed icon that will make users want to know more about your app. It should be in accordance with your app title, as both of them combined should be descriptive enough to let users know something about your app’s functionality or purpose.
Your icon should reflect your app’s content and personality. Don’t overload it with too many details, and keep in mind that users will only take 1 or 2 seconds as they’re scrolling through the app store – it’s imperative that you make an impression quickly. Also, try to come up with an icon that would fit on all screens. The usage of a border can be useful in this case.
(Image source: Pac-Man Dash!)
#2: App Name
Along with your app icon, your app name will make your app’s first impression. Make sure that it’s descriptive enough and easy to understand.
A good way to test your app name is to ask people that have no clue about your app if they would understand what your app is about just by its title.
It is also important to use the right length. iOS app names have recently been limited to 50 characters. For Google Play, the best practice is to use the available 30 characters.
Don’t forget to include in your app title strong and important keywords, as they weigh heavily in the app store algorithm. A nice little trick here is to add the strongest keywords at the very beginning of your app name, even before your brand name.
See a few examples below of real estate apps:
#3: App Description
When writing you app description, it’s crucial to write a clear and easy-to-read description, preferably using small paragraphs (2 – 3 sentences max) and bullet points. It is also essential to optimize the 1st paragraph as much as possible. It should explain in a few catchy and converting lines what the app is about.
Additionally, app descriptions on Google Play apps are taken into account by the algorithm to index the app for specific keywords. The best practice here is to focus on a list of about 10 keywords and to repeat each of these about 5 times each, scattered through the whole copy.
Finally, iOS app descriptions should also be optimized in terms of keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), as the iTunes app page is indexed by search engines. Apple has even announced recently that app descriptions might have an impact on the App Store algorithm itself.
#4: App Keywords
(Image source: Barn Images)
One of the most important and most challenging elements of ASO is without any doubt keyword optimization.
With Apple, keywords from the app title are given the most weight. The algorithm uses keywords from the keyword field (100 characters) to index the app. These should be carefully chosen. Here again, you should use the strongest keywords at the very beginning of the keyword field. Whether or not this actually factors into Apple’s algorithm has not yet been proven, but if the algorithm does give more importance to your initial keywords, you’ve already set yourself up for success.
So how do you find the right keywords? A strong keyword is a keyword that’s relevant to the app, that has a high search volume, and a low competition (the lowest number of app results possible). Tools like AppTweak can help you find the best keywords for your app and monitor their results.
As mentioned previously, the algorithm behind the Google Play Store takes keywords from the app description to rank the app.
#5: App Screenshots
The app icon is just an eye-teaser. Your screenshots are what users will certainly spend the most time on.
If your screenshots are not appealing and low quality, with the wrong screen sizes, users will not be tempted to download your app.
Make sure to craft the most compelling, descriptive screenshots possible. Don’t hesitate to add a small descriptive sentence on the top of your screenshot – it adds value and clarity to the feature you’re highlighting.
It’s also important to showcase only one feature per screenshot and to display the two most important ones at the very beginning, since they will appear in the search results.
Don’t forget to localize your screenshots (as well as all other elements) if your app is available in various countries.
(Image source: Deliveroo iOS display page)
#6: App Promo Video
We cannot stress enough the importance of visual elements. Both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store allow app developers to upload an app preview video to showcase their app.
Apple is particularly strict regarding with their requirements for videos. Videos should be between 15 and 30 seconds in length and do not allow localization. Google allows longer app promo videos: 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The video can be uploaded via YouTube. Make sure your app video properly describes your app and highlights your key features.
#7: App Reviews & Ratings
App reviews and ratings bring credibility to your app. Users trust other users. Who doesn’t check Trip Advisor before booking a hotel? It’s the exact same phenomenon for apps.
An app with a small amount of reviews and/or bad ratings will repel downloads. Reviews and ratings attest to the authenticity and the quality of the app.
Plus, from an algorithmic point of view, app reviews and ratings have a huge weight on the app’s ability to rank in a high position in the app stores. The more positive reviews and ratings, the higher the rankings in the store and therefore the better chance your app has of being downloaded.
Make sure to encourage your users to leave reviews using push notifications. Try to avoid negative reviews by providing the best product possible and by providing your users with a specific support contact point should they have questions. Finally, always reply to your negative reviews on Google Play. Let’s hope that Apple will enable soon accept replies as well.
#8: App Versions & Releases
An important aspect to take into account is your app’s freshness. Both app store users and algorithms love updates and improvements. Apple has actually recently reduced its approval time to about 24 hours to encourage new apps and new releases.
Try to make a new release of your app once a month. Take this opportunity to launch new features, improve your app, correct bugs and update your ASO strategy.
Indeed, ASO should not be static but rather an ongoing process, with a lot of iterations and testing. Keywords should be updated according to the trends but also according to your rankings (and your competitors’). Try to replace keywords with a negative ranking progression, or those that aren’t ranking your app at all. Don’t forget to write a catchy app release copy to attract potential users, with relevant keywords for the algorithm.
(Image source: AppTweak.com)
#9: App Mentions
Finally, a great way to drive more downloads and increase app store rankings is by getting app mentions on app reviews websites.
Check this list of 200+ App Review Websites for iOS and Android apps.
App Store Optimization (ASO) is an ongoing process that requires constant iterations and monitoring. With regular updates and improvements, the app will increase its app store presence and strength over the algorithm. This will therefore improve the app visibility, discoverability and rankings, which will inevitably drive more organic downloads.
A lot of various elements need to be optimized simultaneously in order to maximize the effects of ASO. It is important to follow the best practices for each factor and to regularly check what the competitors are doing.
However, ASO cannot create any miracle on its own. To be effective, it needs to be incorporated in a whole App Marketing strategy in which all elements will create together a powerful synergy.