Why is App Store Optimization (ASO) Important in 2017?
It seems that every app developer nowadays recognizes the importance of organic downloads and having their app in the top ranks of their respective categories. However, in order reach these top ranks, there needs be a large volume of installs in a short period of time – which often means purchasing them through advertising networks or other shadier sources.
With average Cost Per Install (CPI) and average downloads needed to break into the top charts increasing on a yearly basis, it is becoming more and more difficult for smaller app developers to challenge the million dollar advertising budgets of the top dogs.
So that begs the question:
How can you get your app noticed if you don’t have the budget to purchase the required amount of installs to propel your app into the top lists?
This is where app store optimization (ASO) comes into play. By strategically optimizing certain aspects of your app such as its description, name, screenshots and so on, you have a low-cost method of increasing app exposure, accelerating app downloads, and ultimately, driving revenue.
In this post, I will give some practical tips on app store optimization (ASO) in 2017:
This is the most important aspect of app store optimization. Know the difference between search queries and keywords. Start with brainstorming relevant search queries and picking keywords that are not competitive to rank for.
Start with Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to get a general feel for the keywords you picked. Later, use more detailed tools such as MobileAction and SensorTower (both are free). These tools will let you do some basic research on possible keywords, but more importantly, they will let you input your app URL to suggest relevant keywords, track your keywords, and conduct competitor analysis.
The goal here is to find keywords that have high search volume but low competition.
Since Apple only gives you 100 characters to list all your keywords, here are some quick tips to help you make the most of it:
- Use commas (,) instead of spaces (_) and don’t use both, you are wasting characters!
- Don’t repeat keywords
- Use numbers (9) instead of words (Nine)
- Try to use shorter keywords so you can get more key phrase combos
- Don’t stress too much on pural/singular forms unless you have extra characters
- Cut connectors (the, and, of…)
- Fill all 100 characters, try using misspellings or numbers to fill out any extra space
Keywords and key phrases in the name of the app have the biggest weight on search rankings, with the keywords provided in the “Keywords” section coming in a close second (This gap has decreased in recent updates). Your name should be descriptive and include relevant keywords and/or key phrases you are trying to target. Do not repeat keywords you’ve added to the “Keywords” section in the name. A focus should be put on the first 25 characters, as it is what is shown when scrolling through the search results.
Important note: Avoid using special characters (you might not get indexed on Google) and avoid using key phrases that match an already taken app name if possible (Apple may manually flag you for duplication).
Category & Publisher Name
Publisher names are searchable for all apps. This means that someone can search up your app through combinations of your publisher name and app name. However, basing publisher name entirely on a keyword may not be the best idea. Category names such as “free” for free apps and “games” for games apps are already a keyword, so again, avoid repeating.
In App Purchases (IAP) Display Name
While you should still name IAP after key phrases, only exact matches will show your app on search results since recent updates. So less of a focus should be put on this.
You should localize your app for the different geographical locations. This is useful for keyword ranking as well as general user experience. Localize all things such as the name, description, keywords, and so on.
*Note: Keywords from the US store are searchable worldwide and keywords from the Spanish store are searchable in the US store
Visuals are extremely important to portray to the users of the quality of your app and giving them an idea of what your app does without having to read anything.
The icon needs to stand out to the user when scrolling through the search results. Avoid using words. Make it consistent with the app design and consider using borders.
While you should use all available screenshots, the first 2 screenshots are the most important as they are seen in the search results. Treat these as advertisements, and use informative screenshots that describe what your app does.
Now that you’ve caught the users attention by appearing at a higher ranking on search results, you need to convince him or her to actually download your app.
Ratings & Reviews
While it is uncertain whether ratings have a direct effect on search rankings, having higher ratings and better reviews is a method of social selling and having more than 4 stars puts you in a better position to reach the top ranks of your category. You should ask friends, family, and your social network to rate. Also, ask your users to review and rate your app when they are most engaged - this is a useful tool to so.
Listen to ratings and reviews! They give the best source of feedback for future improvements on your app.
The description of your app does not register in the search, but it is a good way for you to sell your app to the viewer. Treat it the same as writing SEO articles.
Focus on the first 3 lines, as it is usually what the user pays attention to. Also, try to include any press reviews and keep the “What’s New” section filled after each update.
*Note: Updating frequently does not put your app in a higher position on the search rankings
Track & Optimize
By doing everything I have just mentioned, you should have put your app in a much better position to be organically discovered by users through searches. However, your app store optimization is not done.
As the name app store optimization (ASO) suggests, you must now optimize. Do some A/B testing for visuals. Keep track of your ranking for different keywords; see which ones work and which ones don’t. Consider dropping poor performing keywords and adding new ones. Keep up with competitor research and last but not least, make sure you have not included blacklisted keywords. While this may be a tiring process, it is good to know that you are not wasting any precious characters for keywords.
If there is anything I missed, please feel free to leave a comment below.