A Guide to Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO) for Google Play Store and iOS App Store

At present, nearly 3 billion global smartphone users over 2 million apps from Apple’s App Store and over 2.6 million apps from the Google Play Store, and these numbers are only growing.

From a developer’s point of view, you are looking to launch an app, these numbers are massive, and a little worrying.

That’s because, with such staggering numbers, it seems almost impossible to stand out and compete. And perhaps more worryingly, how to get their apps rank high in App Store Search, so as to get better visibility for the matched searches.

Now, if we are to compare these numbers from APP stores to the number of websites over Google, the numbers are almost quadrupled. And yes, website owners share their worries with the APP developers looking for higher ranking and more traffic.

Interestingly the answer to both worries lies in the search optimization. While, for website owners, it’s the search engine optimization, for app developers, it’s the App Store Optimization for Google Play and iOS App Store.

So, in order to get higher ranking in App stores against matched searches and attract larger traffic, you need to execute a tactical App Store Optimization Strategy.

What is App Store Optimization (ASO)?

Like we said above, App Store Optimization is quite similar to the search engine optimization strategy implemented by website owners to achieve higher rankings on search engine ranking pages (SERPs). The App Store Optimization (ASO) techniques are meant to push apps up the ladder over the Google Play Store of Apple App Store ranking.

Unfortunately, just like the real working of the algorithm that runs behind Google’s search engine are not known, similarly, the true algorithms working behind the scenes for app ranking in Google Play Store and iOS App Store are also not known and are updated frequently.

What we do know is that by implementing certain best practices, you can push your app above the rest.

Below we have come up with some of the best ASO techniques that can help you get your app right up at the top of the competition and rejoice more downloads and increased revenues.

Name and Title

They say, “What’s in the name?”

Well, in case of the name of your app and ASO, it’s plenty!

The name of your app won’t just help your users connect with the working of your app, it also helps you to boost the ranking.

According to one research by Digital Express, the relevance of app name and descriptive title can improve search ranking by as much as 10%. Now, how you approach the title or name of your app depends upon the app platform (Google or Apple), each of which handles it differently. So, here’s what you need to know about each platform.

The Apple App Store

Starting off with the Apple App Store, it offers users 255 characters limit for the title. This means that while intelligently briefing the app in the title may help you with the branding effort, it has little to no effects for app store optimization (ASO).

This doesn’t mean that you can have a title without any considerations. Instead, you should intelligently come-up with a concise, unique and keyword-rich title, which adds up to the banding efforts.

The Google Play Store

As for the Google Play Store, you only got 30 characters, which may seem too little for any branding efforts. However, you still got to be extra concise and unique about the titles.

However, you can let go of the use of keywords in the title, because in Google Play Store, the keywords can be stuffed in the description (we will see to it in the next point).

Intelligent Use of Keywords

Just like keywords are important in SEO, they are absolutely crucial in ASO as well.

Just like the names and titles of the apps are handled differently for Google and Apple stores, the use and effects of keywords also differ between the two platforms.

Apple App Store only offers 100 characters limit for the keywords, which means that you got to be extra-conscious and precise in your choice.

As for the Google Play Store, there isn’t any specific field for Keywords. Instead, here you have the description area with a comfortable 4000 words character limit to play around with. Thereby, you can easily come up with all iterations of keywords for the app.

Since the Apple App Store offers extra-concise space for keywords usage, you need to select only the most relevant keywords. Also, you need to be extra cautious to not overuse the keywords in either of the platforms, which may seem to be stuffed because if you are found guilty of stuffing keywords, you are liable to a penalty (drop-in ranking) just like the stuffing penalty in search engine optimization. You need to understand the fine line between keywords use for optimization and keywords stuffing.

Digital Gravity Tip: If it doesn’t sound crazy reading the description, it’s probably isn’t stuffed.

How to choose the Right Keywords

Ok, you understand the optimal use of keywords, however, a pressing question is; how do you choose the right keywords?

Yes, you just can’t go with anything you come up with.

The right way to choose the keywords is to research the traffic, demand, and difficulty of each keyword. Also, you need to research the competitors who are competing with the same keyword.

Digital Express Tip: Go with keywords with moderate to high traffic and low to moderate competition, to get higher ASO ranks.

Lastly, here are few pro tips to optimally use keywords for ASO:

  • Use the top keywords in the app name
  • Use “words” rather than “phrases” as keywords
  • Remember to check out singular vs. plural versions of the keywords and go with the version that has the optimum numbers
  • Don’t use prepositions or conjunctions as keywords
  • Instead of spaces, use commas to separate keywords

Describe Your App

The app description serves as the website’s landing page, both in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Just imagine all your hard work and pains that you have gone through to bring potential customers this far. Now, this is the moment to close the deal and you can’t go wrong here. Thereby, when writing the app description, treat it as your landing page and an opportunity to close the lead.

The app description should be written by assuming that the user didn’t know much about the app and you are to guide him through the rest of the sales funnel. Here’re some considerations you should address in the app description:

  • What’s the purpose of our app?
  • How your app solve any specific problem?
  • How would the app make life easier for the user?
  • Is it worth the price?

Here’s the deal, you need to be convincing yet concise. So, the users don’t get bored reading lengthy write-ups yet, and are persuaded to take action.

App Preview Video

According to research by Digital Express, over 85% of US users watch online videos and over 50% of them watch videos on mobile devices.

I guess this one stat alone is quite convincing to show the influence and importance of app preview video for your mobile app.

Your app preview video should give prospective users a clear overview of everything they will experience in the app.

Digital Gravity Pro Tip:

A vast majority of users will preview the video muted. This means to better interact with them, you should use text overlays, for whatever you are showing. Don’t waste even one precious second showing irrelevant smiling people, rather only show what the app offers.

You got 30 seconds for app preview video on iOS App Store, as well as, Google Play Store.

Use these seconds intelligently to show the UI/UX of the app, as well as, the best app features to attract the audience.

Pick the Right Category

Placing the app in the right category is yet another important consideration for ASO for both Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This way, you won’t just get better visibility for the relevant category search, but also boost overall app store ranking.

In the case where you may feel that the app can fall in multiple categories, you can use the following 3 approaches:

  • Go with the most obvious category, which best fits your app
  • Check out the competition in each category and choose one with the lowest competition, as to have a better ranking chance
  • Check out the estimated app worth (EAW) of the categories, and choose one with lower numbers

Remember, submitting your app to the irrelevant category will land you in trouble. As both the platforms review the submitted apps against the categories before publishing. A wrong category submission will simply lead to a rejection stamp. In fact, users can also report a violation in Google Play Store for wrong category submission, which will further land you in trouble, even if it got through the initial screening.

Encourage Positive Reviews

Positive reviews and high rankings have a large influence over your entire app store optimization (ASO) efforts (both qualitatively and quantitatively). So, it’s only in your best interest to gather as many positive reviews as possible.

Remember, it got to be honest reviews from real users who have downloaded and used the app.

Digital Gravity Pro Tip:

The best way to gather a higher number of positive reviews is by offering a great user experience.

The more users are able to understand the app and use it in daily routine, the better your chances to get glowing reviews.

You can obviously encourage users subtly to give positive reviews, as well. However, you would need to learn the art of asking for reviews.

Alert: Push notifications are a bad technique and may instead lead to bad reviews

Here are some good times to ask for positive reviews:

  • At times when they refer your app to another user
  • At times when users have made a purchase
  • At times when users subscribe or reorder
  • At times when they follow social media handles

Wrapping Up

A successful app comprises various steps including initial idea, development, designing, submitting, launching and optimization. While most people do take necessary precautions at most of these steps, they fail to implement the right ASO techniques, which may end in a failed app.

Remember, to be able to generate revenues, you need higher visibility and increased downloads, by implementing the right app store optimization strategies.

While the ASO techniques vary slightly for Google and Apple, the secret to ASO for both platforms lies in implementing the best practices and making the right choices.

By executing the steps explained above, you will surely have a great chance to improve the overall ranking of the app and start generating revenues from the app.

About Author: Danya Ayaz is a specialized Digital Marketer & lead gen specialist at Digital Gravity. She is obsessed with Marketing and experimenting new things in life. Combining the unthinkable is also sometimes reflected in her marketing efforts.

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