8. App Store Optimization

App Store Optimization Guide – Increase App Downloads by 767% using THESE Strategies

  • Just after implementing the suggested keyword changes, most clients see a 20% increase in app downloads.
  • Using local keywords in each of these stores can significantly increase your app’s rankings and downloads (One app, for example, increased their download by 767% using this strategy.)
  • According to a study conducted by Apptentive, the top 100 apps in app stores had at least 10k ratings.

It has been eight years since Apple launched App Store!

Although App Store was launched almost a decade ago, its search and discovery function (as well as of Google Play app store) does not function anything like the search engines of web-based browsers.

Does that mean it is not important?

Not entirely! Ankit Jain, the head of Search and Discovery at Google Play says, “Search feature is important! In fact, vast majority of app installs happens through searches.”

So no matter how great is your marketing tactics are to increase your app downloads, you’ll still have to depend heavily on app store-based searches to increase app downloads.

This is probably one of the reasons why your app needs a landing page that is properly optimized for app store search engines.

And today, you’ll be learning to do exactly that: optimize your app store properly for app store searches to increase downloads and installs.

I. ASO’s – MetaData (The Basics)

Just like you work on metadata for your website’s SEO, you’ll have to look at your app’s metadata, too.

You can do this by yourself before launching your app to the general people out there, which is guaranteed to boost your app’s performance from the first day.

1. Title:

  • It’s the main metadata for your app.
  • It’s the first thing your people will see that tells them whether your app is relevant to their searches. (Tip: make it as descriptive as possible).
  • The space is limited to 25 characters, but you should be able to fit everything.

The metadata for app title, in the screenshot above, is a good example for many reasons:

  • First, the app name “Photo Editor Pro” is a good name for two reasons: it describes its function of the app (photo editing); the word “Pro” at the end makes it looks like a genuine app.
  • The name is not long and fits with the display limits.
  • It is clear as what the app is about.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

Now consider another example above:

This app also came up in the search result for “photo editor” keyword.

But, the app name doesn’t immediately tell what the app is about. Luckily, their icon is a bit more helpful in this regard.

Tip: If your app name is vague (doesn’t describe what it does clearly to your users), then include a slug after the name, which will also be good for searches.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

For example, if you look at the BeautyPlus app title metadata, you’ll notice that it doesn’t immediately tell us anything about what the app does.

But they did a smart thing: in their title, they included the keyword “camera” right after their app name, which helped them rank better.

2. App Description

  • The app description only has one field, however, there’s two parts to take care of: above the fold, which is only 1-2 sentences long and includes brief intro of your app, and below the fold section that describes your app in details.
  • Many users will only the read “above the field” part, so describe the functions and benefits of using your app in the first 1-2 sentences, which will help increase downloads and installs.
  • In the “below the fold” section, include more details about your app by describing in detail each features and including relevant keywords where appropriate, without overdoing it.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

As you can see in the screenshot above, the “above the fold” description is brief and only talks only about its function.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

And when you click on the “…More” link, the app page expands itself to display detailed information about the app (its features, the benefits of using the app, its functionalities, etc); keywords are included to make the app rank better.

3. Keywords

If you’ve been developing apps for Google Play store, you must have noticed that it lacks a separate keyword field. Apple has this field.

So go ahead and take advantage of this because the characters placed here are used for displaying your app in search results.

The space is limited up to 100 characters (which is two third of a tweet).

So you need to be a bit creative to make the most out of the keyword field in your Apple store.

We recommend:

  • Avoid using long-tail keyword phrases. Only use single words.
  • Separate keywords with comma (don’t use spaces)
  • Use keywords other than the ones used for the title
  • Use singular nouns, without “es” or “s,” to save characters

Image Credit: Buildfilre

This is a screenshot taken from App Annie, which shows how the keyword entry field looks like when you are placing your app’s metadata information.

4. Localize your keywords to increase app’s rankings and downloads

Both Android and Apple provide stores that are country-specific, which their users visit depending on their local language and physical address.

Using local keywords in each of these stores can significantly increase your app’s rankings and downloads

One app, for example, increased their download by 767% using this strategy. That was an increase of over 7.5 thousand users.

Look below at the AliExpress app’ description, for example:

And now, look at the description for their Brazil’s iOS store.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

Clearly, you can see that people are searching for their app using different words in different languages.

By tailoring the language and keywords for their app’s description, AliExpress increased their relevancy with each country-based audience.

5. Mix Publisher’s Name with Relevant Keywords

You can rank your app better by mixing the publisher’s name with keywords relevant to your app or niche.

“App Store algorithm uses publisher’s name to rank apps,” says Sylvain Gauchet from Apptamin.

So if you’re a company that has developed only one app, or apps that are relevant to a particular niche (workouts, outdoor adventure), make sure that your publisher’s name has relevant keywords in it, as it will help you rank better when people are trying to find your app doing a generic search.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

The above app tracks pregnancy, but the keywords “parenting” and “health” in the publisher’s name is what helps with its ASO rankings.

Top 5 Tools to Help You Find Keywords for ASO

Now that you know how to optimize your apps with keywords, let us tell you about top 5 tools to find highly profitable keywords that will help your app rank better in search results.

And just like in SEO, you’ll look at three factors to find profitable keywords for your apps: its search volume, keyword competition, and its relevancy.

But unlike browser-based search engines, app store search engine function differently, so to find keywords that are popular in your app stores, you’ll have to use these tools:

Keyword Tool One: App Annie

Almost 94% of all top app developers use App Annie?

This tool helps you find keywords for your app as well as discover how people interact with your app.

You can easily find top-ranking keywords for your app using the app’s dashboard, under Keywords/ASO section. (This information is accessible for free only when you register for their free account).

At the bottom, you’ll also find top keywords your app currently ranks for. Based on these keyword stats, you can optimize your app store page even better to increase visits and downloads.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

Keyword Tool Two: TUNE

TUNE (also MobileDevHQ, formerly), helps you rank your apps higher in search results.

Just after implementing the suggested keyword changes, many clients saw a whopping 20% increase in app downloads.

This tool helps you see which keywords your app is currently ranking for, and also suggest keywords that you can integrate into your ASO metadata.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

Keyword Tool Three: Sensor Tower

It’s a useful tool that helps you choose ‘profitable’ keywords for your marketing campaigns by letting you know about your competition and where you fall in the rankings so that you can only target certain keywords and leave others that are not profitable for you.

For iOS apps, Sensor Tower will also help you find keywords for the iPhone and the iPad devices.

Keyword Tool Four: App Tweak

App Tweak helps you find ‘local keywords’ in English, French, Spanish, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch. It also lets you track performances of your app daily so that you can find popular trends in your app’s niche.

The app has a one week free trial offer, which is enough time for you to find a handful of strong keywords and include them in your app metadata and descriptions for higher rankings.

Look at the screenshot below: a keyword analysis for Google Play store.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

Keyword Tool #6: Keyword Tool

This tool helps you find keywords that have high search intent.

It helps you find keywords that users are typing to download an app, using its App Store Auto-complete feature.

Just a basic search for the keyword “productivity,” gave us this result.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

Image-Based ASO

Images are all about presentation, and less about ASO metadata.

Even you’ve optimized your app with the best keywords, if your images are not captive and self-explanatory, your app will lose its rankings because no one will interact with it and download it.

1. Icon

  • Your icon has to look catchy enough for people to want them to click on it.
  • Not only the image quality has to be of high quality, but the design also needs to be relevant with both your app’s name and it’s functionality.

Take Instagram’s icon, for example:

  • It resembles of an old Polaroid camera, which is very relevant because the app is focused around taking personal photos and sharing them in a square shape (what Polaroid camera was designed to do).
  • It icon is colorful and its description describes its functionality and benefits really well to the users.
  • Optimizely, a usability testing firm, recommends to not to cram words around your icon (place words in your titles and description), but to add a border or a background image to make your icon stand out from the rest of the elements on your screen.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

2. Screenshots

The screenshots that you upload on your app’s page on app store does not have to be direct screenshots of your app’s and its flow of use.

It can also be a promotional graphics that clearly shows the application of the app and the benefits of using it in a visual form.

Image Credit: Buildfilre

Duolingo app (above), for example, show the ease of learning process with descriptive text to encourage people to download more apps, instead of showing the exact process you go through.

ASO’s Other Factors (Reviews & Ratings)

Until now, we talked about ASO factors that you have 100% control over.

Even with these factors, your apps should get very far in terms of getting better rankings. But to gain a competitive edge over your competitors, you need to take care of two additional things: reviews and ratings.

App’s reviews and ratings play a huge part in how well your app ranks in its niche and how well it performs overall.

1. Reviews

  • Well written, happy, and thoughtful reviews increase app downloads.
  • Just don’t fake it; it is obvious to spot a lie when everyone is saying, “Oh, this is the great app I’ve used so far!”
  • The best thing to do: let your users review your app. Prompting your users with questions such as “What you like most about [your app name]?” will make them think and increase the chances of receiving positive and honest feedbacks. This is exactly what user wants to read in the review section anyway.
  • To get more and positive reviews for your app, use plugins such as Rate Your App. It prompts users for responses, while also giving them incentives such as more app-credits or more lives in exchange for a review.

2. Ratings

  • Ratings are vital piece of feedback your users give to rate your app: somewhere between 1 star (“app is terrible” and 5 stars (“app is excellent”).
  • Your app ratings is directly connected to its overall performances and number of downloads.
  • To get more ratings, you can use plugins like Rate Our App that prompts visitors to rate your app while they’re using your app.

Tip: Timing the prompt in the ‘right’ time (after positive app experience) is the key to getting more positive ratings, than asking for someone to rate your app when they’re about to stop using it.

According to a study conducted by Apptentive, the top 100 apps in app stores had at least 10k ratings.

So the moral of the story: the more ratings you can prompt to your users (and the better those ratings), the higher your apps rankings will be.

3. Backlinks

– This is only useful for apps designed for Google Play stores, because just like Google’s search engines, it takes PageRank into account to rank apps in search results.

So, if you’re developing an app for Android devices, you can use the same backlink generation strategies you’d use with SEO to get more backlinks to your app’s landing page (Play Store url).

Image Credit: Buildfilre

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