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A guide towards App Store Optimization

Suhail Doshi

Let’s face it, getting your application discovered in the App Store or Google Play is a huge challenge but if you find a way to crack the algorithm, the payoff is huge! There are more than 1.5 million applications on the Apple App Store that have been downloaded more than 100 billion times.

With the average number of downloads an app gets being around 62,000, App Store Optimization ends up being an important technique that can push you way past the average.

App Store Optimization

What is App Store Optimization?

App Store Optimization is a technique app makers use to improve the visibility of a mobile app in an app store. It’s similar to search engine optimization (SEO) for websites but optimizes for discoverability for a mobile app.

The basic techniques of ASO encompass doing good keyword research, improving your app description, utilizing high quality screenshots, doing competitive research, and ensuring you have many, high quality reviews.

Why you should care about ASO?

To get a sense as to why ASO is so important, take a look at what users might see when they search for games — one of the most popular categories in any app store:

App Store search

Whether users are searching on their desktop computer or on their phone, there are only so many apps they are going to sort through so it’s important you nail down one of the top 10 positions in the app store.

Which factors matter the most?

There are many tools out there that you can use to keep up with the latest changes in App Store Optimization. We recommend trying out Mobile App Grader for App Store Optimization. In the meantime, these are our tips:

App title

The most important thing is to have a clear title that users can read very quickly to grasp what your app does and the brand it represents. Titles within the App Store have some of the greatest emphasis when users are discovering new apps. The average number of characters top applications have in the App Store ends up being around 23 which can vary due to truncation of large width characters (e.g. “W”).

We would not recommend adding extraneous things to your title like “by CompanyName”, “For Free”, “â„¢”, ” — ” if you don’t have to.

Keywords

In Apple’s App Store, you’re allowed to specify keywords that users might use to more easily find your app. Apple allows for a 100 character limit so you have to use them wisely. We recommend you use commas without spaces (“,” vs. “, “) since users won’t see your keywords. We also recommend avoiding long phrases since most users are less inclined to type many characters to find an app.

App icon

Your app icon is the next most emphasized, visible thing users will scroll past initially when searching so make your icon unique enough looking so it counts.

Ratings

While most of the top apps have 4 star ratings, ratings have little influence in the discoverability of an app since they’re quite easy to game. Ratings have been seen to influence rankings more in the Google Play store and decrease the volatility in your app’s ranking later in both app stores.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch can help give you some extra room on the mobile device with a small section that helps the user know you have a companion app for the watch:

Apple Watch

Description

Our recommendation is that you separate your description into two sections. The first part should be a short, single sentence that describes the gist of the app. The second part can be a more full description of the app’s capabilities.

Example:

Skout's description

Geography

Localizing your application can help your app become discoverable in more parts of the world and help increase conversion rates. That means you should: use keywords that are localized and are cultural, screenshots that characterize the people that use your app in their country, etc.

What’s new

It turns out that the amount you update your application will not significantly change your rankings or discoverability so don’t fixate too much on this. Update your apps because the improvements will improve the experience for your users.

Screenshots

We recommend that you make use of all 5 screenshots to tell a story about what the experience of the application will be like before they download it. Don’t just show a few screenshots of different parts of the app. Utilize the screenshots to show them how easy it is to use your app.

Video preview

In addition to being able to add five screenshots, you can create a video preview so people can see how your app works:

Waze video preview

Downloads

Downloads don’t matter too much in the long-run unless you have a strong trend or burst. We recommend utilizing your update cycles to help push your app up in the App Store rankings when you launch a new version of your app so that many existing and new users find it.

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