What is the ASO process?
ASO stands for App Store Optimization that can be defined as the process of creating valuable content in regards to the application. This includes the App Title, Description, Screenshots, Promo Videos which plays a major role in helping your app get more organic downloads. This is done because by creating content for the App Stores your app’s chances of ranking higher in organic search increases against the ‘keywords’ that your potential customers use in an app search. This content that is written for the app also influence’s the user’s decision to whether download an app or not, once he/she has discovered it through search.
The Elements of App Search Optimization
For the purpose of optimizing your app’s search rankings, it is necessary to understand the algorithms that run the search store. The key goal of any application market is to provide suggestions to its users according to their respective choices, like based on:
- What the initial users of the app think about? – Known as Off-Page Factors
- What do the app developers say about the app? – Known as On-Page Factors
The On-Page Factors
As it is evident from the name, on-page factors include every piece of visual and textual information that you provide to the app store for your listing. These are factors that you can control and iterate to improve with time.
|For On-Page factors, the major stores hold off page factors in varying relevance. We’ve categorized a few keys off page factors based on their relevance score below –|
The Off-Page Factors
Off Page factors are hints about the quality of your app that the stores pick up based on your users’ action. Although we recommend starting with On Page factors optimization, you should not neglect Off-Page factors. You can impact your score on these factors by improving your app continuously. Just like the On-Page factors, the major stores hold off page factors in varying relevance. We’ve categorized a few keys off page factors based on their relevance score below –
|Also, your score against many of these factors can be influenced by your promotion budget and app improvements. Traditionally these factors are difficult to influence and you should them target later.
(Note: You’ve to keep up with the updates in the algorithms. The App stores are always trying to improve their search function.)
What Benefits does ASO offer?
According to a Mobile Development HQ survey, nearly 50% of users discovered the last app they downloaded, via organic search.
Another research by Native X concluded that 82% of users never browse part the 25th app in a search result and 60% of all organic downloads is spread across top 3 recommendations.
As a majority of all users prefer organic suggestions, that’s why ASO becomes extremely relevant and a pocket-friendly way of gaining traction. As things are today, basically the app marketers who choose to neglect ASO risk:
- Never getting thousands of downloads.
- Never topping the Top Charts.
- Never being featured on app stores (this can be “the Make it or Break it moment” for many apps).
We recommend app entrepreneurs look at ASO as an investment to get more revenues.
Ideally, the process of your app store optimization should begin three months prior to your launch. It is not too late even if your app is already in stores or about to for App Promotion.
In the next few sections, you’ll discover tips and examples to:
- Help you list higher in organic search for specific keywords
- Understanding your Market
- Choosing Right Keyword & Category
- App Name & Title
- Entice users to install your app
- App Description
- Apps Icon & Screen Shots
- Ratings, Reviews, and Localization
ASO is a Two-Part Process, so let’s know more about the Part I:
Getting Discovered by Knowing your Market
Performing a detailed competitive market study is the very first thing to do in the ASO process. As it is a time taking process and hence should begin months before your launch day. You’d also revisit this research to look for new players in the market. Here, keeping an eye on your competitors can help you stay ahead of them.
You’d need to figure answers to the following in this study –
- Who’re your Top 3-5 competitors?
- How do users talk about your competitors?
- How do your competitors make money?
Identifying at least Four Competitors
Before you begin to identify your competitors, you should ideally have documented your idea of an app, its value proposition, and keywords to describe your app. At times, it can be a challenge to zero in on top 3-5 competitors. This is how you should approach the task in the following steps –
STEP 1: Make a rough list of around 50 apps that app store suggests by putting in the keywords. Browsing the web with the same keywords can also reveal probable competitors.
STEP 2: Evaluate each of apps for features that are like your planned app.
STEP 3: Shortlist 10 apps which have similar features and that rank in top 5 of organic suggestions for your keywords.
STEP 4: Now zero in on top 5 competitors based on the user ratings for each of the app. You don’t need to put in all the high rated apps. Chances are a few that have poor ratings and are otherwise appearing similar but will provide you insights into what users don’t appreciate.
(You may also want to check out tools like Appnique to assist you in researching about your competitors.)
Knowing How your Users talk about your Competitors
Reading app reviews of your competitors can reveal a treasure of information about what works and what doesn’t. Don’t try to hurry this process and make a list of features that users love and hate.
It is truly worthwhile to also note the keywords which appear in user feedbacks. Often users request new features, which can be very valuable information for you. At this stage, also look for categories that your top competitors are present in. This is an important decision you’ll make before launch. We share insights to choose the best category for your app later in this paper.
Knowing How your Competitors make Profit
There are many ways to monetize a mobile app: In-App Ads, In-App Purchases, Freemium, Subscription, and sponsorships. Choosing the right revenue model for you can be very tricky. Your app must not ask for a sale in a way, that disrupts the user experience.
When you’re researching your competitors, look for following insights
- How prominent is the advertising in the app?
- Do the ads disrupt the user experience?
- When does the app ask for a purchase?
- Are there in-app purchases available? How often are users compelled to make the purchase?
- Is there a subscription or a freemium set of features?
- What is value proposition which makes the app worthy enough of its charges?
(Notice that the top 4 suggestions for the keyword “Dating” have apps across 3 different categories – Dating, Lifestyle, Social. Each of them deploys In-App purchases model to make more money.)
Selecting the Right Keyword with Right Category
Choosing the Category
You need to start by shortlisting a category, or two in case of iOS, for your mobile app, even when built by an App Development Company. Both Google and Apple have elaborate descriptions of each category. These should help you identify the right category for your business.
While the selection is straightforward, you might want to weigh in the relative competition in each category. Sensor Tower’s Leaderboard can help you here. You can also work with a list of competing apps, and run a quick search on the store to see which categories they are using. You can use a list from PCMag, App Annie or App Picker if you don’t already have one.
Keywords are single-handedly the most important element of App Search Optimization. Just like plain old SEO, keywords play an important role to show your app in relevant search results and help you reach the audience you are targeting. And based on the length, there are two types of keywords which are:
|Types of Keyword||Pros||Cons|
|Singular word / Short Keyword||More people search for these keywords. Ranking in top 3 in keywords like Dating, Fitness, Taxi can drive a huge amount of traffic to your page||Since these keywords receive large interest from users, these keywords are also the most competed ones. Besides, most of the keywords are not very specific and offer little targeting|
|Multi-word / Long Tail Keyword||People who type in more than one keyword are usually looking for something specific. Since there are fewer people searching these words, competition is also less||Although long tail keywords bring highly targeted users onto your app page, the numbers aren’t usually high and you need a higher number of long-tail keywords to achieve your total app downloads target|
You need to select the right keywords since both app store and play store only offers you a limited space to write keywords and description. Start by populating as many keywords as you feel are relevant to your mobile app. You can do this by brainstorming with your team, asking friends and family, studying competitors’ apps, or crowdsourcing ideas on Twitter.
Once you have a list of keywords, you then need to filter them based on their relevance, relative competition and search traffic. To make it easy, and more rational, you can use the Keyword Efficiency Index (KEI).
The Store-Specific Dynamics
Lastly, there are store-specific dynamics that you need to take care of while selecting your keywords. We have compiled them together in the table below:
|App Store (iOS)||Play Store (Android)|
|The number of total characters in all your keywords combined needs to be less than 100 characters||You’re given 4000 characters to describe the application in a natural language that your users can read and understand.|
|Do not include empty spaces, or phrases. Make the best use of the 100-character limit||Don’t keyword-stuff this. Consider it like headline and sub-headline on your website’s homepage|
|Free is not a keyword. If your app is free, Apple recognizes it and gives you the brownie points you’re looking for. Adding it is a waste.||Mentioning your main keywords about 5 times gets you the best results.|
Finalizing the App’s Name and Title
You have a better chance to drive downloads and spread the word about your application by naming your app well. These 5 tips can help you come up with the right name, or evaluate the options at hand.
- Run a quick search on the name, and common misspelling to check there is not a similar app on the store already
- Keep it easy to pronounce, spell and remember.
- You can use the name to describe what it is that your app does. Or use it to paint a visual image in your user’s minds.
- Words that rhyme makes your name memorable.
- Check if the social media handles and the domain name is available.
Now, let’s add some perspective to the tips above. Consider the following examples:
The name is simple and hence easy to remember. Further, it describes that the app helps you keep your notes intact, forever. This is also what we call, a two-part name like
- Tweetbot, that schedules your tweets,
- MathFriendzy, a popular learning app for kids or
- T-Notebook, a training notebook for fitness enthusiasts.
This is a word-play on the popular phrase, “What’s up”, which we use daily to check on our friends. Pretty apt for a messenger app, isn’t it? You can intentionally misspell a name like WhatsApp, like a couple of apps that we built –
- News Meister (news app, play on the word news master)
- Keychn (Recipe app, play on the word Kitchen)
When you have the app name figured out, use the keywords from the previous step to come up with a good title for the app. Consider, for example, that WhatsApp uses “WhatsApp Messenger” as its title, or OkCupid uses “OkCupid Dating”. Here are a few more examples:
- Prisma: Free Photo Editor, Art Filters Pic Effects
- Friendly – One App for Facebook and Messenger
- Twine – The 1st Intellectual Flirting and Dating App
- Fitso – Running & Fitness
- Ola cabs – Book a taxi with one touch.
There’s a popular myth in the app world where gurus might suggest that you change your title often, to take advantage of the high-ranking searches at the time. Our friends at Kissmetrics suggest why that is a bad practice.
This is just the first part of ‘Understanding what App Search Optimization stands for’ so in Part II of ASO we will be knowing more about ‘How to Users to Downloads?’. In the meanwhile, feel free to have a look at some of ChromeInfotech’s previous work at our Case Study section.