The Ultimate Guide to App Store Optimisation

  • Feb 16, 2023

  • by Rakesh Phulara

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The Ultimate Guide to App Store Optimisation

App Store Optimisation (ASO), also known as Mobile App SEO, optimises mobile apps to rank higher in an app store's search results. The goal of ASO is to increase visibility and drive more downloads for the app.

ASO includes a range of techniques that can improve an app's visibility, such as optimising the app's title, description, keywords, icon, screenshots, and reviews. These elements are essential because they help users understand what the app does and why they should download it. They also help search algorithms understand the app's content and relevance.

Other important factors influencing app store rankings include the app's number of downloads, ratings, and reviews. Apps with high positive reviews and ratings rank higher in app store search results, as they are more popular and relevant to users.

To optimise an app for ASO, it is essential to conduct thorough research and analysis of the target audience, competition, and app store trends. ASO is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and tweaking to ensure that the app performs well and stays relevant in the app store ecosystem.

ASO is a critical aspect of mobile app marketing, as it can significantly impact an app's visibility, downloads, and revenue. By leveraging ASO best practices and continuously optimising an app's listing, app developers and marketers can improve their app's discoverability and, ultimately, their success in the app store.

ASO for Multiple App Stores

Each app store has unique available fields, ranking criteria, and weighting for each element.

Therefore, it is essential to know which products to target when optimising for various retailers.

Despite the expanding number of app shops, most users use the Apple App Store and Google Play. Therefore, we have detailed their distinctions below.

Apple App Store And Google Play

A few important distinctions between the Apple App Store and Google Play will impact your ASO efforts despite their similarities.

Before launching in the app stores, applications must be evaluated and authorised on both platforms. The approval typically takes 24 hours to a week, depending on the size and complexity of your application. If you are targeting a specific launch or update date for your app, you should consider sending it at least one week in advance. In addition, the App Store offers two features not available on Google Play: the keywords field and the subtitle. Apple does not include a brief description box, although Google Play does. In addition, there are variations across the platforms in terms of the criteria used to rank and showcase applications:

Apple App Store Ranking Factors

Here are the critical Apple App Store ranking criteria for iOS applications:

  • App title
  • App description
  • App URL
  • Keywords
  • Installs and engagement
  • Evaluations and ratings
  • App revisions
  • Titles and reports of in-app purchases

Google Play Store Ranking Factors

Here are the ranking elements that Google Play values most:

  • App name and a brief description
  • App lengthy description
  • Installs and engagement
  • Evaluations and ratings 
  • Titles and reports of in-app purchases
  • App revisions

Keyword Research for ASO

Keyword research is the basis for every effective ASO plan. This is because app store search engines provide customers with applications that best match the phrases they submit. Therefore, you may and should use keywords in each app store's fields. Include names, URLs, and descriptions of apps. However, it would be best if you first did keyword research.

ASO keyword research is the process of researching, gathering, and evaluating keywords that can increase your app's exposure. A keyword is any term, or phrase users enter into the search box to locate applications they want to download. These terms might also be referred to as search terms or search queries. Keywords are essential for ASO since they reveal precisely what people are seeking. And the particular terms and phrases people use to locate it. After doing research, you may customise your app store page to meet customer expectations.

Keyword research must be included in your rival analysis. Like other marketing activities, App Store Optimisation demands a thorough examination of the competitors.

Analyse the Competition

Knowing and comprehending the keywords your rivals use in their App Store Optimisation is essential for success. This information may also provide you with fresh ideas for your ASO initiatives. Simply type the found keywords into the app store's search field to do basic research on competitors. Take notice of the applications that score highest for these keywords. Also, consider how their app names, subtitles, descriptions, and other app store page features include keywords.

Analysing your competition in App Store Optimisation is essential to ensure that your app is visible to potential users and stands out in a crowded marketplace. Here are some critical considerations for analysing the competition in ASO:

1. Identify your competitors: Start by identifying the apps that compete with yours in terms of functionality, features, and audience. You can use app stores or search engines to identify your competitors and create a list.

2. Analyse their metadata: The metadata of an app, including the app title, description, keywords, and visuals, is crucial for its discoverability in the app store search results. Analyse your competitors' metadata to identify their target keywords and how they use them.

3. Assess their ratings and reviews: Ratings and reviews are essential to an app's visibility and credibility in the app store. Analyse your competitors' ratings and reviews to identify what users like and dislike about their app and how they respond to negative reviews.

4. Look at their app category: Analysing your competitors' app categories and subcategories can help you identify the most suitable type for your app. It can also help you determine which categories your competitors are targeting and where you can position your app to stand out.

5. Check their localisation strategy: If your app is available in multiple languages, analyse your competitors' localisation strategy to identify which languages they have translated their app into and how they have optimised their metadata in each language.

6. Assess their app marketing strategy: Analyse how your competitors promote their app through app store ads, social media, influencers, and other channels. Identify their strengths and weaknesses and how to differentiate your app's marketing strategy.

By analysing your competition in ASO, you can identify gaps and opportunities and develop a unique ASO strategy to optimise your app's metadata, improve its visibility and credibility, and ultimately drive more downloads and user engagement.

Analyse Data on Search Ads

Utilise genuine search ad data to supplement your keyword research.

Utilise this Apple-provided data to generate keyword suggestions and better understand the popularity of the terms you want to target.

If you are exploring iOS applications, visit Apple Search Ads.

Click "Create Campaign" after entering Apple Search Ads.

Choose your app using the "Choose an app" section.

Select "Search Results" from the drop-down menu and pick the shop area for which you want to search the term.

In the "Ad Group Settings" box, after selecting "Continue," enter any bid amount. You may enter any number since you are not generating advertisements. Simply input a value to proceed with your keyword research.

Click "Add Keywords to an Ad Group" inside the Keywords box.

This will lead you to the dashboard for "Add Keywords." Here, you may see a list of keywords recommended by Apple based on its knowledge of your app.

These keywords are also assigned a popularity score.

Utilise this list to generate fresh keyword ideas and supplement your existing keyword research. You may also utilise the search tool to determine the popularity of any interesting terms.

How to Implement App Store Optimisation?

Follow these steps to get your App Store Optimisation plan started. Note the significant distinctions between the Apple App Store and Google Play as you go through the process.

1. Optimise the title and subtitle of your app

The title of your app (or "app name" on the App Store) is one of the most crucial factors to optimise. This is because it appears first in search engine results. It is also one of the most significant ranking variables for the two largest app stores.

Titles and app names are limited to 30 characters or less. That is relatively brief. Therefore, you must be astute in your usage of these characters. While you should use keywords in your app's title and moniker, avoid overusing them or unnaturally using them. You want your app's name to be easily read, memorable, and keyword-rich.

2. Add Keywords (Apple App Store Only)

The Apple App Store includes a section for you to input keywords that define your app and for which you want to rank in the app store's search results. Apple will take these keywords into account when rating your app. You may input as many keywords as you want, but 100 characters is the maximum allowed. Commas should be used to separate keywords (no spaces).

Like your app's name, you may be creative with keyword research here. You can also routinely test new keywords and combinations to see which ones perform best for your app. Try to create a balance between popular, highly competitive keywords for which you are less likely to rank and less common for which you may rank but which will generate fewer downloads.

Due to how Apple crawls and indexes the keywords field, you should avoid repeating terms or phrases, even if they are prevalent throughout your keyword study.

3. Compose Captivating App Descriptions

The description fields of your app are crucial to your ASO approach. Why? Because they allow for a more open-ended description of your app and its features. Google Play has both a short description field (80 characters) and a lengthy description field (4,000 characters) and utilises both for ranking reasons.

Apple's App Store has a lengthy (4,000-character) description section, but it does not seem to be used for ranking considerations. However, regardless of whether an app store will utilise your app's description field(s) for ranking reasons, this field is still crucial because it impacts how consumers see your app.

Consequently, the description box will also impact the number of times your app is downloaded, affecting your ranking. Invest effort in crafting an engaging description of your app. Describe its function, its primary characteristics, the issues it addresses, and any other pertinent facts consumers should be aware of.

It would help if you attempted to include terms from your keyword research in your app's descriptions since they may boost your app's ranking. At the absolute least, including keywords will reassure consumers that they have located the kind of application they seek.

4. Add Compelling Visual Elements

ASO is as much about getting users to click and install your app as it is about boosting your app's exposure. Downloads influence your rating; thus, encouraging users to install your app with text boxes and captivating pictures is essential.

Visual components such as screenshots and videos are featured in both the search results and the app's shop page in the App Store. On Google Play, graphic components on the app's store page are only visible when a user hits your listing.

Utilise your app's visual aspects to demonstrate how it operates, what it does, the issues it addresses, and the value it provides to users. Instead of static images, you may instead offer a video preview. Videos may give users a sneak preview of your application and its operation.

While you may and should be creative with your aesthetic aspects, both app stores have requirements that must be followed:

App Store by Apple

  • You may show a maximum of ten graphic components.
  • Three of your visual features may be app previews (videos) between 15 and 30 seconds in length, but it's better to select an exceptional video.
  • Only in-app videos are permitted.
  • You should use all ten spaces, producing the appropriate picture sizes for various devices.
  • You may use text overlays, but strive to make your material timeless.

Play Store by Google

  • Choose up to eight graphics, including one video up to 30 seconds in length. Add suitable screenshot sizes for all devices.
  • Your video must be a YouTube link with monetisation and advertisements disabled.
  • Your visual components must accurately reflect the user experience.

5. Encourage Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews indicate the popularity and quality of your app. If you have poor ratings, it is less likely that your app will appear at the top of the app store's search results.

A crucial component of App Store Optimisation is promoting user reviews and ratings, especially considering that both leading app shops consider highly rated applications to be more relevant. The difficulty is determining when to request user input. For example, you may get negative feedback if you ask for ratings too often or after user frustrations.

Encouraging ratings and reviews is essential to ASO, as it can improve your app's visibility, credibility, and overall performance. Here are some effective strategies to encourage ratings and reviews for your app:

1. Timing matters: Timing is essential when asking users to leave a rating or review. You want to avoid asking too soon, as users may not have had enough time to use your app and form an opinion, or too late, as users may have lost interest in your app. A good time to ask for ratings and reviews is when users have completed a task, made a purchase, or received a reward.

2. Use in-app prompts: In-app prompts are a great way to encourage users to rate and review your app. You can use pop-ups, banners, or buttons to ask users to leave a rating or review. Make sure to keep the prompt simple, friendly, and non-intrusive.

3. Make it easy: Make it easy for users to leave a rating or review by providing a direct link to the app store or by embedding the rating and review feature in your app. Make sure to guide users through the process, and thank them for their feedback, whether it's positive or negative.

4. Incentivise feedback: Offering incentives such as rewards, in-app currency, or exclusive features can motivate users to leave a rating or review. However, be careful not to offer too much, as this can lead to biassed or fake reviews.

5. Respond to reviews: Responding to reviews, especially negative ones, can show users that you care about their feedback and are willing to improve your app. This can also encourage users to leave more reviews and increase your app's credibility.

Using these strategies, you can encourage users to leave ratings and reviews, improve your app's visibility and credibility, and ultimately drive more downloads and user engagement. Remember to keep your app user-friendly, responsive, and innovative, as this can motivate users to leave positive feedback and become loyal users of your app.

6. Maximise Downloads

The greater your app's download count, the more noticeable it will be. The search algorithms of app stores favour popular applications. And the more visible your app is, the more downloads you will get. This is how both app stores function; therefore, you must optimise your downloads.

This involves increasing the proportion of consumers who download your app after seeing your app store page. The average conversion rate on the App Store in the United States is 31%, and on Google Play, it is 32.7%. Therefore, two-thirds of consumers who browse through an app's store page will still not download the app.

Maximising downloads through App Store Optimisation involves optimising your app's metadata to improve its visibility, credibility, and appeal to potential users. Here are some effective strategies to maximise downloads through ASO:

1. Optimise your metadata: Your app's metadata, including the app title, description, keywords, and visuals, is crucial for its discoverability in the app store search results. Use relevant and high-traffic keywords in your app title and description, and provide clear and concise information about your app's features, benefits, and value proposition. Use high-quality visuals that showcase your app's functionality and appeal to your target audience.

2. Localise your metadata: Localising your metadata can help you reach users in different regions and languages. Translate your app title, description, and keywords into the most relevant wording for your target audience, and make sure to use localised keywords and visuals that resonate with your audience's culture and preferences.

3. Leverage social media and influencer marketing: Use social media and influencer marketing to promote your app and reach your target audience. Share your app's features, benefits, and updates on social media, and partner with relevant influencers to showcase your app's functionality and appeal to their followers.

4. Track and analyse your ASO performance: Use ASO tools and analytics to track and analyse your app's performance in the app store search results. Monitor your app's ranking, visibility, and download trends, and make adjustments to your ASO strategy based on the insights you gain.

Using these strategies, you can maximise downloads through ASO and improve your app's performance and user engagement. Remember to focus on creating a high-quality and user-friendly app that provides value and solves a problem for your target audience, as this can ultimately drive more downloads and success for your app.

7. Update Regularly

The Apple App Store and Google Play use freshness and update frequency as ranking considerations. This is because app stores and customers want to see constantly developing and improving programmes.

A mobile application that was last updated five years ago does not seem alluring, does it? Updates allow you to enhance your application based on customer input, problem fixes, and new features.

You may advise users of your modifications using the "What's New in This Version?" area in the App Store, or the "Release notes" feature on Google Play. And include relevant keywords and features that consumers may be seeking.

Consider upgrading your app once or twice every month, even if it's only for bug fixes.

8. Track Results and Continue Testing

For ASO to be effective, you must continuously test various versions of your app store items and iterate based on the results. To do this, you must comprehend which alterations produce favourable outcomes. The metrics provided by app shops may give valuable data. However, neither Google Play nor the App Store monitors the ranks of your app.

Tracking your App Store Optimisation results and continuing to test and optimise your app's metadata is crucial for improving your app's visibility, credibility, and overall performance. Here are some effective strategies for tracking your ASO results and continuing to test your app's metadata:

1. Use ASO tools and analytics: Use ASO tools and analytics to track your app's ranking, visibility, and download trends. Monitor your app's keyword performance, user ratings and reviews, and competitor analysis to gain insights into your app's performance and opportunities for improvement.

2. Conduct A/B testing: Conduct A/B testing to compare different versions of your app's metadata, such as the app title, description, and visuals, and measure their impact on your app's visibility and download rate. Test different variations of your metadata, such as different keywords, visuals, or pricing, and analyse the results to optimise your metadata for maximum performance.

3. Analyse user behaviour: Analyse user behaviour within your app, such as user engagement, retention, and conversion rates, to gain insights into your app's appeal and value to your target audience. Use this information to improve your app's user experience, features, and functionality and optimise your metadata accordingly.

4. Monitor competitor activity: Monitor your competitors' ASO strategies, such as their metadata, pricing, and advertising campaigns, to gain insights into their performance and opportunities for differentiation. Use this information to optimise your metadata and marketing campaigns and differentiate your app from your competitors.

5. Continuously iterate and improve: Continuously iterate and improve your app's metadata based on the insights you gain from tracking and testing. Keep up with the latest trends and best practices in ASO, and adapt your metadata and marketing strategies to changes in user behaviour, app store algorithms, and industry trends.

Using these strategies, you can track your ASO results and continue testing and optimising your app's metadata for maximum visibility, credibility, and user engagement. Finally, remember to prioritise creating a high-quality and user-friendly app that provides value and solves a problem for your target audience, as this can ultimately drive more success and growth for your app.

9. Expand Internationally

Opening your app to more geographies is a primary method to increase its visibility and reach a larger potential audience. Both the App Store and Google Play enable your app to be localised in dozens of locations and languages:

Available in 175 areas and 40 languages on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store is accessible in 143 countries and 49 dialects. You may greatly expand your user base by making your app accessible in app stores in many languages and countries.

However, localisation involves more than merely converting your app's content into the local language. It would help if you also examined your chosen locales' cultural backgrounds, local laws and conventions, and local currencies. These considerations should affect how your app is shown in local app store listings.

Regional differences in art and design styles should be reflected on your app store page. For example, if your app designs employ typefaces, images, or unpleasant sounds in your target location, you may lose conversions. There needs to be more than just checking a box and translating text to localise your application. However, your efforts may significantly boost your likelihood of success.

Optimise Retention Rates

In both the Apple App Store and Google Play, your app's retention rate influences its position and exposure. Retention rate is the proportion of users who continue to use your programme after a certain amount of time after installation.

In addition to influencing your app's rating and exposure in app stores, your app's retention rate provides insight into how valuable and engaging your app is to consumers. The retention rate is an excellent illustration of how ASO surpasses basic app store page features.

ASO include app performance, user flows, user experience (UX), user interface (UI), and in-app copy. Like other marketing channels, ASO is most effective when linked with all other team components, including app design and development. The stats offered by the app store include retention rates and other engagement indicators.

Optimising retention rates through App Store Optimisation involves optimising your app's metadata and user experience to improve user engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. Here are some effective strategies for optimising retention rates through ASO:

1. Optimise your app's onboarding process: Your app's onboarding process is crucial for providing new users with a seamless and engaging experience that motivates them to continue using it. Use clear and concise language and visuals to guide users through the onboarding process and provide them with a clear understanding of your app's features, benefits, and value proposition.

2. Provide high-quality and relevant content: Providing high-quality and relevant content within your app can improve user engagement and loyalty. Create content that provides value, solves a problem for your target audience, and updates your content regularly to keep users coming back.

3. Use personalised messaging and notifications: Personalised messaging and notifications can help you engage with your users and keep them motivated to use your app. Use user data and behaviour to create targeted and relevant messaging and notifications and provide users with a clear call to action.

4. Optimise your app's performance: Your app's performance, such as its speed, responsiveness, and stability, can impact user satisfaction and loyalty. Optimise your app's performance by addressing any technical issues or bugs and improving your app's user interface and functionality.

5. Monitor and respond to user feedback: Monitoring and responding to user feedback can help you improve your app's user experience and address any issues or complaints that users may have. Encourage users to leave feedback and ratings, and use this information to improve your app's metadata and user experience.

Using these strategies, you can optimise your app's retention rates and improve user engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. Remember to prioritise creating a high-quality and user-friendly app that provides value and solves a problem for your target audience, as this can ultimately drive more retention and success for your app.

Include Additional Marketing Channels

App Store Optimisation may and should be your application's significant driver of downloads. But using other marketing channels to increase downloads might result in even greater results. After reaching the bottom of the buying funnel (BoFu), users often search the app store and are ready to purchase. These consumers have likely conducted an extensive study and know precisely what they want. You may be able to persuade them with compelling app store page images and language, but they have already made the majority of their choice.

Other marketing methods include a website optimised for search engines, email marketing, social media platforms, and even paid advertisements. Using alternative channels will help you tell consumers interested in your app but not yet prepared to pay or download it.

Websites and other marketing venues have fewer restrictions than app store pages, enabling you to explain your product and its features in more depth and include more photos and videos demonstrating its operation. Utilise the opportunity to reach more consumers and introduce them to your product sooner in their buyer journey. As a result, it will be much simpler to convince them to download your app.

ASO may seem vital since it has a high learning curve and is crucial to the success of your app. However, combine the other available marketing channels into your overall marketing plan to increase app downloads and traffic to your app store page.

Boost Your App's Performance with Constant App Store Optimisation

App Store Optimisation is a process that is continuing. App shops are constantly evolving. They are also incredibly competitive. Therefore, ASO must be an ongoing component of your app marketing strategy.

Your ASO efforts should constantly be fine-tuned and monitored. And even if you reach a point when you are content with the performance of your programme in the app store (tip: never be satisfied), things will change:

Your rivals might surpass you. The landscape might evolve. App stores may change their policies and algorithms. By consistently executing the ASO tactics outlined in this article, you may raise your app's exposure and its likelihood of success in app stores.

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Rakesh Phulara
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