Creating an app takes a lot of effort, time, and money. But even when the app is ready, the work is not finished. After the release, it is important to tell people about the new product, to make it visible.
Perhaps the best way to increase visibility and downloads is to optimize the app for stores.
What is ASO and what problems does it solve?
ASO optimization is a specific set of actions you need to improve an app’s visibility in the stores organic results and increase the number of installations. ASO includes the selection of the right keywords, metadata and visual components (app icon, screenshots).
App store optimization can be divided into two parts: text and visual. Each of them requires careful thought and the right strategy. If an app does not appear in the first 5-10 positions in search results for the queries you need, it means that users do not see it or have no idea it exists. If the application is present in the results, but the user has no desire to go to the page of the program, you lose a huge part of the audience. Another part of the audience can be lost when the description and screenshots are poorly handled.
It takes 7 seconds for people to make a decision to install an app. The appearance of the app page in the app store is the deciding factor in making that decision.
If you want to increase the likelihood that the app will be noticed and downloaded, you need to learn effective optimization strategies and invest in them.
App Store and Google Play have slightly different approaches to ASO, but you can highlight important common points: app name and keywords, icon, screenshots, ratings and user feedback.
It’s best to work through all this before the app is even placed in the stores, so that by the release you have a good foundation for further work. But don’t expect great results in the first months of work on ASO. ASO is a continuous process of incremental improvements, in which every action counts. The cost of optimization will begin to pay off from about the third or fourth month of work.
The main task of the marketer is to make each stage of user attraction as effective as possible. How to do this, we will tell in this article.
ASO optimization methods
Text optimization involves working with keywords, title, reviews, short and full product descriptions. Visual optimization includes work on the creation of icons, screenshots and videos. By working well on both of these areas, you’ll be able to noticeably increase the conversion rate of the app.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the steps.
Selection of keywords
According to statistics, 63% of apps are found through in-store searches. And this is the most common way to find new apps. So it is worth starting with the selection of keywords.
It is necessary to make a list of all possible keywords and their combinations associated with the application. This will include words describing the main functions of the application, synonyms of these words, the category of the application. Also check queries with errors and typos, since people often type search queries incorrectly. When compiling a list of keywords, it is worth considering this fact, as it can significantly affect the reach of the audience. Using multiple spellings of the same query will increase your reach.
In the resulting list, select the most relevant keywords with a good amount of traffic.
Use the ready list of words (semantic core) for the program metadata, be sure to include appropriate keywords in the title and description.
Note that the Apple App Store and Google Play work differently with keywords.
The peculiarity of the Apple App Store is the presence of the “Keywords” field, in which you must enter search terms. Users do not see this field, but the words in it are taken into account by the store’s search algorithms.
Google Play has no special field for keywords, but the app description is taken into account by the search algorithms. For the best results in ASO for Android use the most effective words in the description, but avoid their overabundance. The optimal frequency is 1 keyword/phrase per 250 characters. And remember, the text should be meaningful and readable. You write it not only for the search engine, but also for users!
A brief and full description of the app
The description is an important part of the metadata for any mobile app. It helps users to get more information about the product, features and functions.
There are brief and full descriptions. Short description is used in Google Play instead of a subtitle, but it is not visible on the search page. The full description is present in both stores, and is placed on the application page.
The short description should be succinct, revealing the essence of the product in a single sentence. For example, “listen to music and podcasts, make playlists, share your favorite tracks with friends. After reading the brief description, the user should immediately understand what awaits him. No complicated, confusing wording and double meanings!
The full description gives more freedom. A 4,000-character text, which means you can describe the product’s goals and objectives, its main features and benefits, in all their glory. In most cases, a detailed description is hidden under a spoiler and only the most interested users get to it, but that doesn’t mean you should write the description with your hands down.
Rating and feedback
Feedback is an integral part of an app’s success. Both Google Play and Apple take user comments and feedback into account when ranking apps. The higher the rating, the more relevant the app looks to search algorithms, and the higher it will appear in searches.
Popular reviews are displayed on the app page; to view the rest of the reviews the user needs to open a separate page. It is popular reviews that influence the impression your product will make on your target audience. Their influence is especially noticeable when people are choosing between several products. That’s why it’s important to monitor reviews, respond to negative feedback in a timely manner, communicate with users, and not leave them alone with problems.
The icon (logo) of the application
The requirements for the icon are similar to those for the name. The icon should be unique, bright, memorable and reflect the essence of the application.
The icon is often what brings you to the app page and then installs it, so pay special attention to the icon when optimizing a product for the app store. Don’t forget to check that the icon is not similar to others and you won’t be confused with your competitors.
Keep an eye on trends, don’t overdo it, optimize the icon for holidays, new releases or location. You can also do A/B-testing to find out from your users which icon version they like best.
Screenshots show the application in all its glory: features, capabilities, strengths and are the second most important factor to convince the user to download the application (the first factor is rating). Pages with visual content score better than those without.
Screenshots can be horizontal or vertical (depending on the orientation of your product). Google Play allows a maximum of 8 screenshots, the App Store allows 10, and a horizontal screenshot takes up as much space as 3 vertical screenshots. Horizontal screenshots convert better in app store search results, while vertical ones work better on product pages.
Based on last year’s results, it’s safe to say that short captions highlighting the merits of the app, pop-up graphics and the use of gradient backgrounds significantly (up to 40%) increase conversions.
Make sure the captions on the screenshots are legible, avoid screenshots that are not united by a single visual image (color scheme or style), do not make similar screenshots – they tire and the user will lose interest in the application.
By splitting the image between two screenshots, you will create a kind of bait, and the user will want to scroll through the images for the end. And this will increase the chances of downloading the product later.
Video or promo
A video can clearly show how the app works. Try to do it in such a way that the key features of the app are clear even without sound. Unlike screenshots, videos are not a prerequisite for placing an app. Videos are best suited for mobile games. You can show the user the gameplay or a beautiful trailer showing the game’s features.
To the video uploaded to the store, you can pick up a cover art that will attract attention.
Features of ASO
Both Google Play and the App Store use complex algorithms when sorting search results, the exact principles of which are unknown to anyone. In addition, these algorithms change periodically, but some points remain unchanged and affect the app ranking in one way or another. Below we will tell you about some tricks that will help the application to reach the top lines of search results.
Placement in the right category
Determine which category your app belongs to, where does it make sense for a potential user to look for it? Adding your app to an inappropriate category will not only confuse your users, making it less likely to be found, but may also lead to rejection of your app from the store. If an app fits into more than one category, choose the closest or least competitive one to give the app a better chance of success.
No extra characters
Both stores provide free keywords. For example, the app is in the “entertainment” section, in which case the word “entertainment” will automatically be added to your keyword list. The app will be indexed by that query even without adding it to the metadata.
The App Store indexes all characters as spaces; therefore, it is recommended that keyword queries in the keyword field be separated by commas and without spaces.
Localization of the application
If you are planning to enter the global market, you cannot do without localization. An application that is not tied to the peculiarities of a specific country is better to be released not only in Russian, but also in English. But you will have to translate everything: the metadata, keywords, interface, description and video voiceover, the text on screenshots, and brief and full descriptions.
Localization will allow you to reach more users, increase the visibility of the application, as well as increase the number of downloads and your revenue.
The more positive ratings and reviews an app has, the better. The higher the rating of the app, the higher it will show up in search engine results. So your goal is to get as many positive reviews as possible. Often users write reviews if they really like the app, but this doesn’t happen as often as we would like. For these cases, the App Store and Google Play offer a Feedback Request function (a window asking the user to rate the app while using the app).
Supporting a high level of the app
ASO only works if you monitor the quality of the app, the absence of poor user experience and bugs. Apps with a high failure rate or infrequent updates are ranked lower. Make sure the app runs smoothly, loads without lags or freezes, and navigates smoothly and clearly. Listen to users’ requests and release periodic updates.
App store analytics
You’ve done the hard part: you’ve developed the app and carefully thought through your ASO strategy. Now you need to monitor the results in order to track the app’s performance and take timely measures to adjust the strategy.