App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of enhancing the visibility of a mobile app in the app stores. It is similar to the SEO process done for websites. Infact, both ASO and SEO are processes with the common goal of Optimization employed in two different platforms, i.e. App Store and Website respectively.
To get your mobile app listed in the app store search results and top charts it is important that you carry out ASO. Also the growing number of competitive mobile apps and increasing CPI (Cost Per Install) of the apps, have increased the significance and need for optimization of mobile apps in app stores such as iTunes for iOS, Google Play for android, Windows Store for Windows, etc.
General Core Factors in App Store Optimization
- App Icon
- Promo Video
- Off-site Factors
- Number of downloads
- Ratings and Reviews
- Tracking and Optimizing Keywords
The above factors contribute to the ranking of your app in an App Store in general. However, due to the difference in the search algorithms, the level of significance of these factors in the ranking vary from store-to-store. Thus, let’s look at the importance of these factors in the two main and popular app stores – Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
App Store Optimization : Apple
The algorithm used in Apple store / iTunes is a very simple one in which ranking primarily depend on the download volume of the app.
Keywords : this is the most important factor in Apple Store Optimization and Apple store provides you 100 characters to list your keywords. So make sure you invest a lot of your time in researching and analysing your keywords with the support of tools like Google Keyword Planner, SensorTower, etc. A few tips to remember include:
- make sure to include your keyword in your app name,
- avoid spaces, commas, stop words (like the, at) and repetition of keywords,
- make use of the complete 100 characters and make sure you make the first 25 characters really count because it is displayed while users scroll through search results,
- do not include category names in your app name. For eg: Free E-commerce App – both ‘Free’ and ‘E-commerce’ is already a category name within the store, so this will affect your ranking negatively,
- Localize your keywords for different locations.
- Clearly specify in points the benefits of your app and why browsers should download it, etc.
Visuals : in Apple Store visuals like App icon, promo video, etc., do not play a major role in improving the ranking of your app. However it plays an important role in effective branding of your app. The purpose of visuals in Apple Store is to convey the idea of your app and what it is all about. So make sure your iOS app icon is representative and attract browsers to halt, click and view it.
Off-site Factors : this includes factors very crucial in creating a significant impact on your app store rankings. Specifically with regard to Apple store, for an app to achieve Top 10 rank, it need to create large amount of downloads within a duration of 72 hours. Thus, number of downloads play a very important role in Apple App Store above all the other factors. To create huge downloads, ratings and reviews of users play a major role. A browser at first understand the user ratings and reviews and then only move on to read what the developing company has to tell him/her about the app. Therefore, you have to make sure you collect feedback from your users and make sure you collect it in an engaging manner, so that users tend to provide positive reviews and fairly high ratings.
App Store Optimization : Google Play
Keywords : Unlike in Apple store, in Google Play keywords is less important and no separate space is provided to list the keywords. Also, the app name and description in this store is limited to 30 characters and 4000 characters respectively. Like in Apple Store, here also repeated use of keywords in description will make no significant impact in your ranking, but inclusion of keyword in your app name will definitely improve your ranking.
Visuals : this is a very important factor in Google Play. Visuals help build your brand and attract people browsing within the store to view your app. Make sure you fill the 8 screenshot slots with clear and attractive screenshots of your app and remember to describe each screenshot for more clarity about the app. In Google Play, a feature image is a must and also the store encourages you to add a promo video, because it is more effective while communicating about the app to prospective users.
Off-site Factors : this includes factors highly significant but totally out of your control. Unlike Apple store, in Google play downloads is not a very crucial factor affecting the app ranking. Instead the crucial factors include all of the following:
- Number of ratings
- Number of downloads
- Growth of downloads in the last 30 days
- Number of uninstalls
- Usage Frequency
- Links to your Play Store
Another important factor that can enhance your app ranking in Google Play is the Google+. Make sure to use Google+ in your app.
After you have optimized the above factors for your app, your app will be positioned to be organically discovered, but ASO continues. So keep track of your rankings, performance of your keywords, user reviews, etc. Occasionally also conduct competitor research and try to recreate the factors that is improving their ranking. ASO is a tedious process, however, it is better to do things at the first step itself than later working all over again through a mess.