App Store Optimization
What is App Store Optimization?
It is the process of optimizing a game or application in order to maximize its visibility in the stores in Search (when users search) and Explore (when users browse), increase traffic to listing and improve conversion rate to generate the maximum volume of organic downloads.
It brings free high-quality users for Android and iOS app, helps reducing UA (User Acquisition) costs, and is the base of any Mobile Growth strategy.
ASO = Traffic + Conversion.
This process requires a critical understanding of how the stores work, the target user base, and the most relevant keywords potential users are typing or speaking to find apps or discover new ones.
Also, as stores are continuously evolving, nowadays it is very relevant to make apps visible in the Explore / Browse; this is Similar Apps (related), Featured, App Rankings… So, ASO evolves too.
Why App Store Optimization is important?
Our ASO process:
Generally, App Store Optimization consists of these 3 main processes:
- Keyword Research
- Listing optimization & A/B testing
- Monitoring the results and again – optimizing.
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the first essential step of ASO strategy. But the search algorithms of Apple App Store and Google Play Store are quite different. So, for ranking in search results, the stores are taking into account different factors.
How to select the right keywords?
In order to optimize your listing for a search on the App Store, the first thing you need to think of is ALL the possible search queries that one can use to find your product on the store. It’s all about the ASO keywords.
Brainstorm the initial list of all the keywords related to your project – including the tasks that your application performs, its main features, what kind of IAP do you use, and in case of games – even mention characters and gameplay. Think about what value does your product bring to the users, what need does it solve? All of these will form the base of the keywords list.
Next step is easier: Amplify your keywords list with suggestions.
Where to find suggested keywords?
This can be as simple as checking the suggestions in the search bar, or to use more specific tools for keyword research, like ours
Just add the first bunch of keywords to TheTool and use keyword suggestion feature to find related keywords (you can also distinguish TheTool suggestions from ASA suggestions now, isn’t that great?):
Another way to find new keywords is to spy on your competitors…
How to identify the best keywords?
Once you’ve created a list of keywords to work on, it is time to analyze them and see which ones are worth targeting in order to improve Search ASO.
The best practice, at least in the beginning, is to target mid- and long-tail keywords – keyword combinations that have high enough traffic size (amount of search requests), and lower competition. This information is usually provided in keyword research tools, including TheTool.
Where to put keywords on App Store?
On the App Store, unlike Google Play, not all text fields are indexed by search engine. There are 5 text fields that impact search:
- App Name
- Keywords field
- Developer name
As the description doesn’t have any effect on search algorithms, the main elements to optimize for search are App Name, Subtitle and keywords field. Apple has made a dedicated 100-character field for developers to place the keywords they want to rank for.
The place is limited, so follow these best practices to make the most out of it:
- Don’t include plural word forms if you have already included singular.
- Separate words with commas and don’t use spaces – Apple’s algorithm will already “mix and match” your keywords, creating various keyword combinations to rank your app.
- Don’t include the same keywords that you already have included in your App Name (it already has the biggest weight for Search rankings).
This is how to edit the keywords field on App Store Connect:
2. Product page optimization & A/B testing
The next important step of ASO is to work directly on your product page (which we will talk about later in more detail).
This means working on your on-metadata (those are the elements that fall under the direct control of developers and can be easily changed and optimized), and off-metadata factors, that are not under developer’s control, but can be influenced.
Off-metadata factors include downloads volume and velocity, user engagement, ratings (average rating and number of ratings received), and reviews.
Ratings and reviews
In the App Store, the role of ratings and reviews has been seriously elevated lately. The all-time ratings are displayed right below the icon. In contrast, the average rating of the current version and the accumulated rating of all versions aren’t shown.
User reviews also have got a more prominent position on the product page, together with developer’s answers if those are provided.
Moreover, apps appear on search results with ratings, which created foremost importance for developers to take care of their user experience and ensure positive feedback from their users.
To make sure that the optimizations of your product page are optimal, you need to see a consequent improvement in conversion rate (a number of visitors who end up installing).
The great way to measure it is with A/B testing. A/B test is an experiment, during which one element of a product page is changed and the traffic is driven to both versions to determine which one is performing best in terms of conversion rate.
A/B testing is a vital part of App Store SEO, as it is the only way to find out if the icons, screenshots and previews would really work to attract and convince the users. Stop guessing and start A/B testing.
Check some great tools for A/B testing here.
3. Monitoring the results
After making all the improvements, it is time to track and monitor the results of optimization, in terms of KPIs such as keywords rankings, app store rankings, conversion rate, the volume of organic downloads, reviews, and ratings. You can use TheTool for this, of course.
Don’t forget that a key to success is, first of all, a great product