With over 4 million mobile apps in the major app stores, getting your app discovered is one of the biggest issues facing mobile app publishers today. This is why understanding app store optimization is so crucial.
But what is app store optimization, and how can you make the most of it? Here’s what you need to know to help your app rank well.
What is App Store Optimization (ASO)?
App store optimization is the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results. The higher your app ranks in an app store’s search results, the more visible it is to potential customers.
That increased visibility tends to translate into more traffic to your app’s page in the app store.
The goal of ASO is to drive more traffic to your app’s page in the app store, so searchers can take a specific action: download your app.
The ASO process also requires a crucial understanding of your target customer base, including the keywords your potential customers are using to find apps similar to yours.
When you learn more about which keywords are being used, you will better understand your potential customers’ language so you can hone in on the best keywords to use.
If you’re not using ASO to increase your app’s search ranking, you’re missing out on the largest discovery channel available to your app.
With hundreds of thousands of apps in each app store vying to rank above one another, the amazing reality is that most publishers are not investing in app store optimization.
So here’s my gift to you: ASO is your secret weapon. Spend time every week improving your ASO, and you will meaningfully impact your app’s ranking and overall success.
How to Help Your App Rank: The Basics of ASO
Much of what I’m about to explain is going to be SEO basics.
If you’re already familiar with these for web searches, there are still a few key differences within the App Store.
Let’s start by breaking down the various components that can affect your ASO:
Main ASO Factors:
Title: The keyword placed in the title should be the one with the heaviest search traffic. Spend time researching which keyword that is, because changing your title too often can be detrimental. As your app begins to rank higher and gain more reviews, your app’s news will begin to spread by word of mouth. Changing the title can make it difficult for word to spread about your app.
Keywords: To improve your search rankings, you need to know which keywords are relevant and used most often by your target audience. It is helpful to monitor competitors to realize how you compare week to week.
Besides being the most important ASO factor, the title and keywords can be modified easily to optimize them regularly.
Secondary ASO Factors:
Total # of Downloads: Your number of downloads are significant to ASO, but you don’t have complete control over them.
You’re given a subtitle below the title in search results. This is also limited to 30 characters.
It gives you another chance to use more descriptive keywords.
TypeShift, for example, uses the space to input its SEO.
This is a cleaner look and can work well.
I would’ve still taken the opportunity to use some keywords in the title, but that’s out of my control.
Which is a great segue to my next topic.
App Reviews and Ratings
Customer reviews and ratings are an important consideration for users, especially those unfamiliar with an app brand.
Apps with higher ratings also ranked higher. This raises a tricky dilemma: you want more ratings and reviews, but not if they are negative. So, you need a way to connect with your customers inside your app, giving them a place to vent and talk directly to the developer.
On the flip side, you want to guide happy customers to leave positive reviews for you.
The average rating of the top 100 free apps in the App Store is 4 stars!
Quality clearly matters.
The lower your rating, the fewer consumers who will be willing to consider downloading it.
Think about it. When was the last time you downloaded a one-star app?
You may have rated an app one star, but it was likely rated 3 or more stars when you downloaded it.
Ratings also affect conversions.
Maintaining a high rating is often easier than raising one from 2 to 4 stars.
That’s why it’s important to solicit reviews from customers within the app.
One time is all that’s necessary, and it needs to be done within the first 72 hours.
That’s how long 77% of users will use an app before never again turning it on.
It’s also important to wait until after the customer has a chance to use the app.
Instead of basing it on a timer, consider a push notification when the customer completes certain actions.
Examples of great times to do this are after the first level of a game or after a customer sends their first message through your encrypted messaging app.
Try not to be too spammy, though, and keep in mind your app’s performance can affect its rating.
Ultimately, you want a page full of glowing reviews.
It’s possible a bad customer experience happened due to an error or glitch that’s since been corrected.
Thank users for their reviews whenever possible, good or bad, and correct issues brought up. This is your time to gather valuable user feedback.
This is your time to gather valuable user feedback.
Ultimately it’s a download that matters.
An app preview video and screenshots help convert indecisive users.
Both the App and Google Play stores use the number of times an app has been downloaded to determine ranking.
More specifically, it’s the current download rate.
For example, while an app may have 1 million overall downloads, a newer app can beat it by getting more downloads this month.
The preview video and images can be a major factor in this.
The majority of top apps in the App Store use app previews to increase customer conversions.
Once you have a user, however, you’ll need to keep them.
It’s harder than it sounds, and Apple is paying attention.
What can you do to get more downloads for your app?
Improving your ASO is a great place to start. Beyond that, work on marketing your brand and app to improve recognition, awareness, and appeal, from app store description to images, ratings/reviews, and social media presence.
Retention Impacts ASO
Retention rates are important for mobile device rankings, but the bar isn’t set very high.