Let’s start with some quick hard facts.

As of the first quarter of 2019, Android users were able to choose between 2.1 million apps. Apple’s App Store is close behind with almost 1.8 million available apps. Windows Store: 600,000 apps, Amazon Store: 470,000 apps and even Blackberry world with over 200,000 apps.

If you are about venturing into the mobile app space, things are about to get real very quickly. 

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Image credit: Mindinventory

In this blog post, we will go through various methods for marketing your app. 

Understanding App Store Optimization (ASO)

App store optimization (ASO) is also referred to by a few names including App store marketing and Mobile App SEO. 

ASO is simply the process of improving the ranking of your mobile apps in an app store’s search results. Just like your search engine, the higher your app ranks, the more visible it is, the more your chances of actually getting downloads.

The primary goal of ASO is almost always app downloads, but sometimes it can include supplemental goals such as:

  • Brand exposure.
  • Positive app reviews and ratings. These have been known to influence downloads
  • Audience engagement.

Like any other marketing effort, the ASO process is hinged on the understanding of who your target customers are. This includes keywords your customers are using to find apps similar to yours. To summarize, app stores are some sort of closed search engines which rely on:

  • Content discovery
  • Indexation
  • Your app ranking algorithms. These are almost always tied to the number of downloads, app quality, reviews, ratings and engagement.

And here’s proof that it works. “On iOS, 47% [of users] said they found an app through the App Store’s search engine, while 53% of Android users did the same on Google Play.“  Also, 65 per cent of downloads come from searches on the App Store.

Here’s the good news for you. A sizeable number of publishers are not investing in app store optimization. So ready to take on ASO?

Breaking Down the ASO Components

There are two key components for ASO. Your keywords and title. 

Keywords: What keywords are relevant and used by your target market? It’s almost the same rule as with search engine optimization. What words do people think of when they search for your product? You can try monitoring your competitors to see what keywords they use. Have a list? Then you move on to the title.

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Image credit: Keyword Tool

Before launching into keyword research for app pages and content, the following questions need to be answered:

  • What language do my customers use?
  • What terms do they use in searching for my app?
  • Customers intent before installing my app?

If you are in a market with an established competitor or competitors:

  • What keywords do my competitors use?
  • What terms are my competitors targeting?
  • Should I optimize for the same keywords, or optimize for the overlooked keywords and use them as my competitive advantage?

Title: Of all the keywords researched, place the one with the highest search volume in the title. You need to careful and definite at this stage because it will be difficult and almost detrimental to change your title after your rank gains popularity.

Remember, Apple’s app store has a 100-character keyword field limit while Google Play Store offers a 4,000 character limit. In addition to these, there are other important components to keep in mind:

App ratings and reviews: This could make or break your app’s chances. Bad reviews are like quick poison, the decision to forgo your app based on a bad review is swift. Unfortunately, you have no direct control over it. A hack here is to have a framework in place for generating regular reviews and replying to and engaging with reviews. Especially the negative reviews.

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App downloads: This is a game of perception. The more downloads your app receives, the more it is perceived to be great.

In-app Store Tactics to Optimize your Page for More Downloads

Update your apps regularly

By this, we mean keep your apps fresh. If you have noticed, the best-performing apps in the stores are those you use user feedback, tech changes and feature additions to update their apps constantly.

If you fix a bad review for instance and push that out as an update, there’s a positive review constantly waiting for you. Similarly, regularly updating your app gives it an added relevance. You should note that both the Apple store and the Google play store take the regularity of app updates into account when ranking. Simply put, the more you progress your product app offering, the greater your app ranking.

Do not keyword-stuff your app descriptions

We have placed a lot of emphasis on keywords, however, a common mistake is to stuff the app description with a lot of keywords. Not only does this come across as spammy, it simply does not work.

Keyword stuffing may fool Google algorithms, but your app descriptions are read by humans with a genuine problem. They don’t care about keywords, they are concerned about how you are solving their problems. 

App Description - Optimizing your app store pages for more downloads

You can do enough keyword stuffing in your app title…remember to keep it moderate of course.

Run A/B Tests on your App Store Listing

The mobile app blog AndroidPub switched their app icon and got a 30% increase in downloads. A great ASO trick is to periodically make adjustments to your app store listing. It could be as easy as tweaking the visual components!

To do this, you can send one half of your web store traffic to one variant and the rest to the other. When you do this, you can test various elements of your listing such as:

  • App title
  • App description
  • Screenshots
  • Videos
  • Visual icons

You can determine which title, screenshots, or other elements appeal most to people. For Android apps, the Google Play Store has a built-in tool for running split tests called Google Experiments. You can run tests without relying on third-party solutions. 

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Apple’s App Store, however, does not offer this option. Instead, you can either test on your app’s mobile landing page, or use third-party software to emulate the look and feel of the App Store.

Bonus Tactic:  Amp up the visual elements.

Your visual icon is like a billboard for your app. It is also important for driving conversions. You have one chance to make an impression on people when they click on your app’s link. You want your app icon to communicate your app’s function while cutting through the clutter. 

Try screenshots too. Like app icons, they aren’t a factor in your ranking but they could be very instrumental to downloads. Use screenshots to:

  • Highlight key features
  • Depict everyday use
  • Address primary benefits to users

The ASO process is not unlike SEO. it takes a lot of time and requires constant tweaking over a period of time. Being found is one of the most difficult challenges for mobile apps, but it is a problem you can actively solve.

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