App store optimization (ASO) is a crucial element for ensuring that your mobile app ranks highly in an app store’s search results. This is because the majority of mobile users find new apps just by browsing through the app store. If your app has a high ASO, it’s a safe bet that it will get discovered and downloaded by a larger audience.
It’s also important to understand that the mobile app industry is dominated by two major players – Apple’s App Store (iOS) and The Google Play Store (Android). Gartner predicts that iOS and Android app store downloads will make up 90% of mobile app downloads in 2017. With this in mind, app entrepreneurs and developers should be familiar with general guidelines aimed at increasing ASO in both the Apple and Google Play app stores.
Going The Extra Mile
The main goal of achieving high ASO is to drive more traffic to your app’s page in order for users to download/purchase your app. A successful ASO can be achieved, as long as the right steps are taken.
Here are 5 tips to help ensure your app is optimized for the App and Play store:
#1: Keyword Optimization Counts
A crucial understanding of your target market is required for ASO success. Understanding who your potential customers are will provide you with a better idea of which keywords are being used in app store searches. Identifying keywords that relate to what a user might be searching for is the most important step for ensuring app store discovery.
For example, users searching for an app using keywords such as, “quick,” “car” or “transportation” might be presented with an app entitled: “Quick Car4You” as the first result. This result is based on keywords used in the app title and the overall popularity of the app itself.
Understanding which keywords your potential customers are searching for allows you to add these keywords in your app title as well as in the keyword search fields. It is important to add as many relevant words as possible to ensure that your app gets discovered first. You are allowed up to 100 characters on Apple’s App Store and 4,000 on Google Play.
Some keyword optimization tips are:
- Do not use spaces in the keywords field (ex: Do not write: “quick, car, fast” Do write: “quick,car,fast”)
- Use plural keywords and do not duplicate keywords with singular terms
- Abbreviations sometimes translate into larger words (ex: “Feb.” could also register the word “February”)
- Sometimes it’s better to register two short words rather than one long word (ex: “lock,” “help” versus “locksmith”)
- You can also use the Google Keyword Optimization tool to help come up with popular and relevant keywords
#2: Pick A Title, Stick With It & Keep It Short
Equally as important as keywords, your app’s title should be well thought out in order to clearly reflect the purpose of your mobile
app. Be sure to include your most heavily searched for keyword in your app’s title. For instance, if your target audience is primarily searching for the keyword “car,” be sure to use “car” in your title.
It’s also important to choose a title for your app which will not require any changes. Once your app begins to gain popularity, people will most likely start spreading the news using the original app name. Changing an app’s title can make it difficult for your app to spread via word of mouth.
Keeping an app’s title as short and concise as possible is also necessary (under 255 characters for the app store title, there is no limit for play store). It’s also recommended that you do not use more than 3 keywords in your app’s title because it could get rejected by Apple. You will want to make sure your app title is descriptive, yet brief to allow users searching through the app store to read a title in its entirety.
The mobile app “Yo” for example is a social application for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Yo was created for users to send text messages to friends with a basic audio recording of the word, “yo”. The short title – “Yo” – clearly defines the app’s purpose and can easily be searched for without using long, complicated keywords.
#3: Be Descriptive
Your app’s description can either make or break your ASO, which is why it’s important to write the best description possible in the first two sentences. This is because app store users can only see the first 225 characters of an app’s description on an iPhone, iPad or desktop. Google Play’s description preview provides users with more information, yet it is always important to place the most engaging content within the first few lines to gain user interest.
Once the first lines of your app’s description are written, you will want to continue to describe your app’s purpose as much as possible. Up to 4,000 characters are allowed for an app’s description, yet it is recommended to list your app’s best features first.
Uber’s description on Apple’s App Store, for example, notes that it is your “private driver in more than 40 countries.” This bold statement immediately conveys the app’s success, capturing the attention of new users. Next, Uber uses bullet points to list the features and unique benefits of the app. Be sure to Include all the positive features of your app in your app’s description in order to increase traffic and promote downloads.
#4: Categorize Correctly
Users are able to browse through a collection of apps in the App Store by searching through categories which fit their interests. A major aspect for getting your app discovered is placing it in the correct category within the App Store. It’s important to understand both the pros and cons of each category in order to choose the best fit for your app.
Deciding on the best category for your app can be a bit challenging. iTunes connect allows two categories for your app, making it easier for users to find. But keep in mind that all categories have their pros and cons. For instance, the “Social” category might bring more traffic than the “Lifestyle” category, yet your app might have a harder time ranking in the “Social” category against names like Facebook and Twitter. The most important thing to remember when choosing a category for your app is to pick a group which best describes the main function of your app. You can always change your app’s category later if needed.
#5: Visually Appealing
Sometimes an app’s appearance is overlooked, yet a lot of creativity and marketing skills are required for building the perfect logo/icon for your mobile app. An app’s logo should be creative enough to stand out from the crowd, while conveying the app’s function on a smart phone’s screen.
The logo for the mobile app Lyft, for example, has an image of a pink balloon being lifted in the air. The Lyft logo conveys the app’s purpose of providing users with a quick “lyft” when they need an affordable ride.
TaskRabbit is another example of a mobile app which uses a creative logo to convey its message. TaskRabbit connects users with people in their neighborhood who can quickly help them with various tasks such as moving, putting together furniture, cleaning chores and more. The TaskRabbit logo is simple, yet descriptive. The image of a green, speedy rabbit conveys the underlying message of the TaskRabbit app.
Practice Makes Perfect
Creating an app is hard enough, which is why taking the time to market it correctly is a must. Becoming an ASO ninja does not just happen over night, yet a high ranking app can be achieved once the right steps are taken. Utilizing the correct keywords, having a smart, yet brief title, being descriptive, understanding your app’s correct category and coming up with a visually appealing image will all help your app get noticed in the app store. Next steps? Sit back, relax and watch as your app’s ratings and reviews skyrocket!