7 ASO Tips for Mobile App Publishers and Marketers

The goal of every app publisher and marketer is to get their app found and downloaded. Seems pretty straight forward. However, with more that 1.5 million apps in Google Play and 1.4 million available on the App Store, showing up in search results and standing out amongst competitors can be extremely difficult.

Luckily, app store optimization (ASO) exists to increase organic traffic and gain a competitive edge. Similar to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for the web, ASO is all about using keyword and conversion optimization techniques to increase an app’s ranking and acquire users.

Here are 7 ways you can optimize your app store profile to drive more downloads:

Naming Your App

The name or title of your app, combined with the icon, creates the first impression of your app to app store visitors. Your app name should be unique and fitting for your app. For the App Store, your title can be up to 255 characters, while on Google Play you’re limited to 30 characters, though in both a longer title will get truncated in search results.

Many apps opt to use their company name, which is a great strategy, especially if you expect to be found via a branded search. But what if you don’t have strong brand awareness? Then your best bet is to use generic terms combined with a couple of keywords in your app name so that you can increase your position in keyword searches.

Mockup of Two iPhones

Using the maximum character allowance might truncate your full app name, but you can benefit from the addition keywords!

Designing Your App Icon

There’s no denying the importance of your app icon – it’s the first thing people see when they are searching for apps. To stand out from the crowd, your app icon needs to be visually appealing, compelling and most importantly, well-designed. Amateur or overly complex designs can give people a negative impression of the quality of your app, resulting in few downloads. You can adapt your logo or branded element for your app icon, or you can design something from scratch. Avoid photos and text, and instead focus on using shape and color to create a clear, simple icon.

App Icon Examples

Simplicity works! (Source: TheNextWeb)

Selecting Keywords

You have 100 characters for keyword selection so be sure to use them all by using the singular form of words and focusing only on the keywords you can truly can rank for.

To compile a great list, start by researching potential keywords for relevance and competitiveness using tools like Google Keyword Planner tool, Keyword.io, SensorTower, Ubersuggest or WordTracker, and check out the suggested search results in the app stores to see what people are actually searching for.

Even if it’s tempting, avoid using the names of popular apps, competitors or trademarks as keywords – Apple frowns on any “black hat” tricks. And finally, if your app is in different markets, be sure to localize your keywords for each store.

Writing Your App Description

When people arrive to your app store profile, give them your best app pitch in the first couple of lines of your app description. Focus on your unique selling proposition (USP). For example, explain to your potential users what problems your app solves, or what benefits they can expect from using your app.

Besides capturing people’s attention and making them want to download your app, the first couple of line of your description is also vital for keyword optimization. Be sure to load up your description with the keywords you’re trying to rank for to increase your chances of showing up in search results. And a final tip for Google Play: make the best use of the first 167 characters of your app description, as this will make up your meta descriptions used in seach.

Clash of Clans Description Screenshot

Keep your app description clear and concise. On Google Play, use arrows, bullet points and html tags to give your description some punch.

Creating Compelling Screenshots

Your screenshots are the next best thing to understanding what your app is about without downloading your app, so make the most of them!

On Google Play, you can upload up to 8 screenshots, while the App Store lets you upload up to 5 screenshots, with the first screenshot appearing in search results (if no app preview is available). This last point is important since it really stresses how important that first screenshot is to get users to click through to your profile page.

To create app screenshots that convert, use a combination of copy and design to give life to otherwise boring screen grabs. Using an iOS screenshot generator is a great way to make your own app store screenshots!

App Store Screenshot Examples

Use storytelling in your screenshots to highlight benefits and features of your app

Producing a Preview Video

Video is quickly becoming the go-to format for mobile, and it’s no surprise that the introduction of app preview videos to the app stores have given many app publishers a competitive edge.

Your app preview should focus on the key features of your app, giving people a realistic idea of the app experience. Since your preview video will be used across all your stores, localization is not possible, so it’s best to avoid voice-overs (unless 100% needed).

Closeup to an app on the appstore

Having an app preview video can give your app a competitive advantage standing out in search results

Collecting App Ratings & Reviews

Having a highly rated app will help you rise in rankings and stand out from your competitors, but why else should you invest time in collecting ratings and review? The opinions expressed in ratings & reviews play an important role in converting app store visitors. Positive reviews act as social proof, motivating users to take a chance on your app. However, if you don’t have any ratings or reviews – or worse if you only have negative reviews – visitors will be unlikely to download your app.

Planning how to ask for ratings and reviews early is key to your success. Target your early-adopters and most active users via email, push notifications or in-app messaging, and ask them to provide an honest review. Also, don’t be afraid of a few negative reviews. Honest feedback can actually be a great learning opportunity and, if you’re on Google Play, you can actually reply to feedback, showing that you’re proactive about solving user problems!

App Review Example

Replying to issues can help build confidence in your app (Source: SensorTower)

There we have it – the main areas every app publisher or marketer should concentrate on for ASO activities. While ASO is a major focus when you’re first launching an app, it’s also something that needs constant maintenance. To have a successful app on the stores, continue optimizing your keywords and keep things fresh with updated icons, screenshots and videos whenever you launch a new version of your app!

A version of this article was originally published on the AppsBuilder Blog.

About the author:

Picture of Krista McLandressKrista McLandress, Marketing Manager at AppsBuilder – a professional, yet easy to use mobile app development platform. An expert in inbound and web marketing, Krista creates content for marketers who are bringing their brands mobile and need help navigating the new world of app marketing. You can read more of her posts on the AppsBuilder Blog or by following @appsbuilder.


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