What is App Store Optimization? ASO Guide 2021

ASO vs. SEO

How correct is the statement that ASO optimization is actually SEO for applications?

Let's figure it out - this is the first goal pursued by SEO and ASO. They are similar: to show your product to the maximum number of users. The difference is that SEO is aimed at improving the visibility of the website and at the highest possible positions in the search results of systems such as Google, Yandex. ASO optimization increases the visibility of your application in stores such as Apple Store, Google Play, Huawei AppGallery, etc.

What exactly is optimized?

SEO optimization involves working with site structure, user interface and web page loading speed. The elements for optimization are the meta-titles and the text part. Optimization satisfies the requirements for page content, its quality and user engagement. Also, a well-designed internal linking of pages, the presence of external links from other sites and transitions on them are mandatory.

ASO is a process that involves collecting and analyzing search queries, keywords and their use in application metadata via ASO optimization tools. Optimization for Google Play and the App Store are processes with similar goals, but different approaches due to the difference in the mechanisms for indexing metadata fields. ASO optimization implies not only working with the text part of the application, but also visual elements, because they are responsible for the conversion to install.

Why is ASO optimization an important step for your app growth?

ASO (App Store Optimization) is the process of optimizing the page of a mobile application on the app store (Google Play, App Store and others) in order to improve its visibility for the user by the maximum number of search queries.

Let's divide this process into two stages depending on the goals:

1. Search for an app. After entering a search query in the app store, the user will see the search results. It is thanks to text optimization that correlation occurs - a search query and an application display.

2. Being user friendly. The application appeared in the search results of the user, now it is necessary that its "appearance" causes the necessary associations. The icon and screenshots of the application should be clear and attractive - the conversion to install occurs precisely thanks to the visual elements.

How can a user find an application?

People mainly search for specific apps on app stores like Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Just statistics - 70% of mobile users use search to find new apps. Moreover, 65% of all downloads occur immediately after a search. The obvious conclusion from this is that app store search is the most common method for discovering new apps.

Do not forget that the rating of the application and the number of downloads are factors that directly affect the search results, therefore, investing time and money in ASO, you lay the foundation for its subsequent growth.

Briefly about the benefits of ASO optimization:

  • guaranteed visibility of your app in search results;
  • the application is shown only to interested and targeted users;
  • constant growth of organic installs, because ASO optimization is about organic;
  • reducing the cost of app growth in the long term by reducing advertising costs and the flow of organic users;
  • app globalization by using additional locales.

ASO optimization for Google Play

On Google Play, you need to use search queries multiple times in the metadata for the market to know that they are relevant to your application.

  • Name. Keywords from the title carry a lot of ranking weight. Add the most relevant and effective keywords.
  • The short description affects rankings and conversions. Use relevant keywords. Add a call to action to boost conversions.
  • Full description. The optimal description is about 2000-2500 characters. Use mid-frequency and low-frequency search queries in direct entering. Avoid keyword stuffing (keyword stuffing is the overuse of keywords).

ASO optimization for App Store

Please note that on the App Store you do not need to duplicate keywords. If you have already used a search query, for example, in the title, you should not enter it in keywords. Try to use as many different queries as possible.

  • Title. Keywords from the title carry a lot of ranking weight. Add the most relevant and effective keywords. Use as many characters as possible.
  • Subtitle. Subtitles affect rankings and conversions. Use relevant keywords. Add a call to action to increase conversions.
  • Keywords. Use a variety of keywords. Do not duplicate words from the title and subtitle. Write your search queries in separate words (for example, not "games for children", but "games,for,children"). Do not put spaces after commas.
  • Localize your app. In the App Store, localization can help you not only adapt your app to the local market but also increase the number of characters for keywords. You can learn more about this here.

App ASO optimization sequence

Regardless of the app store, there is a specific sequence of processes for ASO app optimization. First, we will split the optimization into text and visual.

The main stage of text optimization is working with key queries of the app. It is worth relying on common sense, logic and market research here.

We start with research. It is carried out by compiling a list of all possible keywords and their combinations associated with the app. Then we choose and prioritize. It is necessary to analyze and prioritize keywords according to their relevance and traffic volume. And we optimize the app by the selected keywords. We use the assembled semantic core (a pool of keywords) to populate the app metadata.

Screenshots and an icon are the next important part of visual ASO optimization, as visuals are hugely important for increasing conversions:

  • Icon. Bright and memorable, meaningful and connected with the content of your product. An icon is what your app is, what it is about, and how you want to interact with users.
  • Screenshots. Bright and understandable, fully revealing the sense of the app and highlighting its main functions.

Remember to keep it short and of course respect the rules of the app stores. Since the second half of 2021, Google Play has been changing approaches to visual elements - using the best, free, top designations on the icon will now be considered prohibited techniques. Anything that is estimated information, pricing or advertising content will now be subject to sanctions from the Google Play Market - for example, the word "sale". This includes call-to-actions of an incentive nature, such as "update now", "download now", "play now" or "try now".

A great way to test what really works for your target audience is through A/B testing. The idea is to create more options of the visuals and figure out which one got the most clicks. Moreover, as it was announced at Apple WWDC 2021 - now it will be possible to create more personalized app pages. You can make different icons, videos and screenshots for one country and A/B test them, and then see in analytics which one brought more installs (will appear only with the release of iOS 15).

App localization in App Store

It is impossible not to mention this method of expanding the audience of app users. It is with the help of localization that you can increase the number of searches for your app - in addition to adapting your app to local markets in the App Store, you get an increase in the number of characters for keywords used in metadata.

Almost every country is indexed in several languages ​​at once. A striking example is a number of countries that, in addition to their “native” locale, have 2 more additional ones (hence the metadata can be extended by another +200 characters). Considering the features of the App Store ASO optimization, this is an opportunity to significantly expand the semantics.

Rating and reviews

User reviews are an integral factor in evaluating your store app. Both stores take into account the comments and reviews that the user leaves for your app. The higher your ranking, the more relevant your app is considered in stores, and this is reflected in the app position in search results.

Plus, 80% of mobile users read at least one review before downloading an app. Therefore, it is very important to respond to reviews, thereby maintaining feedback. After all, this is the very process of engagement and users from potential go to the category of users who downloaded and installed your application.

App Optimization tricks and life hacks

Try to follow the rules and techniques of optimization for different stores more closely , do not do “template” processes. Remember about additional locales and words that are automatically indexed (App Store). Be careful with the frequency of keyword usage - Google Play spam can be one of the pitfalls of text optimization. More information about life hacks is here.

Use analytical tools for ASO optimization

Working with the semantic core and metadata of the application thanks to mobile analytics platforms will be carried out easily and, most importantly, efficiently. Optimization tracking, competitive analysis and market research will all create a solid foundation for your app development and promotion strategy.

To summarize briefly:

  • Analyze - yourself and your competitors, trends and niches. This is a cyclical process that cannot be stopped.
  • Optimize - change and experiment with metadata and visuals according to external market factors and your strategic plans.
  • Update - once an app is published, the cycle of working with it does not end, constant changes, improvements and updates. After all, changing the "wrapping" is not always enough for the correct development of the app.
  • Promote - Explore all possible ways to promote your app, identify and work with your target audience.

App optimization is a must and vital part of your marketing strategy. Do not neglect the opportunity and use the rule: more installations - more visibility - more installations!

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