Mobile App Store Optimization Guide 2020

Go to the profile of Anatoly Sharifulin
Anatoly Sharifulin
Mobile App Store Optimization Guide 2020

Table of Content:

  1. What is App Store Optimization?
  2. Why App Store Optimization is so important?
  3. How does ASO work?
  4. How long does ASO take to show results?
    • Basic app ranking information
    • Main ranking factors
    • Secondary ranking factors
  5. Android Google Play Store and Apple App Store optimization guide
    • Google Play Store optimization
    • Apple App Store optimization
  6. Stage one: finding and using app store keywords with tools
    • Where to find the right keywords
    • 1. Brainstorming
    • 2. Studying reviews
    • 3. Study your competition
    • 4. Use the Keyword research feature in AppFollow
  7. How to choose which keywords to use
    • 1. Rule out keywords that are too broad
    • 2. Find the balance between relevance and popularity
  8. App Store Keyword Optimization Strategy
    • Where should you use the keywords?
    • 1. App title
    • 2. App subtitle (iOS only)
    • 3. App description
    • 4. App promo text (iOS only)
    • 5. Keywords field (iOS only)
    • 6. In-App purchases
  9. Stage 2: Optimizing the app to increase user conversion and retention.
    • 1. Creating a flashy app icon
    • 2. Working with screenshots
    • 3. Feature Graphic (Google Play Store only)
    • 4. Adding and optimizing the preview video.
    • 5. Working with ratings & reviews
    • 6. Managing the app size
    • 7. Increasing the frequency of the updates
    • 8. Working with localization and translating your content to other languages
    • 9. Measuring conversions and fixing bottlenecks
  10. Badges
    • How to check the results of an app store optimization services campaign?
  11. App Store Optimization Tips - Common Mistakes to Avoid
    • 1. Not knowing about ASO marketing.
    • 2. Not knowing the volume of search traffic in your industry.
    • 3. Not paying attention to the search suggestions.
    • 4. Not paying attention to the ASO of competing apps.
    • 5. Not iterating enough.
    • 6. Forgetting about the importance of user experience.
  12. What is the cost of ASO?
  13. A few final words.
  14. How is App Store Optimization done? ASO Checklist.
App store optimization is a super cost-effective way to increase the exposure of your app in the app stores and boost downloads through the roof. This ultimate app store optimization guide will help you dive deep into the nitty-gritty of setting up your ASO properly to help you achieve the ultimate results

What is App Store Optimization?

ASO, or App Store Optimization, is a process that helps to promote a mobile app or mobile game in the app stores like Google Play or Apple App Store.  

The goal of implementing ASO is t make sure everyone who is searching for something like your app gets to see it in the Search. With ASO, you increase traffic to your app and get more organic downloads (the sweet kind you don't have pay for, unlike ads or any other paid traffic). Thus, you get more customers out of your buck and they are higher quality.

Just like traditional SEO tools enable websites to appear on the first pages of search results, high ASO ranking can boost an app to top results in a store.

Why App Store Optimization is so important?

Underestimated by many, ASO can help drive serious traffic to your app and convert that traffic into installs and active customers. Some research data shows that over 60% of all apps are found by users simply by searching in the stores.

Image courtesy of apptentive.

Simply put – native search is the most massive acquisition channel for app developers' hands down. And unlike SEO – employing app store optimization services is an underrated strategy that many developers and marketers forget about. What does it mean for you? Getting to the top of your category is possible. Moreover, some of those who invest time and effort into ASO report significant increases in the number of downloads.


How does ASO work?

App Store Optimization is a set of measures that work together to drive traffic. The main areas of work include but are not limited to:

  • Title optimization – the addition of precise keywords in the name is the core to developing the visibility of your app in search results.
  • Keywords compilation – finding and using the hottest keywords for your specific target audience can help to drive even more traffic to your app.

Further optimizing the page itself to improve conversion, for instance, by adding a preview video, relevant screenshots and an engaging description helps to boost the number of downloads, which in turn boosts the number of reviews and overall visibility of the application. From here on out the process is like a snowball, but one that requires constant readjustments and tweaks.

Though, it is important to keep in mind that It’s not a “set-up and forget about it” kind of work, but rather one that requires constant tweaking and adjustment. Thankfully, online ASO marketing tools like AppFollow make finding the right keywords and keeping track of the store trends much easier even for marketers who are just starting out.

How long does ASO take to show results?

Initial results of ASO marketing will take effect almost immediately after updating the keywords, but to see the real benefits you will have to toggle the keywords at least a couple of times. Full results usually will kick in after a minimum of three keyword updates and at least two months' time.

Furthermore, keywords are not created equal and there is always some room for improvement. Once you reach a high ranking for low difficulty keywords, the next step that you can do is tackling some of the more competitive ones. Ranking in the top ten for difficult keywords will, of course, yield better results.

Though, keywords are only a single tool in your toolbox and working with them alone will not give the best result overall. The most noticeable effect comes when all components of ASO are working in tandem. Those components can be divided into two groups based on their ranking influence power.

But before we touch on those, let’s talk about app ranking in general. 

Basic app ranking information

The two key areas that contribute to better ranking are visibility and conversion. These are two separate fields of work that reinforce each other. For instance, users are more likely to download apps that feature well-made and engaging screenshots on their pages. More downloads will contribute to better ranking which will contribute to more exposure which will, in turn, contribute to more downloads and so on.

Overall, the ranking factors are divided into two major categories – on-metadata and off-metadata.

Main ranking factors

The most major factors that influence ranking are so-called, on-metadata factors. This means that they can be tweaked by a user directly from the app store consoles. These are things like keywords in the name, description as well as other specially designated areas. Other optimization factors include the icon design, quality of screenshots and video and so on.

Secondary ranking factors

Off-metadata factors are those that depend more on the result of previous optimization and overall user experience of the application that we are promoting. Things like reviews and number of downloads can’t be directly controlled by the developer but still play a huge role in the overall ranking of the application.

Stores track the behavioral stats of the users in order to try and promote those apps that seem to bring the most value to customers, which displays in popularity and positive feedback.

Android Google Play Store and Apple App Store optimization guide

Google Play Store and the Apple App Store have developed their own algorithms that determine which applications will end up in the top ten search results and optimizing each store has a set of unique traits. Even though both stores mainly evaluate keywords to determine their rankings, Google behaves similarly to the company’s main search engine, indexing keywords in all textual elements of your apps’ page. Apple, however, went a different route and provides a specific field where keywords may be inputted.

What’s more, while having your top Google Play keywords repeated only enhances your optimization and success rate but repeated keywords in the Apple Store are considered a waste of valuable space.

Some indexing factors that are unique for each store are:

Google Play Store optimization

  • Keywords in the app description are indexed
  • Backlinks

Apple App Store optimization

  • Keywords in the app description are not indexed
  • App URL is indexed
  • App Subtitle is indexed
  • The keyword field is where most keywords are located

Areas that universally affect the ranking in both stores include:

  • Keywords in In-App Purchases
  • Overall rating
  • Number of reviews
  • Number of updates and update frequency
  • Number of installs

Now that we have a grasp on the theory, let’s look into how we can apply it using AppFollow.

Stage one: finding and using app store keywords with tools

Keywords are definitely the main ranking factor for ASO and choosing the right ones can determine whether your efforts will yield extreme results or go completely in vain.

Where to find the right keywords

The first thing to tackle is to compile a list of keywords. In order to start finding relevant keywords that you will be able to use right away, you should concentrate on narrowing down your target audience, determining the main value of your app and figuring out what your app category is.

All keywords that you need to write down need to be highly relevant to your application and communicate the essence of your product.

The overall list of keywords should be pretty broad so that you can later choose the most promising options when you conduct your keyword analysis. 60 to 120 keywords per language that you are planning to localize to is a good target to aim for.

Let’s talk about the ways how you can select the most relevant keywords for your app:

1. Brainstorming

The easiest way to find some initial picks is simply to brainstorm your ideas. As an app developer, you should be aware of what kind of audience you are targeting and what value your app brings to your customers. What does it do exactly? Chances are that your value proposition itself might contain the first couple of keywords that you can use.

2. Studying reviews

When users write reviews they often unintentionally include keywords in their messages. This makes your and your competitors’ review sections a real gold mine for keyword ideas. You can read through the reviews manually or utilize an automated tool to help you. AppFollow has the “topics” section under the “Reviews” tab which consists of a dynamically updated set of words mentioned in review sections of apps that you can select. AppFollow keeps track of reviews written in 31 languages and also allows to track the rating of the app relative to those keywords.

3. Study your competition

Let’s be honest – your app is probably not that unique. At least, it’s not one of a kind. So why not take advantage of your competitors who have already started optimizing their apps for app stores? Probably the easiest way to find related keywords is to analyze your competitor's performance using AppFollow. Simply add the competitor’s app by clicking the “Add new app” button and go to the “Keywords and ASO” tab.

4. Use the Keyword research feature in AppFollow

Last but not least, you can use our smart search to find additional keywords by simply putting in the ones you have already chosen. Our smart search algorithms will automatically give you the top 10 picks based on the keyword that you have specified. There is also an option to view a full list of matches which will contain slightly less related keywords than the first top ten results. To take advantage of this feature go to AppFollow and navigate to the “Keyword Research” tab under “Keywords and ISO”.

How to choose which keywords to use

1. Rule out keywords that are too broad

It is important to note that even though it might be tempting to choose keywords with the most traffic and try to optimize your app store presence based on that, the best results only come when you pick keywords that are highly related to your app.

In other words, it should be those keywords that your audience is likely to type in the search field when looking for a product like yours. With that in mind, rule out keywords that are too broad and too general.

2. Find the balance between relevance and popularity

When narrowing down your list of keywords analyze the performance of your competitors and pay attention to the “Popularity” tab. Popularity is a custom metric developed by AppFollow and it displays a traffic score for Google Play and App Store. AppFollow uses a custom algorithm to collect reliable data, so if a keyword displays a value of 5 or below it shows that there is almost no traffic to be found for a certain keyword.

When first starting out it is best to select the keywords with the most relevance and middle of the road or even lower popularity. Somewhere around 20 and below. Keywords with the popularity of over 50 should be avoided as it will be hard to rank high with them if you are just starting out and the app doesn’t have a lot of installs yet.

App Store Keyword Optimization Strategy

Now that you have narrowed down the list of keywords, you can start applying the theory and working on conquering the top positions in the app store search for each targeted keyword.

Let’s explore in detail what changes you need to make to achieve the perfect app store optimization and how AppFollow can help you with this goal.

Where should you use the keywords?

1. App title

The title or name of your application has one of the strongest influence factors on your search ranking, therefore your main keywords should be included here. In fact, placing keywords in the title alone may yield a 10.3 ranking increase, which is pretty powerful on its own.

Image courtesy of MobileDevHQ via John Rampton on Forbes

However, it is important to keep in mind that the title of an application is paramount for both, word of mouth marketing and your brand and can not be changed unless you are planning a full rebranding. Therefore, put a lot of thought into choosing the right keywords for the title.

Do not over-stuff your app name with keywords. The name should be slick, short and easy to remember. We all have seen names like “Call of Duties Shooter Game Real Time Rifle Sniper Survival Action”. Not the prettiest thing, right?

Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to work with since Google Play only allows you to make a title not longer than 50 characters while the limit on the Apple App store is 30 since iOS 11.

A good practice is to include one or two meaningful keywords after a slick and short brand name of your app. For instance:

  • Quiver - take better pictures
  • Jayson - Visual JSON editor
  • Sparkle, Visual Web Design
  • eBay: Buy & Sell – Find Deals

Another thing to keep in mind is to use only URL friendly characters in the names. This is particularly important for iOS because Apple store actually uses the app name to form the URL and if it finds a character that is invalid, the resulting URL will be wonky, long and unreadable.

2. App subtitle (iOS only)

This feature first became available in the app store with the release of iOS 11. Subtitles are those very short descriptions found right below the app title when you are browsing the store on iPhones and iPads.

This field has a limitation of 30 characters so it is important you keep you subtitle brief and to the point. Subtitles are actually indexed by the search engine of the Apple App store so utilizing keywords here is very important.

In addition, subtitles have proven to have an impact not only on ranking but also on the conversion rate into users visiting your application page, so it is vital to make your subtitle relevant and descriptive.

Since repeating keywords in the app store is not beneficial, use different keywords from those that you’ve added to the name to utilize all the available space the best you can.

3. App description

Apple App Store and Google Play both provide description fields but the approach to each store should be a little different since only Google actually indexes keywords that are included in this field.

In the Play Store, you can utilize two description fields. Keep in mind that text in each field will be analyzed for keywords.

Short Description field in Google Play has limited to 80 characters and influences the conversion into downloads as well as search optimization, so it is important to strike a healthy balance between the two. At the same time, the short description field is important for indexing which makes it a good idea to include some of the main keywords here.

The long description has a limit of 4000 characters. Try to include the most important information in the first couple of lines and use your main keywords as close to the top as possible. You can repeat your keywords multiple times and aim for a keyword density of 2%-3%. The universal recommended amount of repeated keywords in the description is up to five times. So, try to choose multiple most important keywords and include them densely but without over-spamming the text.

It is important to strive for an easy-to-read and engaging description that neatly communicates the value of your app and tells the story about its main features. Don’t forget that this field is important not only for better ranking but also for increasing installs. You can also use bullet points to make the description easier to read and don’t forget to include a call-to-action to increase the conversation.

Apple App Store ASO is different from Google Play ASO in that it does not index keywords in the description.

Important: You can repeat each keyword up to five times in Google Play Store, but do not repeat keywords in Apple App Store – it does nothing except take the space that could be used by other keywords.

For both stores, try to incorporate as much useful information in the first three lines of the description as possible. Only 5% of people will read your first description, so essential information must be as close to the top as possible.

4. App promo text (iOS only)

This field, limited to 170 characters, is located right on top of the full description. Though not indexed for keywords, you can use it to improve the conversion of your app page. What’s more, this field allows you to change your promotional text at any moment which makes it very useful for conducting A/B tests and figuring out which keywords or messages work best for your app.

You can try different promotional texts and see which one gives the best result while still using keywords and transferring the most successful ones to the keywords field.

5. Keywords field (iOS only)

In the App Store, this is where keywords are indexed from and this field will decide which search queries will include your application. The Index field is limited to 100 characters and allows you to include as many keywords as you can cramp in with this limitation.

Separate your keywords by a coma and make sure to leave out spaces to leave as much of the characters for the keywords as possible. Also, remember that keywords should not be repeated – it doesn’t do anything for Apple Store in contrast to Google Play.

There is a hack that allows you to multiply the amount of available space. Every new localization will give you 100 more characters to work with for keywords in different languages. Take advantage of this and translate your keywords into as many languages as you can.

6. In-App purchases

Either store indexes the names of In-App purchases, so try to include keywords at least in some of them. What’s more, in the Apple App store you will be able to add a description and a separate promotional image. Though, no more than twenty In-App purchases can be included on the apps’ page.

Stage 2: Optimizing the app to increase user conversion and retention.

Now, we have mentioned in the beginning that besides keywords the most important ranking factors are the number of installs as well as the overall amount and quality of reviews. In other words – user interaction and satisfaction with your product make a huge difference for ASO.

With keyword optimization out of the way, it’s time to take a look at how to maximize your ASO effect by growing the number of installs and not letting the newly acquired traffic go to waste. Read below to find out how to achieve the best mobile app optimization.

1. Creating a flashy app icon

Your app icon is probably the first thing users will look at when browsing search results, so you want the first impression to be positive. Multiple case studies in this research show that a good icon can lift the conversion by about 20% most often, while some developers managed to increase the number of installs by over 40%.

For smaller companies creating icons that communicate the value of your app visually while still being slick and modern is probably the way to go. The other approach that can be utilized in making an abstract brand logo icon. However, this can reduce the conversion for smaller apps, so you want to be careful here.

When designing your icon, avoid small details and transparency. Also, test that your icon looks good even when scaled down to the smallest size at which it will be displayed in the store.

You can check out what your direct competition is doing and take some inspiration this way if you don’t have a unique idea in mind.

Here is some general advice:

  • Don’t overcomplicate: use a strong central graphic element.
  • Simple is better: avoid photographic or otherwise busy backgrounds.
  • Use iconography that people can relate to. Imagine the dollar sign or a stop sign – we all know what they mean and what they communicate. Think about how you can use the visual language to tell a story about your app.
  • Use complementary colors: complementary colors are situated opposite of each other on the color wheel. A famous example of this is blue and orange. These combinations naturally create contrast and help to catch the eye of a viewer. They are also guaranteed to be visually pleasing. Except red and green for some reason.
  • Keep it up to date: every year there is a new design trend. Unless you really know what you are doing it is best to adhere to the general guidelines of the current trend. For example, the modern trend is flat icons and those that use shadows and 3D elements to achieve a pop-out-of-the-screen illusion look outdated and obsolete.

Image courtesy of Sketchappsources

Pay attention to the color scheme as different colors communicate various emotions.

2. Working with screenshots

Good first two screenshots can lift installs by up to 25 percent, so it is a crucial part to get right.

It should be noted that the majority of your audience will never scroll your screenshot gallery, only looking at the first two or the first three screenshots on iOS 11 and newer. Therefore the first screenshots should contain the most important information that you want to communicate visually about the app.

It is important to avoid displaying things like download and welcome screens, setting pages or other content that does not communicate the value of your app and does not tell the potential customer anything new or unique about the product.

Try to create an engaging story about the user experience and make a gallery that is cohesive. You can use text and graphics to emphasize your point and communicate value to the users more clearly.

Image courtesy of App Institute

You have a limitation of up to 8 screenshots per a single device in the Play Store and up to 10 in the App Store.

You can use the app preview feature on AppFollow to check how your newly added graphics will look like on various devices. This tool also allows you to see how well your app icon can scale for different screens and how your video will be displayed, providing a great overview of your app store pages.

3. Feature Graphic (Google Play Store only)

Another visual element that you can and should use to your advantage is the feature graphic. This element is like a cover at the top of your app page and can contain either an image or a video.

If you opt to go for a video the video thumbnail will be displayed on the feature graphic if the video is not being played.

A well made feature graphic can increase the conversion rate into the number of installs.

Image courtesy of App Institute

4. Adding and optimizing the preview video.

A preview video is another tool that can boost the conversion by over 20%. While making a video can be costly, lengthy and difficult to make but it is very well worth the struggle when done right.

A lot of users actually find the preview video the most important part of an app page, as shown in the study by Tune.

Image courtesy of Tune.

A good video should be able to capture the attention of a viewer and communicate your value proposition in the first 12 seconds because over 80% of viewers won’t watch any longer.

For this reason, when making a video you need to consider which features in the app are the most crucial and how you can communicate it in the most efficient way at the very beginning of the video, with secondary information following closer to the middle and the end.

In general - your best bet is to pick two or three defining features of your product and concentrate on them, rather than trying to cover every little detail. This way your overall message will be more impactful.

A big no-no is to start a video with a slow fade in or a welcome message – almost all users will instantly close the player and even if the content following later is world-class, your efforts will go completely in vain.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of users will watch your video in public places or generally without the sound turned on, therefore it should make sense even when muted. One way to achieve this is to use captions and clear visual language.

Social Quantum, developers of Megapolis managed to increase the number of installs by 107% and improve the conversion into download by 82.7% by updating their app preview video. The team shortened call to action calls in the video concentrated on a limited number of main game features in the video and made the video more dynamic.

The graph displays the spike of downloads that followed the day after the release of a new video version.

5. Working with ratings & reviews

Reviews and Ratings have a defining influence on the conversion that you can achieve, but getting the best out of them sometimes can prove tricky.

Image courtesy of 8fit

Most top 100 apps have at least a 4-star rating and the percent of people willing to only consider downloading an app with a rating of 2 stars is below 25%.

Most people that will like your app very strongly will leave a review anyway, but you can maximize the amount of feedback you get by using in-app pop-up messages. However, over-using this strategy can give a negative result because users will start getting a “spammy” experience.

The key to success is to ask smart by carefully choosing the right moment for the interaction with the user. For example, if you are developing a fitness app, a good moment would be to engage the conversation via an in-app message somewhere in the middle of a program.

This ensures that people who dislike the app probably already stopped using it and won’t be redirected to the feedback page, so your rating won’t suffer from negative reviews.

Also, don’t forget to leave replies and communicate with your users. Try to reply to every review, but if you don’t have time – choose the ones with the most negative comments and address them properly. This will help you to retain the users that you have already gained, possibly make individuals once disappointed in your app come back and also show newcomers that you as a developer are active and responsive.

AppFollow collects all reviews in a single place for you under the “Reviews” tab.

Here you will be able to find information about users who left the feedback and will be able to use different filters to find reviews. You can also reply to reviews right from this tab and even use templates to speed up the communication with your users.

What’s more, you can set up notifications to receive alerts when a user leaves a review, allowing you to respond faster.

6. Managing the app size

Another important part of increasing the conversion for your app is optimizing for the size. Since some users will be downloading using a 3G or 4G internet, a download size restriction will be applied.

For iOS, users on mobile networks won’t be able to download apps bigger than 200MB, while in the Play Store the threshold is 100MB.

7. Increasing the frequency of the updates

Updates are crucial not only when it comes to retaining the users you already have but also for improving the exposure of your product in stores. Frequent updates will help to keep your app in the updates list in stores, which can drive more traffic to your pages.

What’s more, stores actually “prefer” the apps that are being regularly updated because it shows that a developer is active and application is being supported.

It is thought that the sweet spot for update frequency is about once per month. Of course, updating just for the sake of updating to improve the rating is not a good move and every new release should bring at least some improvements to the application.

8. Working with localization and translating your content to other languages

Localization is almost a hack move that can easily multiply your potential audience. The US is responsible for only 31% of global app revenue. Some of the biggest markets out there right now are China, Europe, and Asia, therefore localizing for some of the mainstream languages can bring a huge boost to the number of downloads.

Of course, translating the whole application can be very difficult, so before going all the way a good first step can be localizing only the app store pages. This still greatly increases the chance of your app being discovered in other countries and allows you to benefit from a much larger audience, than if you only had an English page.

Ilia Kukharev, the Head of ASO at AppFollow helped localize the Aviasales app into over 30 languages. Before localization, the app was already available in over 150 countries, but in most of the search results in local languages didn’t list the app. In particular, Korean users were searching for “항공권 which did not rank the app, making the company lose customers. After completing the localization, sales grew by a whopping 54 times.

The graph indicates the spike of Aviasales app installs after localization.

9. Measuring conversions and fixing bottlenecks

Finally, after optimizing the app presence in stores it is time to find out where it performs the worst. Most likely, you won’t be able to achieve the best results from the first try and it is important to pinpoint where exactly the bottleneck is.

To do so, measure the number of app previews, page visits and installs. This way you can see exactly where the conversion plummets and start messing with the right elements to increase the number of installs.

AppFollow provides you with a conversion rate benchmark where you can check the best conversion rates for each app category and define targets that you need to hit. You can check conversion for each category in the App Store and Google Play store separately.


How to check the results of an app store optimization services campaign?

ASO is not a one time process so after you’ve introduced a new set of keywords it is important to keep track of their performance, to see in which areas your apps’ position progresses faster and what part of the optimization yields the most result.

AppFollow has a set of useful features that will help you to analyze the results of your ASO campaign. To track your progress, go to the “Keywords and ASO” tab.

At the very top of the page, you will see a chart that shows the progress of certain keywords over time. If you hover over the chart you will be able to see at which position your app is ranking for every individual keyword.

You can include and exclude keyword in the chart by selecting them from a list which is available lower in the page.

You can also choose to display only those keywords where you already rank in the top 1, top 5, top 10, top 20, 50 as well as those where you don’t have any ranking whatsoever.

App Store Optimization Tips - Common Mistakes to Avoid 

We've gathered a shortlist of app store optimization tips for avoiding the most common mistakes. You'd be surprised how often these are made. 

1. Not knowing about ASO marketing.

The most common mistake which we often see in the app store keyword optimization is that developers decide not to focus on this important area whatsoever, completely missing all the benefits that ASO tools bring to the table.

2. Not knowing the volume of search traffic in your industry.

Before you start investing time into app store optimization tools it is important to set a transparent goal and manage your expectations about the result. To do this, you should remember to invest time into analyzing the amount of search traffic that exists in your field. Yes, over 60% of all app downloads come from organic search, but do users actually search for applications similar to yours and if yes, then how many users are doing it?

If your app is focused on a very specific problem or it is first of its kind, your ASO tools will not be as effective or you will have to rely on broader keywords which will make your potential audience too broad and have a negative impact on conversion. In a case like this, it is important to manage your expectations.

3. Not paying attention to the search suggestions.

A very powerful way to discover potential keywords is by looking at store suggestions. Once you start typing a phrase or a keyword in the search engine it will give you a set of suggestions. The sole fact that those exist indicates that there is traffic to be found for those keywords and you can use them in your ASO marketing strategy.

4. Not paying attention to the ASO of competing apps.

Looking at what your direct competitors are doing is one of the most effective ways to find out which keywords and strategies really work and which fail. Some of your competitors are probably engaged in app store search optimization as well and using AppFollow you can receive updates on their ranking changes almost in real-time keyword by keyword. This way you can find for yourself which actions led to the most results and which keywords are, perhaps, less promising than the others.

5. Not iterating enough.

ASO requires constant engagement and tweaks – keywords are always changing and it is very important to keep track of the trends and making adjustments. A lot of developers go through the process of setting up the initial optimization once and then forget about it for several months or even years.

Even if the optimization brings more traffic initially, it will never be the most effective from the first try and after a couple of months, most keywords may become almost completely irrelevant.

Therefore it is key to keep track of all the changes and make constant improvements to your ASO marketing strategy and content.

6. Forgetting about the importance of user experience.

Even if an app has a book-perfect store optimization but reliably crashes every time users try to open it post download - if simply can’t be successful.

Store algorithms are designed to promote apps that seemingly provide the best experience and deliver the most value which can be estimated by the number of installs and reviews as well as some other factors.

Remember that while the main goal of the first ASO stage is to drive traffic to your app page, the second stage of ASO is aimed at improving the user experience from the moment of the first impression right until download. If this level of experience does not hold up in the app, all the optimization in the world won’t make it successful.

What is the cost of ASO?

The best part about ASO is that just like SEO, it can be done absolutely for free if you are willing to put in the time and do everything yourself or using only the resources and skillsets that your team already has.

Certain aspects of the optimization such as creating an icon and producing a professional video may require you to attract freelancers and hire help. That said, it is certainly possible to do everything completely by yourself.

What’s more, you can even search for keywords and measure your apps’ performance by “hand”, if you rely heavily on indicators like install numbers and devote a lot of time to studying your competition for keyword research.

However, this approach is not precise and will make you spend way more time doing ASO that has to be invested.

Specially developed tools like AppFollow bring all necessary functions right to your fingertips and allow to save precious time while making the process of app store optimization much easier.


A few final words.

We’ve learned the importance of ASO, the main tools that you have at your disposal and went through all necessary steps to increase the native traffic of your app pages while improving the conversation at the same time. We also went over some of the most common mistakes and best practices.

Now it is time to apply this theory and start ripping the benefits that ASO tools can provide for your app!

Image courtesy of netpeak

We have created a short checklist to help you get started and go through the process step by step. If you need to refresh information about any of the stages do not hesitate to return to various sections of this article. App store optimization is a complex topic that has a lot of variables and involves a lot of skills that range from copywriting and marketing to design and even coding.

However, as long as you invest time and effort into setting app your app store optimization and keep coming back to analyze and tweak your content regularly, you can rest assured that results will soon follow!

How is App Store Optimization done? ASO Checklist.

    1. Conduct market analysis. 

    Study what keywords your competitors use.
    Retrieve keywords from reviews of your competitors’ apps.
    Use AppFollow to search for similar keywords.

    2. Create a list of up to 120 keywords for each language you plan to localize for.

    Start with a broader list that you will narrow down in the next step.

    3. Narrow the list down to the most relevant keywords.

    Start with keywords that have low to moderate popularity.
    Avoid keywords that are too broad.

    4. Include keywords in key areas.

    Add keywords to the app title, description, and in-app purchases.
    When optimizing for the Apple App store, add keywords to the subtitle and to the promotional text.

    5. When optimizing for the App Store, add keywords to the keyword field.

    Use all available characters.
    Avoid repeating keywords.

    6. Create an attractive icon.

    Avoid adding too many elements.
    Use an appropriate color scheme.
    Make sure that the icon communicates the value of your app visually.

    7. Create a screenshot gallery.

    Make sure that the first two screenshots are the best that you have.

    8. Create a preview video.

    Make sure the video makes sense without sound.
    Show the most important information in the beginning.

    9. Prompt users to leave reviews.

    Use in-app messages to ask users for feedback.
    Try to target users that are most likely satisfied with your app.
    Avoid spamming with in-app messages.
    Respond to app store reviews.

    10. Reduce app size. 

    Keep the app size small to allow users on mobile networks to download your app

    11. Update the app regularly.

    Release new versions of the app at least once a month.
    Make sure all releases bring something new, at least bug fixes.

    12. Translate the app page and the app itself to other languages.

    Make sure to consider Chinese, top European languages and Russian.
    Translate only the app page at first, then the app itself if you see results.

    13. Analyze conversion and improve.

    Figure out at which stage most users leave in the store before downloading your app.
    Make appropriate improvements.

    14. Track the app's ASO performance.

    Use AppFollow to see your results for each keyword.
    Delete keywords that are not working and optimize for keywords that show the most result.

Reach out to our ASO team and get a free express ASO-audit. We do all kinds of app store optimization services.


What is ASO marketing?

ASO or App Store Optimization is a process of increasing visibility of mobile apps and games in App Stores by finding the best performing keywords, screenshots and other assets of mobile pages. Regular ASO helps apps rank higher, get more organic downloads thus decrease budget on user acquisition.

What is ASO in Android?

App Store Optimization (ASO) is different for the App Store and Google Play due to the differences of these app stores. In short, ASO for iOS apps includes work with apps’ title, subtitle, url, keywords, icon, screenshot and description. When ASO for Android includes only work with graphic assets, title, description. 

You can also do ASO for Amazon appstore, Windows Store and other app stores.

How do I improve my app rating?

App rating is crucial for your app visibility, therefore each app owner has to have a strategy on improving their app rating. Firstly, you need to build a great product people would love. Encourage users to leave your a feedback, ask them to do it in the AHA-moments: when they got value from your product or game. Besides, always look at your reviews. Respond to app reviews, let users know their bugs are noticed and fixed, their feature requests are seen. And when it's done and a review had a rating of 1-2 stars, ask them to improve their rating. They'll gladly do it.

Why app store optimization is important?

App Store Optimization is a cost-effective way of increasing your organic app downloads. It is good for both new and seasoned apps that want to get to the top of app charts. Think of ASO and SEO for apps. Both should be ongoing processes and if done right will increase your visibility and downloads.

Read other posts from our blog:

What is AppFollow

What is AppFollow

AppFollow is a service for working with app stores. It includes tools for App Store Optimization, cu...

Anatoly Sharifulin
Anatoly Sharifulin
Free ASO and Mobile Marketing Online Events 2019

Free ASO and Mobile Marketing Online Events 2019

How To Grow Your App From The Launch To The Top App Chart

Olga Padulosi
Olga Padulosi
How is Support for the Largest Air Ticket Metasearch Engine Organized

How is Support for the Largest Air Ticket Metasearch Engine Organized

The co-founder of Usedesk and the Head of Customer Service of Aviasales talk about growing customer ...

Katerina Vinokhodova
Katerina Vinokhodova

Let AppFollow manage your
reputation for you