ASO vs SEO: How you can combine them to boost awareness

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Sasha Hodes
ASO vs SEO: How you can combine them to boost awareness

Table of Content:

  1. What is the difference between ASO and SEO?
    • What does ASO involve?
    • How does SEO differ from ASO?
    • A summary of the differences between ASO and SEO
  2. How can ASO and SEO be used together to rank in the Google Play Store

Although both ASO and SEO share some similar principles, each does a different job.

One refers to the visibility of a website page on a search engine, like Google, whereas the other refers to visibility of an app in an app store, like Google Play.

These two methods are levers that can work independently from one another, but can also be brought together as part of a winning organic (non-paid) traffic-driving strategy.

Learn what makes the two different, and how you can combine them.

What is the difference between ASO and SEO?

To understand the differences between the two optimization strategies, we will look at each channel side by side, highlighting the differences while comparing the similarities.

What does ASO involve?

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of optimizing your app’s product page in an app store, with search driving keywords, unique imagery and localized descriptions. The aim is to rank higher and get more downloads in the iOS and Google app stores.

What is the goal of ASO?

The goal of ASO is to make sure that everyone who searches for your app, or one like it, can see it.

By optimizing your app store listing, your aim is to increase organic downloads by improving the appearance, frequency and position at which your app appears within the app store’s search results page.

ASO Ranking factors

When looking at the ranking factors for ASO, there are two types to consider: “on-metadata” and “off-metadata”.

Simply put, on-metadata factors are specific elements within your app store listing that you can control, like the app’s name and description text. Whereas off-metadata factors are signals that sit outside of your direct control, like downloads and ratings.

On-metadata ranking factors include:

  • App name
  • Subtitle/description
  • Promotional text (App Store)
  • Localization of the product page
  • Keyword field (App Store)
  • Images, screenshots and videos
  • Developer name (Google Play Store)
  • URL (Google Play Store)
  • In-app purchase names (App Store)

Off-metadata ranking factors include:

  • App rating and app reviews
  • Installs
  • Backlinks (for Google Play Store)

As you can see, there are some key differences between the iOS App Store and Google Play store for optimizing your app. To help you make the most of ASO in each app repository, we created this comprehensive ASO guide.

How to measure ASO performance

Measuring for ASO like SEO means looking at your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

These include:

  • Conversion rate
  • User ratings and reviews
  • Impressions
  • Organic downloads
  • Revenue

AppFollow makes it easy to track your KPIs in a single workspace designed specifically for convenient app analysis.

With AppFollow, you can monitor all of your key metrics, dive into core business data and integrate services such as Zendesk, Helpshift, App Store Connect and Google Play Console.

ASO visibility

ASO visibility comes from a range of sources, including:

  • Search: this is the main set of results displayed when an app searcher enters a search term or phrase.
  • Explore: these are the results displayed in the ‘top charts’, ‘similar’ or ‘related apps’ and ‘featured app’ pages.

How does SEO differ from ASO?

Now you know the building blocks of ASO—what makes SEO different and how is it similar?

The goal of SEO

Much like ASO, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also a process of optimizing a property in order to achieve a better position or rank. But unlike ASO, the goal for SEO is to rank in search engines like Google or Bing.

When successful, SEO has the effect of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website.

To put it simply, the goal for SEO is to drive more organic traffic to your website and grow your business in the digital sphere.

However, there is a definite similarity between the two optimization methods. SEO, like ASO, is an organic strategy where the goal is gaining organic traffic. For ASO, this is organic app traffic via app stores, while for SEO it is organic website traffic via search engines. The goal for both organic levers is essentially the same.

Ranking factors

When compared to ASO, the ranking factors to be aware of for SEO are quite different.

Like ASO, we can split SEO ranking factors into two distinct groups, on-page and off-page.

On-page ranking factors include:

  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • Page structure, including your H1, H2, H3 tags
  • The relevance and suitability of your content
  • The keywords featured within the page’s content
  • User engagement
  • The page’s responsiveness and load speed

Off-page ranking factors include:

  • The amount of traffic your site/page is getting
  • Backlinks from other websites (this includes the quality and quantity, as well as the topic and relevance of those backlinks)

How to track (KPIs)

Again, like the ranking factors, the way you measure for success is different. There are many different metrics that you can use to understand SEO success. The most common for an SEO to look at include:

  • Keyword ranking
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Organic traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Sessions
  • Backlink profile

SEO visibility

Content that has been successfully improved through SEO is then visible in the search engine being used by the searcher; be it Google, Bing or the number of other choices out there.

SEO is a much longer-term strategy than ASO, through which you can see ranking improvements in a matter of days or weeks. With SEO, don’t be surprised to wait a few months before your efforts start to pay-off and your page arrives on page 1.

A summary of the differences between ASO and SEO

While there are some obvious differences between the two, they are—at their core—similar.

Both work to improve the ranking and appearance frequency of the object in question, whether that be in an app store or search engine. It’s just the ways in which they do this and where they are found that are different.

ASO vs SEO similarities and differences

However, just because they work in different digital spheres, it doesn’t mean they can’t be used together.

How can ASO and SEO be used together to rank in the Google Play Store

The great thing is that ASO and SEO aren’t competing strategies and can be used together, to help boost the visibility of your app.

Some users will discover your app while searching on the mobile web, this means that some apps are actually discovered through SEO rather than ASO.

The best way to do this is to optimize your app page to also be findable in search engines. You can also create a dedicated website for your app, filling it with keywords found through Google’s Keyword Planner tool.

With a dedicated webpage you can go into deeper detail on the benefits of your product and all its unique features. This is something that’s incredibly difficult to do in the app stores, in which character limits mean you have to be more brief.

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