App Store Optimization 101

You have your app built, now it’s time for some app store optimization (ASO). Anyone that has their own app wants to get downloads (and eventually monetize their app) and the best way to get downloads is to rank high on relevant searches in the app stores.

What is app store optimization?

It's optimizing your app store presence to achieve high organic rankings in the search results of an app store for relevant searches.

To achieve high rankings you first have to know what the criteria for ranking is and then how to manipulate it in your favour.

How to rank your app in Google Play and Apple App Store?

App store optimization is actually pretty similar to search engine optimization for websites. First it’s really important to understand Google’s, Apple’s and other app stores business model. It’s all about the customer and his/her experience. All app stores want their customers to have the best experience and that also consists of giving them the most relevant apps to choose from when they make a search query. So basically you have to convince their algorithms that your app is the most relevant for the searches on which you want to rank.

It's all about the users and their experience


App store algorithms take into account many things, but here are some that you should really know about and try to improve/manipulate:

  1. Keywords on your app store page.
  2. Clicks on your app when it appears in the search results. So basically, click-through-rate (CTR)
  3. Downloads of your app
  4. Reviews and ratings

These are the most important things to know and work on. So let’s look at them one by one,

How to optimize app store keywords?

First you have to do some research and find out what are the best keywords to target based on competition, relevance and difficulty. This means doing some research ahead of actually publishing your app (or you can always fix it later).

Relevant keywords for quality content

There are 2 really good ways to research keywords:

  1. Base your assumptions on users searches on Google. To do this, you can use the free tool, Ubersuggest.
  2. Research specifically for app stores and use App Annies app store optimization tools where you can research your competitors and see what keywords they rank for.

Just remember, keep your keywords relevant to what your app is all about. The more natural everything feels, the better. Also don’t pick too many, 2-3 is enough, with one of them designated as the main keyword.

You have your keywords, what now?

Include them in:

  • The title and app name
  • Description
  • Keyword field
  • Everywhere

Basically include them all over your app store page, but don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing is something that algorithms recognize and also punish. Anything you write, make it seem natural.

Once you’re done with your copy, monitor your results. If they are not where you want them to be, make an A/B test and try something different. It’s very important to keep track of what is happening with your rankings and constantly try to optimize them.

Increasing CTR and download rate

One of the most important factors in app store optimization is how people react to your search result and page. If people rarely click on your result, that’s a pretty huge signal to algorithms that your app is not relevant to that search. If people click on your result often, but seldom download, that is also a pretty big indicator that your app is not what users are looking for.

Increase your CTR

The trick is to convince the user that your result is the most relevant and that he/she should download your app. This is partly done by using the right keywords.

Imagine that someone is looking for a cookbook app and types in “Cook book”. If your app is named “Cookbook for dummies”, your search result has a higher chance of getting clicked than if you named it something like “Culinary journey for beginners”. That is why it is important to know what keywords you are targeting.

Another very important factor is the visual stimuli. App icon, screenshots and other visual material is very important in driving downloads. People generally react to pictures before they react to text. A couple of things to keep in mind when making visual material for your app store listing:

  1. Make sure they actively depict what your app is about.
  2. Include text that emphasizes your main selling propositions. What sets you apart from your competitors.

Like with keywords, this part of app store optimization also needs constant optimizing to achieve the best results. Keep testing and keep experimenting on what works best.

Drive downloads of your app

By far the most important factor in app store rankings. Large number of downloads clearly signals the algorithms that your app is in demand and should be ranked higher.

Driving downloads is both cause and consequence of good ASO

How to drive downloads?

Upsquare offers an easy free solution for all its customers. Our smart banner will promote your app to all visitors of your website and encourage them to download your app.

This will do 2 things:

  1. It will give you a way to create the most effective communication channel with your loyal customers or readers through your app.
  2. Your loyal customers or readers downloads of your app will improve your organic app store ranking and bring in more new customers for free.

That is why we strongly encourage all our users to make use of this powerful tool and implement the banner on their website.

Second option is to make use of paid advertising. Google offers a very effective way of driving downloads through their Universal App Campaigns in their Google Ads platform. Monetary investment per download is rather low and it will also do wonders for your organic rankings. If you are one of our users and need help setting up these campaigns, feel free to contact us.

Reviews and ratings

User feedback is important for 2 reasons:

  1. Positive feedback in the form of reviews and ratings shows the algorithms that your app is high quality and that users love it. This means that they should rank it higher.
  2. Good ratings and positive reviews encourage new potential users to download your app. Remember what I wrote before, more downloads mean better ranking and better ranking means more new users.
Collect those 5 star reviews like they're Pokemon!

What can you do about this?

Make sure you have a mechanism in place that encourages your users to leave a review and rating. You don’t have to necessarily have one that is implemented in your app, it can also be done via your website or social media account. Always push your loyal users and fans to leave a positive review.

Another thing to note is, be engaged. Don’t leave reviews unanswered or negative reviews untaken care of. It’s normal that not everyone will love what you created, but it’s important that you respond in a polite and attentive manner to show the rest of your potential users that you are working hard on improving user experience.

Conclusion on app store optimization

Downloads are King and your app store page is the Queen. Primarily you should focus on driving downloads from your existing readers and customers to establish a strong base of downloads and positive reviews and ratings. Secondarily you should focus on doing some keyword research and adjusting your copy and visual material appropriately. And finally, you should strongly consider upgrading your app store optimization efforts with a paid campaign to drive further downloads.

Final thought. ASO is a long term game. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t rank the way you would like in the first month, give it some time and work on improving everything that was mentioned in this blog post.

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