App Store Optimization (ASO) Factors and Trends in 2018

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Posted: August 21, 2018

Cristina Stefanova is a Content & SMM Strategist at TheTool, a powerful self-service platform for App Store Optimization, helping developers with the ASO of mobile apps and games in over 90 countries. Cristina writes about mobile app marketing strategies and she is interested in languages & technology! 

At the beginning of this year, we carried out the ASO Factors & Trends Survey, in which we asked over 60 international App Marketing experts to evaluate the effect of different App Store Optimization factors on Search Rankings and Conversion Rate of mobile apps and games. Now it is time to refresh the results and see if any of the trends had become a reality (hint: lots of them had!)

The Main ASO factors on the App Store and Google Play

The results of the survey demonstrated that the TOP 5 ASO factors influencing Search and Conversion Rate on the App Store and Google Play Store are almost identical, being those App Name / Title, Subtitle / Short Description, Localized product page, User Ratings and User Reviews.

Check this infographic for the more detailed results, and read on to see the more detailed breakdown of ASO Factors influencing Search and Conversion Rate on the App Store and Google Play.

Search Ranking factors

Textual on-metadata elements appeared to have the most influence on Search Rankings, together with the volume of installs and localized product page.

Keywords included into the App name / Title, Subtitle, Keywords field, Short & Full Description and URL help your app gain visibility in search – and therefore, need to be constantly optimized.

On the other hand, both Apple and Google take into account the volume and speed of installs in their ranking algorithm. Even though these factors cannot be controlled, they can and should be influenced in order to improve visibility in search.

App localization (localized product page) is another vitally important Search Ranking factor. If you are trying to expand your business and reaching out to more people, you should definitely have your product page localized. Ranking for local versions of your main keywords will help your app or game rank higher and get more visibility in the stores internationally.

Conversion Rate factors

As for the Conversion Rate, the survey pointed out that the most important factors are the graphic elements, user ratings and again, localization.

People behave differently in the App Store and Google Play Store. However, one thing is clear – visual elements are of vital importance for all users. App icon appears in the top 3 most influential factors affecting Conversion Rate in both stores. That being said, app icon is essentially, the main identity of your product and should be optimized to increase both CTR on lists and Conversion Rate to download.

Screenshots and video previews have both more influence on the App Store than on Google Play. And it makes perfect sense – these visual elements take more real estate on the App Store, including the appearance in the search results page. Their effect should not be underestimated, so test and optimize constantly to ensure the best converting combination!

User feedback resulted to be a really important factor in both stores. Given the high importance of this element not only in terms of Conversion, but also for Search, optimizing and improving user feedback is essential. Strive for receiving more and better user reviews and ratings, and keep away the negative ones by providing excellent user experience and giving the users an easy way to reach out to you and report their problems.

And at last but not least, a localized product page highly influences Conversion Rate – thus, adapting our product page to different cultures is a must if we want to improve conversion rate and drive more downloads.

ASO trends for 2018 – overview and current situation

We dedicated a part of our survey to ask the experts what would be the key trends that will shape the App Store Optimization and Mobile Marketing industry in 2018. The results are summed up in this infographic:

Key trends in ASO in 2018: what the experts have to say

Installs per keyword will be available in Google Play. When we conducted the survey, 23% of the participants mentioned that Google would launch a new feature that will reveal the keywords driving organic installs for Android apps. And indeed, this happened! Google released this feature for a limited group of beta-testers, and here in TheTool we found a way to display this data for all developers. Installs per keyword report has shed a light on a mystery of Google Play ranking algorithm and helped identify a few interesting patterns (read more in our study). As of now, the report is closed again, and hopefully be available soon with new and improved insights.

Search taking a smaller portion of the organic installs pie. It was a very common belief that search accounts for over 60% of all organic downloads. However, the takeaways from the organic search installs report on Google Play has proved that the situation is often different, especially for games, where organic installs attributed to search are around 33%, and can be as low as 3-10%. Therefore we can claim that this prediction is also true, at least in part.

Apple Search Ads (ASA) will be available in more countries. Apple Search Ads helps apps and games gain more visibility by placing them on the top of the search results on the App Store. This prediction has also become reality – just a couple of days ago, Apple announced that ASA is now available in a bunch of new countries. Let’s see the consequences!

User engagement and user experience will have more weight in ASO. A customer-centered approach arose as one of the main ASO trends for this 2018 and probably for the upcoming years. Since user feedback is already a critical factor, especially in terms of Conversion Rate to install – providing the exceptional user experience has become a priority. The general focus of both app stores is on quality apps, so user engagement has a growing influence on rankings.

The stores will announce stricter consequences for Black Hat ASO. Even though Google and Apple penalise apps and games that do not follow the rules, Black Hat ASO is a reality. This year, we haven’t seen any changes in the rules against Black Hat ASO – yet we still hope that Apple and Google will moderate this in a better way soon!

The experts also mentioned some other interesting trends like popularity of augmented reality apps, A/B testing feature in App Store, app stores giving higher ranks to apps with 3D elements, and video being a key factor for Search and Conversion Rate.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Our main takeaway from this survey is that ASO is in the spotlight – with more and more new apps and games submitted to the stores daily, the competitiveness level is really high and there is no other way to improve visibility and Conversion Rate than implementing a solid App Store Optimization strategy.

We learnt a lot from this survey and we saw how some of the predictions came true and changed the ASO game somehow. Our advice to all app marketers and developers is to be creative and make unique and innovative products, and to strive to always surprise and engage users in order to succeed in this business!