Before you publish an app, after all the development, design and quality assurance, there’s one more thing to optimize to give your application an edge – its app store page. The colours, the keywords, the text; it’s all important and success very often lies in the detail. This process of optimization is known as ASO.
WTF is ASO?
App Store Optimization.
The process of optimizing your app so it ranks higher in app stores and appears when people look at similar apps or searching for your chosen keywords.
There are two sides to it: Asset Optimization (AO) and Keyword Optimization.
Ok so… WTF are AO and Keyword optimization?
Asset optimization is in-app screenshots, the preview video, the app’s icon – basically everything that isn’t text. Many users will download your app or turn away simply by the look of those screenshots or the preview video. Further, if they recognise your brand or app from the logo, they are more likely to download it.
There’s a technical side to asset optimization as well – the screenshot needs to fit within the app store, it needs to be cropped properly and show the right features. Any old picture or screengrab won’t do.
Keyword optimization includes all the text in your app’s page, from the title to the description. Key words being present is of course important, but so is good writing – you have to convince users to download your app with very few words, so each one counts. You can’t just dump all the keywords either; ranking algorithms are getting smarter and users will rate the app negatively when they see that kind of behaviour.
Good writing and choosing the right keywords is thus crucial to getting a good rank in the app store. What about including the most important keyword in the title? According to some studies, it can increase app store ranking by as much as 10%, so if you can do it without sounding contrived, then you should.
Something else to keep in mind is that localization is key – a good translation of your description that is sensitive to cultural norms and knows how to speak in the target language is the difference between a successful app and missing out on an entire country’s (or language’s) market.
Why is this important?
Because there are something like 1000 apps uploaded to the Apple App Store every day and because according to some reports, as many as 63% of app store users like to browse the stores to discover new apps. Marketing and ad campaigns are key but being easily findable and attractive on the app store is equally as important.
How do I do it?
Something to remember during all this – App Store Optimization is not a one-off process. The first set of keywords and assets you choose might not be the ones you stick with, and as times change so can expectations of users and thus the words and assets you use.
There are a number of tools you can use:
Keyword trackers do exactly what their name implies: they track the performance of given keywords in driving app downloads and page views. Companies like App Radar, Mobile Action, and App Tweak track your set keywords, when they’re used in app store pages and how those apps perform. Most of these platforms, such as Sensor Tower and myASO, suggest the correct keywords to you based on what the current trends are.
App Store Data platforms
As mentioned above, there’s more to ASO than just keyword optimization. Companies like App Annie, Apptopia and Prioridata are among the best of class in making sense of the mass of data that comes out of iTunes and Google Play. From reports on the top new apps and how they got to the top to tracking user reviews by app version (to see how changes affect reviews), the tools offered are extremely useful. Some of the platforms also have a free level to their pricing plan so you can try before you buy.
App Store Ranking optimizing agencies
While the above platforms provide you with data, companies like The ASO Project, PickASO, Red Box Mobile and The ASO Co. will do the stats tracking and optimization themselves, delivering reports on your apps performance afterwards. Others who follow this more hands-on approach are Incipia, Dot Com Infoway, Mobtimizers and Phiture who also do full-spectrum app marketing.
Another important tool in your arsenal is A/B testing, which works for both keywords and other assets whose influence might be more difficult to get a grip on. App stores now give data on how users behave when they see your app’s page, but there are so many variables that A/B testing is pretty much required to check which changes work and which don’t.
To that end, gummicube offers “live focus groups” for A/B testing your store page, and TestNest does a similar thing by creating a mock app landing page for you to test out changes before actually pressing the publish button. StoreMaven and SplitMetrics offer variations on A/B tests, like testing specifically for icons or screenshots, and SplitMetrics also has ASO consultations included in some of its price tiers. However it’s important not to overdo changes, especially with the title of the app, as changing that too often can be detrimental to your ranking.
App Store Optimization is crucial to getting your app seen and downloaded from the app store – a competitive edge which can be the difference between a fantastic app going undiscovered and becoming a trend-setter. There’s plenty of factors to keep track of, but fortunately the tools to do so are sophisticated and readily available, so make sure your app doesn’t miss out on this key aspect of marketing.