APP STORE OPTIMIZATION
With more than three million apps across the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Windows Phone Store, there is a lot to sift through when you’re looking for an app. Luckily the app stores use search algorithms to help you find exactly what you need.
Although nobody knows exactly how the different app store search algorithms work, we still try to make it easier for the users to find our apps, by making sure they come out on top of the search results. To this end we work with App Store Optimization – or ASO.
ASO is a way of trying to strike down and improve on the areas that are most likely to affect the placement of the app in question, such as rating and downloads. Because each app, for the most part, is unique, so will the improvements that have to be done to it – different app, different name, different keywords, different description, and so on.
There are two overall areas to work with in ASO – the first being keywords and the second assets.
Keywords are all about finding the most descriptive words and names – the ones that really define your app, its functions and features. It is especially important to know which keywords the users use to search for your app, since these are really the ones you want and need to get to the top of that list. An important thing to note about keywords is that since they are limited it’s imperative to avoid common and superfluous keywords that aren’t unique for your specific app. The more general keywords you use, the more other apps will also be using them, thus pushing your app down the list.
Also consider the name of your app – the name is the strongest keyword, so make sure it is as precise as possible – not too long, not too short, preferably whole words and no abbreviations.
Keywords are in direct contact with the algorithm, making them essential to your app placement in the search results, but the way the various app stores work with keywords differs. The Apple App Store allows you to apply a finite number of keywords, while the Google Play Store works with the description of your app. This means that you’ll need to repeat the keywords more that five times each in the description, but without spamming (or confusing the user). Google has a guideline for this - https://play.google.com/about/developer-content-policy.html
Assets are also important for your app, but in a different way. They don’t work with the algorithm in the way that keywords do, but they speak much more to the user, so they are at least as important to the placement of your app – users download, use, love and rate your app!
Assets are about the presentation of your app. So consider the description of your app in the store – prioritize the first three lines of text to really sell your app and draw out its most amazing, unique and qualitative features and function – why is YOUR app better than the next on the list? The first three lines are shown in the presentation, but should the costumer wish to read more about your app, make sure it’s worth their while. Throw in some reviews for your app and link to a website – either one that talks about your app, others who talk about your app or maybe just in general your corporate website – and do so the other way around – link to your app on your website. Especially Google is interested in this, but in general it just boosts hits on your app, so do it.
The presentation, of course, includes screenshots and videos of your app and its features – and it helps if the design of your app is appealing as well, because even though function is more important to the user over time than looks are, the look hooks. If you’re a well-established company, make sure it’s visible in the presentation of your app – does the app launch icon clearly show the user who you are and what it is?
As mentioned at the beginning, it’s mostly about ratings and download rates, but working with and improving both keywords and assets on your app should make a difference to the placement of your app. Regarding rating, it’s imperative not to bug the users for ratings, since annoyed users give bad rating and reviews – but that’s a different subject.
Although none of the app stores use the same algorithms, you can mostly make the same improvements and analysis across the stores. There are many tools for tracking the searches and keywords, for instance Sensor Tower, Searchman SEO, MobiledevHQ or Mopapp. Many of the tools only work with Apple App Store and Google Play Store so far, but Mopapp also covers Windows Phone Store and Blackberry World.
The following table contains a list of do's and don'ts.
App Store Optimization – ASO
· Analyze apps with tools (see below for a list of tools)
· Descriptive app-name (the most used keywords – titles with over 20 characters are being downgraded)
· Make sure that the name and logo overlap with the newspapers brand
· Use numbers instead of text, if numbers are relevant
· Use comma in-between keywords and exclude spaces
· Short keywords (people do not look after long word)
· Include special features, won prices and good reviews i the apps description
· Use the first three lines in the app's description, to specify as many keywords as possible (Google and Windows)
· Link to the app on the homepage and link to the webpage in the app's description
· Screenshots of the app's functionality
· Good ratings
· Many downloads (the last 30 days), few uninstalls (Google)
· High user frequency (Google)
· Avoid generic keywords (epaper, news and so on)
· Don't use time and characters on more of the same words
· Avoid spamming people for ratings and reviews (annoyed users give few stars)
Tools for analyzing app placement and keywords:
Sensor Tower: https://sensortower.com/
Searchman SEO: https://searchman.com/
Mopapp (alle stores): http://www.mopapp.com/
The following are further extensive guides that can help in the ASO process:
Apple App Store Optimization:
Google Play Store Optimization:
Windows Phone Store Optimization: