Just as your website needs to be optimised for search engines to stay on top of the search results, your apps also need to be optimised for the main app stores so that you’ve got a good chance of appearing when someone searches for a related keyword.
App store optimisation or ASO (sometimes known as app store SEO or mobile app marketing) is the process of optimising your app listing on iTunes, Google Play and the Windows app store to improve its ranking for your targeted search terms.
This not only means that you’ll get more app downloads, but it can also help to improve your brand exposure and acts as another channel for diversifying your marketing strategy.
Why is ASO important?
If your app is your main product or forms a major part of your overall marketing plan, it’s obviously important that as many people download it as possible.
With On-SERP SEO being an SEO trend that is on the rise, and with Google now including an “app pack” at the top of mobile search results for something like “calorie counter app”;
Your app can’t just another branch of your marketing strategy, or a side project that doesn’t generate revenue directly, appearing high in-app store searches is key for customer engagement and loyalty.
In fact, customers who download apps tend to be more loyal to the brands they download. Users spend, on average, up to 24 minutes in an app, but only around 5 minutes on a website. Apps are also used more frequently – phone apps are accessed around 10 times a month on average, compared to less than 4 times for mobile websites.
While you can link directly to your app from your website and social media pages, making sure it appears higher in-app store rankings is key to your success. Over 1 in 4 app users discover an app through app store searches, and with 27% of apps downloaded after following a link or searching on Google;
Despite the importance of app store ranking, App store optimisation still tends to be overlooked as a marketing strategy. In fact, most app publishers are not investing in ASO or aren’t even aware of it. This means that you’re at a huge advantage once you learn and start implementing the basics of app store optimisation.
How to Get Started with ASO
If you already know a bit about SEO, the mechanics of ASO will be somewhat familiar to you. Indeed there is some overlap between SEO and ASO and a lot of traditional SEO tactics also apply to ASO.
Just as Google and other search engines use an algorithm to rank websites on a number of different factors, app stores use their own algorithms that rank apps based on factors such as quality, reviews, engagement, downloads, and age.
This makes total sense – if you search for an app, you’d want the “best” one to appear first in the app store. An app that has thousands of downloads and 5-star reviews is probably a safe bet.
However, this doesn’t mean that new apps have zero hope of achieving a high ranking because they don’t yet have much user engagement. The algorithm must balance these factors fairly to give new apps a chance to succeed, and this is where we can use an app store optimisation checklist to get a head start below or even enrol in an online app store optimisation course.
Just as in traditional SEO, your ASO strategy should start with keyword research to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords for your audience. Your future app users will be searching for these keywords so it’s vital that you identify and optimise for them.
You can use these keywords in the:
Keep in mind that For example, in the Apple app store, it’s most important to make sure your keywords are included in the title and subtitle, and there’s also an additional “keywords” field to fill out. The Google Play store looks for keywords in the description in addition to the title, so you need to make sure your app description is optimised too.
You probably already have a good idea of the keywords that users will be typing in to find your app. You can also use traditional keyword research techniques and even use free keyword research tools to expand your list.
Try to think like one of your customers and imagine the words and language they would use when searching. You can also check your competitors for the keywords that they’re targeting, but of course, you’ll need to assess how competitive each term is. You could use a metric such as keyword difficulty to go after a set of related keywords with less competition than a couple of highly competitive keywords. But the most important consideration of all when doing keyword research is searcher intent.
Image source; Moz.com
Keyword research for your app is important, there are several tools designed specifically for keyword research for apps – more on this below.
Just as when you’re in the process of doing SEO for a website, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you’re trying to attract human beings, not just search engines.
While it’s important to include your identified keywords in your titles and descriptions, you must also craft them in a compelling way so that your link is more likely to be clicked on and your app is more likely to be downloaded.
Your app description page should not be meaningless keyword-stuffed junk, but rather useful information that answers your customers’ questions and persuades them that your app provides a solution to their problem.
Many users don’t read the entire app description so focus your efforts on the first three lines.
Make sure to include app updates in your descriptions – this not only indicates fresher content to the algorithms but also shows users that you’re regularly updating the app.
When looking at a page of results in an app store, your icon will stand out to the user more than your app name. For this reason, it’s vital that you have an icon that stands out and looks appealing.
Different app stores have different standards for size and colour scheme so you’ll have to design a slightly different icon for each. In all cases, you don’t have a lot of pixels to play with and simple designs with bright colours tend to do best.
Have a browse through the app store and see what designs your competitors are using and which icons stand out most to you.