You’ve heard of SEO, but what about ASO?

Knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation is fairly well known now, and its understanding has grown to the point that its not just a game for the large businesses out there, small and medium ones are having to optimise their websites to drive traffic.
However with the digital age truly upon us, its likely that even the smallest of companies have an app. In fact as of this moment there are over 4 million apps over the major app stores. But that also means there are 4 million competing apps.

Often app stores are filled with core information about the app in a rather boring way in the hopes that inbound traffic from your main website will drive downloads. However this is NEVER going to happen. In a 2015 report by Apptentive they showed that 60% of discoveries come from searching within the app store. Links from websites? 17%. There are 5 other leading methods to get your app up there. The great thing about those 5 ways however is they all reply on ASO. But you have to put SEO firmly out of your mind. You’re no longer playing by google’s rules; now you’re playing by Apple’s.


So how do you optimise an app?

There are 4 things to consider:

  • Keywords
  • Title
  • Number of Downloads
  • Ratings & Reviews


Remember I said it wasn’t like SEO? Keep that in mind.
When you make a post on your webpage you’re looking at both short and long tail keywords, and you will promote only one per page to avoid over stuffing. However the algorithms for the app stores simply don’t work that way.
Lets assume you have a productivity app, and you have a thriving website behind it. You can make 101 pages with unique long-tail keywords pointing to your app store page, but the second you try to put one in your app store description, you’ve made a mistake. App stores look at EACH word. In this example we only have ‘productivity’ to worry about, but if you sell car insurance, thats two words. Unlike SEO however, that makes things easier.

The idea behind ASO keywords is to place only 2 keywords, 2 times. You’ll know if you’ve gone over as the app stores explicitly state you’re keyword jamming, and to stop it.
So if you sell car insurance, you can say that twice, and you’re done.
But our app is a productivity one, so after “productivity” what do you pick? Well, thats simple; you get more specific. Do you offer something thats distraction free? Do you offer a personal assistant? The second keyword should be the specific solution your app solves.

Now, i’ve just told you to use “productivity” as a keyword, but I would actually suggest something more specific here for the advanced user. Your app needs to be categorised, and you’ll put it in the productivity sector, well, now you’re using that keyword WITHOUT the app store thinking you’re keyword stuffing. So you can now pick a replacement keyword. Try to make it a fringe word off of your second keyword.

The Title

So now you have your keyword(s), all you have to do is shove it in the title, right? No.

Whilst there is a lot of positive thinking behind this, the likelihood is that everyone one a productivity app will put “productivity” in the title. However if you’re put the right keywords in your description, your app will come up in a search anyway. In fact search in Apple’s app store doesn’t even take the title into account.

On that assumption you have to keep two things in mind; interest and size.

Did you know that if you search for an app on your mobile you only see the first 25 characters of the name? That means “you only have 25 characters” cannot be displayed, its too long. Keep it short.

And keep it snappy. If you do a search of productivity apps and see these names, which one stands out?
Productivity Wizard
The Productivity App
Productivity Tutor
I can guarantee you it was TunnelBear. It stood out because it was different, and as a result warrants a click. Once the visitor is on your app, its just about conversion.

Number of Downloads

One thing that we can’t get away from here is that the number of downloads your app gets, the higher it comes in rankings. Apple’s store focuses on this more than android, however its still one of the biggest pain points.
There are solutions though.

A review by TradeMob showed that the average number of downloads required to get on the Top 10 overall chart in the iOS store was 26,000 for the UK. It we look at productivity apps its 16,000. Now this might seem like a massive number, and I have no doubt it will be far higher than anyone reading this post has, but you can quickly rack up download numbers like this by either shifting focus, or offering it for a reduced value.

Shift In Focus
Offer the app for free. Now the thinking here is anyone will download a free app without thinking, and even if they delete it straight afterwards as it wasn’t what they were looking for, it still counts the download.
Now chances are you want to monetise the app, which is OK. However do this by in-app purchases. A quick look at the Top 100 apps in the app store show 80% are free, and of those free apps 90% have in-app purchases.

Reduced Value
If you either can’t or simply don’t want to offer the app for free, you do still have options to raise downloads. The easiest is picking the right price point. An app at 99p will have 200% the downloads of an app at £1.99
The second part of this, is to offer limited time reduced cost. If you set up a sale within Andorid’s app centre they advertise your app for free. You can promote on social media, your website, or a local event, and you can get people downloading it in no time.

Ratings & Reviews

Ratings have a smaller part to play within ASO, however this is an important part, as it has a MAJOR part to play in the conversion process.

There are only 2 real ways to increase ratings;

In-App Pop Ups
Just make sure you don’t over do these, as making too many pop ups results in people offering a 1 star review just out of spite.

Off-App reminders
This only really works for those of you who went for in-app purchases. With each purchase you receive their email address, which you can target for a review suggestion. But once again, don’t over do it.

Is there anything else?

Well, yes, there is. There are loads of things you can do to truly optimise an app’s page, including tone of voice, screenshot selection, description, engagement with audience, showing continued development/updates, localisation of words (and keywords), icon selection, inward links, and then there are specific things you can do for each of the app stores. If you’re interested I would suggest this TradeMob post out.

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