According to recent research published by Statista, there were 2.87 million mobile apps available on the Google Play Store and 1.96 million on the Apple App Store as of October 2020. In fact, more than 107 thousand mobile apps were published on the Google Play Store alone in December 2020! When stats like these are taken into consideration, it’s obvious why App Store Optimization (ASO) is critical to the long-term success of any mobile app.
To help its mobile operator customers gain a well-rounded, foundational understanding of ASO, Smith Micro invited me to write a piece that would address all the main points – an ASO crash course if you will. So, without further delay, let’s get started!
What is App Store Optimization?
Put simply, ASO is the behind-the-scenes work that goes into getting a mobile app to rank on an App Store – whether it be the two main shows in town – Google Play & Apple’s App Store – or one of the smaller app stores such as Microsoft’s Windows Store or the Amazon Appstore. Another way to think about ASO is as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for App Stores.
ASO vs. SEO – What’s the Difference?
While I like the ASO/SEO comparison because it acts to familiarize ASO with a more familiar concept, it can be misleading. App Store Optimization and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are not the same thing! While SEO is all about optimizing a web page to rank higher in organic search engine results, ASO refers to the practice of optimizing a mobile app to rank higher in app store search results.
What’s the Ultimate Goal of App Store Optimization?
Nine times out of 10, I would put this in my own words. However, sometimes you have to admit when someone says something best and just quote them. According to App Radar:
The primary goal of App Store Optimization is to increase downloads and the number of loyal users. The first step of maximizing your downloads is to make your app easily discoverable by the right users.App Radar – Ultimate Guide to ASO in 2020
The importance of this point cannot be understated. Any successful ASO strategy begins and ends with an intimate understanding of your target customer and their search intent. Here are the key components that should guide your ASO strategy.
Key Components of App Store Optimization:
- App Title – Make sure to include 1-2 of your targeting keywords in the title.
- App Description – While it’s important to get your targeted keywords in the description, also make sure it makes sense and is accurately describing your app to users (e.g. write for users, not the algorithm). One way to be relatable is to use emojis. Use them when it makes sense and sparingly. Use keywords 3-5 times in the title and/or description.
- Keywords – There is limited space in the title and description. Use keywords that are relevant to your business with high search volume and low competition to maximize results. Look for opportunities from competitors.
- Downloads – The greater the number of downloads an app has the higher it will rank.
- Reviews – User reviews are one of the top-ranking factors in app stores. Ask users to leave a review via in-app push notifications or incentivize them by either unlocking paid app content or giving them in-app currency.
- Engagement – The amount of time someone uses an app and how often.
- Visuals – Add a preview video and compelling screen shots. Most people only look at the first two slides of the video/screenshots. Optimize the first two creative assets to convert and the others to further showcase/explain the app’s functionality.
- Icon design – The app icon is the first visual impression a user will see so make it eye-catching and relevant.
- Backlinks – Backlinks should come from a website that is considered an authority by Google. It should also be a related topic to your app.