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Product Strategy

10 tips we practiced to hone our ‘App Store Optimization’ (ASO) strategy

Nisha Gopinath Menon
June 15, 2018

As of the first quarter of 2018, Android users can choose between 3.8 million apps, and Apple's App Store remains the second-largest app store with 2 million available apps. In the current app market, unless your app has secured a rank in the top ten through tens of thousands of downloads or featured in the “Recommended” section by the Apple editors, the chances of it taking off are slim. Get ahead of the game by making your app and the content it houses, searchable. Below are a few of our favorite ASO tips to help you along.

  1. The foundation of your ASO strategy should stem from the insights gained after putting yourself in your user’s shoes. Along with an in-depth view of your competitive landscape, a well-formed ASO strategy springs out of an understanding of how your users will use your app. What keywords do your competitors target? What is your competitive advantage? What are your users top reasons for downloading and using your app? What language do your customers naturally use? Should you target the apparent keywords or the less trafficked, less obvious keywords that speak better to your unique offering? Also, you’ll have to decide whether it makes more sense to rank in the top ten for a small bunch of very competitive keywords or to rank in the top spot for keywords with a lesser search volume.
  2. Your visual icon is your first impression as your potential users browse an almost endless list of applications. Make it count. You need an icon capable of breaking through the clutter. Your icon must be direct enough that it immediately conveys what your app does, even within the apps menu, in its scaled-down form. But don’t take this as a license to over complicate your icon. Browse through the top-rated apps in your category or Google/Apple’s top picks to get an idea of what works historically. You’ll notice a trend of bright colors, unique shapes, and simple imagery across the board. Some incorporate a drop shadow or border to make the icons pop, regardless of their background and few icons come with words. And it’s important to do the necessary competitive research to ensure that your icon looks different enough from a competitor’s to avoid confusion.
  3. Putting together a unique name for your app isn’t just about branding. The name of your app heavily factors into app store search results, so make sure you include relevant keywords within your title.  But don’t use this opportunity to stuff every keyword you can think of into your title. Afterall, it represents your brand. And keep in mind that longer titles are truncated on a top chart page or a search result.
  4. If your description appears intentionally repetitive, it will turn off potential customers. Make small edits for keywords after you're done writing for the customer first. If your description happens to be a bunch of cleverly tied together, contextually irrelevant keywords, your wordy description will put off customers before they take the next step and download it, rendering that coveted rank meaningless. Keep in mind that the ranking algorithms take conversion metrics along with keywords into account. Everything consumer-facing in your app’s product page should be designed first for the customer then the algorithm. Focus more on the top three lines of your description to grab your reader’s attention immediately. Most don’t read beyond. And target keywords with low competition and lower search volumes first. Aim to be the big fish in a small pond initially. Once you have built up credibility and social proof, wade into the red ocean.
  5. Include screenshots and videos. Don’t underestimate the power of visuals to market an app. Screenshots and videos in your description may not have a direct effect on search rankings, but they do drive downloads. Images bring your descriptive text to life, allowing potential customers to visualize using your app, giving them that extra nudge to make the download. Your screenshots must show off your app’s most central features, latest updates and the pages on which your users will spend most of their time.  A/B test various screenshot sets for best results, to figure out which screenshots drive the most downloads.
  6. Localize your app listing. If your audience goes beyond the English-speaking world, adapt your brand communication and language to the wants and needs of each audience segment. Start with speaking to your users in the language they use at home. There are enough solutions for localization or low-cost translation services that can translate your app’s keywords, title, description, and screenshots to the languages of your largest segments.
  7. App indexing has proven to be the best strategy for many publishers looking to drive traffic to their app’s product page. Indexing is the process of making iOS or Android app content searchable and linkable from a mobile or web search. App indexing allows you to drive downloads and app store traffic directly from a search engine results page. Indexing helps with both re-engagement and acquisition by promoting your content in new channels. It is easier to increase your retention rate of registered users and your installs volume when you have your content correctly indexed.
  8. Update frequently. Apps which are regularly updated are seen by both the customer and the app store to be more user-centric. Like Google which rewards sites that are frequently updated, Apple sees regularly updated apps as helmed by developers that are committed to providing a better user experience.
  9. Encourage feedback and ratings. A constant stream of positive reviews serves as a validation of your app’s quality and one of the highest determinants of rank. Apps with a large volume of favorable ratings dominate the charts across the board. Your vocal minority, the ones who either hate or love your app, are the only ones who typically bother writing a review. In reality, most of your users lie somewhere in between both extremes and need that prompt or extra engagement to give their feedback. You can boost your rating with intelligent rating prompts, and ultimately your rank by prompting only those users likely to give you a good rating.
  10. Use trending topics as keywords. You should consider using trending topics as keywords. Get really creative and focus on events that are trending now. Then tweak your keywords and pull search traffic to your app. For example, if yours is a fitness app, during the Superbowl, you could add the routines of the star players and use related keywords to get high rankings.

These are quick wins for your team that doesn’t require you to spend money acquiring users. Search technologies will become increasingly important as new apps continue to saturate the market. You’ll find many mentions of these steps across blogs dating as back as 2016, and that’s because they are still seen as proactive. Today, most of these steps are considered standard.

Also, since App Store Optimization is an ongoing process, a successful ASO strategy requires regular check-ins, a penchant for analytics and a keen eye. A good ASO strategy is an investment that will pay off many times over. See you on top of the charts.
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Nisha Gopinath Menon