App Store Optimization: A step-by-step Guide

App Store Optimization: A step-by-step Guide

Before you introduce an app, it is recommended to optimize it. This will make it more visible to your target audience and basically, a success. Check out some steps on how to achieve it.

In the world, there are billions of people who own a smartphone and use it every day. The numbers keep increasing, which generates a big market for app creators. If you have decided to pursue the idea of creating an app and getting it out there, you are leaping full of opportunities. But, before you rush into this, you should know that your app can only become a success with a well-thought strategy.

With over 4 million apps available in Google Play and Apple Stores, you are facing a big competition. This is why you need not only a great idea and quality app, but also a strategic plan that will help you beat the competition. This is where app store optimization comes into the picture.

What is ASO?

App store optimization includes all the improvements you make on an app download page. Developers make such improvements for two main reasons: to become more visible to the target audience and get ‘‘streets ahead of the competition‘‘.

ASO is focused on two leading platforms for applications – Apple and Google Play. If you’ve decided to create an app to add to the marketplace, you need to understand and grasp the power of optimization.

This is not something that comes with a set list of rules or guides. Optimizing your creation depends on many factors. It's also not something you do once and get it over with. It needs continuous work and frequent app store analytics if you want your creation to be a success.

9 Useful Steps for App Store Optimization

In this 2018 guide, you will find three key app store optimization tips: keyword research, optimization for research and conversion, and tracking and improving main KPIs. We have decided to dig into the matter a bit further. Even though there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all‘ rule in ASO, there are nine general principles that everyone should follow if they want to achieve high app store ratings.

1. Research Your Competition

Understanding the competition is an essential strategy for every successful business. It’s also the first step to take in ASO. Before you introduce your app to users, you should consider the following:

  • How many competitors you have
  • How popular your selected category is in terms of the number of downloads
  • Which apps similar to yours maintain a high rating

This is something that developers must do before they get their app out there, but continue to do even when it is released. Your task is to monitor the top-performing applications in your category, see what they do to achieve this, and aim to beat your competition.

It doesn’t even have to be apps in the same category. Track competition with similar features, similar keywords, and purpose.

2. Use Keywords Wisely

How well you rank depends greatly on your keyword use. If you want people to find your application, you need to use the keywords they search for.

The idea is to match keywords with the needs of your potential audience. This will help them find your application in the store. Using the wrong keywords won’t just diminish your chances of succeeding in a store. If you use unrelated words or phrases, this action can penalize your ranking.

For help with finding and analyzing keywords, use a website rank checker. This checker allows you to check a domain and find the top 10 keywords that bring the most traffic.

3. Optimize Your Title & Description

An app description does not leave much room for creative writing. You have limited space and with just a few words, you need to both inform and impress. Titles and descriptions are the most important metadata that affects your download rate.

Try and focus on crafting a unique title under 25 characters that are memorable and prompts readers to take action i.e. download the app. Use its name and your top keyword to optimize it and make it easier to find.

You can easily test how well you’ve done in this part. Search for your application. If it is nowhere to be found in results, you need to be more creative.

Next, proceed to write a description. Unlike the title that should include one main keyword, your description should include as many as possible. Don't use this as an opportunity to stuff all keywords together. It should include some, but not so much that it loses sense or becomes dull.

4. Get the Right App Icon by A/B Testing

Every mobile marketer today understands the danger of underestimating visuals in the store. App previews and icons are equally important as a keyword search. If you want to make decisions driven by data and implement a good ASO strategy, you need to run A/B testing experiments.

These ASO steps are all interlinked. Your research of the competition will help you study the current design trends and formulate a hypothesis on what might work. This is where you decide what you'll use for the icon in your app.

When you do A/B testing, make sure to test separately for every change and once again when you've completed your design. This is how you'll know which change was the winner and which option you should remove.

Most importantly, remember that mobile A/B testing is a continuous process just like ASO.

5. Include Compelling Icons & Screenshots

With compelling icons and screenshots, you can get an edge in a crowded marketplace. Before you perform any kind of testing, try and choose icons and screenshots that scream unique and memorable. Aim to mix the colors to eliminate any confusion with your competition.

When people choose apps to download, they often scroll the screenshots to see what they’ll be getting. They spend only 7 seconds deciding if they’ll download or move to the next choice. You cannot afford to skimp on this step. Make your screenshots aesthetically pleasing and professional, with text as the primary focus.

6. Add an App Preview Video

A preview video on a page that features an application is known to increase downloads by 35%. This percentage is much higher compared to an optimized title or even visuals. By watching a video, users can learn exactly what they get without having to test an app. They are more likely to watch your video than scroll to see all screenshots.

Most people spend just a few seconds making this decision. This is why you should add an app preview video of high quality, one that showcases the most valuable features of your application.

7. App Ratings & Reviews 

App store optimization is one of the key steps to launch an app in the modern market. This strategy aims to get you more downloads and make your app favorite among the target audience. How do you know if your efforts are paying off?

Your best tool for this is to track your app ratings and reviews. These will have a huge impact on your success and your APO efforts. It’s in a developer’s best interest to get more honest reviews from people who used their product.

To get more feedback, encourage users with push notifications, in-app pop-up notifications, and word of mouth to leave a review.

A high-ranked application has quality backlinks. Quality backlinks aren't just any links you can get on the Web. To achieve high results, your app should be linked to relevant websites with authority (based on current algorithm standards by Google). Crowding the web with irrelevant backlinks can only ruin your rating.

Ideally, you should have an SEO optimized website that hosts information about your application and allows you to drive traffic directly to your store pages. Such a website will help you rank higher on Google.

In addition to this, you can use paid advertising and campaigns to boost your chances to get noticed by the target audience.

9. Use App Store Analytics   

Just like web page marketing has Google Analytics, there are many ASO analytics tools designed to help app creators. By using tools like AppAnnie, Appfigures, Appstatics, and Tune, you can learn where your app stands and what you need to improve. Such applications will provide you with hard data regarding different measurements.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to optimize your application won’t happen overnight. This requires constant effort, but if done properly, it can truly pay off. Once you find the right strategies and feel successful based on the traction your app receives, you can simply track your rating and see if you need to make some changes.

Google and Apple aren't the same when it comes to establishing the rank of apps, but several things work no matter which of the two you choose. Follow these 9 simple steps and you are facing a great chance of improving your app's rating and with it – its overall success.

Guest post by Kate Peters

This post was submitted by a TNS experts. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on digital marketing, SEO, social media, growth hacking and content marketing with our audience.

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