How to Improve Your ASO: The App Store vs. Google Play

/ December 13, 2018 | 9 Mins Read

How to Improve Your ASO: The App Store vs. Google Play

This article will discuss the top ASO factors in the Apple App Store and Google Play store while noting several differences that change how your app could rank on each.

App developers invest time and money into their apps and yet only a few apps are featured on the top search result page. This article will discuss how to improve app store rank whether an app is featured in the App Store or Google Play store and the differences between the two platforms.

Recommended: Complete Step-By-Step Guide To App Store Optimization 2018 [ASO]

In July 2008, the App Store launched and changed the trajectory of mobile devices. Apps grew to be incredibly popular and the phrase “there’s an app for that” became engrained in everyday life.

Four years later, Google Play was built. Although later to arrive on the market, Google provided fierce competition for Apple. This year, Google Play set a record of 19 billion app downloads.

Developers should consider what store they want to target first when creating the app. Both Apple and Google have different guidelines for what apps they accept.

As two large brands with separate platforms, Apple and Google prioritize different factors for app store optimization (ASO). They each have their own individual algorithms that calculate where an app should rank in the search results page.

Considering 63% of apps are discovered through search, your business needs to use ASO to increase the number of downloads and users.

This article will discuss the top ASO factors in the Apple App Store and Google Play store while noting several differences that change how your app could rank on each.

1. Entering the App Store and Play Market

There are two different types of consumers who enter an app store: the user who knows the exact app s/he wants and the user that is unsure of which app to download for his or her need.

Exploring visitors browse the app store for different app options before downloading one. Decisive visitors enter the app store with a specific app in mind to download.

Exploring visitors usually make up 40% of the user population while decisive visitors are more common at 60%.

Entering the App Store

Most visitors only look at a page for 3-6 pages, which means it’s extremely important to gain their attention at first glance.

The App Store and Google Play Store both cater to different types of users in their design.

Upon arrival at the Apple App Store, users are presented with an image gallery of apps. Apple App Store visitors are 16% more likely than Google Play visitors to explore the store.

The gallery features a large variety of apps that are ranked highly or have recently been released. This setup makes the App Store ideal for browsing and choosing new apps to download.

Google Play has a more search-friendly model where the interface is designed to speed up search results. Google Play visitors are 67% more likely to come from decisive visitors, which means they aren’t interested in shopping for other apps.

Both stores rank apps based on specific features but differ in which ones they prioritize due to their customer model.

2. Increasing Your Rank on The App Store

As app developers struggle to stand out amidst the competition, the need to evaluate how to rank high in the App Store is paramount.

The App Store values certain factors more than others when it ranks your business’ app. The App Store decides how apps should rank based on these key features:

i. Title

The App Store values app title as the most important factor in their ranking system. A good title should catch users’ attention and be easy to remember. Apple recommends a short title that explains what your app does and distinguishes your app from the competition. The store allows 30 characters for the title.

For example, TripAdvisor has a catchy, short, name that explains exactly what the app does: advises users about their trip.


The app title should include your business’s top keyword. TripAdvisor adds the words “Hotels” and “Restaurants” to its title in order to appear when people search for these two terms. The added keywords will make TripAdvisor rank higher than other apps.

Carefully consider what an app should be called because 50% of users will decide whether to download the app due to their first impressions.

ii. Keywords

Keywords are a crucial element to ASO. Apple looks for keywords in the title, description, and subtitle. They allow Apple to accurately gauge what your app does and how it can meet a consumer need.

Businesses should choose the top keywords that most accurately apply to their apps. Think like a consumer and ensure that users are looking for your app with the correct search question.

iii. Subtitle

Apple more recently introduced the “subtitle” box below your app’s title, which allows developers to add 30 more characters of app description. The subtitle functions as another channel for developers to add more keywords and engage potential users.

The subtitle should include a call-to-action as well, which makes it easier for users to download the app. An effective call-to-action can increase apps’ conversion rates by 15-20%.

iv. Screenshots

The App Store allows developers to include up to three screenshots of their app. Developers should use every opportunity to showcase their app so these screenshots are crucial to capture audience attention.

Businesses should pick dynamic screenshots of the app that impress the user visually and effectively showcase the app’s function. The popular game, Dr. Panda Town, demonstrates the feel of the game through its screenshots.


Dr. Panda Town includes multiple images from the game to draw visitors in. The styled animation and careful titles are designed to catch visitors’ eyes. Users immediately know this game is for children and includes fun adventures with animals.

Screenshots influence whether someone will download the app or not. Choose them carefully.

v. Video

The App Store allows developers to include one video on their page. This video automatically plays as users scroll, which means companies must invest time into developing an effective video.

This video can be an influencing factor in whether users will download an app so make sure it shows the best features and conveys the information clearly. App videos can increase install rates by more than 25%.

vi. Total Number of Downloads

After Apple weighs the factors businesses can directly control, they use user-influenced metrics as another method of ranking. The total number of downloads can be an effective means to measure app popularity.

Apple considers downloads an accurate indication of an app sparking customer interest. The more downloads an app has, the more likely it has solved a user problem or need.

Businesses cannot control number of downloads directly, but there are many marketing strategies that can increase app awareness.

vii. Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews play a large part in demonstrating app quality and customer satisfaction. Apple values how customers interact with apps in its store. An app needs to provide a service to gain followers, and Apple recognizes that user reactions reflect app success.

The review below shows user satisfaction as the customer compliments the game, Max-The Curse of Brotherhood.

Ratings and Reviews

The ratings reflect well on the game and the review gives a great reaction. The App Store will rank this game higher due to its great customer response.

As well, make sure your app has a customer service feature and an associated site that can answer questions and complaints. Engaging with users encourages communication, which makes your business feel more personal.

3. Improving Your ASO on Google Play

Google Play hosts an enormous number of apps in its store with 3.8 million compared to the App Store’s 2.2 million.

As such, Google Play has even more competition for search rankings. Google’s ASO method varies from Apple’s and offers a distinctive app store experience. These ASO factors are crucial to increasing your rank on the Google Play search page:

i. Title

Similar to Apple, Google places great value on app title. The title should include your company’s brand name and include keywords. As the title is generally the user’s first impression of an app, the title needs to stand out and explain the app’s purpose.

ii. URL

Considering users can also access apps on the Google Play site, Google prioritizes the URL connected to your business’s app page. The URL should be clean and simple. Business should place a keyword in the URL to maximize searcher potential. The game, Minecraft, demonstrates a good URL:


The URL contains the name of the developer and the game name. When reading the URL or trying to find the game again, users will know exactly what to look for.

When users access an app’s page, it can be much easier to understand what the page is showing with a basic URL.

iv. Developer Name

Google also considers the developer who created the app. If the developer has created successful apps before, then Google will factor that into rank.

Furthermore, many developers take advantage of the developer name box and make their name a keyword. Using a clever keyword can drives search results and be an opportunity for creativity. Toon Blast, a puzzle game, was created by a developer named Peak Games:

developer name

The developer name, Peak Games, is easy to remember, describes what the company makes, and has a keyword. Also, Peak Games has released previous games under this name, which means this game will rank higher in search.

v. Description

A description can provide a concrete explanation of what an app can achieve. A successful app description should include keywords, deliver a clear message, and captures the user’s attention. The description offers a space to build brand personality as well, which can foster larger customer engagement.

Google advises developers to use all the characters given to them in order to have the most cohesive app explanation. Makes sure the description is well-organized and visually pleasing on the page. Large chunks of text discourage readers who want to be able to read with ease.

vi. Icon

Google also emphasizes the importance of the icon, which is the first thing most people will see when searching the app store. The icon represents the app and can affect what users associate with the app. Google requires a high-resolution image with no text.

Google gives every app developer the chance to include a graphic on its page. The graphic should be designed specifically for the app and represents the business as a whole. LEGO successfully implements a featured graphic into its LEGO Life image:

Featured graphic

LEGO cleverly incorporates its featured graphic within the image. People can immediately recognize the content as part of the LEGO universe when it so clearly states the brand.

The graphic can help with a successful conversion rate as people tend to click a graphic if they see it.

viii. Video

Google Play, like the App Store, allows developers to include a video about their app. Google Play, however, does not automatically play the content as users scroll. Play requires users to click the video where it then reroutes users to YouTube.

Unfortunately, this extra action results in a much lower reach than the App Store’s videos. Still, if a user does click the video, then the user is probably highly interested rather than just browsing.

ix. Screenshots

Google includes the option to add screenshots to the app page as well, but does not value them as highly as Apple. Google prefers to emphasize the graphic and icon over screenshots as a strong distinction between the two app stores.

Still, include screenshots in your page to maximize the amount of content a visitor will see when considering the app.

4. Choosing What App Store to Use

Depending on the goal for your business’ app, you should consider the different factors involved in ranking an app. Google Play generally accepts apps more quickly and more often.

Play is known to have more low-quality apps than the App Store because their vetting process is less rigorous. The App Store has high standards, which results in fewer, but higher-quality apps.

Apple and Google share a focus on keywords and title, because these two factors improve visibility and help users find the app they need. The two stores also both include videos, screenshots, and description, but they value them differently.

Developers hoping to rank high in the App Store should focus on the subtitle, screenshots, and video.  These factors influence an app’s search rank as well as spark visitor interest.

Google Play developers need to optimize their URL, developer name, icon and featured graphics to see rank improvement. Making these features better will increase customer engagement and lead to more downloads.

Top mobile app developers will adapt their app to work on both Google Play and the App Store. Still, the first store your company chooses needs to spread app awareness successfully.  If not, then the app may no longer need to work on both platforms.

Depending on the store your company chooses to host its app, the need to make ASO a priority is essential for app success. Most people find apps through search and if an app isn’t on the first page, then it probably won’t be seen.

Improve your ASO and watch your company’s app climb to the top of the search page.

Emily Clark is a writer for The Manifest, designing surveys and reporting on mobile apps and app development trends and news. She also assists with social media efforts.

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