All7 min. read

Top Most Common App Store Optimization Mistakes

Anna Sofiiskaia

ASO Manager, Appbooster

App Store Optimization, or ASO, is a process where a mobile app's in-store page is optimized for better visibility and higher impression-install conversions. You can learn more about optimization here.

When performing ASO-related activities, it can be very tough to accommodate all aspects and specifics, since they all hinge on application store algorithms. However, one can avoid some common mistakes. For you to not repeat the mistakes, we created this rating of the top ASO-related mistakes.

This text contains some professional terms. If you are taking your first steps as an ASO specialist or didn't do it before, let's figure out what these terms mean:

  • Competitive analysis is a process of analyzing the quality and performance of rivals and using their techniques to make the product more prosperous.
  • A semantic kernel is an ordered set of words, their morphological forms and phrases made of them, which most accurately describe your product.
  • Suggestions are search query hints shown based on the general statistics of what people look for most.
  • Relevant keywords are words and phrases that describe the product and its key purpose.
  • An exact match is an exact form of a query that has the same declension, case, and other attributes. For instance, you are interested in the key query "GPS tracker." In metadata, you need to use this very form: not "GPS-tracker" or "GPS trackers", which are different keywords.
  • Metadata are text and graphical elements of the app page.
  • A unique selling proposition (USP) is a stated value of a product or service for the target audience. If the unique selling proposition is formulated correctly, it will be your long-term effective ally that you don't need to change.
  • An offer is a proposition that reflects a product or service's real value. Unlike a unique selling proposition, an offer can be variable: it can adapt to the market situation, target audience, season, demand, etc.
  • In-app purchases are additional content or subscriptions that users can purchase in the app.

Now let's explore and discuss the most widespread ASO mistakes that we came across in our practice.

1. No competitive analysis carried out

ASO specialists carry out competitive analysis to find out the demand level, find growth opportunities, and discover other aspects the developer team may be interested in. Detailed studying of text and graphical performance of competitors is the starting point for collecting the semantic kernel and envisaging your app's metadata.

2. Ignoring suggestions

A suggestion can facilitate a user's journey from the search page to your app's page. Don't forget to invoke and employ them when establishing the semantic kernel and text metadata.

App Store and Google Play suggestions

3. Empty subtitle (App Store)

The subtitle is the second most important factor, after the title, affecting keyword indexing. If you leave the subheading field empty, you lose 30 characters — i.e., a bunch of relevant key queries that could help your get indexed better. With this in mind, fill the subtitle with relevant keywords.

A well designed and a poorly designed title-subtitle pair

4. The absence of relevant queries and/or symbol space in text metadata is not fully used

If there are not enough relevant keywords in the text part of your app's metadata, it means that you just waste the symbol space and lose users. Don't let this happen. Form text metadata based on the semantic kernel you assembled and try to occupy every bit of available symbol space with queries relevant to your product.

5. No exact-match relevant keywords

The absence of exact matches compromises your app's chance to get indexed for keywords. Use exact-match keywords in texts.

Note: App Store can only recognize English. This aspect implies that you can index your app both for a singular and plural form of a keyword. For instance, if you add the keyword "cocktail" to metadata, the App Store will be likely to index your app both for "cocktail" and "cocktails."  It's highly improbable that the same thing would work for other languages. If you try this in another language, there is every likelihood that the app will only index your app for the exact keyword you specified.

Some believe that Google Play can distinguish word forms and sometimes indexes various forms of the same word. But since the aforementioned features don't always work, be ready to experiment and try various approaches to the text part of your ASO initiatives.

6. Duplicated keywords in metadata

Duplication of keywords is totally unable to enhance your app's positions on the App Store. Avoid this on the App Store: duplication is ineffective and useless.

On Google Play, however, duplication of keywords can promote your app's positions in results for queries you copy. But don't go too far: too much spamming may negatively affect your product's performance. Experiment and find an optimal solution for mentioning relevant queries in your specific case.

7. Structureless description

Users don't read: they scan and cling to details. If such details are not emphasized, it's hard for users to read the text and think. As a result, their attention gets distracted. Try to keep your app's description systemized: divide the text into paragraphs, sections, etc. Make reading your intro easy for the user. In return, this will facilitate perception and reception.

A fragment of a well-designed description on Google Play

8. No captions in screenshots

Brief captions in screenshots can help translate your app's functions, tell users about the unique selling propositions, unveil the benefits, and demonstrate the offer. Remember that you only have a few seconds to gain a user's interest and urge them to download your app. Properly composed screenshot texts can boost the conversions into installs. Most ASO specialists note that Google Play algorithms "read" screenshot captions. It's likely that your app will get indexed for key queries if they appear in screenshots. You can learn more about designing screenshots and composing screenshot captions here.

An example of good and bad screenshot captions

9. No response or cliched response to reviews

Don't leave customer reviews unattended, nor should you use boilerplate phrases when responding. Users judge apps by developer responses and want to see that the app is being supported, and the problems are solved when emerge. Try to formulate detailed answers. Here's a good practice: if a user leaves a negative review or low rating, try to solve the underlying problem and then report to them, asking to leave a better rating or update the review.

By the way, there is such a mechanism as feedback rotation on the App Store. On the app's page, the six most helpful reviews are displayed. To view other feedback, a user needs to click "See All." Pay attention to the most helpful reviews: appearing first to the users, they form the first impression. Try to provide complete answers and make sure negative reviews are not in this selection. If necessary, you can adjust rotation on your own or utilizing third-party agencies.

Most helpful reviews on the app (App Store)

10. No keywords in feedback and responses (Google Play)

Google Play indexes both user reviews and developer responses. When writing a response, try to include some relevant keywords. But make sure your response still makes sense and the user can understand it. If you source user feedback from third-party services, firm up the text content before publishing.

11. No keywords in in-app purchases (App Store)

Words contained in the names of in-app purchases are also indexed by the store algorithms. A safe way is to compose names of in-app purchases based on your semantic kernel. Promotion of in-app purchases will help attract more users and expand the reach of indexed relevant queries.

12. Implementing all ASO changes at a time

We recommend that you introduce transformations one by one so you can monitor them individually. Google Play offers a built-in function for experimenting with the app page. Though the results of such experiments may be questionable, it's telling that the platform doesn't allow launching several tests in parallel. It's hard to interpret the results when tests are launched simultaneously. Why so?

Let's imagine text and graphical elements were updated concurrently. Quality text optimization will boost impressions, for the app will be indexed for more keywords. On the other hand, this may decrease the conversions into installs, since the app got visible to a broader audience and appears in search more often. In this case, it's impossible to unambiguously evaluate the performance of graphical improvements. Such a method could work for applications with high traffic flows.

But if an app sees very little traffic, it would be wrong to draw conclusions even after sequential changes — just because a sample can be insignificantly small. For instance, if the app is only downloaded by users who see it in search, conversions into installs will be artificially ramped up. If you update text and graphical elements after that, it wouldn't be correct to perform a before-after comparison, since conversions were deliberately increased before changes.

Don't make these typical mistakes, walk away with the right conclusions, and apply a systemic approach to your ASO transformations. Lead more traffic to your product and earn more money!

Anna Sofiiskaia

ASO Manager, Appbooster

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