ASO & Organic Traffic7 min. read

What is ASO? The importance of optimization in promoting apps in the App Store and Google Play

Evgeniy Plotnikov

Marketing Manager, Appbooster

App Store Optimization relates to optimizing mobile application pages in the App Store and Google Play by highlighting them and facilitating the conversion of visitors into downloads. Includes keyword optimization of the title, subtitle (in the App Store), and app description, as well as creative optimization of visual elements.

In many ways App Store Optimization for iOS and Android is reminiscent of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that has been around for several decades and consists of selecting the right metadata and assets (icon, screenshots) in order to be higher in the Store's search results page, with more visitors downloading the app and becoming active users of it.

The following resources are currently used in ASO marketing:

  • The app name (with keywords it may contain)
  • Keywords (They're available only as a field in the App Store, but it's still recommended on Google Play to have a semantic core based on a description that summarizes the app's functionality)
  • Subtitle (Only available in the App Store)
  • Description (Indexed for direct search in Google Play. The App Store'‎s descriptions are indexed in web search. The description still interacts with users of both stores)
  • Promotional text (Only available in the App Store)
  • In-App purchases
  • Developer name (Only available in Google Play)
  • Icon
  • Screenshots (separately for smartphones and tablets)
  • In-app events in the App Store and Promo Content in Google Play
  • Video
  • Average rating and reviews
  • App size (indirectly affects decision to download)
  • Updates and "What's New"
  • Localization
  • Web links for the app (as an SEO element)

Origins of ASO marketing for iOS and Android

As competition among the app market grows, the competence in finding the app's target audience becomes of greater importance. Our main task is to present the app in such a way that makes the user want to download and use it.

In most cases, users learn about new apps from app store searches and from the store's selections (the ones that got featured), which means being in top results is of the utmost importance.

This is how App Store Optimization has appeared: as various ways to improve the app's position in the search results for the appropriate searches, thus maximizing conversion output.

The fundamentals on which ASO is based are quite simple: an app is 'hidden' from most users if it's not in the visible part of the search results. If the app is in the search results, but its icon (and screenshots of the app), name, or rating are not attractive, and users do not want to click on them, then the lion's share of the target audience has been lost. If users nonetheless clicked but didn't like the app page (poor screenshots, no reviews, lack of in-app events or promo content), then another part of the downloaders have been lost.

Your job as a marketer is to maximize every step of bringing app store organic users to your app.

ASO is a comprehensive approach to working on content for a mobile app's page on Google Play, the App Store, and other app stores. The ASO's goal is to level up page views and improve the download conversion rate.

Main stages of work on App Store Optimization (ASO)

We at Appbooster divide the work cycle on ASO apps into several stages. This division is optional, because given a particular case, it may be necessary to concentrate resources on only one component and even skip a stage. Most often however, an effective optimization process will include an app audit, wording, image hammering, and rating adjustments.

ASO audit

An audit involves a comprehensive review and competitive analysis of the app's store page. We've provided a checklist for self-audit in one of our articles. Particular attention is paid to the conversion rate of first impressions to installations. It is compared with vertical averages, and conclusions are drawn based on the results obtained. For example, if an app is in the top for search queries but has few downloads, this means the page needs to be optimized. Next the text, images, localization (if applicable), and rating are checked, and reviews studied.

It's best to conduct A/B tests to see how the changes might affect user behavior and rankings prior to the introduction of new images and text.

Keyword optimization

Then the most important part of ASO takes place, keyword optimization. At this stage, the semantic core is assembled and the app page metadata fields are filled in. The semantic core is all search queries that can be used to find that app in the store. Generally a huge list is collected from any search queries that are at least somehow related to the app's subject. The most relevant search queries are selected from this list and attempted to be included into the metadata.

Text metadata includes the title, subtitle, and short and long descriptions. It's important to keep in mind that keyword processing differs across different app stores. For example, the App Store provides an additional keyword field that is not available in Google Play.

Creative image optimization

High quality image optimization helps the app stand out from the competition. Special attention must be paid to the icon design, as this is what the user sees first and is essentially the business card of the product in the store. One of the main requirements is that it should convey the essence of the app. As practice has shown, simple and recognizable forms without an abundance of text work best.

It's also better to place textual information on screenshots when appropriate as to perform an advertising function for users. There's also a function for developers to place videos in addition to screenshots, but this is not vital. For instance, a video demonstration of interesting gameplay mechanics or graphics might be a boost factor for a game, while video would most likely not be helpful for a photo editor app, where screenshots are enough.

Work with ratings and reviews

The app's rating and reviews directly affect the conversion rate. These are key decision factors for users. It is quite straightforward, people place more trust on the opinions of those who have already tried the product than even the most colorful description. There are two main ways to get feedback and rating:

  • Directly ask users. Use rating system query integration in iOS and Android apps.
  • Use reward services.

ASO tools

The Appbooster platform can assist in the app promotion. Get ahead of competitors in the App Store and Google Play search results through rewarded installs and competent ASO. The platform functionality includes managing rewarded traffic, reviews, app rating, position tracking, and competitor monitoring.

Promote my app!

App Store Optimization in 2024

Nowadays, each of the stores requires its own approaches to App Store Optimization. As you can see, some description and page elements function only in the App Store, and others in Google Play.

There are main general optimization steps can be singled out: the app's name and keywords, the semantic core, icon, screenshots, ratings.

Try to work them out prior to issuing the app in order to have a quality foundation upon the first release. Repeat further with them as a foundation, and keep improvements under control. ASO is a long and incremental improvement process where every step counts.

ASO Stack 2024

Tools for getting the job done: App Store Connect and Google Play Console; keyword position tracking (Appbooster platform can be used); keyword search and scoring, review, and rating tracking; review responses; competitive intelligence; UX review management; search ad data; in-app feedback requests; screenshot editors and metadata management platforms; app store analytics; A/B testing.

A level related to the product, app marketing, and analytics in general, rather than ASO. It includes:

  • Related factors: organic growth, conversion rate, ratings/reviews, average rating, crashes (app quality). It should be understood that all of this is interconnected, and changing one ratio can affect the others.
  • Traffic sources and their shares: keywords, charts, featuring, related apps, recommended apps, collections, popular searches.
  • Organic Cannibalization: App Store Search Ads and Paid Google Acquisition Campaigns.
  • Featuring: app of the day, featured banners, icon collection, store badges.
  • Macro-influencers: seasonality and holidays, sales of new smartphones, trends in keyword autocompletion, changes in platform and store UX, emergence and pressure of competitors.
  • Search data: Google Play search frequency and Apple Search Ads data.
  • Key metrics: category and competitor averages (e.g., Adjust, Sensor Tower, or Appsflyer data can be used with market averages).

App Store Optimization potential mistakes

Promotion is made up of many components, often linked together, and by making changes to one part, all the others can be affected. It is easy to make mistakes in optimization, here are some of the most common mistakes that are best avoided:

  • No language localization. Thus, a significant audience share is lost. Even if the app operates only in one language (e.g., English), the app page copies can be made in different languages to get extra users.
  • No regular updates. Trends should be constantly monitored and the product continuously improved. This is the foundation for successful promotion.
  • Issue many changes at once. Doing this will obscure which of them influenced the growth or fall of the targets. Make one change at a time and evaluate it (e.g., Google Play has built-in experiments, and although their results can sometimes be dubious, with the mobile app page and the platform itself, refrain from running several tests in parallel, as otherwise the results will be generally incomprehensible and irreproducible).
  • Incorrect or incorrectly decrypted data basis. Optimization inputs shall be checked (such as search volume/popularity) and multiple data sources shall be used simultaneously in order to obtain a weighted estimate of the numbers the marketing campaigns are to be based on.

ASO FAQ

How important is App Store Optimization for a mobile app?

If you are asking this question, it is most likely very important. Only the corporate behemoths who already have huge marketing and brand awareness budgets can afford skipping app promotion.

How can the effectiveness of the page design in the store be evaluated?

The main metric for the App Store is the conversion from app display to install. In this case, any visual contact of the user with the page or app icon is considered an impression. Conversion in Google Play is calculated from the ratio of installs to app page views.

At what point is work on ASO considered to be finished?

There's no such point. Even if all goals are achieved, this doesn't mean the journey is over. Your competitors are also involved in ASO. It's quite probable the app will no longer be in the store's top positions after a couple weeks of downtime.

What KPIs to use when evaluating ASO?

App visibility, conversion to installs, retention rate and feedback metrics (rating, number of ratings, number of reviews, user sentiment).

Evgeniy Plotnikov

Marketing Manager, Appbooster

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