In this article, i’ll discuss ASO or App Store optimization – how to get your app discovered and increase more downloads.
What is App Store Optimization?
When the App Store launched originally, developers could upload their application, and it was pretty easy to find content. But with competition increasing, it’s becoming more and more difficult for developers to become ranked for their keywords and their content and essentially to get discovered. In this article, we’ll put together strategies and top techniques that you can use to rank better, attract more customers, and increase your downloads.
The Apple App Store has over 1.2 million downloads. On Android and Google Play, we have about 1.3 million. And that’s incredible. So it’s a very competitive marketplace. It’s very difficult to get noticed, to get discovered. And even great apps can become buried. There are around 500,000 apps out there for other platforms, such as BlackBerry and Windows Phone. But today, we’re going to be concentrating more on the Play Store and the App Store. These have very different independent algorithms for the way that they rank and the way that they sort apps. Currently, many apps are fighting to rank number one on AppStore and on Google. If you want to be in the race, only a SEO Strategist can help you. He or she can analyze, review or execute the changes related to your app in order to get it optimized for the search engine.
On the Play Store, they tend to use more of a semantic technology and this obviously plays into a lot of the history with Google’s search technology, whereas the Apple App Store is more based on phrases. And in terms of the factors that go into rating apps well, to be honest, we don’t know. No one knows. These algorithms are actually a secret. But through some strategies and by comparing notes with other developers, you can read online, there are lots of theories as to what influences your app’s ranking and what increases your chances of success.
So first of all, downloads are something that are important. This used to be even more of the case when the App Store first launched. Downloads were one of the main things, along with ratings, that increased your chances of success with the App Store. But now, it’s not just downloads. Moving beyond the downloads with things like active users and genuine users. Once the app is on the device, use of the application is also extremely important. The operating systems actually track, in the case of Apple and Android, which apps are being actively used and which apps are being engaged with. Therefore, it’s not just about the downloads. They’re feeding this engagement data back into their search algorithms, so that it will influence the rating.
Beyond the scope of this article is building a good app with an enjoyable user experience that deepens the relationship that offers some sort of utility value. Everything that we’re going to be discussing in this article is really no replacement for having a good app design in the first place. So yes, downloads are important but active users and genuine users are probably more important than the downloads themselves. And then also getting quality reviews.
1. Encourage Positive Reviews
Reviews and ratings are very important in getting your app ranked, but these need to come from users that are validated, users that are logged in. When you’re leaving that review on the Play Store or on the App Store, you’re logged into your iTunes or Google account. It’s a genuine, real person leaving the review. It’s very difficult, and you should never try to exploit this. You should be encouraging real reviews from genuinely happy customers.
How do you get your app reviewed? Well, one way to start off with is by submitting your app, after you’ve launched, to some of the top review sites. Get experts to review your apps on their blog, where people will go to see whether they want to download that app or not.
You can also do things like contests and giveaways. This could be a good idea to influence the download of the application in the first place. So people are invited to participate in the contest in some way. They may need the mobile application to do that. If the app is already on their device, it could be a good re-engagement strategy to run a contest and give some kind of a prize away.
Maybe you could segment these customers after the contest and the users that were most active, they might be the best people to target for a review. Usually asking someone for a review of your app the first time, the second time they open it, probably isn’t a very good idea. Statistics show that two weeks later is probably the best time to ask for a review. And, obviously, only ask the engaged customers, the ones that are using the most features of your app and are likely achieving success with it. You’re going to start attracting positive reviews rather than bug reports and negative reviews from people who are not really all that invested in you or your app.
An in-app inbox or mailbox can also be a feature that you would integrate into your app to try and prevent users leaving a negative review on the store or maybe jumping over onto Twitter and saying, “I’ve had this bad experience,” or, “I have this bug”.
If you have a private feedback loop inside your app, a channel where you can communicate, it’s nice to be able to proactively address issues before they pop up, rather than them being posted as a negative review, which can really impact not only the rating but will also impact the search for that application as users wonder “Well, actually do I want to download this app or not?”. So you’re damaging your ranking and then damaging whether users want to download it or not. An in app inbox is a great tool for addressing issues proactively, so that you’re getting positive reviews for your application.
2. Use Title, Keywords and Description Wisely
In terms of the inputs when you’re launching your app on the store, the top considerations that you need to consider are around title, keywords and description. These need to be machine-readable because you are trying to influence these algorithms. But you also need to remember that they need to be human-readable by your customers. They need to be able to understand them. You don’t need any keyword stuffing. You do need to communicate your value proposition, again, to the user, the features and the benefits. Don’t change your keywords and your description to the detriment of user experience and your pitch in getting them to download that mobile application. So in the case of iOS and Android, you can input around 255 characters into the title field. However, the index will only take the first 25 characters of that title. So you need to make sure, in the first bit of the title, that you’re including the name of your app, what it does, and any relevant keyword or phrase around that. Don’t try to stuff keywords in here because users don’t understand what they’re downloading. You’re just trying to increase your ranking without understanding the human factors. And this is something a lot of companies do to their detriment. Thankfully, you can hire a SEO consultant to help your app rank on top of Google through search engine optimization.
In terms of keywords, the Apple App Store has a keyword field. Again, you could put in 100 characters. But they will only index the first 25 so comma-delimit them. Play, it’s a little bit different, so rather than adding keywords, you’re putting in a description of your application. And then they’re using semantic search to go through your description, dig out the keywords, and bring that back into their search algorithm for the Google Play Store. So again, you need to be careful. Don’t stuff keywords in the description. Remember, human users are going to have to read this. Maybe trailing the description, you might put in a few. If you are, make sure you put in commas, not spaces between them. You want to get a nice balance here of having something that’s optimized, that’s targeting your market, that’s targeting your phrases and keywords, but also sells the app as human-readable and educates about the features and benefits of why users should download your application. These are some strategies around how you get the keywords, how you get the titles correct in the descriptions. These are the things you really need to be looking at in relation to why your application is going to rank in the first place.
For description, you get around 4,000 characters for both iOS and Android for the App Store and Google Play. Of course, the Play store uses the same or very similar Google Search technology in the ranking algorithms for apps. As I mentioned previously, you really need to spell out the features and benefits. Remember, there are two aspects to ASO. You want to try and influence these algorithms to have your app climb up the rankings with your downloads as well as increasing your active users and getting positive reviews from top customers to get five-star ratings. But once you get someone to that screen, that they’re considering downloading this app, what are the things that they, as a user, as a potential user, take into consideration before downloading the app? So in the description, don’t keyword-stuff. Educate users as to the features and benefits and unique value proposition of your app, as to why they should download it. There are a couple of tools out there that can help with your App Snippet. This allows you to mock up or simulate what your description screen will look like on the App Store. You can upload your icon, your screenshots, fill out your keywords, and it as a real-world user would when they consider downloading your app.
3. Use High Quality Icon and Screenshots
On the branding, I can’t really say enough about the icon. You need a really high-quality icon for your app. It increases the chances of success of a user tapping from the result page into the details screen. The icon should be very clean, very clear, maybe flat-colored, flat graphics.
Stay away from fiddly small bits of text. And just keep it clean. Keep it clear. Keep it on-topic with your company and consistent with your branding, so that it’s really easily recognizable, and they can get that brand recall. The simpler, the better for the app icon.
In terms of the screenshots, this is really the main shop window for your mobile applications. So put a lot of work into your screenshots and consider what the main user journey is throughout your app. The unique selling point, the value proposition, the features and benefits. If you could pick five top things for your mobile application, how would you capture these in a screenshot, in several screenshots? And then which ones would you rank in a certain order? Users are probably going to look at the first three screenshots, so make sure that these communicate the main user story and value proposition of your app.
4. Add an App Preview Video
Video is becoming something that is huge for increasing downloads and educating users as to the value of your app and what it does. So I’d recommend, make the time to create a video, 15-20 seconds is probably optimal, that runs through the experience from the first run of downloading the app, of logging in, how easy it is to use, and using the top features. You’re like, “This app creates value for me. It deepens the relationship. It’s full of utility. And I get a great experience.” And if you can get that across in 15 to 20 seconds of a run-through, you will dramatically increase the chances of success of your app being downloaded at that point. With Apple, there are restrictions. They give you between 15 and 30 seconds for your video. Android are a little bit more lenient. You can go from 30 seconds to over 2 minutes. That’s way too long; if you can’t capture your value proposition within 20 seconds, you probably can’t do it in 2 minutes.
5. Localize your app
Localization is something a lot of companies miss out on. And it’s a huge opportunity. So native language translation, depending on the markets that you’re targeting. If you’re selling in English and in Spanish and in Mandarin, well then you should have versions of your title, your description, and your keywords that target those geographies. And this is a little bit beyond the scope of this article, but things obviously like push notifications and in-app content should be localized as well. And if you take the string from the operating system version as to what the language setting is, you can then segment customers and give one version of the push in Spanish, one version in English, and then the resulting content in the app can be different as well. So localization is huge. And then, of course, beyond the download, don’t forget to localize. In terms of your markets, don’t forget, Asia accounts for over 52% of the global market. And Africa and Middle East, by 2016, are actually going to surpass Europe. There’s huge opportunities here for localization, understanding how the Store . . . and we’ll never fully understand because remember, these algorithms are a secret.
Understanding a couple of strategies and techniques, reviewing your title and keywords, make sure that they’re on track, don’t sacrifice the human readability of your content for the machines, don’t keyword stuff. Consider your description. What is a unique selling point of your application? What’s the differentiator? Create great quality content, screenshots, videos, a flat, big, bold icon. If you have time to create the videos, I would really recommend doing it. With the localization, if you have time, it’s great to create this content.
So that’s pretty much it, guys. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this article on App Store Optimization, how you can supercharge app success. We’d love to hear from you. Please, leave a comment below if you’ve anything that you’d like to say, ideas for future articles, or any questions, let us know.