With over a million apps available in both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, it can be incredibly hard to make your application stand out. Even with the categories defined by the stores, it can be hard to get new users to find and install your app. App store optimization or ASO for short aims to change that by doing for mobile apps what search engine optimization did for websites.
At a very basic level, ASO aims to increase the visibility of an application by making it show up higher in search results and top app lists. This is very important in driving downloads, as a recent Forrester report indicated that 63% of apps are discovered through general browsing in the app stores, ostensibly largely through things like the “top apps” and “most popular” lists, and through the in-store search function. Obviously, there’s a sort of snowball effect, as more downloads will lead to higher rankings which will in turn lead to even more downloads, but optimizing your app listing is key to beginning to gain users.
There are different ways to approach ASO, and it can be done either by individual developers or by marketing firms that specialize in tailoring your application listing to gain the most visibility.
App store optimization is still a very new field, and the methods required to make your application as visible as possible remain relatively unknown. Of course, listings like the aforementioned “top apps” and “most popular” lists significantly weight factors like download counts, so there is no real shortcut to jumping to the top. However, it is certainly possible to make the application more visible within related search results and within its genre of app.
ASO has matured, the methods necessary to tailor an app’s listing have become more established. MobileDevHQ lists the 3 key steps of ASO: Finding the right keywords, ranking highly for those keywords, and converting visitors into users.
- Finding the right keywords involves striking the right balance between number of searches and amount of competition, since keywords with higher search volume will naturally have more applications that come up.
- In order to rank highly for those keywords, you have to implement a similar practice to SEO in your app’s metadata by placing the keyword in specific fields.
- Lastly, you need to convert hits on your app’s listing page into actual downloads and users, which should be done by making your app’s description clear and succinct, and by adding things like explanatory screenshots to make the application look more appealing.
One of the best ASO companies out there is MobileDevHQ. They have lots of experience, but they don’t just focus on selling their optimization services. They also have many informative articles on the subject on their website, so anyone wanting to learn how to optimize their app can learn how. This dual focus on selling their product while educating users is a refreshing approach, lowering the barrier to entry for this key marketing tactic.
As with many things on the internet, there is also a dark side to ASO. App marketers have used methods including falsifying downloads and user ratings in order to fool users, a clearly objectionable practice. Apple responded by warning app developers that this type of practice could get them banned from the App Store.