What is ASO (App Store Optimization)? Explained in 7 steps

ASO is the abbreviation for App Store Optimization. It is the process of improving a mobile apps visibility through search in the app stores.
Just like Search Engine Optimization(SEO) for websites consists of certain factors like targeted keywords, app store optimization for mobile apps uses specific factors to position your app the search results. It includes certain tasks you have to do to get your apps ranking higher, like
  • Keyword research
  • Click Through Rate Optimization for your Apps Listing
  • Increasing your Apps Rating and Reviews
  • Providing Data for potential users and the app store search robot
With this method of optimization, apps will rank higher in search results and get into top charts, which will drive more installs in return.

Importance of ASO

As you might know or guess, the search user acquisition is an important factor to acquire new users. ASO can affect your organic reach to users and increased, targeted search visibility is actually one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your app. According to Apptentive, more than 63% of app customers prefer browsing in the app store to discover new apps.

aso discovery methods

Source: Apptentive

You might know about other user acquisition channel for your mobile app, like

  • News Media
  • Websites
  • Worth of Mouth

But all of those are either very costly or only working after you already have app users.  Search on the other hand is available for most app publisher, which makes it one of the most significant factors for all kinds of app developers.

ASO is also benefitting many different ways to acquire new users:

  • Within the app store search result lists, the app will be shown higher for certain key phrases, which will increase the number of impressions
  • The app will also get opportunities to increase the app ranking in category and sub-category lists when it is better optimized and gets more downloads
  • A great visual appearance on the app store page can increase conversion after the initial click on the listing
  • The app icon is one of the major influencers of clicks on the apps listing and can also help to build a brand design over multiple apps

As you can see, ASO can help to increase app sales and search discovery.

Factors Affecting ASO

When you as app publisher promote an app, many factors will affect your result.

You are likely to spend a lot of time and work building an app, so you do want to get a good return on your investment from it. But even the best app will not receive organic installs if users are unable to find it. Here are some of the main factors that affect ASO so that your hard work does not get unrecognized.

The initial step you have to perform for app store optimization is to look at your competitors and potential users and use some key app tools.

The steps to perform app store optimization to improve the performance of your app are your name, icon, screenshot, and your product description. Take iOS apps for example. On the Apple OS, users have about 2 million apps to choose from, so app developers have a hard time making their apps stand out from the crowd.

ASO App Stores Numbers of App Statista
Source: Statista

Here is a short list of the essential factors you have to look out when you perform ASO to achieve your goal:

  • Your Apps Title and Subtitle
  • A click-worthy Icon
  • A Description that features Details of your App
  • The full amount of Screenshots
  • Reviews and ratings that are at least 4 stars
  • A around 45 seconds long Preview video
  • Keywords your competitors use
  • The volume of downloads your app has
  • The retention rate of your app
  • The uninstalls your apps get

How To Optimize App via ASO

Content optimization around Keywords has become a popular marketing topic in past years. It helps companies rank at the top of search engine results for a variety of keywords with Blog Posts or YouTube Videos. This type of content marketing is also influencing iTunes and the Play store. A good app description helps customers find and download your app.

Here is a To-Do List for you to get started for ASO, think about your app store ranking factors in every step!

It will help your app get discovered and installed.

1. Choose a  Title that includes your Main Keyword(s)

ASO Playstore Title
Titles in the Google Play store

The first impression of your app from a users perspective is the title. This makes it essential to make it compelling, which is done via the inclusion of your main keyword. It will also help the search engine ranking algorithm understand what your app is about which will lead to increased exposure of your app. The space available in the title is limited, but you can add keywords in the subtitle as well to include specific feature and function of your app.

2. Create an Icon for your app that users are going to click on

If your app gets found via a search for a relevant keyword in the app stores, installs will not automatically occur. The visual design of your app icon is relevant to increase the click trough rate on your app listing which is a major step to get a new install. An icon that essentially looks like all others from the search results or even worse, not as good as those, will lead to a decrease in clicks, even if your app is fulfilling the searchers intent. Make sure that your app icon has an attractive design so that your creative icon does fit to your high-quality content app. This will help you drive more traffic from the app store to your apps listing and in turn increase your downloads.

3. A Compelling Description is essential for good ASO

Your app description is the first major hint for potential costumers about your apps function and features.

ASO Example Idle Heroes
ASO Example Idle Heroes from the Play store

As above example shows, the first three lines of your description are the most important part. A user must have a reason to either click the “read more” button or download your app from those initial lines of Text. I would recommend using your main keywords in these part, if applicable, but you should not stuff your text with them.

4. Maximize your ASO Keywords

You might know that the characters are limited in your Title and Subtitle, so you have to think twice before you choose your app targeted keywords. The position you choose for your keywords can also affect your app ranking, so you should try to find your most important keywords and put it in the front section of your Title. You should also try to find LSI and Long Tail Keyword variations and include them in your description to increase your impressions for low competition searches.

You can analyze your competitors and use some relevant keywords tools to help you get more appropriate keywords for your app. If you are interested in learning more, take a look at our App Store Optimization Guide.

5. Reviews and ratings are a social signal and ranking factor

Over 80% of app store users are more likely to install an app that has positive reviews and a high rating.

This is one of the reasons you should try to increase your app reviews from your users organically. A list of bought app reviews is not going to increase your reputation as most users and the Algorithms in the App Stores are able to recognize unnatural (bought) reviews and ratings. This will not only lead to a decrease in organic downloads but also increase your chance to get a strike from the platform or in the worst case a deleted app. For starters, i would suggest getting reviews from your friends and family, which will show some natural reviews and ratings and increase your ASO Position far more than bought reviews.

6. Go international with your app

Source: Neil Patel

English is not the first language for most people that are using the play store. This makes App localization necessary to get the most exposure.

Most people are searching in their first language for a new app, so you should provide at least an app store listing in all languages that are relevant to maximize your exposure. A listing in a specific language has a huge positive impact on the user experience and can drastically increase the volume of app installs.

I would suggest you localize your app yourself if possible or use a service like Fiverr to get as many listings as possible. This will help you reach all the potential users and potentially millions of downloads from all over the world. Especially less popular languages are a good target to increase your search volume. The most important factor of this approach is the number of additional keywords you can get.

7. Use the social approach if ASO is not enough

If you are not able to get quick downloads for your app from organic search results, you might compete in a tough market. I would suggest you start to acquire some installs over social media to get some new installs and reviews for your app which will then turn into more visibility in the organic listings. Or you can use our app advertising service.

8. Update as much as possible

A good app will always be necessary for true success in the app store. No one is willing to use your app over a long time if it is full of bugs or produces more problems over time.

You should always focus on your users’ experience and fix any problem as fast as possible. This will help you maintain your users, increase the retention rate of your app on the devices and boost your app ranking in the process. Loyal users are the one that will make you the most money, so you should always produce a product for them.


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