In the field of mobile applications, App Stores are the king. The future of your app hugely depends upon your potential customer’s ability of stumbling upon your app in App Stores, and then your ability of impressing them when they visit your app page. So if you have to improve your app-downloads number and generate some cash from your app, you have to improve the discoverability of your app in the App Stores and optimize your app page to trigger more downloads.
In other words you have to optimize your App Store page in such a way that your app starts appearing in app searches on app stores. This process of increasing your app discoverability in the app store itself now comes into still growing field of optimization called Appstore Optimization or ASO in short.
In this post, continuing our series of app promotion, we will discuss ASO and how you can apply it to your app to get better downloads.
What exactly is ASO?
ASO is the process of optimizing your mobile app’s appstore page in such a way that it ranks higher in app store search results. The higher the rank, the higher is its visibility, resulting in better downloads. The main aim of every ASO strategy is to optimize your app page so that your app
- Rank higher compared to its competitors
- Rank higher for specific keywords in app store
- Rank higher in Google and other search engine’s semantic search for applications
To implement a successful ASO strategy you would need a thorough understanding of target audience and the keywords on which they would be searching your app.
Why your app need an ASO strategy
If you remember our first post on the series in which we talked about app discoverability ways, you will notice that the most number of app downloaders find their app in app stores. 63% of app finders discovered their apps in app store searches. This is a pretty hefty number. So unless and until you are employing an ASO strategy, you are missing out the biggest app discovery channel.
And lets face it, the competition is tough. Thousands of apps are vying for a same spot. So your app needs every competitive edge that you can give and ASO is a might important weapon.
How to Optimize you Appstore Page
Like traditional SEO Appstore optimization can also be broken up into two parts, On-Page Optimization and Off-page Optimization. On-page techniques deals with app page features that you yourself can control directly from the Appstore itself, whereas off-page techniques focuses more on features that other users, or you, can influence indirectly.
Now another thing to note is that ASO for every store may differ slightly. For example Google Play store is also linked to google search index therefore link-building activities may increase you app rankings, however it may not effect Apple Appstore. Similarly all stores have minute differences in page layout and some page features. But in the end most field types in app stores are same and all employ the concept of keywords, reviews, descriptions, and ratings.
Now ASO is not much different than search engine optimization so the gravity of each feature remains the same and so does all the warnings, i.e no keyword stuffing, no copied content, only simple plain language, and informative content.
On page App Store optimization focuses on getting most out of your app-page fields that you can directly edit. These include App title, description, Icons, Screenshots, videos, and categories.
Just like the web page titles, app title tags are extremely important. The same set of rules apply to the app titles as well such as keep the titles descriptive but short, explain what the app does clearly and precisely. Use the keywords but don’t stuff them. The length of the title is always the tricky matter and as screen sizes differ very variedly, finding the most optimal title length can be a challenge, so instead focus on keeping it short, simple, and at the same time informative. Title creation is more of an art than process and thus experienced marketers sometimes spend quite significant time on it.
Remember the meta description of the website, well app descriptions are not like those. Yes they have to be clear and explanative and simple and precise, but they are also meant to impress users and trigger downloads. Also meta descriptions in websites have limited length to be effective, app description does too but you have a larger space to put down your description, around 4000 characters as compared to meta description’s 160 chars. Once again in app description also you have to make clever use of keywords without compromising the content and descriptive nature of the content, and also avoiding keyword stuffing.
Yes app icon do effect your app downloads. A cleverly created icon can trigger a download as easily as a good description. In addition they are the first step in cementing your brand. A good icon should clearly depict what the app is about.
In Google Play, you can choose between the two types of app categories for your app, Applications and Games. Both are differently promoted in the app store so choose wisely.
Its tried and tested fact that visuals have much more impact than text. App screenshots are those visuals that will hugely effect your app downloads. Display the screenshots of the most important features of your app. Now there is growing trend of add developers, especially games, displaying a lot of splash screens or promo screens in screenshots as they appear more impressive, but it is not a very good practice. If you think that the screen shots of your app are not impressive then go back to drawing board or display the impressive parts only, but actual screenshots are important. This is the area in which you can instantly impress your prospective users, use it wisely.
From search engine point of view as well as for discoverability, categories are important. They are the first step by which users filter their applications so choose your app category wisely. If your app comes under multiple categories, then pick the most appropriate ones only.
App YouTube trailer video
As we said earlier, visuals are important. App stores now have a option that allows you to display videos along wih your screenshots. A good creative video can trigger a large number of downloads. To know more about how you can create a good video, check out our previous post . Your videos are kind of like a sales pitch for your app so use it to its fullest potential.
Leverage Social Media
Google Play Store apps have Google+ widget. You can leverage this in you app page as well. In our social media promotion article we talked about the importance of Google+ in SEO, its the same for app pages as well. Though there are no confirmed relation between app popularity and Google+ likes, but since both are Google products we can safely assume that there must be some connection. But even if there is no connection, social networks are a great way to promote mobile apps so no harm in leveraging their power.
Special Note: Google clearly states that any “Repetitive and/or irrelevant use of keywords in the app title, description or promotional description can create an unpleasant user experience and can result in an app suspension.” Tread carefully here.
Off-page optimization deals with indirect actions that can influence your app rankings, chiefly reviews, ratings, and in case of Google playstore, link building.
Overall App Ratings
Ratings have a high psychological effect. The better rank your app have, the better your app is perceived by potential users. For example if we see that an app has 999 5 star ratings out of total 1000 ratings, we automatically assume that the app is a good one. So you should integrate a feature in you app that allows your users to directly rate or review the app. you can also add a pop-up prompt in your app for the same. IN short you must encourage your users to rate your app.
Just like ratings, reviews can also have a huge effect on conversions. Genuine reviews can trigger downloads and at the same time they give you a fresh insight into your own product. App feedbacks will help you in planning out your further app releases.
Total App Downloads
This may seem like a circular dilemma, getting more downloads to get more downloads, but yes its true. Along with ratings and reviews, number of downloads are also considered a hallmark of you app’s performance. So spare no effort in app promotion.
Link Building for Android apps
Now there are many views who are quite against the policy of link building itself. Some think that link building for apps is a waste of time. They maybe right, but once again i would like to point out that Google Play has access to google search indexes. So there is bound to be an inherent connection between the two. Also spam less back link from authoritative websites can never hurt. They can only increase the number of downloads.
Some final cautions
Now buying reviews and ratings is something that is frowned upon, but it is still a common practice employed mostly by startups. However we will advice against using this tactic too much. These tactics may influence your rankings in short term, but only genuine ratings and reviews will bring your app to new heights. We will advise you that you leverage your app itself to get ratings and reviews. Add give-rating prompts in your app itself. Its better and cheaper than buying ratings.