App Store Optimization (ASO): The Key to Downloads

More and more companies are investing in an app. There are more than three million apps in the Google Play (Android) and App store (iOS). However, many of them have never been downloaded. Waste of investment!

The key to findability in the stores lies on the one hand in advertising your app (by means of so-called ‘app install campaigns’) and on the other hand in SEO for your app, the so-called App Store Optimization (ASO). In this article I make the ranking factors insightful and I share 5 valuable tips about App Store Optimization.

App ranking factors

Just as it is important for your website to rank high in search engines, it is crucial for your app to be found well in the app stores. The higher your app ranks, the more visible it is to potential users. This in turn results in more people downloading your app.

With App Store Optimization, both the title of the app and the correct selection of keywords are crucial. Search volume naturally plays a role in this, but the relevance of a keyword and the chance of success (read download) are even more important. Another thing to keep in mind with App Store Optimization is that there are differences in the influence of ranking factors for Google Play (Android) and App Store (iOS). Below are five tips to get the most out of your App Store Optimization.

1. Mapping customer behavior & competitive field

It is important to realize how customer behavior is when using your app. Bring it too competitive field of your app to make the approach of the app distinctive for your target group. In this phase you ask yourself and future app users as many questions as possible, for example through a panel survey. Examples of these types of questions are:

  • How does the target audience describe my app?
  • What are the advantages of my app over the competition?
  • What focus keywords does my competition use?

2. Keyword Research

A keyword research focuses on the search volume of your app’s main focus keywords, so that you can be found better. Well-known keyword research tools are AppAnnie on App Radar. In addition, the ranking of competitors is also looked at, so that it becomes clear in which search terms there is still room to gain.

With the outcome of the keyword research you can optimize your content. It is important to know that the usual keyword tools are not made for apps, so you have to test it yourself in the App Store or Google Play Store. You can also use a device-specific simulator to see the real impact of apps on the focus keywords. Pay attention: The results of Android and iOS are different. So you should research this for both app stores.

3. Stand out & convince with content

In most cases, people view the description and screenshots of the app before downloading. It is therefore essential to organize this content as optimally and completely as possible. Make sure there are enough high-quality screenshots of the apps, possibly supplemented with a video.

It is interesting to use contrasting and striking colors, so that your app stands out more than the competition. I recommend that you also apply this to the call-to-action in the screenshots.

Furthermore, adding horizontal screenshots can have a positive effect on the visuals of the app. Pay attention: if you’re showing both text and images and/or people on the screenshot, make sure the text is on the right and people on the left. This recommendation is based on neuroscience. It has been investigated that this application facilitates the processing of information.

Example of Google Play Store app Adobe Acrobat Reader. Striking colors are also used here with an image on the left and text on the right.

The number and type of reviews is also an important factor. A (worldwide) study by Apptentive (2020) has shown that 90% of app downloaders read the reviews of the app first. 50% of app users indicate that they do not download an app if the app has a 3-star rating. This percentage is itself 85% with a 2-star rating.

To encourage users to post a review, you can, for example, send a mailing. In this review mailing you ask users to rate the app. In addition, app updates indirectly contribute to the ranking. If an update has been made, clearly describe the improvements compared to the previous version.

It might be interesting for the organization to put the name of the brand on the app icon so that app users remember the brand better and are more likely to actually download the app. Another (possible) recommendation – it is important to test whether the app users appreciate this – is adding a short description to the brand name. Keep this description short. The image below shows an example of Gmail. This is how the app only looks in the Apple App Store.

Screenshot of the Gmail app.

Example of Gmail title + description on Apple App Store.

4. Apply App Marketing for Downloads

In addition to ASO, you can also boost downloads with app marketing. App install ads allow users to install your app directly from the ads. You can then set up a campaign with the right targeting, keywords and ads based on the app ID and other data. You can easily measure campaign performance by tracking installations as conversions.

5. Next steps: app-engagement

If you have achieved the necessary downloads, it is of course also important that you create engagement with the app: app engagement. This can be done through app remarketing. Think of people who haven’t used the app in a while. You can also focus on people who perform or have performed a specific activity on the app.

AdWords automates targeting and bidding to get the most value from every download. It’s also possible to set the campaign’s targeting to focus on finding valuable users based on the actions that matter, such as in-app conversions.

Below you will find the tips once again in one overview.

List of App Store Optimization Tips.

Good luck with your apps!


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