ASO (or App Store Optimization) is the counterpart of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for applications. ASO consists of all the techniques and methods you need to implement to optimize an application and position it as high as possible on the App Store. In simple terms, it means applying methods to reach the targets set by application buying platforms (the iOS App Store in this case) to rank better.
The different ranking factors of ASO
However, like SEO, ASO won’t immediately bring you traffic. It is a long-term strategy that tends to increase your positioning and consequently your downloads. Investing in these techniques is essential, but they won’t necessarily be your greatest source of user adoption in the short term.
Optimizing your application’s SEO is essentially about optimizing your product sheet. This is the space reserved for the description of your product on the app stores. Optimizing it is essential to attract users, encourage downloads and improve your positioning on the App Store.
You should keep in mind that the majority of mobile users won’t interact with all the content on your product sheet. Therefore, you should skip to the essentials and condense all the useful information in the part of your product sheet that is visible at first glance.
For information, here is what users see on the product sheet:
A product sheet on the iOS App Store
Naming your app
Your app name is an essential part of ASO.
It will define the identity of your application. This is how users will talk about your application and generate word of mouth, a very important source of user growth. Sometimes, it can be wise to choose slightly more complex and precise application names, including the use of keywords.
Let’s take the example of a children’s game application: “Boom!”. When searching for “Boom!” in the Apple Store search bar, the application only appears in 3rd position. The app is outperformed by other similar ones that contain “Boom” in their name. Choosing a name that doesn’t compete with other high-potential applications is therefore important.
Moreover, your app name can also be used for referencing. When you include keywords in your application’s name, you can significantly increase the number of users who will come across your application in the search algorithm. Inserting a keyword in your app’s name increases traffic by about 10%. However, it is recommended to keep the app name short. Remember, when weighing the value of SEO or the user experience (UX), UX should be your priority.
Choosing an icon
Choosing the icon is another very important step in your ASO that shouldn’t be overlooked. The icon is the image of your application. It should be easily recognizable to users (so they can avoid having to search for the application when they want to launch it from their device), and directly related to the theme of your application. The icon should be kept simple to avoid confusion on smaller devices, or when they are stored in smartphone or tablet folders that are already full of other apps.
Your design should be scalable. This means that it should be adaptable to different device formats and different locations on the platform. The app should remain readable and retain its usability on all formats. Icons that are too complicated are sometimes difficult to enlarge.
The icon should also be recognizable. It should draw attention and stand out among a multitude of other icons using the same format (1024 pixels). This means creating a unique and original design, while respecting the graphic charter of the application. A good strategy is making several models and “scanning” the different applications to choose the design that you think attracts your attention the most.
It can also be a good idea to check out the designs chosen by the competition. Competitors have gone through the research stages before successfully launching their app. The idea is not to take inspiration or copy, but to have an idea of what can be done in other applications (especially the most popular ones).
You have to be able to stand out. It is entirely possible to adapt or imitate an existing design, but you should keep in mind that your icon will compete with thousands of other applications, and that your design has to stand out for its originality. An icon with an original, unique and innovative design can attract a lot of traffic.
The evolution of Facebook’s logo on the Apple Store
Finally, it is very important to run tests and modify the application icon, its colors, or its design (while sticking to the graphic charter so you don’t lose users) in order to find the icon that is most effective for your users.
Screenshots are the showcase for your application. They should be graphically reworked and adaptable to all devices. These screenshots allow users to get information about the content of the app, its capabilities and its specific features.
The iOS App Store allows you to insert up to 5 screenshots into your product sheet. You should use this space to highlight your content and show off the most exciting features.
An example of a screenshot on the Twitter product sheet on the Apple Store
Keep in mind that most users will only look at the first two screenshots to decide if they want to download the application. An average of 33% of users will browse your gallery, while only 9% will look at the entire thing. Emphasize the first two visuals as a priority. Screenshots also give you the opportunity to tell a story to your users. Make sure you describe your app well enough and satisfy the urge of the mobile users who discover your app.
You can also insert a video in the screenshots of your product sheet. According to industry standards, the video should be between 15 and 25 seconds long. The first 5 seconds are the most important, since this is when the user will determine if they want to continue discovering the application’s content. Focus primarily on the first 5 seconds of the video to make viewers want to learn more about your world.
Maintain a consistent pacing in the video and have a dynamic to keep the viewer’s attention. Focus on the best features of the application, the aspects you want to highlight the most. At the end of the video, encourage the audience to come and discover your world by introducing a call to action.
Feel free to have multiple calls to action in the video (without the viewer feeling assaulted) to make mobile users want to learn more about the application (and therefore download it!). Be careful, however, only 7% of users will view the video on iOS, while 100% of them will see the display. Test your displays and you can increase your conversion rate by up to 35%.
Creating a description
Your application description should provide all the relevant information about the content you offer. It should contain the keywords you have chosen. Structure your content into paragraphs and update it regularly. Also consider writing a catchphrase to encourage users to discover the application. In addition, keep in mind that only 2% of users will expand the description to read the content, so focus on the first few sentences to capture attention. In terms of ASO, it is also recommended to add keywords in the description to make it easier for the Apple Store’s algorithm to understand your app.
Choosing a category
There are two ways to be listed on the App Store: by category and globally. You should therefore focus on the category and keywords you will choose. The Apple Store product sheet allows you to choose two categories for applications, and three for games. Special attention should be paid to the selection of these categories, since they can give you great visibility on the platform. It is a good idea to focus on the categories where your product is most competitive and where you will naturally attract the most relevant users.
Most popular categories in the App Store in 2017
Look at the categories that your competitors have chosen to determine how to position your product, and ask yourself what categories users might look for if they wanted to stumble across your application.
The most important category to choose is the first one because it will bring you the most traffic.
Choosing your keywords
The choice of keywords is crucial to your SEO strategy on the Apple Store. The keywords should accurately describe your application, but you should be careful not to choose overly general keywords that can easily be competed with by high-budget app.
In addition, make sure to reference yourself on keywords that accurately describe your app. Otherwise you risk disappointing users who download your application expecting something different.
Finally, bear in mind that it is useless to position yourself on keywords with little volume. This can waste valuable visibility for your application by highlighting keywords that no one searches for in the Apple Store.
However, there are many ways to find the right keywords for your application. First, it is worth tracking and analyzing the keywords used by your direct competitors. By analyzing a competitor’s positioning on a specific keyword, or by observing other applications positioned on the same keyword as you, you can choose the relevant keywords that will maximize your visibility on the Apple Store.
Ideally, you should find keywords with a high volume but which are niche enough to avoid making it too difficult to rank in the top 10.
Another very effective way to determine your keywords is to look at your competitors’ user ratings. Who better to determine keywords than your users themselves? Keywords are the words that users search for in the Apple Store search bar, so it is clear that user reviews of applications provide an inexhaustible source of information for determining your keywords. Observe how users describe competing applications in their reviews, what terms are used, what terms are frequently repeated, and how relevant they are to your application.
Another very simple way to analyze user search trends is the Apple Store suggestion bar. This tool gives you a lot of information on search trends by keywords. When you enter a keyword on the search bar, you get many suggestions.
These suggestions don’t appear by chance: they are the most popular search trends among users. These trends can help you analyze the most searched keywords by users.
Finally, many applications help you to analyze your competitors’ keywords on the Apple Store and get information on the search volumes of these different keywords. These applications can be useful for tracking keywords used by competitors.
Collecting user reviews
User reviews are a considerable gold mine in terms of SEO information. First, it is strongly recommended to use the same terms as your users in the description of your application. Potential users will always react better to their own words than to yours.
In addition, keep an eye out for comments and ratings from users on your application. Most negative comments provide you with many clues about the defects in your game that you may not have taken into account and allow you to readjust your app to develop its potential. The importance of the opinions left on your application should not be overlooked. Besides, any advice is good to consider.
Listen to the advice and comments of your users, be responsive to them and, if necessary, to adapt your application according to the comments and remarks that are made, as far as they are relevant.
Remember to ask users to leave comments and rate the game so that you can expand your product sheet and attract even more traffic to your application.
Finally, ask your family and friends to give you honest opinions about your application to reassure users and encourage them to download it. Users are increasingly inclined to download an application that has a good score and comments that praise its value.
So, if you implement all these good practices, you can increase your number of downloads and gain visibility on the App Store. If you want to set up an ASO strategy, contact My Little Big Web to get all our advice.