ASO 101: How to Create a Bulletproof Strategy

App developers spend hours and thousands of dollars creating the latest apps, and just as much time and effort marketing them. There’s no denying that this time and effort significantly helps apps become more successful, especially since Apple recently announced that the App Store made $300 million in purchases on New Year’s Day 2018.

While some apps attribute to the App Store’s major success, their personal success isn’t always guaranteed. Developers can take advantage of a process that has become the industry standard for making apps more visible in the app stores. App Store Optimization (ASO) is a strategy that developers use to optimize their app’s metadata so it becomes more discoverable in the App Store and Google Play Store.

While ASO is a process that any app developer can use, they need to understand the time and effort that goes into making this process bullet-proof. They’ll need to understand every facet of ASO so they can improve their app’s visibility and not risk losing potential users. A developer might create a fantastic app that will greatly benefit users, but without understanding the current app ecosystem, they’re doomed to fail.

So how exactly do developers ensure that their apps are optimized in a way that improves their visibility? Building a bullet-proof ASO strategy means developers have to stay up-to-date on the latest user trends and behaviors to determine what attracts their users most. Once they have a firm understanding of how the current app market looks, they can start building their strategy.

1. Create a Unique App Name

The first step to any ASO strategy is to determine the app name. While mentioning the name of the app or brand first is important, it’s also important to incorporate high-volume keywords that emphasize the most important core features via title tags.
Make sure that the title tags don’t take up more than the allotted character space that Apple (30 characters max) and Google (50 characters max) give developers. If there are too many characters, the app won’t even make it past the reviewer and will be immediately rejected.

2. Determine Targeted Keywords

Sometimes developers know exactly which keywords they want to target, but chances are these keywords are either low-volume or aren’t relevant to their app. Keywords need to be relevant to the app and emphasize the app’s core features. If developers use keywords that don’t have much volume or are irrelevant to the app, it will never appear in user searches.

Developers need to carefully examine user trends and behaviors to determine what types of keywords or phrases users will employ when searching. Visitors in the app stores tend to search in 2-3 word phrases that are often based off the features they want. If a user wants a puzzle game, they’ll either search with “puzzle game,” “puzzle board game,” or even “word puzzles.”

Developers can also monitor what keywords appear in their user reviews as these tend to target specific features. By monitoring these areas, developers can make more purposeful choices when deciding on keywords that will help their app rank better in user search.

3. Highlight Core Features in the Description

Once developers have determined which keywords they want to target, they should incorporate those keywords into their app description. While some developers take the “black hat” approach and resort to keyword stuffing, they should avoid placing as many keywords as possible into the description.
Developers need to make sure that they use keywords in a more natural way that emphasizes the app’s core features. Forcing keywords into sentences just so the app can rank for a keyword reads weird to users and tends to deter them from reading on. If the keywords fall naturally in a sentence, it will help the app index for high-volume keywords faster and encourage users to continue reading.

4. Design Stunning Creatives

Creatives are the key to converting users, which means they need to be engaging and show off the app’s core features in action. If the app icon, screenshots or preview video are lacking in excitement or aren’t relevant to the app, then users are less likely to convert.

Part of any ASO strategy is monitoring what types of creatives engage with users best and their competitors display creatives. Sometimes, having portrait screenshots will engage and attract users more than landscape screenshots depending on the type of app. On the other hand, landscape screenshots convert well for gaming apps that have horizontal gameplay.

If developers are ever unsure of what might attract their users more, they can take advantage of A/B testing. They can test several variants of icons, screenshots and preview videos to see what engages users best so they can be sure to convert more users.

Key Takeaways

Developers need to ensure that they create a bullet-proof ASO strategy so their app can improve its visibility in the app stores. It’s important to incorporate high-volume keywords throughout every piece of metadata to improve the app’s keyword ranking and store ranking.
If you’re a developer that hasn’t started taking advantage of ASO, now is your time to look into creating a bullet-proof ASO strategy. Make sure you stay ahead of the curve and have optimized metadata so you can stay above the competition.

Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.