Internet Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO) [The What, Why, & How]


App Store Optimization (ASO) means optimizing your app in a way that increases its discoverability and visibility in the app stores, such as Google Play, Amazon AppStore, and Apple App Store. In short, ASO is performed to improve the ranking of mobile applications within app stores.

Many app developers and designers wonder why app store optimization is important.

Why do I need App Store Optimization (ASO)?

Just think about how much time people spend on their mobile apps? People spend around 90% of mobile time on apps.

To be successful as an app developer or owner, you need:

  • The users to find your app
  • The users to download your app
  • The users to use your app

So, after building an app, the next step points towards optimization of the app so that users can find it on the app store.

Besides, you also need to take a look at the unraveling statistics:

The Number of Apps Available on Leading App Stores by Fourth Quarter, 2019

Image Source: Statista

These figures reveal that your app has got a tough competition to deal with. So, don’t make the mistake of overlooking ASO while focusing on Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Google’s mobile-first index progression, and other significant industry changes.

Start paying attention to app store optimization as it will help you in achieving various important goals, for instance:

  • Increasing the number of app downloads
  • Boosting brand recognition and awareness
  • Positive app reviews and ratings
  • Increasing audience engagement
  • Marketing channel diversification

Basics of App Store Optimization

You can think of app store optimization as an approach to business online marketing or even search engine optimization as both concepts overlap in several ways.

An App Store is similar to a closed site search engine as it also relies on:

  • Easy (app) content discovery
  • Indexation
  • (App) ranking algorithms that focus on perceived app quality, freshness, brand scale, and user value signals such as engagement, reviews, and ratings.

All of these factors are also critical for organic search ranking.

Marketing experts focusing on boosting ROI via app stores are eyeing on key performance indicators linked with visibility, such as:

  • Impressions
  • Ranking
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Downloads

Like SEO, ASO is also constantly evolving and ongoing process. So, don’t expect it to happen overnight or within a week. Once you build an app, the main goal is to drive traffic. By using the right approach and strategies of ASO, consistent tracking, and measuring performance and results, your app can gain better visibility and rank high in the App Store and Play Store.

Organic Optimization – Cornerstone of ASO

Most marketers overlook organic search optimization and the integration of app stores in their marketing strategy. But, if you are ignoring ASO or even its organic search tactics to boost your app ranking, you are missing out a lot on the largest discovery channel available to your app.

Several factors and strategies of SEO directly apply to the organic search optimization for apps as well. Some of them are:

  • App name, subtitle, URL
  • Keyword research
  • Short description
  • App ratings and reviews
  • Deep linking within a mobile app
  • App indexation in Google SERPs
  • CTR (Click-Through-Rate) optimization and many more

The one big mistake most app owners make is underestimating the role of the website in driving the number of referral visits directly to the store page and app downloads section.

You should see your website as the thrusting force behind encouraging people on your website to engage and convert as a buy/download audience for your app store.

Since the amount of content on an app is limited, the more you can leverage your website to increase app awareness and discovery to externally build app authority, trust, and visibility, the higher the value, traffic, and downloads your app will gain.

Key Strategies of In-App Store

There are several optimization areas within app stores that you need to work on for better refinement, updates, and ongoing optimization.

Around 105 billion app downloads were made on Google Play Store and iOS App Store in 2018, according to the State of Mobile 2019 report released by App Annie. It indicates the significance of the in-app store maximization.

Though app store features and available fields vary, there are some core optimization items that you must focus on while doing in-app store optimization.

A. App Name, Subtitle, and URL

Ensure that your app name, subtitle, and URL contain the core keywords because they strengthen the value, distinction, and other perceived signals. Plus, you should also make sure that these keywords reflect high search value and user search behavior.


B. App Keyword Field Research

Research and make use of those keywords that address the latest user search queries. To gain more value, it’s better to use traditional methods of keyword research.

C. App Ratings and Reviews (Engagement)

Just like with a website, product, or service, the core trust factors for app users are also ratings and reviews. Volume, freshness, and ratings, everything matters. To generate trust and authority, you need to create a framework for generating regular genuine reviews and replying to reviews (good and bad, both) as well for increasing engagement.

D. App Downloads

The more app downloads, the greater the buzz, demand, and user value will be for your app. By increasing the download volumes, you will be able to increase the influence within the app store for organic ranking.

Image Source: Statista

App Updates for Freshness in Latest Downloads

Remember that people always like freshness. The same thing applies to apps as well. The apps that are updated regularly and ever-evolving in terms of technology changes, feature additions, improvements, and user feedback are the ones with higher performance levels in the app store and other channels.

As such, if you update and improve your app regularly, your app tends to get more positive and frequent reviews. Besides, updating it regularly also means increasing the relevance of your app for its users and enabling your brand to reflect the on-going trends, changes, and competition.

On top of that, Apple App Store and Google Play Store also factor the frequency and regularity of app updates in their ranking algorithm.

Therefore, the more your brand focuses on the app updates and improvements, the higher the app ranking and in-store performance are likely to be.

5 Additional Tips for App Store Optimization (ASO)

To gain more benefits via ASO, here are a few tactics for you to try on:

– Spend time researching popular keywords to use and review them regularly. It’s important because app stores take into account the keyword triggers in the app name, title, description, and other related fields.

– Focus on your product (app) page CRO to generate downloads because the presentation of your app store product page makes a substantial impact on the conversion rate value (number of downloads).

– Carefully choose thumbnail images and screenshots while promoting your app in app stores as their appearance and content are directly proportional to the click-through-rates (CTR) of impressions.

– Perform A/B testing for each of your app store fields to improve metrics, such as CTR and CRO. It is crucial to get the maximum out of every optimization area within the app store.

– Use Apple’s Spotlight Search so that app store users can easily search the apps that they have already installed on their mobile phones. By enabling it, you can create a significant impact on app use and engagement levels because people will be exposed to your app more frequently.

Summarized View

App Store Optimization helps you ensure that your app meets the ranking criteria and scores a higher position in the search result page. Plan your ASO strategy well, keep a close watch on analytics, and work towards improving your app’s rank within app stores consistently. App stores represent a huge part of channel preferences that billions of people use to download apps. So, invest your time and effort in ASO and you will get the payoff by multiple times in the future.