App Store Optimization: A Comprehensive Checklist for a Successful App Launch
What is App Store Optimization?
App development requires a lot of time and a good amount of investment. Developers whose app gets noticed in the Google Play Store or iOS App Store after them putting in so many hours of hard work are fortunate.
Else, there are innumerable apps in both the app stores, which have tough competition and which remain in the app stores for days, months, or years, without being noticed at all. Irrespective of how perfect the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for your mobile app strategy is, there would be very few downloads without optimization.
App store optimization is a method of optimizing your mobile apps to get a higher rank in app store ranking and the search result.
To make sure that your app shows on the top in search page results, ensure that your app fulfills the app store ranking criterion.
Given its resemblance to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for websites, App Store Optimization (ASO) is also called App Store SEO, Mobile App SEO, or App Search Optimization.
Why is App Store Optimization (ASO) Important?
• Makes it easy to find on the app stores
App Store Optimization (ASO) makes the apps discoverable in the app store searches. The apps would not be installed if it is not found by the right users. Therefore, ASO helps to prevent your app from getting unnoticed from among the innumerable apps that are competing to be at the top in the app store searches.
• It helps save a great amount of money
Applications on the app stores can be ranked either organically i.e., by optimization, or via paid ads. Although paid ads could be affordable, it is not recommended as there is no guarantee that the app would be installed despite the users clicking on them.
Also, since ratings are lowered if the app is not flawless, there is no need to pay for ads if the app is still in the developmental phase.
• Helps in getting accessed by relevant users
There is no point in releasing the application if the developer has not taken any steps in optimization. Proper optimization in Google Play will allow users to target the right audience and boost the number of downloads.
10 App Store Optimization (ASO) Ideas
1. The App Name
2. Using Appropriate Keywords
3. Including Enthralling Icons and Screenshots
4. The Description Should be Compelling
5. Reviews and Ratings
6. Localizing The App Listing
7. Adding a Preview Video
8. Driving Traffic to Your App Store Page
9. Researching on Your Target Audience
10. Researching on Your Competition
The app name is an integral factor since it tells the potential users what the app is about, and it also makes your app visible in the app store search results. To explain the core features of an app, ensure that you have included all the relevant keywords in the app because it influences the search performance and the conversion rates.
A good app name should have the following features:
• Creative and captivating
• It should be unique. A unique app name will rank on top in the app store search.
• Relevant and descriptive, so that users get a fair idea of what your app is all about, and it ranks better for relevant keywords.
• Relatively easier to spell and pronounce.
Users generally use a couple of words or 2-3 word feature-based phrases to find apps on the app stores. It is crucial to note that relevant search traffic is possible only when the appropriate keywords are used.
Developers could understand the user search behavior using accurate mobile data, to better optimize their app. Here, it is essential to note that developers who have an app in the iOS App Store have a character limit of 100 characters wherein they have to fit in their keywords.
Google does not make developers who have their app in the Google Play Store declare their keywords. Therefore, developers should opt for keywords that are most relevant to their app and integrate them within the description, as unrelated words penalize your ranking.
The following should be kept in mind while using keywords:
• No spaces or repetitive words should be used.
• Importance should be given to title keywords.
• Either singular or plural word forms should be used.
• Other localizations should be made use of.
• Typehead search suggestions, Search Ads suggestions, and related searches that are suggested by the app stores should be used.
• Keywords that include the word “app” or the competitor’s brand name should not be used.
Since your app icon is the first thing that a user sees while searching for apps on the app stores, it is a deciding factor to optimize your app.
An icon should be creative, simple, recognizable, and striking. It should be such, that it stands out from the long list of apps available on the app stores, and is captivating enough to grab the attention of the visitors at the very first glance. At the same time, it should also give a fair idea of what your app does.
The following should be taken into account while deciding upon an icon for your app:
• Avoid using too much text or small details.
• A clean color palette should be used.
• Contrasting colors make for a good combination.
• The concept on which the icon would be based should be simple and clear.
App screenshots are an integral factor as they stand out in both the search results listings, and the app page. They have a significant impact on conversion rates and require a lot of attention.
The following should be kept in mind while including screenshots:
• If the first screenshot is a portrait, ensure that the second one is in the same orientation.
• Caption texts that describe and sell your app should be used, which convey a story and highlight the features and benefits of the app.
• Competitors should be analyzed and apps that fall into other categories should be considered for ideas.
• All five screenshots should be used.
A powerful and compelling description is essential to increase the user base. The app’s description should focus on targeting the customer base. For potential customers, it should spur them towards downloading the application.
An ideal description should include the following:
• What the app does, in concise and simple language.
• Power-words should be used and it should be customer-centric.
• Enlist the USPs and the benefits of the app.
• The reader should feel compelled to download it after reading the description.
• For the description to make sense to the reader, do not use the keyword more than 5 times in the entire body of the description.
• Overstuffing of keywords should be avoided.
The first few lines of the description should communicate what the app does and how would it benefit the users. It should grab the audience’s attention. The first 250 characters of the description must have as many relevant keywords as possible. Ensure that you don’t stuff too many words.
With each new update, the description and the entire product page needs to be modified. The changes should reflect in screenshots and descriptions every time you apply an update, to show new features, and present them precisely.
The character limit in the case of descriptions is 4000 characters. Hence, the character limit restricts the amount of information that can be provided to users.
The rankings of an app also depend on the reviews and ratings that the app has got. The more positive reviews and ratings that your app gets, the more successful it would be in the niche it has been designed for.
A series of positive reviews serve as the highest form of validation of your app’s quality and is one of the highest determinants of ranking.
Apps with the highest rating count in the app stores are those which keep their customers engaged and proactively seek their feedback to outline their product roadmap and any further updates.
The majority of the users need extra engagement or need to be prompted to give their feedback. Rational rating and review prompt can help you boost your ratings, and eventually, your rank.
The following should be kept in mind to get better ratings:
• Space should be allocated to users where they can leave a review.
• Only positive feedback should be directed to the app stores.
• Reviews and ratings should be encouraged. Users should be prompted at the right timings so that they don’t get annoyed.
In case you’re planning to cater to a local area or market, you will have to modify the content as per the localized market. Changes would have to be made in the communication of the brand, audience language, screenshot captioning, and more so that it becomes easier to reach out to the local audience.
App publishers who focus on giving unique preferences based on customer groups gain a wider customer base. If the target audience includes a non-English speaking audience, you could try adapting the language and brand communication based on the requirements of each group.
Catering to your customers based on their language would give a more personalized experience. There are localization or translation services available, and it can translate the app’s keywords, titles, screenshots, and descriptions in the language of the audience.
You can localize your listing in both the app stores to make readability and discoverability easier for users who communicate in different languages.
As more customers will be able to find the app in their native language, it will boost both the adoption and conversion of your app.
A preview video is a make or break factor in deciding the success of your app. Developers should test new video previews uploading them to the app stores.
The following should be considered while adding a preview video of your app:
• It should be concise and to the point. It has been observed that 80% of the users stop watching a preview video after 12 seconds. Hence, no beating around the bush!
• Avoid including any fade-in and welcome message at the beginning of your video.
• Special attention should be paid to the poster frame (iOS) / feature graphic (Android), as it is occupying the space of your first screenshots. Hence, it should be ensured that the poster frame/ feature graphic follows the same guidelines as your screenshot images.
• It is vital to remember that you have only one version for all localizations, so it is recommended to keep your messaging clear and universal.
Information hosted on your app from an SEO optimized website will boost the traffic directly to your app store pages. It will also help in the ranking of your app on Google, making your app more visible to the users for download.
Building an online presence with social media, seeking ratings and reviews, and investing in online advertising will boost the traffic on your application.
App indexing is the process of making Android and iOS app content linkable and searchable from a mobile web search or web search.
You can also use paid app advertising to boost the traffic to your application.
The ASO strategy is about targeting the keywords that have the most traffic and being found easily in the app store searches. It is basically to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Knowing more about the target audience or the users who you are looking to cater, and who will most likely use the app is the key to achieving success in an ASO strategy. A well-articulated ASO strategy hinges on understanding how your customers use and get benefited from your app.
Consumer research is the best way of identifying optimal keywords, as it helps in determining the queries raised by the customer to your app, and the language they used in describing it.
The following points should be kept in mind while studying your target audience:
• What language does the target audience usually use?
• How would they describe your app?
• What are the major reasons for downloading and using your app?
Keeping a check on the other players in the market is vital before formulating an effective strategy. A careful study of the competitors helps you get ideas of introducing something innovative, distinct, and compelling that gives you a competitive edge over the others.
It is important to identify which keywords are being targeted by apps similar to yours. It helps you determine whether the same keywords should be targeted or a different set of keywords that are unique to your value proposition should be used.
The following points should be kept in mind while researching your competitors:
• What is your competitive advantage?
• What keywords are your competitors targeting?
• Can you compete against your competitors’ apps on the same keywords?
• Should you target the obvious keywords or the less obvious?
Wrapping it up…….
With the innumerable apps available on Google Play and App Store, publishers give their best in the battle for being discovered. App Store Optimization plays a crucial role in this tough competition.
The aforementioned App Store Optimization techniques, along with a decent app, and an effective marketing and user acquisition will amplify the effect as compared to anything else that you would do to promote your app, giving you better returns for every penny that you invest.
Besides, App Store Optimization is not a one-time activity. You need to optimize your app constantly by refining your keyword list, monitoring your keyword positions, monitoring your reviews and ratings, coming up with new ideas to better the elements of your app store page, and making the app better for your user.