ASO and Why It Matters Now More than Ever

Before you can optimize your app, you of course have to have an app to optimize, so talk with your developers about getting something started. You can learn more about app development for small businesses.

Once your app is ready to go, you want to make sure people can find that app in the app store. There are well over one million apps currently in both Google Play and the iTunes store, and while that number may be smaller in your specific industry, the competition is only going to grow.

The sooner you can help bring your app to the top of the app store search engine, the better. You do this by optimizing your app, hence the acronym ASO. You have both the Google Play store (for Android) and the Apple iOS store to work with here.

A great way to think about ASO is the same way you think about SEO. The app store is really no different, except instead of dealing with Google’s search engine algorithm you’re dealing with the app store or Google Play. Amanda DiSilvestro wrote about ASO and its relationship to SEO, and also discussed the two main considerations that ASO entails:

  1. How to get your mobile app to the top of an app store search page.
  2. Figuring out how to manage, follow, and react to different updates in the app store search algorithms (sound familiar?).

The next step is, of course, determining how ASO best practices differ from optimizing a webpage for SEO. Your end goal is more downloads, and subsequently more traffic to your website from people who like your app and want to learn more about your company.

ASO Tips to Success

Just as with SEO, you want to think about on-page, or on-app, ASO as well as things you should do externally. A few tips for success include:

On-Page ASO

  • App Title & Description

Keep your title short and to the point, but be sure it explains what your app does (keywords help here). You want to also utilize keywords in your description because you don’t have a blog or other content to help the bots see what your app is all about. Currently there is a 4,000 character limit on descriptions, so make sure you are to the point and clear about what the app can do for users.

  • App Icon

Always include your logo as your app icon so that people can quickly recognize your app. While this may not make a difference for the bots crawling the app store, it will help increase your downloads and reviews and ratings (which does matter for ASO and is discussed below).

  • App Type & Category

There are “applications” and there are “games,” which will help tell the bots the type of application you are running. You also have to choose the right category. Unfortunately,  you can only choose one category, so if your app fits into more than one category choose the most relevant one.

  • Screenshot Your App & Include a Demo

People usually want to try your app before paying a fee, so a demo is a great idea to get you those downloads and increase reviews. You should also screenshot your app so they can quickly see what your app looks like. This works similarly to images and video on your webpages—the less mystery, the better.

  • Include a Google+ Plugin

Including a Google+ plugin with your app is a crucial step that many company owners still miss. The more +’s that your app gets, the more visible it will be in Google Play specifically. This is an easy way to show the bots that you have a good product.

Off-Page ASO

  • App Ratings & Reviews

Earning app reviews works very similarly to SEO. Google Play as well as the iOS store like to see apps that have a good number of positive reviews and ratings. Not to mention, this will help convince people your app is worth the download. With a good number of genuine reviews, your app will improve in the rankings in both of these mobile app stores.

So how do you encourage reviews for a mobile app? I talked with an ASO Executive, who explained, “Besides the basics—asking your loyal customers to please leave a review, including a review button on your website, running a contest, etc.—review plugins are a great option. A plugin will be a part of your app and prompt users to review your app after they’ve used it a certain number of times. I recommend ASOLead for iOS, but you’ll find that there are plenty of options out there.”

  • App Downloads

This is the last piece of the puzzle. The more downloads you get for your app, the higher chance someone else will download it, which looks good in the eyes of the bots ranking your app. It works like a domino effect—do all of the things listed above, get more downloads, see higher rankings.

A Few Extra Resources

I also highly recommend ASO Lead that explains in more detail how to understand your competition and look at competitor data for ASO. This is a little bit more involved and might not be completely necessary if you are just getting started, but it’s great if you’re looking to get a little bit more advanced.

This HigherVisibility also explains a few tools you can use to help you with your ASO. After all, there are quite a few SEO tools out there, why wouldn’t you want to use ASO tools? Although many come at a price, using tools is a great way to make sure you’re on the right track and not missing anything important.

Finally, Forbes recently published an article titled Five Killer Marketing And Distribution Strategies for Your App that I highly recommend checking out. Distribution and marketing and key when it comes to ASO, so this is actually a good place to start.

Do you know of any great ASO tips? Do you have a story about your app improving after implementing some ASO strategies? Share your story and thoughts in the comment section below.