Sometimes we have a brilliant idea concerning an App, and we make a huge effort to create this beauty. After a crazy amount of hours spent on design, development, testing, commercialization and writing documentation, the only thing we want is releasing the App to the store and see how people react to it. But very often we forget or don’t even know about the ASO before the release.
App Store Optimisation (ASO) is the process of increasing an app or game’s visibility in the Store, with the objective of increasing organic app downloads. Apps are more visible when they rank highly on a wide variety of search terms, maintain a high position in the top charts, or get featured on the store. Additionally, ASO encompasses activities that aim to increase the conversion of app impressions into downloads.
There were almost 3 millions of Apps in Google Play Store by the end of 2020. How do you think our App will appear at the top? Naturally, it won’t, unless the idea is very exceptional and is loved by a lot of users. But ASO can help us to bring it up to higher positions. Hours of investigation and creativity can make crucial changes to the visibility of the App in the store. How do we do it? In this article we are going to cover the most important factors about the ASO:
- Keywords Research
- Keywords Usage
- App icon, screenshots and other resources
- App name
- Short Description
- Large Description
- Ratings, reviews and downloads
- Other elements and suggestions
First of all, we will need to write down all the significant words related to our App and their combinations. For example, we have made an awesome saving money App, some relevant keywords would be: saving, save, money, save money, budget, wallet, etc. Why do we need them? Basically, they will be the stars within the content provided in the listing of our App in the Google Play Store.
After gathering all the keywords we will start researching, using any keywords tool (for example, Google Keyword Planner), checking if they are going to be valuable for our ASO. Here are a couple of concepts that we need to understand while doing it. First, competition, in other words, how easy will it be to compete against other Apps using a selected keyword? If we see Low competition, it’s a good sign. However, High or Medium might be problematic, because it indicates that this keyword is already used by a lot of people. Second, will be the number of searches. How many times has the keyword been used to find an App (normally it is monthly average)? 1M+ is a very good option.
So now, you can guess what is the perfect combination. We will want our keywords to be with Low competition and with High numbers of performed searches. Sounds easy, but we probably won’t find anything similar to that. Therefore, we will need to sort our keywords and remove the ones that are not going to give us any value. For example, we can discard all the words with High competition, Small numbers of searches or Medium competition with Small numbers. These options won’t provide us any value so it’s better to get rid of them. After this cleaning up, we will focus on the remaining keywords. Yes, it might sound frustrating giving up on the most important keywords for our App, but it will be very hard to compete if we use them. You can still include these words in the content, just keep in mind that probably we are not going to be on high positions with them.
Here below is how it looks like in a keywords tool:
Definitely the keyword game is a very hard one to compete with in the market. You also will get some suggestions around the word you provided.
When we are done with the research and selection of the keywords we need to understand how to use them. We need to make sure that our content (names, descriptions, comments, etc.) contain these words. Why? Basically, everything you have written will be processed by a Google Machine Learning mechanism which will place your App in a position according to each keyword. For example, your application can be at the 10th position searching with money keyword and 1st searching by saving money plan.
It’s way harder to compete with single keywords, because they are the most written ones by users and as we can see in the research tool their competition is very high. For example, if we want to install a chat App. By only writing word chat the search we will get results of the most famous applications. This also depends on the country. Positions of Apps change in different places. It is extremely hard to be number 1 everywhere.
But how do we bring our App to a higher positions? We need to use our keywords as much as possible, but must not abuse of them. Over-usage of these can end up with in even worse results. We should use them wisely. In sections below we will see some suggestions concerning that.
App icon, screenshots and other resources
Let’s talk about the resources we have to provide to be able to submit the App to the Google Play Store.
It’s mandatory to upload an icon and screenshots of your App. What should they look like? Whatever you want, but keep in mind that it’s going to affect the user’s decision. Personally, I think everybody will go for a beautiful icon containing the clear purpose about the functionality that we are looking for. Once we succeeded with the icon step, our users will be looking at the screenshots section, to explore the App before installing it. If they don’t like how we present it, they will probably just click on the back button and go to another option. That’s why it’s so important to attract the attention of our users by providing the best assets possible. As a suggestion, listening to our user’s feedback would be very very helpful. Just by asking simple questions as: Do you like the screenshots? Is the content understandable? Would you try it out?
We can provide up to 8 screenshots. We should submit all 8. Creativity here is more than welcome. The entire picture could be divided in more than 1 screenshot which makes it very attractive, looking like a puzzle, or it can be just App screen in every picture with beautiful background, phone frame, nice description, etc. Here below is an example:
We would also need to provide Feature Graphic, tablet screenshots and even a promotion video which should be submitted to YouTube linked to our application content. We should provide all the resources with the highest quality possible. My suggestion is to focus on the icon and the screenshots first.
We can write up to 50 characters. It should contain the App name, but this will probably take 6–8 characters. So what do we do with the remaining 40+ characters? We can leave just the App name, but we can also put some of our important keywords separated by a dash or tow dots following the name. It’s the App name in the Google Play Store, and it only will appear there. Added to this, it will be really helpful for us to move up to higher positions containing these nice keywords we searched before. Try to avoid repeating them in this section.
Another thing to highlight here is the name itself. It should sound attractive and cool. That adds a bit of magic when users are choosing an App to download.
This content will appear right below our screenshots and probably some users will read it to have a better idea about the App. If we expand it, we will read the large description which is described in the next section. We have 80 available characters here. It would be very nice to provide a short explanation of the most important functions of the App including as many researched keywords as possible.
Probably, only 5% of the users (or even less )will read this section. It’s not a reason to despise it. We have 4000 characters available to write anything we want about our application. You might be thinking, “Wow, this is a great opportunity to include a lot of keywords and repeat them as much as possible, and we could easily reach the highest positions in the store!”. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Repeating the same words will be identified by the Googles Machine Learning mechanism and most probably your app will be buried under thousands of other Apps in the store.
Here we should write all the relevant content concerning our App, including as much keywords as possible with a possibility of repeating them 4–5 times. Just be careful with the over-usage of these. Try to make the content attractive and easy to read.
Ratings, reviews and downloads
It’s pretty clear for everyone that high average rating together with large amount of reviews and downloads will play a big role for our App visibility in the store. It is very important that users get what they expect from the App. All the functionalities should run smoothly, keeping the application crash-free. This will be crucial for our ratings.
The reviews are also very useful. We are allowed to reply to every feedback message submitted by a user. It’s nice to give a good answer back, but keep in mind that this also plays a role for our ASO. Let’s include some keywords in every answer! It won’t do any harm and will help us to jump to higher positions in the store.
At last, the number of downloads is also a factor that gives some extra points, there is no mystery to this. It’s totally normal and understandable.
Other elements and suggestions
Let’s mention here what else we can do to improve our ASO. Since all the content is affecting our positions there are other fields that can contain keywords. You might think, “Oh we just filled everything, where can we fit more keywords?” Have in mind that everything counts. Even the package name of the App, which is present in the URL of your App in the Google Play Store, Google developer account, email, update texts, etc. If there is a possibility to include any of the keywords to these elements, we shall then aim for some extra points to our ASO and probably move to higher positions.
Regarding suggestions, let’s mention some actions that could help with organic downloads of our App:
- Release BETA version of the App first and gather the user’s feedback. Maybe something is wrong or difficult to understand, and we didn’t realize it. This way we shall avoid negative reviews once we release the application.
- If at one moment we don’t feel happy with our resources we can always modify them and give the App fresher and better look. Just keep in mind that if modifying the content in the Google Play Store it may vary the visibility results changing your positions.
- Keep on improving and updating the functionalities of the App, so that Google Play will know that it’s fresh and alive. Try to do it at least each 1–2 months.
- Publish some content in the social media channels about the existence of the application. It might be attractive for people and perhaps that’s what they have been searching for a long time. Even better, if you have contacts with some accounts with high follower numbers which can promote the application. It will help significantly with showing the App to the world.
- If we can afford running some campaigns, it will bring some extra user traffic to our App, (costing us some money). While running them we have to make sure to target the countries we want to compete in and we must always control the daily budget.
- Buying downloads is another option, but it’s hard to find the source which will satisfy our expectations. The App will be installed once in a large amount of devices, hopefully by real users, and then deleted and forgotten forever. That’s not what we are looking for.
After all the hard work we’ve done, we need to know if we are improving in the process. So we shall need a tool with charts and some numbers which will show us our progress. One of the greatest tools in my experience is App Annie. The free version might limit the visible stats, but nevertheless it shows a lot of valuable information. Here below is an example:
We can search for any App in this tool. Also, we can just go to the Google Play Store, type a keyword and check where our application stands.
Additionally to that, keep tracking events in the App and analyzing possible improvements in the future.
We can make awesome applications helping a lot of people in the daily life, but if we don’t let them know about the existence of these Apps, results might be very frustrating for the creators. After all the effort, passion and love invested in the project they remain in the shadow, invisible to our users. We need to do an extra effort with research and creativity, involving necessary resources, to make our ASO as good as possible. There are almost 3 million Apps in the Google Play Store and everyone wants to be the number 1. It’s not going to be an easy task, but we have to work hard to achieve the positions we deserve.