App Store Optimization is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the App Store and one of the main ways of driving organic growth through the App Store.
When people search for certain keywords, possibly for your app, you want to make sure you show up in those search results. ASO is part algorithm and part user. You don’t want to focus too much on trying to hack the algorithm without having the end user in mind – it is a balancing act between the two. Think about what the end user needs and how they’re going to benefit from your app.
The other thing you want to think about is the long-term impact. This is a strategy that can really help growth throughout the life of an app. ASO is not a short-term burst campaign, where you get immediate downloads right after you optimize your app. While we’ve been able to do that for some of my clients, the strategy’s all about long-term growth and optimizing your app for that.
The last thing I’ll mention about App Store Optimization is that anybody can do it. It’s really, really simple. Once you have the fundamentals down, you’ll be able to do it for your app, for your next app, and for many other apps.
Let’s talk about some of the things that you should be thinking at a high level on how to approach App Store optimization.
Number one, I keep harping on this, but think about the user, not just keywords. I think a lot of times, especially in the App Store Optimization world, a lot of people are talking about keywords and algorithms — how do you game the system? And lost in it all is the user because retention and conversion are going to play a critical role in the long term.
The other thing is, focus on your unique selling position, or USP. What is really going to make your app different? I think that should be said before you even build your app.
And lastly, this is one strategy that you should really be focused on. Everybody wants to rank for highly-searched keywords like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. All these high-volume keywords. However, you really want to try to rank number one for a low-volume keyword search, rather than trying to be number 10 for a high-volume keyword; because of the way the search results are displayed on a mobile device, it’s really hard to scroll through the list. Usually the top three search results are going to see the biggest impact.
In conclusion, the strategy is to rank number one for a low volume keyword, then number 10 for something like Facebook, or another high-volume keyword.
Differences Between Google Play and Apple
The first thing to mention is the app name. Apple allows you to have 255 characters in your app name. That being said, you do not want to utilize and maximize all 255 characters, because Apple will reject you. This means that longer app names are actually better, and I’ll show describe a simple formula you can use later on in the book.
On the other hand, with Google Play, you only have 30 characters, so you really just have enough room to probably include your app name and one or two words about what it does.
Keywords. I mentioned this before, but there’s a keyword field in Apple that you can utilize. It gives you 100 characters to specify keywords for your app. Google Play, on the other hand, has no such field. This means that you really have to rely on your description, your app name, and the reviews, along with the other factors. For Apple, you can rely on the keywords field to provide a list of your secondary keywords that you want to rank for.
And lastly, social factors. Apple will probably catch up to this, but because Google already has Google +, getting users to +1 your app actually helps you in terms of how well your app ranks.
Google also allows you to build up backlinks for your apps. This is very similar to how SEO works on the Web. If blogs or websites are using certain keywords to link to your Google Play page, then your ranking for that keyword will increase on the Google Play Store. For example, if websites are using the keywords “photo filters” as the hyperlink for the Instagram Google Play page, then Instagram will start to increase its ranking for that phrase.
Therefore, Google has a lot more social factors than Apple does at the time. But I think that will change in the future as Apple tries to play catch up.