App Store Optimization [2020 ASO Guide for Google Play & App Store]

Perfect your ASO strategy, improve visibility on App Store & Google Play, and propel downloads & revenue.

What is ASO?

ASO, or App Store Optimization, is the process of optimizing a mobile app (the app itself and external aspects like the app store description) to maximize its visibility on the app store’s search results (when a user searches with a keyword) and ‘explore’ section (when a user browses for new apps). The intention is to increase app traffic and conversions rate which will ultimately result in higher revenue.

ASO draws in a higher number of high quality Android and iOS traffic and also enforces engagement and conversion, thus reducing acquisition costs. This obviously, should be a very important part of any company’s mobile growth strategy. 

ASO = Visibility + Traffic + Engagement + Conversion.

ASO is not only about increasing search visibility, it also impacts your app’s ranking in the explore section, suggested apps section, featured apps section, etc.

How Does ASO Work?

Implementing and perfecting ASO requires understanding of how play store and app store actually work, your primary audience, and the search terms they could be looking for. 

The following factors play a critical role in ASO:

1. On-metadata factors

On-metadata factors are those which are under the control of the app developer. For example: URL/package, developer name (on Google Play), app name, app description, short description, subtitle, promo text and keywords field (Apple store), category, icon, screenshots and video.

Correctly optimizing these controllable factors will help you rank your app higher in search results and browse/explore tabs on app stores. 

2. Off-metadata factors

The opposite of on-metadata factors, off-metadata factors are those which are not directly under the control of the developer (or which cannot be modified by the developer). The factors include reviews, ratings, user engagement, user retention, etc.

These factors play an equally important role in ASO and must be taken into consideration by the developers. Although you don’t have direct control over these factors, they can be indirectly influenced. For example, you could leverage email marketing to ask for reviews, or design the UX to maximize engagement (without affecting user experience), etc).

ASO is a combination of the two. App Store Optimization (ASO) = on-metadata optimization + off-metadata optimization.

ASO Strategies

Now that you have understood what ASO is, its impact on visibility and downloads, and what it consists of, let’s see how exactly you can optimize your app for the store.

1. Keyword & Market Research

What does ‘optimizing’ the app description mean? It means using the right terms to increase search visibility. These ‘terms’ are keywords that your prospective users are typing in the search field of the app store (or on search engines).

How do you find them? You need to perform extensive market research. What language(s) does your prospective user speak in? What could they be typing to find your app? A feature? A solution? What keywords are driving traffic to your competitor’s app?

This market research coupled with keyword analysis tools like Google’s free keyword planner will help you narrow down on the right keywords to use.

2. Optimizing for Visibility

Now that you have selected the keywords to use, here’s what you need to do:

  • For Apple App Store: Add a primary keyword to the app name and subtitle, and add all important keywords to the keywords field.
  • Google Play Store: Add a primary keyword to the app name, and relevant keywords to the short description and description.
  • For both stores, use a featured image that is attractive and also sends a message.

3. Track results

Monitor the following KPIs closely and tweak ASO aspects based on the results you see:

Keywords, competitor ranking, top charts, organic installs, Similar Apps visibility, CTR, conversion rate, revenue from organic installs, revenue from other sources (advertising, etc) and competitors’ on-metadata updates.

Based on the results, you can tweak the on-metadata factors and calibrate.

Implementing ASO

Source –

1. Title: The word count of the title will depend on which platform you are optimizing for (Google play store or Apple app store), but make sure to add the primary keyword and one secondary keyword in the title.

2. URL/package: You can set the URL only once, and adding a keyword to the extension is an important way to increase ranking and visibility.

3. Developer Name: is another prime location to add a keyword to influence ranking.

4. Short Description: You guessed it, add keywords to the short description! However, it’s very important to maintain balance between keywords and information. Your app’s short description needs to succinctly explain what it does, what problem it solves, and its core features.

5. Description: The description is visible when a user clicks and enters your app listing on play/app store. It’s important to use this space to enforce conversion. You have managed to get a user interested enough to click your app, now it’s time to convince them to download the app. Use all the space available, use emojis, highlight the features of the app, list who the app is for and what problems it will solve.

6. Icon: The icon is the first visual element users will see, and since people respond to images, it is probable the first element they will see. The icon must be catchy and attractive. It’s best to stick to imagery and not load it with text.

7. Video: You have the option to add a YouTube video to the app (inside the listing), and it is a good idea to include it. The best content you can add is a ‘how it works’ tutorial. This will help users immediately find out if it is useful to them, thus driving the right audience to your app.

8. Screenshots: Finally, if you don’t have a video you can add screenshots of the app. Try adding images that give users a sense of how the app works (like the video would).

Parting Thoughts

I think we’ve made it pretty clear how much of an impact ASO has on your app’s visibility, CTR and downloads on the app store. Following the above guidelines will help you best optimize your app for maximum ROI. Finally, remember usability factors like performance, speed, no bugs, etc will greatly influence user retention once the app is downloaded.

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