App store optimization | A Beginner’s Guide for Online Coaches

app store optimization article header image

10 minute read

Written by Liam Donoghue, Marketing Executive

Like Amazon or eBay, your mobile’s app store is a marketplace. It acts as a huge shop window that shows onlookers a selection of apps they may want to purchase.

There are around 4 million apps on the app stores (Apple App Store & Google Play Store) and this number is increasing every day. Not only is the amount of apps increasing but also the revenue they are generating. Global revenue from apps is set to surpass $900 billion by 2023.      

With facts like these, it’s a no-brainer to say: if you want to compete in the digital space in the coming years you need an app!

But how can you possibly hope to compete in such a crowded marketplace? Especially if you’re a smaller business and you don’t have a big marketing budget to compete with the likes of Angry Birds. 

There isn’t a golden solution to this problem. Getting your app to rank well requires you to do a lot of things right. Promoting your app well, building a community around your brand, and responding to user feedback are all strategies you will need to use to make your app is a success. 

But one thing you can do today, and action immediately, that will have an impact on your app’s ranking and position in the app stores is app store optimization (ASO).

What is App Store Optimisation?

A chalk drawing of a hand pointing at an ASO sign

ASO is the process of editing the content on your app store pages to attract more users to your app.

App stores are big search engines, and their job is to find the most suitable app for a searcher’s requirement. To do this they use algorithms to rank all the apps in the app store. 

They base these rankings on a number of factors including; perceived app quality, app reviews, engagement, and how easy your app is to index. This means how easy it is for an app store’s algorithms to read your content and figure out what your app is about. You want your app to be found when people are searching for specific phrases or words that are related to your app. (To do this you use keywords, we have explained what they are below) 

To give your app the best chance of being found by a searcher, make sure your app follows ASO best practices. An app that is optimized for the app stores has a greater chance of being downloaded.

What are the best practices you should follow for ASO?

A person working at a desk

What should you change to make your app stand out? There are several areas in your app you can tweak to give it the best chance of being found by searchers. We’ve listed them below along with suggestions on how to improve each area.

App Title 

It goes without saying that your app title should include your app name. But a lot of app developers stop there and don’t make the most of the rest of the character limit. Below are the character limits for each app store. 

Google Play Store – 50 character limit

Apple App Store – 30 character limit

As well as your app name your app title should include a brief description of what your app is and it should include some searchable keywords you want your app to be found for. 

Why? Apps with keywords in the title rank on average 10% higher than those without a keyword in the title.

 

What is a keyword?

Keywords are words and phrases that are relevant to your app. They are also words that someone might search when looking for an app. There is a section on using keywords for your app below.   

 

App Description

The descriptions on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store are 4000 characters long. It is the best place to explain what your app does in-depth and the best place to list all your app’s features and the services you offer. When you’re writing your description be sure to add the keyword you’d like to be found for in it too. 

Your descriptions should provide additional information about what your app does and why users should download it in an informative, easy to understand way. 

Both app stores will show a shorter version of your description to visitors first when they land on your apps page. To make this short description as impactful as possible you should fill the first 80-120 characters with the key selling points of your app. If they want to know more, users can then view the full 4000 character description.

Downloads

When your app gets a lot of downloads it tells the app stores that your users are getting value from your app. This will tell the algorithms to show your app to more people and in turn, increase your downloads. This has an overall effect on your app store rankings and will improve your app’s searchability in the stores. 

 

Imagery & Video

Imagery and video on your store landing page do not directly affect the position the algorithms place your app. They do however have an impact on how many people download your app when they land on your store page. This is called the conversion ratio. 

If you don’t optimize the visuals in your app and make them appealing and informative fewer people who find your app will download it. 

Too few downloads mean your app will not rank highly in the app search results and will not gain popularity. 

Your apps icon image, screenshots, and preview videos must be visually compelling and clearly show your app’s features. 

There are three key things you can do to improve conversions when people land on your app:

Imagery – Make sure you’ve got a memorable, professional app icon. All your images should be high quality and your videos should be crisp. 

Text – Your description should be concise but exciting. Don’t be dull, hook people in with an amazing title and attractive name.

Ratings – Downloads and reviews matter! Make sure you’re asking your current users for positive feedback and always engage and resolve negative reviews in a positive manner. 

App Keyword Field (Apple only)

The Apple App Store has a specific field where you can add all the keywords you’d like to link to your app. The field is 100 characters long. You should fill up this field with all the search terms and keywords you want your app to be found for. Each keyword should be separated by commas.

Searchers cannot see this field, it is hidden. It is used by the Apple App Store to better understand what your app does and who to show it too.  

 

Ratings and reviews

An app that has more user engagement will be ranked higher on the app stores and shown to more people. Positive engagement with your app is extremely important here.

Asking for user reviews in your app is a great way to boost your app’s rating. You could ask for a review at the end of a lesson or write it in the accompanying text.  Be sure to respond to any comments and questions your app gets as well. An active app owner is a good signal to the algorithms to rank your app highly.

How to use keywords in your app

A magnifying glass on a keyboard

To use keywords effectively in your app you need to think about your ideal customer and ask yourself: what are they searching for on the app store to find an app like yours? 

Think about the niche your app sits in and then think about what words, phrases, or terms you might put into a search bar to find your app.  

Example:

Bob has built a fitness app called BGain. The app is designed for beginner bodybuilders who have never used free weights before. After thinking about his target audience and what they may be searching for in the app store Bob decided to use the following keywords in his app. 

Beginner weightlifting 

Free weights 

Lifting weights 

Weightlifting 

These are all likely search terms that Bob’s ideal customer will be searching for. By adding them in an organic fashion to his description and app title he is giving his app the best chance of success. 

So Bob’s app title could be: BGain | Beginner Weightlifting 

The keyword adds context to his title and lets the store know what it’s about.

Bob should also add the keywords he’s chosen to his description where appropriate. The key here is to make sure the keywords are added in a natural fashion and make grammatical sense within the text. 

WARNING 

Do not stuff your description with keywords you want your app to be found for. The app store algorithms are smart and they will punish you for doing this. 

You should interweave your keywords into your description so readers can’t tell they’re there. Do not add them to the end of your text or drop them in randomly.

Conclusion

Getting your app to rank in the app stores isn’t easy. It’s a long term project that requires you to constantly review and tweak your marketing efforts both within and outside the app stores. 

Successfully implementing an ASO strategy is a great start to getting your app ranking. It can be done quickly and relatively easily. Just make sure you are monitoring your downloads and review and edit your strategy where appropriate. 

Staying up to date with the latest news from the app stores can help you map out an app store optimisation strategy for the future too. You can also find some competitors in your niche and research their strategies. 

Ask yourself: What are they ranking for? What are their keywords? Could I compete with them?   

If you take the above best practices as an entry-level guide you’ll be on your way to app store success. 

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