Rootstrap Blog

App Store Optimization for Developers

Our thanks to Yodit Bitsuamlak, Marketing Coordinator at Gummicube, for this guest post.

The app ecosystem is always evolving, with as many as 60,000 new apps on the App Store each month. This means there are multiple apps providing the same service and competition is fierce. Using a variety of marketing strategies including App Store Optimization (ASO) will help get your apps to the top of the charts.

To make sure an app is successful following its launch, developers should incorporate ASO into their marketing strategy. ASO is an acquisition strategy that helps drive visibility and improve conversion through optimizing an app’s metadata, i.e., app name, keywords, description, and creatives.

ASO is a crucial piece of marketing that has proven effective despite the app stores’ constant evolution, changes to algorithms, and submission guidelines. And it’s doubly important because App Store search continues to be the largest channel for mobile app discovery and mobile app installs.

Without an optimized app listing, developers risk losing out on converting users through search simply because users never find the app in the first place.

How to Optimize for App Store Search

Before developers can start implementing an ASO strategy, they need to understand the current app market and have a clear direction for their ASO strategy. Building an ASO strategy requires constant monitoring, but in the end, it will help the app get discovered and improve conversion rates.

Determine App Name

This is the first step to ASO, and often goes prior to the launch of your app. Developers need to determine the app name first so they know what keywords to use as title tags. These title tags are high-volume keywords that help the app gain more visibility without taking up space in the declared keyword bank.

Developers need to understand that each store caps their character limit, meaning on iOS you only have 30 characters and 50 characters for Google Play. Having such a small amount of space means developers need to be thoughtful about which title tags they choose. 

Keyword Optimization Research

There are several crucial factors to consider before determining keywords:

1. User Trends and Behavior:

Developers need to monitor user trends and behavior to optimize their metadata and gain insight as to what type of keywords are most relevant to their app. In addition, any changes at this point need to be carefully thought out and closely tied to user trends and behavior.

2. Competitors:

On top of monitoring user trends and behavior, developers need to monitor their competitors to gain an overview of the app market. It’s important to keep an eye on competitors to understand what keywords they rank better for and understand their marketing tactics.

3. User Reviews:

Developers should also check user reviews daily because they tend to hold a lot of insight on common keywords. Staying up to date with user reviews goes hand in hand with monitoring user trends and behaviors.

Visibility and Conversion

When it comes to improving visibility, developers need to treat their descriptions with care. These text fields need to incorporate high-volume keywords in a way that is natural but relevant to user searches.

1. Short description (GP only)

Short description is only available for Android apps on the Google Play Store. The short description should incorporate relevant keywords within its limited space of 80 characters. Developers need to tell what their app does quickly in order to convince users to download.

2. Subtitle and Promotional Text (iOS only)

Subtitle and promotional text, new text fields added in iOS 11, are in place to help the app become more visible. The subtitle is limited to 30 characters, the same as the app name, but the promotional text has up to 170 characters.

While the promotional text does provide more space, developers need to think carefully. The promotional text essentially serves as the first sentence of their description, meaning it is important to call out any new features, app promotions and more.

3. Description (iOS and GP)

The long description is the largest piece of metadata for developers to incorporate high-volume keywords and impact users. It is important to note that even though the description is allotted a maximum of 4,000 characters, it’s not always a good idea to completely fill that space.

The description needs to clearly and quickly list out the app’s core features. Developers can use bullet points to organize their app description into specific feature sets so glancing users can quickly understand what the app does.

4. Creatives

First impressions matter most! Users only take 3–5 seconds to scan an app listing, meaning the icon, screenshots and preview videos are incredibly important for improving app conversion.

The icon is most likely the first thing users look at. If it is not memorable, users are less likely to convert. Similarly, users are more likely to scroll down to the screenshots to see what the app’s interface in action. If screenshots are cluttered, or do not make much sense, users are less likely to convert due to confusion.

Similar to the screenshots, if the preview video is cluttered or does not contain relevant information regarding the app’s core features, users are less likely to convert. The preview video should be treated just like a screenshot. It will appear first in the sequence and is a still image otherwise known as the poster frame. The poster frame needs to be a relevant image that contains high-volume keywords to convert more users.

5. A/B testing

A/B testing allows developers to measure their optimization rate by testing two different versions of their app’s metadata. This is a great opportunity for developers to test which pieces engage best with their audience, especially if they are trying to localize their app.

So What’s the Takeaway?

Developers need an ASO strategy for their app to succeed post-launch. ASO is no longer an option but a necessity for bettering an app’s chances to appear before competitors that are most likely using an ASO strategy already.

It is also important to keep in mind that simply monitoring keywords, top charts, and rankings is just a small part of the equation toward improving an app’s success. Staying up-to-date with the market can take an app a long way, but developers also need ASO to ensure that their app is reaching its intended audience.

Having an ASO strategy will keep developer’s apps above the competition in the ever-changing mobile app market.

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