Quick ASO actions to improve your mobile app’s downloads
What is ASO?
If you google “What is ASO”? you might get this answer: The ASO test is primarily used to help determine whether a recent strep infection with group A Streptococcus… That’s something else. The ASO you need to focus on is “What is App Store Optimization”.
ASO is your mobile app’s fast lane to discoverability, and you need to nail that test.
Why not just advertise?
Advertising is an option, regularly for larger companies. It takes about 100,000 downloads to get on the US top 10 list.
If you are a small developer, then advertising may not be an alternative. The Cost Per Install (CPI) with advertising is between $1.50 and almost $2, which makes $1 and something x 100,000 downloads = a lot of money.
And in some regions the CPI is even higher.
ASO is your way to keep the costs down, boost downloads, get visible, and increase revenue.
Is ASO that important?
Yes. According to NativeX:
- 67% of users found their last app using a search engine
- Over 50% of downloads are driven from the Top 3 search results
Where to start.
1. Fine tune your ASO
Master the art of App Store Optimization, and become an ASO ninja. Learn how to impact the critical rules that decide whether your app receives a high ranking or not.
What motivates a download?
- Specific task: You need the app to accomplish a specific task, log on to your bank for instance.
- WOM: Word of Mouth – a friend of yours just downloaded the app, and loves it.
- Ad: You’ve seen an advertisement of the app, and want to try it.
- Top charts: You’ve seen the app highlighted on the App Store.
- Already using: You’ve used the app before.
- Social – Organic: You’ve seen the app on social media.
- Other: You’ve downloaded the app by other reasons, not listed above
What entices a download?
The X-factor – What turns a visitor into a downloader?
- Text: Great copy, intriguing description, correct keywords, attractive name, and localization to the visitor’s language.
- Visuals: A great icon, fancy images and awesome screenshots.
- Stars: Store factors like number of downloads, great ratings and positive reviews.
You need to improve your conversion rate. High rankings arise from many, recent, and frequent installs, combined with a low number of uninstalls. Conversion rate is the number you get when dividing visitors with installs.
Downloads affects your ranking. An app with many downloads, will have an increase ranking. Don’t try to cheat the search algorithms. Downloads from robots, spam etc will affect the ranking negatively.
Track your visitors, and learn why some of them become installers. You need to know where they are coming from: Are they arising from paid installs, or organic installs?
Update a spreadsheet on a daily basis, and follow the trend your conversion rate is having. Doing this makes it possible for you to track and to determine every change you make. You will instantly see if the update, the keyword change, or the new translation is affecting the downloads. On the other hand, you will note whether a bad review has impacted on downloads over the following days.
The app cycle
The first app shows an app with a huge hype in the beginning, and then an extreme decrease in downloads. One reason for this might be bad reviews. The disastrous fall will affect ranking negatively.
The second app has a positive trend. The peaks might occur during holidays or weekends. Reviews can affect downloads, not only in the long term but also short term. A negative review might have a bad impact for a couple of days, and the the app is saved by a positive review and downloads increase again.
The third app needs a boost. The boost can be the release of a new feature.
The last app is in the flow. App store heavily favors downloads. And downloads trigger ranking, which in turn triggers downloads. An app like that ranks highly in popularity lists, and keyword ranking will become broader and more generous. A paid install will give an additional 1,5 organic installs.
Don’t change your title if you’ve already released your app. You’ll risk losing potential downloads from people who heard of your app, read a review, or maybe read a post on Facebook. If you change the title, it will become more difficult for them to find your app.
But if you are about to come up with a brand new name for your app, then there are some tips. The title is an extremely important metadata, and a great app title will improve ranking.
Your app title:
- needs to be short
- needs to be the point
- needs to explain your app
Phew. And you need to make sure your title is unique, and creative. Did I say keywords?
Why is it important to keep the title short? When reading on a screen, the visitor needs to see the full app name, without clicking on the actual app. If you need help to preview the app and app title, test this free tool at LocalizeDirect.
Pick a simple name. It should be an easy name to remember, and easy to write. Choose something unique; it mustn’t sound like something already out there, and it shouldn’t be too general. The name needs to be specific for your app’s feature, and say something about what your app does.
Apple recommends 23 characters or less for a title. That way the text will be presented in the best way.
Once again: Use a unique app name. URLs with multiple results like appstore.com/airhockey will return a search page. If you use a unique name, you’ll avoid conflict with other identical names.
Don’t use strange characters, punctuation or symbols. The URL in iTunes is usually based on your app name.
For Google Play
There is a 30 character limit for your Google Play app.
Remember to preview your app before going live.
3. Find your keywords
Brainstorm – grab a pen, invite a friend on a cup of coffee, and write down every possible word and multi-word phrase on paper. Which words do you believe are the best to find your app? Figure out features, and challenges. Use google, Twitter etc to find right search terms. Look for similar apps, and look for keywords in app reviews. Then use a tool like Sensor Tower to track your keywords, and spy on your competitors.
Collect all of your keywords, and turn on your computer. Open a new spreadsheet, and write one keyword per cell in the first column. When you’ve finished, every keyword needs to be ranked.
In the image below “Number of apps” and “Rank” come from Sensor Tower. Other vendors have similar rankings. “Number of apps” is the total amount of apps using that particular keyword, and “Rank” is your app’s ranking among the others. When the cell is blank, there’s no estimated rank.
- Start with evaluating whether your keyword is relevant or not. You need to choose keywords that are relevant to your app. Otherwise people will search for your specific keyword, and get annoyed when finding something else.
- You need to find keywords that people are searching for. You need keywords with searches, or traffic, but not too much traffic like a billion searches, because then a higher ranking will be harder to achieve. On the other hand, not too low either as then the number of people searching are too few. 10,000 searches aren’t enough. Something in-between is best.
- Difficulty – you want that number to be pretty low. Find keywords with low competition so you can rank higher. It is better to be in the top 10 for an average search word, than top 200 for a keyword with a billion searches.
Now it is time to narrow down! Keep the keywords with the highest ranking. Then sort the rest by difficulty. You want to keep the keywords with a low difficulty value, combined with traffic.
Let’s use the keywords. How? It depends on the platform.
Apple has a specific keywords field, where you enter all your keywords. Your total limitation is 100 characters. They should be divided by a comma, no spaces!, and avoid things like:
- Plural – not needed if you already have the singular form
- Words like app, the, an, free etc
- Genre – you will choose the category in iTunes anyway
- Irrelevant or offensive terms
- Trademarks, names, or brands
- Use numbers 1,2,3 instead of writing one, two, three
- Don’t repeat the keywords – use the 100 character space wisely
Google doesn’t have a keywords field. Google Play’s ASO is more of a standard SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When working with keywords for a Google Play app, you need great copy and keywords. In the short description you have an 80 character limit, and you need to put your keywords in there.
The long description is 4,000 characters. Make this description keywords dense, and repeat every keyword 5 times.
Use a free tool like LocalizeDirect app translation service to check your descriptions before going live.
4. Improve ratings
You need to improve your rankings. No, not by making them up, but by giving the downloaders super customer support.
Why should you care about the rankings? In app stores, reviews are taken into account when the search algorithm ranks different parameters.
Off store factors like total numbers of downloads, ratings and reviews are difficult for you to control, but will affect the ASO. Higher ratings, higher ranking. There are some things you do to prevent some of the bad reviews:
- Have an email address where your users can reach you.
- Have a website for support.
- Update your app frequently.
- Fix bugs.
- Fix bugs.
- Listen, reply fast and fix bugs.
- Ask for a second review after you helped them.
Take good care of your downloaders. The number of uninstalls and app usage frequency has an effect on your app’s ranking.
Backlinks have a great impact on your Google Play app. You want your app to be a great app so your app’s downloaders link to your game on different webpages.
What should you do to take care of your users?
- Don’t spam them and don’t ask for their reviews all the time. When asking them for a positive review, make sure not to disturb them when doing something critical in your app. Don’t ruin their experience, and don’t ask for a review; simply just ask if they like your app.
- Make sure your communications channels are great, and allow your downloaders to contact you. Update with bugfixes, and always reply.
- Be friendly, even when you feel super annoyed and don’t agree with your user. Remember the old adage, the customer is always right. Even when you think they are wrong, let the customers think they are right.
5. App Store Description
The opening of your app description should be an emotive call to action. Try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What are they looking for?
There are a few simple copywriting rules that apply here:
- SLAP – Stop, Look, Act, and Purchase. Grab attention and use subjects and verbs early in the sentence to encourage action and make the meaning as clear as possible.
- KISS – Keep it simple stupid. Don’t use jargon, it can be off-putting. Cut out superfluous words, there’s no room for filler.
- WIIFM – What’s in it for me? What’s the value proposition? What will the customer get, learn, or experience if they download?
- Typos and poor grammar – Use a professional writer, or at the very least spellcheck it.
- Confusing and vague – If they can’t understand what it does then they won’t download it.
- Hyperbole – Is it really revolutionary? Don’t get carried away or expectations will soar.
- Bending the truth – The truth will out just a few seconds after download. Don’t lie.
- Keyword stuffing – It looks ugly and it won’t have the impact you want.
- Targeting the wrong person – Write for the customer, not for yourself, or other developers.
- Omitting important details – How big is it? How much is a subscription?
6. App icon
Your icon, just like the title, is the first impression of your app. Take this chance to show your app in it’s best light. The app icon itself will not affect the ranking directly, but since a great app icon can push your visitors to download your app, the app icon is essential for downloads.
Don’t use an app icon generator; use a graphic designer. If you are making the icon yourself – here are some tips for you:
- Make it simple. Be clear, focus on the main feature of your app, and find that one element that describes your app the best.
- Use universal imagery. If your app is a mail service, then use the image for an envelope, not a mailbox or mail truck.
- Don’t use text in the icon. The icon size is very small, and all text will look blurry. A picture paints a thousand words, and has a higher click rate than an icon with text.
- Keep it simple. Use a universal image on a one-color background. Skip 3D and other effects.
Be aware of the colors. Use a contrast color to the background. Colors might mean different things in different countries. Make sure to localize your app icon and color.
- Red – might be a bit intimidating. Red is energy, urgency and excitement, but might in advertising be associated with negativity.
- Blue is trustworthy, a secure color, typical for banks.
- Green is a comfortable color, easy for the eye to process, associated with balance and health.
The icon itself, and the screen shots, might need to be localized. Check with your localization vendor before releasing your app in different countries.
App localization is a great way to get high rankings in as many countries as possible. If you don’t wish to localize the entire app, then start by creating a MVP – Minimum Viable Product – by localizing your app’s metadata: description, keywords, title etc.
There is a clear and demonstrable link between mobile app localization and higher numbers of downloads and revenue generated in the targeted markets. People prefer to spend time on mobile games and apps that are in their native language. It’s a great deal less expensive and time-consuming to localize your existing app or game than it is to create a new one. Why leave money on the table?
Many developers assume that English is enough, but some of the most lucrative markets for mobile apps and games are not native English speaking.