Executive summary: there are a lot of factors here that influence your app’s ranking in app stores, and while you shouldn’t neglect any, you might stretch yourself thin optimizing all of them. About 80% of your results will come from 20% of your effort, so you should prioritize the 3 factors that get you the most results: put some good keywords in your listing (title, subtitle, backend), then drive targeted traffic to get downloads for those keywords, making sure to get as many reviews as possible. Snagshout doesn’t provide keyword research for the app store, but we do provide tools for increasing app downloads and reviews.
To propel a mobile app to the top of the search results and compete with the top competitors in the market, optimizing your app page is essential. There are a few crucial components that heavily influence the ranking of an app in any App Store.
If you’ve ever dipped your toes into search engine optimization (SEO), you probably recognize a few of the related tactics used in App Store Optimization (ASO).
Similar to SEO, ASO optimization is a consistent requirement to compete for organic traffic in the App Stores.
Whether you’re a marketing expert, an app developer/ seller, or anyone in between, this post will break down the key factors that make ASO a powerful approach to your app marketing strategy.
App Store Optimization (ASO) is the strategy used to optimize the visibility and ranking of an app inside the app store search engine, like the Apple App Store or Google Play.
ASO focuses on the goals of app developers and/or the company behind the app, which typically centers on app downloads.
Other goals often include building a brand, increasing the frequency of app reviews and ratings, improving user engagement, and even expanding to another marketing channel.
Apps can be quick to create and launch, creating a massive oversupply that doesn’t always meet the demand.
Try searching for “photo editor” in any app store — you can scroll endlessly and never run out of options.
It becomes difficult to compete in an oversaturated market - how can you get your app to stand out above the rest? App developers and their accompanying brands encounter this problem frequently.
Unless end-users already know about an app, or it exists in an extremely niche market, competing for generic keywords (a basic SEO tactic) will be expensive, exhausting, and won’t get you very far.
App Store Optimization (ASO) exists to make a mobile app more visible and discoverable by its target audience.
It’s not all fun and games, though. To rank high in App Store search results, your app title, description, visuals, and keywords have to be dialed in and optimized regularly.
App Store Optimization is the process and strategy of gaining visibility and ranking of a mobile app within any App Store.
App marketing is a much bigger picture, which includes the process of acquiring users to download the app, then getting users to complete initial actions in the app for activation, and finally, retaining those users long-term by becoming a consistent app that they use regularly.
Simply put, ASO is a strategy that smart app marketers use throughout the various phases listed above, but it is likely to be one of many.
The main factors that can help your app rank higher in the App Store are:
App name and title
Downloads and review count
Keep reading for a deep dive on these factors and how they play a role in an app’s ranking.
If you want to rank your app, the most important components on your app store page include the following:
App name & title
Total number and rate of downloads
Ratings and, more importantly, review count
Let’s discuss each factor, why they matter, and how to best implement ASO onto your app page.
The app’s name should be punchy and memorable, and the title should include the keyword with the most search traffic, without coming across as spammy or “keyword-stuffy”. That said, using a heavily-searched keyword in the title will help the app gain visibility and in turn, garner more downloads and more reviews.
The highest ranking app names are 24-28 characters.
Having relevant keywords throughout your listing, including the backend (hidden) keywords, helps tell the algorithms what your app is about.
Completing keyword research will help you determine which keywords are most relevant to your app and which will help you continue to rank higher.
Most searches are for brand names rather than features, which means you should focus on brand awareness, and finding more popular apps to compete for search terms with.
At least one keyword should be used in the title of your app — research shows that using them in the title can increase app rankings by 10.3%.
Avoid using the same keywords you used in the title that you use on the backend.
While keywords are an integral part of your app name and title, be careful not to overdo it. Anything that looks too spammy will likely cause users to keep scrolling and avoid downloading your app.
Apple Search Ads is a great place to start if you need support with keyword research.
The description should be the place where you allow the app to shine and entice downloads by showing off the features and benefits of the app.
Keep the description focused on these two things and don’t ramble on and on. Users will likely just scan this section, so give them something simple and digestible to read.
The keywords here are typically not weighted much (if at all) for ranking, but a more complete and helpful description will give you an edge once you’re in the top 3 apps for a given search term.
The subtitle, listed below the app name, gives you about 30 characters to persuade users to download the app. Using keywords that weren’t included in the app’s title can provide more understanding and description about what the app offers.
At the end of the day, downloads are the money-maker in the app world. The total number of downloads increases your relevance in the app store.
But here’s the important part: the more downloads you get each day from users searching with a particular keyword, the higher you will rank for that keyword. If you’re a dating app and you start getting 5x more downloads per day from people searching for “best dating app,” you’re going to start ranking for that keyword.
So, how can you improve the number of downloads for your app?
The best way to entice users to download your app is to show them the app, visually. It’s that simple. App preview videos, screenshots, and other media are the best way to persuade people to download and explore the app.
Similar to the way you would test-drive a vehicle before buying it, visual content helps users to experience an app firsthand before downloading it. Getting a front-row seat to the action can bring in more downloads.
Want a secret way to increase downloads? Keep reading.
It’s no secret that apps with higher ratings rank higher. What’s less obvious to some, however, is that the number of reviews is actually more important, especially within the Top 10 results. Many of these top results average 3.5-4.0 ratings.
Reviews can be tricky when your app is new because you need them to build visibility around the app, but users can be brutal if they have a bad experience. So make sure your app interface is clean and functional, and that users have a positive experience using it.
It’s important to respond to your reviews, particularly the poor or negative ones. Updating the app regularly in response to user feedback is a solid way to build loyal users and transparency.
Are there any differences between ranking in each store? The differences may not be huge, but there are definitely some factors that are weighted more heavily in each. SEMRush created this comparison chart to show the differences they found between the two app stores:
There are slightly different formats between the two app marketplaces, but the key factors are the same: the app name and title are the things you should pay most attention to, along with the keywords, review count, and downloads.
SEMRush found each store has different approaches to indexing keywords. The App Store considers the entire content (including title and descriptions), while the Play Store “also indexes keywords added to a designated keywords field, and the app subtitle.”
There are more ways to get more app downloads than just app previews and advertising. Optimizing keywords isn’t enough, either.
With Snagshout Partners, you can quickly launch a ranking campaign for any keyword you want to rank for. Add your app, plug in your target search terms, and an army of US-based customers will download it.
Launching your app to the top has never been easier.
To rank higher, many brands throw money at bots to leave fake reviews on their apps. It’s becoming easier to spot shady reviews, and this tactic often turns users off from downloading an app. Do NOT do this!
Trust is incredibly important online. Your app reviews shouldn’t reek of bots or spammy reviewers — doing so will break user trust, and that can be difficult to ever earn back.
Here’s what to focus on instead:
Act fast after they download: the magic number for getting an app review from a new user is just 72 hours. After that, 77% of users stop using an app completely.
Notifications: you can encourage reviews by generating a push notification within the app that reminds users to leave a review. These can be triggered once they’ve completed certain actions within the app.
Automate review growth: we mentioned using Snagshout for getting a lot of downloads quickly. Each of these new downloads can be a new review. All you have to do is flip a switch when you’re using Snagshout to run a campaign, and each new user will leave a review.
Remember, 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before making a purchase or download. Don’t underestimate the power of reviews from real, authentic users.
The best way to build positivity from app users is simple: stay on top of app updates, particularly when it comes to user feedback. Reply to user reviews and try to solve their issues.
Whether it’s a simple bug fix, feature request, or a major update — users will appreciate their voice being heard and will be more likely to leave a positive review.
While these organic strategies can be helpful with boosting positive reviews, there are still many competitors out there who are doing more (shady or not), spending more, and still ranking higher.
Focus on what’s working for your app and try not to get distracted by all the outside noise.
Getting an app featured is a big deal for any app developer!
To get an app featured, it’s important to remember these two companies love tech, design, and user experience equally. When designing your app, keep this in mind.
Your app design should be sleek, clean, and pretty to look at. Mobile apps developers have made gigantic strides in the last decade on UI — we’ve come so far since then.
Focus on functionality, usability, and overall feel. If it feels good to interact with your app, your users will rave about it.
What’s the experience like overall in your app? Is it confusing, overwhelming, or too flashy?
Whether you get these questions answered via reviews or by creating a test group, UX is a huge factor when being featured by an App Store.
Accessibility is also important to consider when designing your UX. Many users live with disabilities including vision, hearing, physical and motor skills, and learning and literacy.
Do your research on these disability domains and ensure that your app is inclusive to all audiences.
Regular app updates are a great way to show your users that you’re listening to their feedback. Create new features, fix bugs, and eliminate issues as often as you can.
It’s worth noting that this won’t have a huge direct impact on ranking, but your app’s quality will improve faster, contributing to your overall brand reputation among users.
We couldn’t leave this one out!
Focus on what makes your app different and unique in the content you create on your app page. Use keywords strategically, accurately describe your app to potential users, and include high-quality imagery and video wherever you can.
Implement the strategies and recommendations we included in this post, but remain true to your brand’s voice, message, and purpose. That’s what Apple and Google will pick up on!
We already know the mobile app world is oversaturated, regardless of what genre your app falls into.
To compete in this market, a high-quality app is essential.
If an app is anything less, there are 15 other competitors who your users can try instead. Apps are a dime a dozen, so putting in the time, research, and effort to stand out should be a huge priority.
Here are a few ways to ensure quality for your mobile app.
1. Test app functionality
You should be testing the app’s functionality, including actions like installation, user sign-up, app updates, notifications, and more.
If any of these processes or actions are slow or too complicated to navigate, you’ll lose users, guaranteed.
2. Test app performance
App performance is expected to be 100% with users today.
How many times have you gotten irritated with Instagram or Twitter when the app doesn’t refresh your feed fast enough? We all contribute to the need for constant speed and updates.
Prepare for growth. As your user base increases, the performance of the app will likely be affected. Be aware of the user limit that could affect app performance and plan accordingly.
3. Test on all platforms and devices
Mitigate the risk of bugs in your app by testing on all platforms and devices, particularly the ones most commonly used by your target audience and user base.
4. Review your code
Whether you’re writing the code behind the application or you hired a mobile app developer to do the heavy lifting, it remains one of the crucial components to the success of an app.
Because the quality of your app depends so heavily on the quality of its coding, let this be Priority #1.
This post should’ve given you a solid introduction to the world of App Store Optimization and what it can offer apps competing in an oversaturated market.
As the wants and needs of consumers evolve, so must the tools they use.
ASO is a highly effective and attainable way to organically increase the visibility and ranking of mobile apps online to their user base.
There are a lot of factors that influence your ranking, and you might stretch yourself thin tackling all of them.
About 80% of your results will come from 20% of the effort, so you should leverage the 3 factors that get you the most results: put some good keywords in your listing (title, subtitle, backend), then drive targeted traffic to get downloads for those keywords, making sure to get as many reviews as possible.