3 Things Everyone Forgets About App Store Optimization
Whether you’ve been working with mobile apps since the app stores opened, or you’re just working on your first app, you should be familiar ASO – basic App Store Optimization principles and practices.
ASO is a dynamic marketing process that evolves over time, adjusting to trends and changes in the market. In fact, one of the exciting things about the mobile space is that it is rapidly evolving, and there is always something new to learn.
Sometimes in booming smartphones and mobile app markets, it is useful to take a step back and make sure we are seeing the “forest through the trees.” Are we are executing a sound strategy while keeping the big picture in mind?
Here are the three most commonly forgotten fundamentals of ASO and optimizing your app store listings.
Relevance is Key
In every digital marketplace, search is a common discovery tool. Amazon’s Kindle library, for example, has over 1 million eBooks, and Amazon indexes book listings similar to how Apple indexes apps in the App Store.
For example, these systems understand that a Mexican cookbook is more relevant to searches on “cookbooks” than on “the history of Mexico”. Category placement and keyword/phrase coverage play a huge role in determining which searches show in the results, and even where results rank.
Unfortunately, the allure of tapping into a huge stream of irrelevant traffic is too strong for many publishers, and they approach a wide ASO strategy instead of a deep one.
Here’s what happens when they go the “wide” route: visibility is high – at first. If conversions for an app are low for a certain search query, Apple and Google will know to rank the app lower for it. Now, any visibility gained with a broad approach has cost you the chance of connecting with a relevant audience for your app.
Defining your target audience, detailing the unique and differentiating features of your app, and building deep coverage of ultra-relevant keywords and phrases is a far better strategy than trying to tap into traffic that is not looking for what your have to offer.
Visibility is only part of a good app store optimization strategy. You’ll also want to acquire and retaining engaged users via paid channels, or organically via app store search and ASO. Good visibility provides an opportunity for conversion.
The elements of the app listing that have the largest effect on conversion are generally the creative elements. These elements, like an app icon, screenshots, or preview video, are prominently displayed in search results and the app listing details screen, accounting for more than 70% of the listing.
Ratings and reviews (both quantity and quality), the app’s name and the description all impact conversion rates as well. They should also be used as tools to convert a viewer.
Often the biggest gains in conversion rates occur when split testing creative elements. Working with focus groups before launch, and using Google Play Experiments (A/B testing) on your live app are good ways to test and optimize an app listing for conversion.
ASO is Different From SEO
Using SEO tools like Google’s Keyword Planner will provide a poor proxy for how users search the app stores. Neither app store shares any search volume for specific search terms like Google’s Keyword Planner does. By using reliable app store intelligence platforms, you’ll be able to optimize your app with relevant terms and keywords that users are actually searching for.
The intent behind an app store search is different from that of a web search. Here’s an example that shows how different user intent is, and what Google expects is relevant based on their understanding of a user’s search intent.
Try searching for “mall” in Google (web search).
You probably see a map with some dots of the closest malls, some ads for stores at local malls, the knowledge graph with phone numbers, and other location details. Maybe you even see news articles about malls. All of those results make sense for a web search.
Now, search “mall” on the Google Play Store. Here, Google shows very different results, because the user is intent is different.
It’s a good idea to use app store search data when making decisions on target keywords, related search terms, and what’s relevant to your target audience.
Keyword relevancy, conversion, and app store data are huge parts of any ASO strategy. When making marketing decisions related to ASO, keeping these fundamentals and your target audience in mind will benefit your app in the long run.