The number of mobile applications on both Google Play and App Store can be summed up to a number of Berlin citizens. More or less 3,5 million. It is a lot and rises every single day with new applications being uploaded. This creates an extremely competitive environment where everybody has a shot, but just having a great app is simply not enough. You need App Store Optimization.
Two steps of good App Store Optimization
Have you ever asked a question, how people find your app? It is said that 65% of successful apps is discovered by searching the store. In other words, higher you are in search results, bigger the chance is that your app will be downloaded. So the first step in ASO is being discovered. The second one comes to play when a user finds your app – something needs to encourage him to download it. These two things I would name ASO – App Store Optimization.
You can spot immediately some differences between the AppStore or the Google Play. However, there are some basic aspects which put significant impact to final user decision:
- App title
Discover and decide
My understanding of above factors is split into two main areas: discoverability and decision makers. If you want the application to be downloaded, it has to be found in the river of apps. The title, description, and keywords, as well as user ratings, play the main role here. While your app is already discovered, then graphics, movies, rating & reviews come to action and trigger user’s decision. Mind the usage of those elements is different on both platforms so it’s worth to be taken into consideration. Moreover, their quality is crucial for your app position. The difference scope can be as high as 30%. And it is the life – death difference.
When you work on your application kick off with focus group research, make some assumptions or believe your intuition. The highest level of consideration needs to take part in all mentioned above aspects. But until the app is not on the market, not too much real feedback can be gathered. I believe this feedback is one of the most important things you can get. So, can you check if your initial thoughts were any good? We call it ASO A/B testing, and a good thing is to perform it right from the very first day.
ASO A/B testing – how does it work then?
All aspects of your store presence can be tested in the way. Deliver two icons, different screenshots or descriptions and show it to separate groups of users. You will notice at a time is the difference has or has not an impact on a number of downloads. This experiment can lead you to a better understanding of what your users like and dislike, what makes them install your app and which element has the bigger impact on them. You can perform this pretty straightforward on Google Play in the developer console. Available options range is very wide and can be even targeted to separate countries. AppStore developers need to search for 3-rd party solutions but it is still worth the effort.
Keyword, keyword everywhere
The keyword in ASO is the list of words which describe your application as best as possible and users are more likely to use them for searching apps in your category. Mind that this store feature is different on both stores again. While Google Play uses the whole title and description like a source for keywords, AppStore has specific, limited to 100 characters’ keyword field, which they use for app search.
Keyword rankings were created by various companies and measure how much traffic each word gets and how easy or hard it is to be found. Being higher in search results increase the number of downloads. The question you may ask is it better to be high in search results with a low traffic word or being lower, yet with a huge traffic? Moreover, the long tail keywords can play the significant role although they multiply possible options and ways you can go. Therefore, choosing right keywords is so important and requires hours of optimization study.
There is a number of tools and services which aimed to help with this issue. But don’t get fooled. Mind that all of those are approximate and can even give opposite results for some words.
Never ending story
I would say, that App Store Optimization is a marathon rather than a sprint, but still a vital factor for application life cycle. One more thing. ASO tasks can be done without any changes in the application itself, so no costly development is required. But if some are necessary, those changes are already tested and results are known, keeping the risk relatively low. And I would echo myself as the last piece of advice: perform ASO seamlessly. There is always something that can be upgraded.