ASO in mobile app marketing


So, you decided to create a mobile application and successfully added it to the stores. What to do next? How to compete for your users among other 2,5MM apps in Google Play (according to AppBrain) and approximately the same amount on the App Store?

Is there something like SEO in the world of mobile apps? Yes. This complex of methods is called App Store Optimization (ASO) and today we are gonna tell you more about it.

ASO consists of two main elements: marketing optimization (icons, screenshots, video) and search engine optimization. Many newbies usually have problems with the second element. Let’s find out why.

More about ASO

According to Forrester, more than 65% of apps are discovered through the app store search. Thus, search optimization becomes the most used and effective method to discover and download new apps.

ASO is also known as App Store marketing or mobile App SEO. ASO focuses on expert resource applications that are related to the app ranking improvement directly in app stores (iTunes, Google Play, Windows Store).


The goal of ASO includes high organic app download rating, increase of brand exposure, positive reviews, etc. ASO increases its necessity among mobile marketers because of the growth of use of mobile devices in the world.

Ankit Jain, a specialist of search and discovery at Google Play (in the distant 2013 year) said that marketers that don’t use the ASO to increase their brand app search ranking are missing out the largest discovery channel that is available to the app. ASO is not a whim, it is a necessity.

Besides high rankings in the app store, ASO focuses on click-through rate index, which means that it helps you to convince users to click on your app once they find it. You can improve your app name, title, logo, and screenshots.

Other words, ASO includes certain tasks you have to do to get your app ratings higher with the help of keyword research, CTR optimization for your app list, providing data for potential users and the app store search robots.

What is the difference between ASO and SEO?

In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process that helps to increase the website visibility in search engines. So, what is the difference between these two systems and why they can't be merged into one?

Sure, ASO and SEO have common features. Both of them are based on organic traffic and ambitions, so that the website and the application bring money. But we are not here for this, we will look at the differences between them.

Ranking factors


Google uses more than 200 ranking factors to determine which position the page should have. As for app store factors, we don’t know all them for sure because official data about ranking algorithms for the App Store and Play Market are still not available.

Through the numerous observations and experiments, there were revealed seven main ranking factors that have a direct impact on app optimization.

We’ll describe few of them briefly:

- App downloads. It’s all simply, the more users install your app, the higher position of your app will be. Downloads still rock.

- App revenue has no influence on your ranking in Google Play Market. The reason is that a bulk of Android users refuse to download paid apps.

The App Store users, on the contrary, used to pay for their preferred apps. And the amount of revenue for your app will affect the rating list.

- App reviews influence user decisions to download the app or not. Positive reviews help users to make a quick choice and push the application higher in the list.

- Keywords have to represent the features and benefits of your app. Also, they have to match the search queries. This aspect is very important for both the App Store and Play Market.

And remember, using popular keywords will not lead you to anything good, there is a high competition for them, be unique and use words that perfectly describe your product or service.

- App country targeting. If you plan to target your audience by geo, then make sure you use the right colors (in a logo and other images), words, and methods. Different countries have different understanding. Сonsider the diversity in cultures and people’s mentality.

Terms of implementation

As for implementation, SEO is more complex than ASO. To begin with ASO, you need to know and have the app category, competitors, keywords, textual content (title, description, app name, etc.), visual content (app icon, screenshots, preview video, etc.), and determine the localization.

To implement SEO, you need to make a keyword selection, multiply SEO, optimize the page title, include the on-page and off-page backlinks, work on website credibility, link relevance, content, page speed, and social sharing.

As you see, SEO is a little more time-consuming.

User search habits

On the App Store and Google Play Market users used to write briefly, sometimes even one word about what they are looking for (maps, calendar, music, fashion, news, books, games, etc.). Take a look at top search categories.


On the search engines users usually type the name of the topics they want to get information about, they ask questions, they write a part of the sentence, etc.

However, SEO specialists have access to monthly volume search based on keywords by using the AdWords Keyword Planner. In turn, there is no way to get the keyword data for the words that are searched on the App Store.

Manner of the optimization

ASO usually includes visual transformation. Often marketers or developers change app icons, screenshots (for instance, after updates). In turn, SEO more often lies in the careful processing of textual content.

5 elements to focus on to improve the ASO

App Name

Try to implement one or two keywords into the title. Apps that include a keyword in a title have a 10,3% higher ranking than others. Especially if the app promotes in App Store, the algorithm uses primarily keywords that are from the app title in order to rank apps for specific search queries.

As you know, in 2017 Apple reduced the app name length to 30 characters. Sure, you can use a longer title, but as the practice shows, apps with long names are rejected most of the time.

Gabe Kwakyi from Incipia noticed that keywords from the title work better than from the keyword field on the App Store. Correct adjustment of the title and keywords led to the improvement by 67%.

App Description

App description is the place where you can use the keywords and analyze how users react to them. Remember users are those consumers who read the description so do not fill this part only with meaningless or popular keywords. The description provides users the information about your app and gives an overview of the main features.

Incorporate keywords into the text naturally. Thus the description will be attractive for the users and relevant for the algorithm (these tips concern to the work in Google Play).

As for the App Store, there is no necessary need to include keywords in the description, you can specify them in extra field. However, the description still has the potential to attract users to your app.

Almost forgot, both stores have limits for the description (4,000 characters). Think it will be enough to put a detailed information about your app.

App icon/logo

The role of the badge is to make a strong first impression. The app icon has to reflect your app purpose and direction.

Think of what your app is about and how you can convey it visually? For example, if your app is playful, your icon should reflect that. But, how to be sure that your vision coincides with the vision of the users? Only these ways: learning of associative perception, and testing.

You can create several variants of the icon and find out which one gets more clicks. For example, you can analyze which colors your customers prefer and adapt your icon accordingly.


This part depends on your purposes. If you want to expand targeting to several countries, consider language features. For instance, if your potential users speak Spanish, then you should write the title and description on the appropriate language. Not all the people are looking for apps in English.


By the way, localization doesn’t mean only translation, it also includes the adaptation of the information to the understanding of the people to which you decide to send traffic.

International ASO suggests that you can take all existing data, pictures, screenshots and localize them into other languages. But, be careful, it can happen that the name of your app may have a completely different meaning in the other language and please don’t use the auto-translator.

With the help of localization, you can make your app better, improve the app store search visibility, and extend the targeted audience. This optimization leads to more downloads and incomes.

Analysis of data can be exhausting, but keeping an eye on your analytic ultimately helps you to get more downloads and revenue. This information helps you identify strengths and weaknesses of your app.

App Screenshots

Majority of visitors spend about 3-6 seconds to make a first impression about the app. They will not enter the app to understand how it works, they will refer to the screenshots.

Screenshots show the visual part of the app. They should be exciting not boring. Colorful background, readable text, and good CTA button make users download your app.

Properly optimized screenshot increases CVR up to 28%. In 2018 Apple extended the screenshot limit (from 5 to 10 images). Additional screenshots allow to demonstrate all the features to the users and increase brand awareness. The better quality of your screenshots, the highest chances to converts new users and increase the app downloads.

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