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SEO For Apps: How ASO is Set to Change the App Marketplace Forever

Posted by Rikki Lear on 16-Dec-2015 10:05:23


‘SEO’ is a term we’ve all come to understand. Search Engine Optimisation involves continuous work to make a webpage, or a whole site, strong and ‘decent’ in the eyes of the search engines. The idea behind making a webpage conform to certain guidelines and preferences (all usually beneficial to the user experience) is that the search engine will reward the page with a stronger preference in the search results. Naturally, this will drive more traffic to the website and provide the site owner with increased lead and purchase opportunities.The digital landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, and mobile is at the core of this disruption. Smartphone sales jumped by 15.5% in Q3 of 2015 and it’s been reported that 17% of consumers plan on buying a tablet in the next 12 months.  So what does this mean to you? It means that users are moving away from traditional desktop use. As the power of our mobile devices increase, so does the potential use for apps in day-to-day life.

This progression has created a perfect storm for app development and the subsequent requirement for tactical optimisation in app stores. We’ve broken App Store Optimisation (ASO) down into a ‘need to know’ set of actions. Use the following tips to get ahead and boost your app engagement


What is ASO?

Similarly to SEO, ASO is the process of optimising various aspects of your apps content, download page and even title - to ensure that it is viewed favourably by the app store and presented to your target market. Whilst SEO had an ‘early years’ period where certain tricks allowed sites to shoot to the top of the results, ASO has the learnings of SEO behind it and now success is placed much more heavily on the organic use of keywords relevant to industry, the user experience, reviews and relevant popularity - much like modern day SEO.


Why is it important?

ASO is important as it can give app developers a head start in their quest to gain app leverage. By spending time tactically planning an app’s app store description, or even it’s title - to make sure it is a) relevant to its target market and b) getting searched regularly by said market - developers could see the difference between a quite, fairly limp app campaign and a stratospheric success story.


Is it as important as SEO?

Whilst SEO still dominates the search optimisation market, and typically ROI is more straightforward to demonstrate - ASO is a relatively new concept and so the time for action is now. By investing in ASO, developers will have the tools and techniques set up before the industry expands.

Google has begun to index apps directly in the SERP which means that the markets are already being merged. Who knows - Google may begin to display app store pages directly in its search results in the future and get rid of app stores altogether. Now is the time to get your ASO in order and test and tweak.


What actually impacts it?

Here’s a quick guide to what impacts ASO: 


By having keywords about genuine services you offer or products you sell, the app store can understand why your app exists and if it is a suitable app to be returned in search results. This should happen naturally, don't force it! Think about the keywords you target and use these in your descriptions. Keep it sparse.



Whilst a punchy title will draw the eye of a searcher as much as a decent app icon - having an informative, honest title (with relevant keywords) will boost your opportunities in the app store. Follow similar rules to the previous point and make sure any keywords you target are natural and specific to your chosen target market. Be careful when changing your title and keep in mind that this will make it harder for your app name to spread via word of mouth, and benefit from searches of the old name.

Apps with keywords in title saw a 10.3% increase in search rank results

The following factors are not easy to control but nonetheless will have an impact on your App ranking:


Total Downloads

Of course, a popular app will be returned regularly by the app store. It’s impossible to control at the start but worth bearing in mind if you choose to enter into a segment or use keywords targeted by some big name apps.


Download Velocity

App store will favour a fledgling app with a faster concentration of downloads over a given time period, against an old app with millions of downloads. Try to get traction as a ‘hot’ app will rank favourably in the app store results.


Ratings and Reviews

Whilst you won’t be able to control reviews and it is to be expected that you may receive the odd lukewarm comment - make the most of these. Having the ability to  listen, respond and resolve any negative feedback will not only please the commenter but show you are dedicated to a continuous development process and their feedback will help you make a better app. Analyse comments, what are the trends? Is everyone complaining about usability or design? Being able to direct your resources to the things actually bothering people will help you be more efficient and speed up your progress.


Remember - like SEO, ASO takes time. Invest your time now and reap the rewards before everyone else catches up!


Rikki Lear is a Director at Digital 22; a UK based inbound marketing agency. He has been in the digital marketing industry for 8 years and is certified by the Chartered marketing, Google, Bing and Hubspot.

Topics: App Optimisation