ASO for iOS and Android Apps

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  • With over 4 million apps in google play and app store, getting discovered is the single biggest hurdle that you will need to overcome in order to have any success with getting your app downloaded.

    The bad news: app store discovery is not easy: on both Google Play and iTunes, with over 4 million plus apps clamouring for your attention.

    Im Rahul Lakhaney and Ive spent the last 6 years launching, marketing and selling SaaS, Desktop, tvOS and Mobile Apps. In doing so Ive learnt what it takes for you app to show in search results and to get it downloaded onto peoples devices. For Web apps, SaaS and Desktop products the process is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). For Mobile Apps its called App Store Optimisation (ASO).

    In this book I cover why ASO is important and walk through the major similarities and differences of the two major app stores and how they rank your app.

    Well begin with the basics of ASO, you will be downloading an application for researching keywords, title and description for your app. Then well dive deeper into the world of ASO by reviewing deep links and how you can get your app ranked well on the App Store just like your website. Then, well have a look at the visual elements your app needs in order to drive downloads as well as a way to track and monitor your progress going forward.

    You do not need to have any prior marketing experience to benefit from this course. Whether you are an indie developer who needs some marketing help, or a marketing manager at an organisation that is preparing to launch a new app or get more downloads of an existing one, you will benefit from this book.


  • What is App Store Optimisation?

    App Store Optimisation or ASO is the process of improving the visibility of a mobile app in an app store for IOS, or Google Play for Android. Similar to SEO or Search Engine Optimisation for websites, ASO is relevant to mobile apps. ASO includes the process of ranking highly in an app store search results. The higher an app ranks, the more downloads it gets. There are several components and aspects that contribute to your apps ranking in Google Play and the App store.

    These are the 5 key elements:

    App Name

    App Description

    Keywords that describe your app

    Number and quality of user ratings

    Number of downloads

    App Name

    The name of your app should be as descriptive as possible, while maintaining a balance between having a concise brand-able title versus a spammy title that is completely filled with keywords. If you plan on releasing outside of your Native Country, localise the name and title of your app for each market.

  • App Description

    Keep your best content above the fold. Don't make the reader click the read more button in order to understand what your app is about. Make sure you keep the description readable.

    Keywords That Describe Your App

    Keyword research is very important to the success of your ASO efforts, so be sure to do this research and include keywords relevant to the app in the app description.

    Consider including keywords used by competitors, if they are relevant to your app. Newer apps should target keywords that are easier to rank for, while more established apps can target keywords with higher difficulty scores.

  • Number and Quality of User Ratings

    The volume and quality of ratings is a strong ranking signal for both Google Play and the App Store. The ratings of your current version matter more than ratings of a previous version, so keep this in mind if your updating your app, and make sure you find a good way to ask users to review the current version of your app. A lot of times this can bother the users, so try asking them for rating once they have used one of the key propositions of your app. It is quite likely they would rate it.

    Number of Downloads

    The number and speed of downloads of your app, are likely the strongest signals to the App Stores as nothing says this is a popular App, as much as getting tens or hundreds of thousands of downloads within a few days of your App being released. An app that has a download volume that starts out high, and increases initially, and remains fairly high, will outrank similar apps that have fewer downloads, and whose download volume drops quickly.

    Additional Factors

    Number of people who actively engage with and keep your app installed over a long period of time, has a direct impact on your app's ranking. The more your app is uninstalled, it sends a negative signal to the App Stores, that your app isn't being liked by people.

  • The App icon also helps your click through rate when it is displayed in search results. Do not overlook the importance of your app icons visual appeal.

    Likewise, your app screenshots will help potential users quickly take a sneak peak at how well the app looks.

    Social signals and backlinks are more specific towards Google Play Store. If your app has a lot of plus one's on Google Plus, that sends a good signal to Google to give your app more visibility. Further, backlinks to your app on Google Play, by sites with a strong reputation will send good vibes to Google. Each of these elements has a different impact on how well your app shows up in search results. If you get all of them right, they give your app the best chance to rank higher.

  • Optimising Google Play Store vs. App Store

    If youve been paying attention to mobile at all, you already know the two main app store platforms: Google and Apple. App Store and Google Play store work a little differently from each other in terms of just how much importance each factor has on a ranking's search results.

    The app name is the most important component of how your app is discovered in both stores. Keywords are very important and influence how your app can be surfaced in the App Store and Google Play. However, Apple has a dedicated keyword field, so it's important that you use it for the App Store. Google on the other hand leverages their large search expertise and index your entire app description so your keywords are surfaced there as opposed to a dedicated keyword field.

    The quality of the ratings and reviews your app receives affects how well it ranks. Hence it is really important for the developer to make sure that you are building the highest quality app you can and providing the user with the best experience possible. For marketers, to figure out the best way to ask for users to leave an app review in the App Store.

    Picture credit: AppLift

  • ASO Basics

    Creating the Ideal App Title

    Let the consumer know what your app does and how it can benefit them. Try not to confuse them. For both indexing and conversion consider using specific features in your app name.

    It is important for ASO and it is important for conversion as users understand immediately what problems your app solves or what to expect upon install.

    Try to stay away from overly technical words instead of simple names that help users find your app and understand what your app does.

    Choosing Right Keywords for your App

    You should be revise and update your keyword list on a regular basis. After all, you can modify your description and add or remove keywords at any time after your app is available, so take this seriously, and be diligent about it.

    If you're just starting out, consider picking keywords that you can rank in the top 10 for regardless of search volume. That way you can build some momentum and get users downloading your app. You want to make sure the keywords you choose are relevant, so choose keywords that match the intent of your target audience.

    Keywords with high search volume are inherently difficult to rank for. Ranking even as high as number 30 for a highly competitive keyword with a high monthly search volume won't make a difference because people won't look past the top 10 search results. You're better off finding lower competition keywords and trying to rank in the top 10 for those search terms first. Your keyword research will be the foundation for the choices you make on your title and description, so be sure to put the time in now and select the best keywords for your app.

  • How to Find Keywords

    A great place to get Keyword Suggestions is to go to Google and take advantage of Google's Autocomplete Predictions feature. It is based on a number of factors, including how often past users have searched for a term. It uses the terms you're typing and then makes a suggestion based on what other people are searching for, including trending searches.

    But this approach is very time consuming and limited in results.

    A great alternative to Google Autocomplete Predictions is Type in a keyword, and you'll get up to 750 keyword suggestions for free. It is based on Google's Autocomplete functionality, and will help you streamline the keyword generation process and save you a lot of time. also has a paid version that gives you even more keywords and functionality that may be useful in your keyword research.

    Writing Your App Description

    App Store description is not only important for ranking and search, but it also serves as a way to compel users to download your app once they find it. So it is worth it to spend some time focusing on the description.

    What does you app do? What problem does your app solve? What is unique about your app? Why should someone download your app versus a competitor?

    Once you've written what makes your app unique be sure to look at your competition's descriptions. Now ask yourself these questions

    Things you think that could be done better? Do they make too many assumptions about their audience? What could be more clear about the way they describe their app?

  • Now leverage the keyword research you have done in preparation for your app description. Don't make the user go to the second or third paragraph to tell them what's so amazing about your app.

    The most Important thing to begin your description with is always your key value proposition. Follow the newspaper style of writing, provide the most compelling and important features first and then finish up with the least important features last.

    A lot of times I see typos and poor grammar in App Store descriptions. If your description has errors in it, you're not setting a good first example about the attention to detail you've placed throughout your app. Take a few seconds and run a spell check. Use grammarly plugin for chrome for any kind of grammatical or spelling mistakes.

    Then read the description out loud to make sure it sounds and reads correctly. While English may be widely spoken throughout the world, surveys show that people outside of the United States would prefer an app that was in their native language over another that was in English only.

    To reach these people, consider localising at least the description of your app. Then look at localising key navigational elements in the user interface. Do not rely 100% on free localisation tools. These tools rarely take into consideration local language nuances. Finally, keep your store description current. Update your description often. As you find new key words, modify your description and continue to optimise it to help you rank higher.

    When you add new features to your app, you're showing potential customers that you're actively involved and that you care about them. Last but not least, optimize and experiment with new keywords or content.

  • ASO Techniques

    Using Firebase for App Indexing

    In order to get your app to show up in Google search results in a desktop, or more importantly, a mobile web browser, Google provides Firebase app indexing. Firebase app indexing is a system that allows people to click from listings in Google search results, into apps on their Android and iOS devices.

    Indexing displays and promotes your app results on Google search, including showing your app icon when it's installed.

    App indexing also associates your app and website, so your app install card displays next to your website card.

    The Android app indexing API lets your users see app pages they have visited as suggested results on the Google app.

    Use Google search preview tool to verify that your app indexing implementation is operating as expected.

    Measure if the links that are showing up in search our driving referral traffic.

    The Google Search Console will help you monitor the performance of your app indexing. Check in on this daily, or at least weekly, and follow the suggestions for improvement.

  • Deep Linking

    Deep linking is a methodology for using a uniform resource identifier to take users to a specific location within a mobile app, rather than simply opening the app to the home screen. Above, you can see a reference to a popular restaurant app zomato. You see a particular restaurant with ratings etc on google, when you tap on it you are redirected to that restaurants page on zomato app.

    Deep links are important because they help with both user acquisition and existing user engagement and retention by getting them directly to the content within your app that they are interested in.

    So how do you do this deep linking to your app from a search result? It's easier than you might think. To get this basic level of deep linking, you have to add some simple code to your website so that the correct URL is used when a reader taps on the link on their phone. This is done with the link rel alternate attribute.

    In practice the link looks like this

  • Deferred Deep Linking

    What if the person who clicks your link does not have your app installed? Wouldn't it be great if that link would then take the person to the App Store, or Google Play to install the app, and then open the specific page or screen within your app.

    With Deferred deep linking, when the link is clicked, if the app is not installed on the mobile device, the user is directed to the App Store first to install the app, and then to the desired content within your app. After the user installs the app, the app then opens up to the page or screen within your app that you intended them to go to in the first place. From a user experience perspective, this is fantastic, because even if the user didn't have your app installed to begin with, they still end up in the right place.

  • In order to get that database with the deferred deep links in them, you can either write your own solution and maintain the server, database and the creation and management of the deferred deep links with campaign attribution, or you can go with a third party solution that handles all that for you once you integrate their SDK into your app.

    I personally prefer using TapStream for the deferred deep linking in my apps, it is quite easy to use and...