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App Marketing: App Store Optimisation (ASO)

App Marketing: App Store Optimisation (ASO)

What is ASO? ASO stands for App Store Optimisation, and is the process of optimising your app so that it ranks higher in an app store’s search results. The obvious benefit of this is much higher visibility to potential customers which should translate into more traffic, more downloads and higher revenue.

Why do you need ASO?

Ever feel like you've got a brilliant, million dollar app idea? Well if you follow your beliefs and develop your app, unfortunately that's only just the beginning... It's a 2 million plus competitor landscape on app stores currently and ever growing, so getting your app above all the others vying for attention is difficult.

This is where App Store Optimisation, or ASO, comes in - learn some smart techniques to get your app above the rest and give it the best chance of a Top Charts ranking on the big app stores to make your big bucks. 


ASO and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) require similar strategies and tactics such as competitive intelligence, keyword research, A/B testing and continual optimisation of your app and its assets (graphics, images, text etc.). There's many techniques for ASO but surprisingly many publishers overlook them, and this can give you a real opportunity of advantage to gain higher rankings on the app store. 

Keyword Research for ASO

Perform in-depth keyword research to find each keyword's relevance, difficulty (competitive level) and search volume. These are the three main elements of App Store Optimisation when choosing your keywords (prioritised in that order). Remember it’s better to rank in the top 5 for an average-searched keyword than in the top 100 for a highly searched keyword.

Perform research for Android and iOS separately if you have both versions because sometimes differences in user behaviour is very noticeable. Apple gives a dedicated field for adding keywords to your store listing, whereas Google extracts them from your app’s description and other elements in your listing. Ensure you work your keywords into that description well for ASO sake, and make it as engaging as possible, highlighting your apps best features and benefits. Deloitte found the most common reason, noted by 61 per cent of respondents, for not downloading more apps, is lack of perceived need.

Keyword suggestion tools like Keyword Tool are in plenty of supply online for ASO that help you find the keywords people are typing into the app stores search box. They are similar to Google Keyword Planner Tool but for app store search. For a comprehensive list of App Marketing tools for developers here’s a great one from Apptamin.

Start by simply asking friends and family, there’s no easier and more accurate strategy to help ASO than getting data straight from the horse's mouth. Sites like seedkeywords can help you find out what real people search for by simply sending a relevant search scenario written by yourself, sent via a link to your friends, asking what keywords/search phrase they would use to solve it.

Review mining is the process of searching for keywords in your apps reviews or your competitors. Review Analysis Tools exist that will save you hunting through hundreds of your most favourable reviews looking for interesting keyword ideas. Although this is an excellent way to help understand your target audience's language as well as their thoughts, opinions and suggestions on your app.

Spying on your competitor’s keywords is always worthwhile to find out what words they’re targeting, potentially saving you hours of ASO research time. AppTweak and App Annie help you discover keywords associated with your competitors, and their rankings.

Why is ASO so important?

According to Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through app store searches. So the majority of your potential traffic probably starts with an app search query. To improve your search rankings, a crucial understanding of your target customer base is essential here. This is what you MUST get right. You need to know exactly what your potential customers are searching for to find your app, and which keywords are relevant and used most often to get the best App Store Optimisation results. MobileDevHQ found apps with keywords in the title ranked on average 10.3% higher than those without, but keep your titles short, 25 characters short. You don’t want part of it cut off on the app store.

From learning this keyword information for ASO, it gives you an inside look at the language of your potential customers, allowing you to home in on your keyword choices. The keyword used in your title should be the one with the heaviest search traffic, and don’t repeat any words in the app stores keyword field that already appear in your app name. Separate keywords with just a comma, no space, to save on the character limit, and use numerical digits for numbers.

Spend time researching which keywords are best because as people become more aware of your app, changing keywords will be detrimental and will make it difficult for word to be spread about your app. The ease in which the title and keywords can be modified however means you can optimise them regularly.

Monitoring competitors is a great way to compare results week to week, and can help you make better strategic and tactical decisions. Knowing your competitors release cycles provides valuable insights on their importance towards the app and it’s quality (higher frequency tells of higher importance), what changes they’re making and how these changes signal their long-term intention, and where are they finding traction in the market.


ASO is your secret weapon because amazingly it’s overlooked by the majority of app publishers!


Other Important Factors:

Download Velocity

Meaning how many downloads you’re receiving in a short period. This is the largest component of Top Charts ranking. Having the same amount of downloads as your competitor in a shorter period will put you above them on the charts.

Total number of downloads

This is very important in ASO, but obviously you don’t have complete control over them.

Reviews and Ratings

Similar to above they are very important but difficult to control. You can however look to incentivise happy users to rate and review, and offer a place in-app for unhappy users to vent and talk directly to the developer, hopefully preventing a public negative review on an app store, and pleasing an otherwise disgruntled user.

The overall rating, current version rating, and quantity of ratings can all impact your Top Charts ranking. It’s important to monitor and improve your app’s rating as it is unique to the app stores and this data provides some of the best inside information on how your app is resonating with users. Are they currently happy, if not when did that change: before or after an update, after a new feature or after a new paid feature?

Use review tools to figure out which features people like or don’t like on yours and your competitors apps. Did they release an update recently and is there a positive or negative spike in ratings at the same time? Common phrases and messages in reviews can give answers to what areas are working well and which aren’t, and what’s being said about your app by your users.

The Paid to Organic Velocity Cycle

Paid campaigns can spark your download velocity, which then boosts search rankings and Top Charts rankings, which provides higher download velocity, which starts the cycle over again.

Expansion and Localisation - take it seriously

Once you’ve secured a solid foundation in your home market with strong App Store Optimisation, you may want to consider expanding for higher earnings. You can sell your app in more than 130 countries on app stores, so take localisation seriously, it's a lot more than just simple translation. If you want high quality and good user ratings, use a professional translator/service located in your target country. Region selection, competition, pricing (x.99p or x.00p country preference), numerology, cost of living differences, local trends and interests, copy and graphical assets all need to be considered and revised. Check out Androids guide.

Top ASO Tools:

Each of these tools offers different insights for ASO based on different metrics and analysis, so you need to find which ones works best for you and give you the most valuable and useful information, within your budget.


It takes time and effort to reap rewards from App Store Optimisation, but ASO provides a consistent channel driving traffic to your app. It is one of the hardest challenges grabbing attention and getting your app found, but it is a challenge that you can actively overcome. ASO is just the first step in optimising your mobile app experience. If you're ready to learn more, such as How To Make Money From Apps (in 8 Ways) and other crucial insights into the world of Apps, check out SOZO's Blog:

App Marketing: AdMob, AdWords, DFP, SSP and DSP explained

App Marketing: 12 creative ways to promote your app for free

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