ASO Tips To Increase Your App Downloads – Part I

App Builder Appy Pie, January 9: So, you have an awesome app in your hands after months of toiling and putting in all your resources. Now that you have published your app to the platform of your choice or maybe more than platforms all that you need is for people to start downloading and using your app so that you can make some money with your app. How do you ensure that it happens? How to make sure that the people download your apps? We have compiled a list of ASO tips to help you with just that!

To begin with, let us understand what ASO means. ASO, App Store SEO, App Store Optimization, App Search Optimization, and Mobile App SEO all mean the same thing. ASO is the process of optimization of your mobile app with the intent to achieve a higher ranking in the app store search results and top charts rankings.

It does sound good right? But a valid question that arises at this stage is – does it really work? If we were to believe the recent research findings, then yes. As per one of the most recent Google reports, 27% of the users find their apps through a search engine which is an appreciation of about 3% since 2014 and the trend is likely to grow.

Quite like website SEO, there are on page and off page techniques that may be employed to improve app store optimization. Employing the right techniques will help you in two different ways, first is by getting more installs and second – by getting more visibility for your app.

What are keywords?

Before we launch into some super-efficient tips and tactics to get your app listed among the chartbusters, you need to understand what are keywords and what is their significance in getting a high ranking for your app on the app stores.

The search engines as well as the app stores like Google Play Store, Apple App Store and others make use of highly complex algorithms to sort or list out the search results which are based on relevance of the query posted by the users. It is tough to say which are the elements that these algorithms take into account while calculating the app store rankings. To determine the relevance, the algorithm takes into account a number of components in accordance to the user search query and the keywords that were used in the app page meta-data.

Not all these components or factors incorporated in the algorithm can be identified, but the following do influence your app ranking in a big way!

1. The Name Of Your App & The Keywords Used

Research says that when you include some kind of a keyword in your app title, it can directly translate to a rise in your app ranking by more than 10%. It is a fact that the search algorithms for both Apple & Google scan the app name for keywords whenever a user performs a keyword search on the app store. Both these platforms are known for giving quite a high priority to apps with app names that contain the search input. It is for this reason that it is important to incorporate some of the keywords in your app title as an advantageous App Store SEO practice. Some of the free tools that can help you to come up with the keywords are Keyword Suggestions (only for iOS app developers), Übersuggest, and OneLook Reverse Dictionary. Exercise caution while using keywords though and do not push every keyword in the title. It will only make your app look spammy. It is important that you create a perfect balance between keywords and branding for your app name.

2. The Format Of Your App Name

This is a neat way to include keywords in a way that will help create the coveted balance we were talking about in the previous point. Keep the brand name short and simple, a name that would be easy to pick and pronounce and then append this with well-chosen keywords separated from the app name with a dash or semicolon. So, what we suggest here is naming the app this way – “Name – Keywords” or “Name: Keywords” for a coherent inclusion of keywords. For example – “Google Maps – Navigation & Transit”, or “Amazon App: shop, scan, compare, and read reviews”, or “eBay: Buy, Sell, Save! Electronics, Fashion & More” and many more. Apart from this, while working on the app name format make sure that all the characters used in the app name are URL friendly. This is especially important in case of iOS apps, because Apple uses the app name for creating your app URL. Using any special characters like the copyright or trademark symbol might result in the iTunes referring to your app’s numeric ID for keyword scanning instead of your app name.

3. The Length Of Your App Name

The maximum length of app name allowed on the iOS and Android platforms are different. While iOS allows a maximum of 30 characters, Android allows 50. The brand name should ideally be kept under 23 characters, the shorter the better we’d say. It is a good idea to use at least 20 characters or more of the total limit to include some of the most relevant keywords to follow the name of your app or brand. If you have the app on both the platforms, it makes sense to use the same app or brand name to maintain consistency and uniformity.

4. The Subtitle That You Choose For Your App (iOS)

This is one of the most recent features and is introduced in iOS 11 and is exclusively for the iOS App Store. The App subtitle is a string of words limited to 30 characters or less and appears right under the name of your app. This is a great way to include some relevant keywords in this field which can convey the real value of your app to the customers and help you raise the app store ranking. These keywords that you put in the subtitle would be indexed in the app store search, which means that you can use this special field to your advantage and cover some ever-important keywords.

5. Your App Description & The Significance Of Keywords

For iOS developers this might not be something of real significance as the Apple App Store doesn’t look for keywords in the app description section of the listing. But other aspects of the app description gain a lot of importance in this case and we shall get to it in the following sections.

For Android developers however, the app descriptions gain really high importance, simply because Google pulls the keywords from your description to be included in the keywords for your app. Make sure that you include your app store keywords and construct meaningful sentences from them to be included in the description. It is worth mentioning here that the keywords that you use in the first few lines of your app description carry a lot more weight as compared to those in the rest of the description in Google’s ranking algorithm. Hence, it is a good idea to put your main keywords in this section.

6. The Beginning Of Your App Description

On an average, only 5% of the users click on the “Read More” button that sits below the short description on Google Play Store. On Apple’s App Store, it is further down, a mere 2%. Hence each character on the short description of your app counts quite a lot. This short description allows only 252 characters and you need to make each one of them productive. While writing this one out, make sure that you do not waste even a little of the space, do not leave any blank lines or interrupted sentences, and take care to make it crisp, succinct, and attention grabbing. Through this short description let your customers know why your app is unique and they’d appreciate it too! In this section focus on the app’s values and not the features and end the description with a call to action text to see your customers getting excited!

7. The Expanded Version Of Your App Description

The long description or the expanded version is where you are free to highlight all those awesome features of your app you have been wanting to showcase. In here make use of appropriate spacing, bullet points or lists to make the whole thing more readable. Flaunt user or social proofs or reviews, the awards & recognition that your app has garnered, and the honorable mentions all over the media that it may have received. In this description, make sure that you include all the social media links for your apps.

The Google Play Store, in the app description section allows rich formatting and the use of emojis. Use them well to stand apart from the rest of the crowd of apps on the store. Create the description in a tone that is in sync with the content of the app and appeals the most to your users.

8. The Length Of Your App Description

Upon research and analysis of a sample group of top 100 apps and their app descriptions it was established that 90% of the top 100 apps use more than 589 characters whereas the same percentage that is 90% of them use less than 3385 characters in their app descriptions. When compared to the other factors, the length of the app description may not play that big a part, but it is a good idea to stick to this range of characters when it comes to the length of the app description. Additionally, there are a number of tools on the market that can help you benchmark various statistics pertaining to your app that can help you with ways to bring about an improvement in your app ranking.

9. The iOS App Store’s App Promotional Text

Another one of the latest features that have been introduced in iOS 11 and one that is available only in iOS App Store is the App Promotional Text. This promotional text appears at the top of the description and has a limit of 170 characters. Though this is not indexed in the app store search, but this App Promotion Text gives you the freedom and flexibility to change and test it for response without having to release a new version. The promotional text that gives you the best response can then be used to alter keywords in the app store to achieve better conversion rates.

10. Your App Icon & Its Design

Your app icon is of great importance, probably more than you’d think! Research states that a better icon has the potential of boosting your downloads by more than 5 times. A good icon design is simple and catches your eye. This is a small space that you are designing, it is wise to refrain from overdoing it with too many elements or text. A good icon should remain etched in the memory of the user after the very first exposure and should look good even after being scaled down to the smallest required size. The icon should be clearly visible against both, dark and light backgrounds. It is good to get inspired from the icons of your top competitors, but make sure that they do not look so much like each other that they create a confusion in the customer’s mind. If you have an established brand, then you can use your logo as an icon to help the app associate with the brand and any future products. However, if you have an app that is functional, you may use an object to describe the app.

11. Coming Up With App Store Keywords

Initially set out to create a list of keywords at least 50 of them, and you can use the tools mentioned earlier viz. Keyword Suggestions (only for iOS app developers), Übersuggest, and OneLook Reverse Dictionary for app store keyword ideas. While looking through the keywords, make sure that you are only listing out keywords that are relevant to your app. Do not give in to the temptation of using a keyword only because it is a popular one because you would want the app to be found only by the people who would want to download and use it.

There is a concept of time sensitive keywords which means that a word like “Ashes” would do well for sports related apps around the time of the tournament and would stand a better chance to get into the feature list for any app store.

12. Choosing The Apt App Store Keywords

Now that you have an initial set of app store keywords, it is time you picked or formulated a strategy to optimize the appropriate keywords. You can always opt for some of the keyword research tools that are available online to help you with the process of keyword optimization by providing the search traffic and the difficulties concerning the keywords you are looking for. At this stage you can select 25 app store keywords before proceeding to the next level. When you are developing a new app, it is a good idea to go with the keywords that have a reasonable popularity and low difficulty as it helps the app gain the initial momentum. Once you have achieved the initial momentum, it is time to go for the keywords that are high in popularity and have reasonable difficulty levels which would help your app gain more downloads.

13. App Store Keyword Optimization

After choosing the apt keywords, it is now time to learn how to use them in the right way. The technique of keyword optimization is a little different for iOS developers as compared to the techniques that work for Android developers.

For iOS developers it is important that the keyword metadata is filled up with the app store keywords that you have chosen in the previous step. It is this metadata that would determine the way your app would get discovered. Listed hereunder are the rules that you as an iOS developer needs to follow:

  • Make use of each of the 100 characters that are available to you.
  • Use commas to separate each keyword from another.
  • Do not use any space, articles, or prepositions.
  • Depending on which form is easier to rank, either use singular or plural form.
  • Use every keyword only once.
  • When it is numbers use numeric characters, instead of spelling them out into words.
  • The words that are used in your company name, app name, or app category name need not be included again.

Since Google Play doesn’t have metadata and pulls keywords from the description of the app and uses them as the app store keywords, Android developers need to pay special attention to this description that they write out. However, while incorporating these keywords in the description it is important to put out meaningful sentences that would make sense for the user to read. Also, it is prudent to remember that the keywords that you use in above-the-fold section or the first few lines of your description would carry a lot more weight for Google’s algorithm than the ones in the rest of the description.


The story, however doesn’t end here, there’s more to follow and we would seriously suggest that you watch this space for more on ASO tips for your app!

Filed Under: App Promotion

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