App Search Optimisation (ASO) for beginners

Hooray, there’s a new Technology acronym that I need to learn … said no one ever.

ASO or App Search Optimisation is the fancy way of describing the process of trying to make your app stand out above others when customers are browsing app stores like iTunes or Google Play.

Personally I think, as with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), there’s an awful lot of common sense that can be applied here to cover 80% of the ‘recommendations’ that the ‘experts’ are telling us.

But as a self confessed ‘expert’ who is here to give you some ‘recommendations’ here are the key things that I’d suggest you focus on when submitting your app.

App Name

Most importantly. Does your app have a descriptive name that contains keywords customers may be searching for? Remember, you have two ‘names’ for your app: 1) the short name that appears under the app icon on the smartphone and 2) the longer app name that features in the App Store. As an example your new flying game might have a short name of ‘Fly High’ but can have an App Store name of ‘Fly High – the Aeroplane Simulator Flying Game’. So choose both names wisely, the idea is to maximise the number of downloads by being descriptive.

App Keywords

Keywords are of little relevance to website SEO nowadays but they can help with ASO. So make sure you use as many of the 100 characters you’re given as you can. A good starting point is to research what your competitor apps are using to get ideas. And don’t forget there’s no need to repeat your App Name in your keywords.

App Description

Most importantly with the App Description is the fact that it’s going to get truncated. So make sure your key sell message is concisely written in the first two¬†sentences. A punchy couple of sentences which neatly describe what you’ll get in the app is a way better strategy than paragraphs of text on how you came up with the idea or who the sponsors are or why you think it’s the next Angry Birds. Give the customer the facts, sell them the concept, then let them decide. Here’s a good example from Fox Sports’ NRL app:

App Icon

There are two schools of thought for including text in the icon or not. My opinion is that if the icon text is readable and better defines the purpose/brand of the app than a graphic only icon then go for it. But there’s no need to repeat the name of the App in your icon, that’s what the short name is for.

Updates

If you are making updates to your app make sure you don’t only describe the updates you’ve made but list them too. People love lists. Writing a sentence or two on why you’ve released this new version (eg: “You asked for changes to our booking system so we’ve added new ways to pay and made booking even easier”) and following that up with a list of exactly what you have done is generally the best approach.

Other tactics

A couple of final tips:

  1. Encourage customers to review and rate/review your app. You can do this via push notification prompts or via your company Social Media channels. An app that has 0 reviews and 0 ratings doesn’t look appealing to customers at all, especially if you’re asking them to pay for it.
  2. Encourage your friends and family to rate/review your app. As per point #1, it doesn’t hurt to ask people you know to rate your new app to get some initial runs on the board.
  3. Have relevant screenshots. You may love your fancy loading screen but there’s no point making that the number one screenshot, it’s not going to sell your app. Choose screenshots that tell the story of what you get when you download the app. Pick the key areas of content or functionality, and make sure the first screenshot is the best one.

If you have any other tips that you’ve found work when Optimising your App content, let us know below.