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.


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.

Google Glass – will we all be wearing Google’s Glasses in a year?

When I was studying Digital Media at University I came up with the idea of a pair of “smart glasses” that overlayed directions on your surroundings as you walked around an unfamiliar city. It was all done through triangulation from mobile phone towers and a microprocessor within the glasses frame. It was a fun project to conceptualise, but never made it off the page.

It’s no surprise therefore that I was really excited to hear about Google’s “Project Glass” – a prototype pair of glasses that can record still and moving images from the wearer’s perspective  currently being tested by select users.

As Google define it, Project Glass is there to “share the world through your eyes. To get answers and updates, instantly. To be there when you need it, and out of your way when you don’t.”

It’s really cool.

In addition to the image recording capabilities the unit features a heads-up display (HUD) similar to that worn by military pilots, most recognisably those flying the Apache AH-64 Gunship helicopter.

Google have been testing the product in a rather flamboyant way including sky-divers streaming real time footage of their freefall to a Google Hangout and loaning units to fashion icon Diane Von Furstenburg to capture footage during New York fashion week.

It’s the HUD component of this product that particularly interests me though. A device like this with the backing of Google has the potential to make a huge impact. The possibilities for applications are endless. What about GPS based direction services that overlay maps via augmented reality, apps to provide guidance to people caught in emergency situations, real-time translations apps that give you live ‘subtitles’ when listening to foreign languages, ‘black box’ style real time recording for commercial drivers or apps to improve situational awareness for cyclists that overlay alerts when traffic is getting too close.

In the same way in which Apple & Samsung saturated the market with smartphones over a very short period of time, could we be seeing people wearing ‘Google Glasses’ on the high street within a year?

I hope so, because the potential for developing applications for this sort of device are incredibly exciting.

Google Gmail’s new ‘compose’ mail window

Google have just upgraded Gmail’s web client to allow you to compose an email far quicker and direct from your inbox view.

If you haven’t already tried it when you login to Gmail you should see a pop-up help window like this one:

You can opt to ‘try it now’ and use the new view or click ‘not now’ to stick to how Gmail currently works.

If you ‘try it now’ you’re taken through a quick help walkthrough and then can compose an email from the new pop-up overlay panel that looks like this:

A far quicker way to quickly compose an email, and I like the fact you can still see and click on mails in your inbox underneath without losing the email you were writing. Handy if you need to refer to another mail half-way through writing a new one.

ASOS Scan To Shop on iOS and Android

Fashion etailer ASOS were promoting their ‘Scan to Shop’ app at a recent Vogue event in Sydney.

‘Vogue’s Fashion Night Out’ in Sydney on September 6th showcased fashion retailers and brands in the CBD through a vast array of live events, outdoor stalls, activities and  parties.

ASOS provided a large 4-sided wall of product images which allowed owners of the app to scan via iOS/Android and purchase direct.

The app is similar in principle to Woolworths’ smartphone app which allows you to scan grocery items in train stations to virtually shop without visiting an actual store. ASOS have taken this principle and adapted it for the tech savvy online fashion market.

Pictured on the left is the fashion wall of products being scanned on an iPhone 4S.

Download via: iTunes or GooglePlay

More info on ASOS here.

Google’s black top bar gets replaced as the redesign continues

Regular users of Google’s cloud-based services such as GMail, Calendar, Documents and of course Google Search itself may have noticed the black navigation strip across the top of the page is being phased out.

The links to these services can now be accessed by rolling over the main Google logo which reveals the pop-up list shown below:

The official Google blog states: “We’re now ready for the next stage of our redesign—a new Google bar that will enable you to navigate quickly between our services, as well as share the right stuff with the right people easily on Google+.”

The black strip across the top of the page where the temporary Welcome to the new way to navigate Google eventually disappears as well.

This change gives Google’s pages a cleaner look, it certainly is less harsh to have the solid black strip across the top of the page and does save a small amount of screen real estate.

What do you think about the new design? Do you like the cleaner style with all those links taken off the top of the screen, or are you not a fan of the new pop-up and preferred it how it was? Let us know.

Get Google Plus (Google+) invites

Google have now opened up Google+ to anyone as long as you have an invitation. Well luckily we have an account setup on Google+ and are sending out invitations to anyone out there who would like one.

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who requested an invite, unfortunately we have exhausted our supply and can’t give out any more invites. Hope to see you on Google+ soon though.

How I got my Google pagerank from 0 to 1 – my top 10

I doubt I’m alone in eagerly anticipating the day when your Google PageRank for a new website goes from 0 to 1. It might not seem like a big deal to some, indeed who wants to celebrate the fact your site is rated 1/10 by anyone. But a PageRank of anything other than 0 is that reassuring confirmation that Google have finally recognised your site as having at least some value and are now ranking it higher than the default.

In this instance I’m referring to – the primary website for my company Fly Digital and I thought I’d share a list of the top 10 things I did to achieve my new status of 1.

  1. I waited – 6 months in fact from setting up the website before the PageRank lifted itself off the floor. Don’t expect your PR to jump up instantly regardless of the amount of traffic you’re sending to it.
  2. I setup a blog under the same primary domain – – where I post articles (like this) that pick up links from 3rd party sites, therefore showing Google I am growing my inbound links organically through content and not in a black hatted way through link farms or directories.
  3. I approached higher PR sites and requested inbound links – it’s amazing how supportive some people will be if you offer help in exchange for a relevant link.
  4. I asked clients to place links to my site from theirs.
  5. I added links to this site in the footer of sites I built.
  6. I became an author on Technorati and started writing pieces for their site. The “about the author” section on each of these highly trafficked pieces linked back to this site.
  7. I added Google Analytics and AdSense to this site (not sure if that directly helped, but it may have had an impact).
  8. I posted relevant comments into blogs on other similar sites with links back to articles on my site. Some were not approved, some were approved with the links stripped out, but some were approved with the links still in there again giving me more inbound links.
  9. I made sure the site was properly SEO’d – with individual page titles and meta information, descriptive H1/H2 tags, and that they were running on a fast server that loaded quickly.
  10. I kept checking and optimising the site using free SEO tools like the awesome SEOQuake so I could see what happened in terms of indexed pages or inbound links each time I tried a new tactic.

Hopefully that gives you a few ideas to try for your own site. Next steps are to continue these tactics and try out some new ones and hopefully start to see that PageRank increasing even higher. Surely I can get to 3 by Christmas…

Google ’tilt’ on your iPhone – the results

As per our article on Technorati, here is what happens if you Google ’tilt’ on an iPhone in Safari:

Is Google’s Chromebook going to wipe out the iPad?

Ok, that’s probably not very likely, but it’s certainly shaping up to be a contender for the top spot.

Check out the Fly Digital article first published as Is Google’s Chromebook Going to Wipe out the iPad? on Technorati.