With the latest developments in mobile connectivity, the number of people using mobile apps and the number of uses for smartphones is increasing every day. Other than through word of mouth and promotions, people mostly discover new mobile applications directly on app stores, specifically on Google Play and App Store. As a result, the need to optimize new applications for higher rankings in these stores becomes increasingly important.
The application store algorithms take into account several criteria for classifying and ranking mobile applications. Among these are the build quality of the application, the optimization of keywords, and most importantly, the number and quality of reviews and comments. These are all elements that need to be worked on for increased positive exposure — whether you design the app yourself or hire an app development company.
Thus, good SEO techniques have to be put in place. In order to achieve the desired results, app optimization must include the following characteristics:
- Create app-specific usefulness (hobbies, information, mail…) by providing answers and solutions to recommendations/problems.
- Possess an innovative concept: Compare with your closest competitors to determine the weaknesses of others that you are willing to bring as an advantage with your app.
- Beautiful and ergonomic design.
- Conduct regular updates for improved performance and better user experience.
- Have a good speed of use.
- Be stable and reliable (no bugs).
What is ASO?
While SEO makes it possible to rank your websites in search engine results, ASO, or app store optimization, aims to achieve the same goal for your mobile applications in application stores. In other words, ASO encompasses the methods, techniques, and levers through which a mobile application can appear in the first positions of the results when a mobile user performs an application search.
ASO is a skill that has emerged precisely in order to help app publishers use the levers that improve the visibility of their applications, and therefore, downloads. Publishers were quick to grasp the importance of this form of natural ranking, and soon enough influenced the emergence of the first ASO agencies.
But how exactly does ASO work? It is based on the same model as SEO, except it is less complex in nature. Practicing ASO requires going back to the basics of natural optimization, especially with regards to keywords, but other criteria also come into play.
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Criteria for Ranking through ASO
The main difficulty for mobile applications is that the ranking criteria are not the same for each mobile marketplace and that they also evolve regularly. In terms of ASO, we will notice significant differences in the criteria of the two main competitors on the market — App Store and Google Play — as we read in this article. We also note that the Google algorithm is more precise and more advanced than its counterpart — something which would not surprise SEO specialists!
ASO works with two types of criteria:
- Formal criteria – These factors are entirely dependent on the publisher of the application. They are quite similar to what is practiced in SEO, such as:
- Keyword Optimization – Strategic wording is required in the title, in the app description, and in the keywords/tags field to serve as a relay with the store’s algorithms.
- Updating the Store page and the App itself – The older an app, the lesser the chance that it will maintain a high ranking unless you offer regular updates.
- Interaction criteria – It is the interaction between users and applications that allow app store algorithms to evaluate the quality of the product and choose to put it forward. These interactions can take many forms:
- The rating (below 4 stars, your application will literally be in a bad position).
- The volume of downloads of the app (the Top 5 general of the French App Store requires between 20,000 and 30,000 daily downloads!).
- The difference between the number of uninstalls versus the number of installations.
- Statistics that result from using the app (number of active users, how much time do user spend on it).
While analyzing these ASO ranking criteria, two things can be noticed: firstly, the successful positioning of an application on a mobile marketplace depends on a mix of control (the relevant choice of keywords) and chance (Will the app run? Will it be downloaded enough times to get it to the top spots).
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Encouraging users to download your application must be effective and for that, it should meet the positioning criteria of Apple and Google, which are quite different in the way that they approach optimization. For instance, Apple has a less complex and simpler method of optimization. Both, however, put good and repetitive use of keywords at the forefront of ranking requirements.
Ensure Keyword Optimization
Once you have decided on the keywords with the highest “downloader intent,” start introducing your keywords in the title tags and description. However, be careful not to over-optimize these fields, as Apple has often punished the overuse of keywords. Favor a short title, with the main keyword to generate traffic so that the application is easily identifiable by Apple.
It takes great commitment and hard work to create an app that users will want to download. The weight of the application is also a significant element in ASO because mobile users do not like applications that are complicated and energy-consuming. As a result, they will be less likely to download applications that require a large storage space as well as a significant download time.
Aim for High-Quality Visuals
Visuals of your application reassure the users and influence their decision to download the app. First, create an alluring icon that captures attention. Use a neat, trendy graphic with beautiful colors and do not overload it with text; the image should reflect what the application does and be functional — show how the app is used. Remember to add screenshots. The integration of a small video is also useful to illustrate what your application does.
Get User Comments and Ratings
User ratings and comments are crucial for evaluating the sustainability of your application on application platforms. Thus, good ratings guarantee good positioning while bad ones (below 4) indicate that your application is not good enough for the average user, limiting the number of downloads.
Mobinauts and influencers in the application’s field of use should be encouraged to give their opinion — good or bad. Their reviews play a decisive role in encouraging users to download the application. Do not be discouraged if you have negative comments. This will allow you to fix the bugs and bring the necessary improvements to the product.
Above all, do not hesitate to inform the users as soon as a problem is resolved. Instant and continuous support to user issues builds trust and reputation in the app store.
A good trick to dodge bad reviews and ask users to give 5-star rankings is to send constructive and helpful replies to comments of users that are presenting a problem in the app. You should also seek reviews and opinions from your customers, collaborators, followers and ask for honest ratings right after you launch your app in app stores. With the first roll of positive comments, the rankings of the application will rapidly rise.
Promote your Application
Paid advertising campaigns, offered by Google, will be useful to promote your application on social media, Google, and other apps, which in turn will boost the download rate. A few promotional tips for your app:
- Add a banner or link on the company website.
- Create pop-up incentives on the mobile site.
- Publish sponsored posts on social media.
- Send emails to potential users to announce the launch of the application.
If you decide to do search engine marketing, it is very important to use certified Adwords consultants for this type of promotion in order to get the desired results.
The frequency of updates is a determining factor for Apple. Indeed, applications that perform regular updates are more reliable in the eyes of Apple. As a result, they are better indexed. This good practice can also serve as a reminder to users who use the application very little and could delete the app.
If these techniques are well optimized, you boost the visibility of the application, which positively affects the number of downloads of your product.
Ultimately, the success of an app in app stores depends largely on the quality, usefulness and likability of the app. One must delve deep to understand what benefits the app is bringing for the user. Depending on the strategy and plan at disposal for the application, you will know best what works and determine the certain steps to achieving those ranking objectives. Keep in mind that bigger visibility, more downloads, and satisfying conversion rates convert to more cash flow, and this is the reason why app store optimization is an option worth considering.