Probably one of the most underrated yet powerful marketing tools in the mobile industry is the App Search Optimization strategy, otherwise known as ASO. Which much like its web based sister Search Engine Optimization (SEO) forms a powerful tool in leveraging the massive organic traffic streams the mobile App Store search engines have to offer. If done right, ASO can even form 60-70% of all download traffic for your app! So, why not take full advantage?
Choosing the right keywords to focus on regarding your app optimization campaign can be difficult at times. Even if you do know which words to focus on exactly, how do you apply them correctly to start measuring increased results? Well, here’s a ‘10 step how to strategy’ on how to create a master ASO strategy:
Step 1) Understanding the App Store Algorithms
First and most important is understanding what you are doing and how to best apply it. In order to get results with your ASO strategy, you need to make sure that your app is easily recognized by the App Store algorithms for the keywords you are focusing on. Both the iOS and Android App Stores link apps to search queries based on the value of the app, which is dominantly determined by the total install base. For Android, active userbase in the form of installs versus de-installs is also an important factor in deciding which apps are more ‘valuable’ than others in the Google Play Store. Knowing your value is important to decide to what extent you can compete on highly competitive keywords.
Step 2) Publisher name
Many people do not know this, but your publisher name or App Store account actually place a role in your ASO. If you’re a publisher that focusses mainly on a specific type of game category, then try to have a matching publisher name. So if you focus mainly on RPG’s for instance, use a publisher name such as GameMarketeers RPG.
Step 3) Choosing the right name for your App
If you have a word game, it might not be the best idea to call your game ‘Battle of the Titans’. Instead, go for a name that has value in regards to the search queries users might use such as: ‘Word Game Frenzy’. Another strategy which many publishers use to increase their ASO ranking, and something you might have noticed as well, is using an extension to the app name. This could look something like: ‘GameMarketeers App – The best word game for social gamers’ to target keywords like ‘word game’ and ‘social gamers’. Using extensions can be a very effective way to increase downloads through ASO.
Step 4) Analyze the competition
Once you understand the value of our app and have picked a good publisher and app name (and/or extension) it is time to take a look at the competition. A great tool to use for checking on which keywords the competition are scoring on is Sensortower. It costs a little bit of money, but we recommend the free trial version to see if you are comfortable with the tool. Simply fill in the names of your competitors and see which keywords they are performing on best. Then decide if you want to compete with them or avoid them!
Step 5) Finding the right keywords
There are a few things to consider when deciding on which keywords to focus your ASO strategy. It is important to know what kind of keywords potential users would type into search queries that are related to your app. On top of that though, it is also important to find a good balance of keywords that provide traffic and the competitiveness of those keywords. Again, Sensortower is a good tool to use for this. Search for keywords that have low competition but high traffic relative to each other for quick results. The bigger your download base and ‘value of your app’ the higher difficulty rating you can target. The key is finding both relevant keywords as well as the right balance. If Sensortower is not the right tool for you then another great tool you can use is Searchman.
Step 6) Deciding your keyword density for your App description
Once you have selected the right keywords to focus on, it is important to include them in you app description texts as well! Study has proven that only 2-3% of traffic to your download page will actually read your app description text so using these texts mostly for ASO instead of describing your app is advised. Most users base their download decision on the app name, icon, screenshots & the first paragraph, so use the rest of the space for your ASO. Make sure the amount of times you use the keywords you want to focus on (the keyword density) is between 2-4% for your 3 most important keywords. Then, for the other keywords between 1-2% is fine. To check your keyword density percentages you can use the free tool offered by Kesor. Just paste your text into their keyword checker and it will tell you the density percentages. Once you are happy with your text and the keyword density, it is time to upload your text to the App Store. Keep in mind it can take up to 24 hours before they are live, although usually it takes between 15-60 minutes.
Step 7) Upload your keywords with your next update
With your next app update make sure to upload your new keyword targets as well! You can use up to 100 characters so make sure you make the most of it. One mistake many publishers make is to separate keywords with comma’s and spaces. But you only need to separate each keyword with a comma, so make sure you don’t make this mistake!
Step 8) Ask some friends to place some comments
Another nifty trick is the placement of comments containing your keywords. Ask some of your friends, colleagues and family to place a few comments (written by you) in the App Store. Write a few comments that contain the 3 main focus keywords you chose and ask your contacts to place them in the App Store for you. Not only do you get some nice 5 star ratings out of this, but you also improve your app rankings at the same time!
Step 9) Analyze the results
Use AppAnnie keywords / ASO tool to track your results and your rankings. See which keywords are working well and which need to be further optimized. Keep track of your competitors here as well, along with the other tools mentioned in this article. It is always good to track results with multiple tools and sources, not just one!
Step 10) Keep optimizing!
Once you gain more downloads and have a steady download base, you can optimize keywords with higher competition because the App Store algorithms will rank your app based on both relevance as well as your (now increased) app value. Another nifty trick is to repeat all the above steps for special holidays and actual events such as Halloween, Christmas, Easter etc. to leverage the high search volumes in short time periods for your app.
If you are looking for professional help for your ASO tactics, contact the GameMarketeers team and we will link you to the right professionals.
Hopefully the above is useful. If you have any questions, tips or recommendations please post them below so we can optimize this article and create the best master ASO strategy out there.