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App Marketing: ASO Part 1


As of June 2014 there were approximately 1.2 million apps on both the Apple App Store and its Android counterpart. Someone (not sure who) coined the phrase; “there’s an app for that” and it appears to be a truism. With around 30,000 quality apps launched every month you need to stand out in order to make sure your app is seen.


With both the Apple iOS Store and Google Play surpassing 50 billion downloads there is no question that a shift from desktop web to mobile app is happening. If your app is dormant amidst the app stores and you’re not getting a slice of the 50 billion download pie, one would assume; A. there is no market for your app, or, B. your app has not been marketed correctly. It is most likely the latter -considering an estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide were using mobile apps at the end of 2012, there has to be someone requiring the service your app provides - whether it be another zombie shoot ‘em up, or a scuba diver dating app - the audience is there. So marketed correctly your app should be found and downloads should soar.


A study by Nielsen into consumer technology from 2012 concluded that 61% of consumers find apps through app store search. Therefore, if you are not attaching the correct keywords to your app it is not going to be found. Say hello, to ASO (app store optimisation), the first point of call in ensuring your app is visible on the app store. Think SEO for apps. Much like SEO, the aim of ASO is to drive more people to your app; to download it and to use it.


“How does one optimise their app for the app store?” – I hear you cry…


Unlike search engines, the app store industry is not dominated by a single player (Google). In the app store eco-system, there are two evenly matched players competing for the same space. So, unlike on-line search, internet marketers have to consider more than just Google.


Therefore, the app needs to be optimised for both Google Play and Apple’s iOS store. The steps outlined below are to help you optimise your app in both stores.


App title: This is the most important piece of ASO. Very similar to a website’s title tag, the words chosen for the app title should be descriptive and clearly explain what the app does. The title should be kept as short as possible, so that it does not get truncated, stopping searchers reading it in its entirety. Research has shown placing a keyword based on your app’s function in the title can increase the ranking by up to 10%. By all means; include several keywords into your title, but don’t stuff keywords into your title.


App description: Again, sharing similarities with SEO, the app description is comparable to the Meta Description tag on a website. It needs to be descriptive and clearly explain what the app does. Be aware that people visiting your app on a desktop computer or iPhone/iPad, will only see the first 4 lines of your app store description. The description appears below the screenshots on all devices and users have to tap the “more” button to read the rest of it. Therefore, make sure the first 4 lines contain the most important information; this is where you sell your app on all its great features!


FYI: For Google Play and the Apple iOS Store there is a 4,000 character limit.


App logo/icon: The app logo/icon is a fantastic way to visually express what your app does. With well over 1 million apps on the app stores, it’s very important to make sure your app stands out, a great logo/icon can be the difference between no downloads and hundreds. How often do you skip over apps with bad icons?


App screenshot: Professional real-life screenshots - Your app’s screenshots should be as crisp, clean and professional as (humanly) possible. If you can, take some high-res pictures of a real person using your app on their phone/tablet.  The point of the screenshot is for the user to see the app in action. Have at least 3 screenshots, preferably 6. Each screenshot should contain a different instance of the app.


Category: A lot of searchers head straight to specific categories, so make sure you categorise your app appropriately. If you have developed a financial app, select the finance category, not health & fitness. It may seem obvious, but so many apps are categorised incorrectly.


Google Play-Specific


App type: Google divides apps into two main “types”, “Applications” and “Games”. Mark your app accordingly.


App YouTube demo: Another tool to take advantage of to market your App is YouTube. Upload a video to demonstrate your app in action and be sure to highlight all its best features.


Leverage Google Plus: All apps have a Google Plus plugin. The more pluses your app gets, the more visible it will be in the Play Store.


Apple iOS Store-Specific


Keywords: Just like with website SEO, your first priority should be to target keywords that are highly relevant. The Apple App Store is very literal, so making sure that your keywords are highly relevant to your app is the best way to not only be discovered. but to get your app downloaded. When adding keywords, be sure to remember the following:


  • Use as many of the 100 allotted characters as possible
  • Remove all of the spaces between your keywords and add commas between every single word
  • The name of your app and your company are already included in your keyword list by default, so there is no need to include these
  • Remove longer words and test shorter words. Multiple Shorter keywords will give better search visibility than one longer keyword


Well, that just about covers on-page optimisation. Remember, to test and re-test to find the most effective strategy for your application. Mobile and ASO is an ever-evolving industry and we will continue to see changes as the industry expands, possibly resulting in changes to on-page ranking factors.


In my next post, I will outline off-page optimisation techniques for both: the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store. I will also discuss other techniques to market your app.


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