Earlier this year I went through the App Store Optimization (ASO) process for one of my personal apps. App store impressions doubled immediately. Profits for the app almost doubled as well. This post outlines a phased approach for an ASO project. Never heard of ASO? Until recently, neither had I. ASO is akin to SEO for the app stores. A successful ASO project will increase app store metrics such as:
- Ranking position for targeted search terms
- App Store impressions
- Organic app downloads
There are five recommended phases for an ASO project:
- Keyword research
- Document current state
- Prepare recommendations
- Implement recommendations
- Track results
The majority of these recommendations focus on increasing organic downloads. The goal is to increase the number of times your app shows up as an App Store search result. There are a few other suggestions that would also help increase downloads.
This phase consists of collecting as many relevant keywords as possible. What might potential users be using as search terms to find related mobile apps? The goal is to create a comprehensive list. You will eventually dwindle this list will down to a handful of keywords to target. But for now, the goal is as many keywords as possible. Collect as many keywords as possible by:
- Having a simple brainstorming session.
- Reviewing App Store and Google Play related searches.
- Using Apple Search Ads to review recommended keywords.
- Researching competitor apps.
- Using reverse dictionary tools such as OneLook.
- Reviewing Google Ads Keyword Research.
Collect all keywords in a fresh ASO Spreadsheet Tool. You can save a copy of this Google Sheet template to follow along. Save as many keywords as possible in Column A of the ASO sheet. Column L will identify any duplicate keywords. Don’t worry about any of the other columns for now.
Document Current State
During this phase the ASO spreadsheet tool is updated with the before state for your app:
- Current App Name
- Current App Subtitle
- Current app store listing keywords
- Current app metadata (name, subtitle, etc.) for the Spanish/Mexico localization.
Save the current app information towards the top of the ASO sheet. It is worth noting that the app’s current rankings will be discovered during the next phase.
We now have a list of potential keywords in the ASO Spreadsheet Tool. Next you will collect data to identify which keywords should be targeted. Two main tools are utilized to collect data during this phase: Mobile Action and Sensor Tower. Both have their own tab to collect data. (These tools, and others, are listed in the References section of this guide). To collect Mobile Action data, use their Keyword Tracking tool for each of your keywords. To collect Sensor Tower data use their Keyword Rankings tool.
As you fill data into these tabs you will notice the ASO tab updating. Once finished collecting data, you need to select the targeted keywords using column I of the ASO tab. There are three basic considerations for selecting the most appropriate keywords to target:
- Search volume: How often is this search term used in the app store?
- Keyword difficulty: How competitive is the search term? How many existing apps rank for this search term?
- Current ranking: How does the app currently rank for this search term?
It is worth noting that the selected keywords should have some relevance to the app. Ranking well for a completely unrelated keyword will not attract interested users. Once the targeted keywords have been selected, the recommend updates are prepared:
Updated App Name: A few word description of the app, based on targeted keywords, such as App Name: Keyword Keyword. The idea is to maximize the allowable length of the app title. This will increase search ranking for targeted keywords.
Updated App Subtitle: Include a relevant subtitle with targeted keywords.
Updated Keywords: Prepare a comma separated list of updated keywords.
App metadata for Mexico/Spanish Localization: All metadata is indexed twice in the App Store. Once for the US/English localization and once for the Mexico/Spanish localization. You can double the targeted keywords by using the Mexico/Spanish metadata.
App Description: Updates to the app store description should incorporate targeted keywords as well.
These recommendations will improve your number of organic impressions. There are other recommended changes to increase the conversation rate of impressions to downloads:
- Increase app reviews
- Improved app screenshots
- A paid ad campaign
- Creating an app preview video
During this phase you will release an app update. The update will incorporate all recommendations made during the previous phase. Please note that multiple updates may be necessary to maximize impact. Also, it may be best to split different proposals into different updates. The impact of each update should be tracked separately. During my ASO project I waited at least two weeks before changing any of the factors. And each time I only changed one factor (price, keywords, screenshots, etc.). This makes it easy to tease out which changes have the highest impact.
This phase is spent tracking results in a spreadsheet. There are a few factors I like to track:
- App Store impressions
- Product page views
- App units sold/downloaded
- App proceeds (if you have a paid app)
Make sure to document the same metrics for at least a month before the changes. Then, you can do a comparison before and after. I am almost certain you will see improved results.
Many of these recommendations, including the ASO spreadsheet tool, were learned from the App Masters website and App Masters Academy. Steve Young is an ASO wizard. He was gracious enough to have me on his podcast for an interview.
A few websites are used to collect data as during this project:
Tools from Apple and Google to track analytics before and after implementation:
About The Author
John MacAdam is a professional transportation engineer, web designer, and mobile app developer from Columbus, Ohio.
This article was originally posted at macadam.blog/aso