The 3 Ways to Increase App Downloads Using ASO

With so many apps already in Google Play and Apple app stores, and more being added each day, the main question that arises for small mobile development teams is:

How do I get my app noticed without spending a fortune on marketing?

While there are large companies that can bankroll television commercials, and hire celebrities to help endorse their apps, we little developers have access to our own toolbox. Big developers are already using these tactics. But, many smaller developers pass over one of the best ways to get your app noticed on the app store: App Store Optimization, or ASO for short.

ASO is the process of organizing app descriptions, titles, and keywords to facilitate an increased chance of the app store search algorithm to display their app. The more times your app is displayed to a user, and the higher the algorithm ranks it, and the more downloads it will generate. Of course, downloads feed into even more downloads, generating more downloads — and well, you get it: feeding into a self-fulfilling process. To kick things off, we begin with the first step of App Store Optimization:


Choose the right keywords, or a specific keyword, and your app’s discoverability is immediately improved. For the Apple App Store, there is a field dedicated to filling out which keywords will be linked to your app. While Google Play has no such space, it involves repetition of the keyword in your app description (which we will get into later).

Research is involved in choosing your keyword(s).

Some people swear by such tools as SensorTower to help with keyword selection, but it all comes back to proper research. Knowing which terms or words your potential users will use to find your app is a good start. At a minimum, look at your competition (remember to scope out your competition during the planning phase of your app) and see what keywords they are using. You can also review who is performing the best in your app market. Take note of which keywords they are using even if they are not in direct competition with you.

Once your research is done, and you have chosen the best keywords possible for your app, we can move onto the next phase.

The App Title

The title that is displayed for your app is one of the most important ways to get ranked via both the Google Play and Apple app store search algorithms. While you want your app title to be unique the three vital factors for a good app title:

  1. Be descriptive of what the app’s function is,
  2. Be simple enough for users to remember (this helps with social media and social sharing), and
  3. Have it somehow feature your main keyword.

Yes, your most heavily searched keyword should be placed front and centre in your app title. The reason being: apps with keywords in their title ranked 10.3% higher than those without a keyword in their title. And when you are trying to get started, ranking is key to higher downloads.

With our app title chosen, it is time to move onto the next step.

The App Description

The last thing we are truly able to control in helping with ASO is the app description.

For the Apple App Store, the app description is non-indexable; basically meaning that it is not as heavily weighted during the searching process. This does not mean we can ignore it though, as on Google Play, the opposite is true.

Google Play ranking can be directly correlated to the amount of keywords used in the app description. Many of the top apps in each category sport around 7 keywords on average throughout their app’s description. Having around 7 keywords in the app description seems to be the sweet spot for Google Play. More keywords than that seems to have a diminishing returns, where it no longer affects your search ranking. If keyword density gets too high, it can actually be detrimental to your Google Play ranking, lowering your placement or even having getting your app unpublished. Therefore, use those keywords that you researched, especially that primary keyword, but avoid being spammy as that will hurt you more than help.

There are other factors that affect ASO, such as downloads, reviews, and rating. Strategically crafting your keywords, app title and app description will help you achieve these other necessary factors and will help make your app visible to potential users. While ASO is not demanding to implement, it must be monitored and adjusted regularly to ensure optimal performance.

There we have it. The first steps to being found on app stores, and without spending more than you would on a coffee.

Featured image photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo