There are tons of content about ASO in the Internet and the amount grows every day. App stores (Apple App Store & Google Play Store) are becoming bigger (and more competitive) and they grow exponentially.
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ASO (acronym of App Store Optimization) is a reality and, according to our experience with PickASO agency and our own mobile apps, ASO is a 100% MUST for any app developer or marketer.
In this post we are going to learn how to optimize a Google Play Store listing of any Android app in order to increase visibility and volume of organic downloads from the store.
Let’s start from scratch!
APP STORE OPTIMIZATION: WHAT IS IT?
We aren’t writing again about this, but basically, ASO is the process of optimizing a mobile app in order to get the maximum visibility and the highest conversion rate to install in the app stores. So, ASO is not only about traffic, it’s also about conversion. Some people call it “App Store SEO”, because of its similarity with web Search Engine Optimization.
The App Store Optimization strategy basically consists of these 3 processes:
- Keyword research & Market research
- Google Play Store page optimization + A/B testing
- Tracking / monitoring and repeating number 2
1. Keyword research & Market research
This is the essential analysis you need to make before implementing your ASO strategy and even before publishing your app or game.
For new applications it is quite difficult to get into the top search results for head or mid-tail keywords.
It’s possible, of course, but it will take a lot of effort, time and installs. This is why the best strategy in the beginning is to go for long-tail keywords – keyword combinations that are a bit more specific than usual search request keywords and have lower competition. They have less traffic than the head or mid-tail keywords, but if you target keyword combinations for specific searches, your app or game has much better chances to show up in these search results.
How to choose keywords and keyword combinations for your app?
First, brainstorm the keywords – it could be anything that comes to your mind that is relevant to your app and to the tasks it performs, or its main features. Check what your competitors are doing there, too – which keywords they are working on their listing, which keywords they are ranking for and where (countries). Another good practice is to read reviews of your competitors app and try to identify the keywords that users mention.
After you have created and uploaded your pool of keywords to the system, check the difficulty and traffic for each keyword. You can perform this analysis in TheTool keywords panel as well:
How to identify long-tail keywords in TheTool?
Pay attention to those keywords that have low or medium difficulty and at the same time, the most traffic. These keywords are not highly competitive, and ranking for these keywords will improve the visibility of your app dramatically. When you will start implementing your ASO strategy, you will know which keywords to target.
To check your competition for each particular keyword can be helpful when you analyze the relevance of your app for a particular search, or identifying the keywords with less competition.
2. Google Play Store optimization + A/B testing
Implementing an ASO strategy for Google Play is a process that embraces optimization of your app’s on-metadata and off-metadata.
- On-metadata factors are the ones that are under the control of the developer: title, developer name, description, icon, screenshots, feature graphic.
- Off-metadata factors are the ones out of your control (but you can influence them): installs volume, ratings and user reviews.
Later in this post we will take a close look in the details of ASO on-metadata and an anatomy of a perfect Google Play Store listing of an Android app.
It doesn’t matter if you have already published your app, or if you are just preparing to launch it, you will need to implement the Google Play Store optimization. You will work on different elements of your listing, to improve both visibility and conversion rate to install.
And here is news for you: what you think is not the same as what your users think.
You may have created a great icon, but as Ogilvy said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative”. You can’t trust your own intuition here, and the user response is not always going to be as good as you expect.
This is why you need to perform an A/B test before implementing any change in the listing elements that are affecting the conversion rate. Those elements are primarily the graphics: icon, screenshots, feature graphic, and the localized texts.
What is A/B testing?
To perform an A/B test, you will need to create 2 different versions of your listing element, and compare them against each other. During the experiment, half of your traffic will go to version A, and another half to version B, and then both options will be compared to determine the best result. It is very important to test with a change in only one listing element, otherwise it is hard to determine which of the changes has caused an improvement.
Good news – Google has an A/B testing tool integrated into the Google Play Console! Here you can check out more about how to perform the experiments on your store listing in Google Play and the best tips about A/B testing.
You should always have an a store listing experiment running.
3. Tracking / monitoring
The App Store Optimization process never stops, the market changes as well as the Google Play Store itself, so a developer has to be always up-to-date with the current market situation.
The good practice is to track weekly (ideally, daily), your volume of installs (organic + non organic), keywords rankings, top charts rankings (overall, category, etc.), ratings and reviews of your app or game. Remove the keywords that are not performing, analyze and add new keywords and continue A/B testing until you find a best-converting elements of your Google Play Store listing.
User reviews is a part that is not totally under your control, but if you are constantly monitoring it, you will get valuable information about your product, keywords, and the weak points of your product and / or your communication strategy with users. In Google Play you can interact with users, replying to their reviews, which helps to build trust and improve the overall rating of the app. A good user sentiment not only improves the conversion rate to install, but it is also favorable for search ASO, as Google ranks higher the apps with more and better user reviews.
HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR GOOGLE PLAY STORE LISTING FOR ASO
A perfect Google Play Store listing for ASO can improve keywords rankings, improve conversion rate to install and drive organic downloads. As simple as that.
Besides optimizing your app for Google Play Store, ASO will also help your app rank higher in Google web search results (App Packs). Read more here.
Let’s take a closer look on the anatomy of the perfect Google Play Store listing:
URL / package
First things first, and the URL is the first thing you should think about, because once set, it can not be modified later. In Google Play Store, same as in the Google web search, keywords included in the domain / URL act as a strong ranking factor for app search.
Worth including a few keywords in the URL, right?
The developer name will as well help your app rank in search results. Besides that, Google favors apps from a developer with a positive history and ranks them higher in searches.
Try adding some keywords in the developer name. For example: “#DeveloperName: keyword + keyword”
The title of an app in Google Play Store is another important ASO on-metadata factor to keep in mind. It affects, above all, the search results, but as well the conversion rate to install.
Google allows developers to include 50 characters in the App Title (NEW: ), so use them wisely. Keep your brand name short, easy to spell and easy to memorize for your users. Include your most relevant keyword(s) alongside your brand name. This can significantly improve your app keywords rankings!
Remember that you can add one title in each language to localize your app. Don’t ignore localizing your app title – the mobile world is global, and the demand for your app can arise from the countries that you have never expected.
Quick tip: Try adding emoji to your app title to grab attention of the users when they browse or search the Play Store.
The perfect Title should look like…
- Brand – Keyword
- Brand: Keyword
- Keyword – Brand
- Keyword: Brand
In Google Play Store, the short description of an app has a strong effect on the ASO in keywords rankings and conversion rate.
Google allows developers to include up to 80 characters for the short description, and if the users are interested to know more, they can expand the short description to view the full description of your mobile app or game.
A well-composed short description is the highlight of all the best things about your app or game, and the best use that a developer can give to this field is to include the core keywords and the main purpose of your app.
Quick tip: Like it happens with the title, adding emoji in the short description defiitely catches users’ eye!
The description in Google Play is specifically important because it is an On-Metadata factor that is responsible for Search and Conversion. In this field you have to include all the keywords of your app or game, combined with a powerful call-to-action.
First of all, the description serves the purpose to improve your app’s position in the Google Play Store search algorithm, so it has to be searchable. And secondly, it helps to convince your potential users to install your app, so it has to be actionable.
The maximum length for a description in Google Play is 4.000 characters. The best practice is to include your target keywords a few times, and it is important to mention the core ones in the first and in the last lines of the description to improve rankings for those keywords.
Unlike Apple App Store, Google indexes ALL content of your app description and it helps with ASO.
A few tips for a perfect description:
- Use the maximum possible number of characters for description. 3000-3500 char is OK.
- Localize description to ALL possible languages.
- Look for mid and long-tail keywords and add them to your description.
- Use bullet points to organize the information in a clear and visual way for the user.
- Describe the best features of your app.
- Write in short paragraphs without an overload of information.
- If your app has won a contest or award, brag about it!
- Include a call-to-action that contains a sense of urgency (e.g. “Download now and start an adventure”)
- Support your description with your social media profiles or links to communities of users of your app.
To view more app promotion tips: