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App Development


App Hacks: How to use App Store Optimization to Rank Higher

We learned how to get your iOS and Android apps featured on the app stores in the last two posts of our app hacks series. We also need to know how to benefit from app store optimization to keep your app's discoverability high. Luckily, we've got your back.

Getting your app featured is like Christmas for your app, but just like Christmas it only lasts briefly and comes once every year. So building your app's ranking and optimizing can be more important than getting it featured. As the image below shows, app store searches are still the number one method to discover new apps according to The State of Mobile Apps report by Nielsen. By optimizing your app store listing, you will make every day a "Congrats, your app will be featured!" day.

mobile app discovery methods

1. Title

Your app title is your most fundamental building block. It's the first thing your potential users will notice, and they only have seconds to notice it. Therefore, the words in your app's title should be the ones with the highest search traffic, but definitely avoid Apple's blacklisted keywords and don't violate Google's Content Policy. You'll always have the option to change the title later, but we recommend not to do so frequently as it'll affect your app's ranking. Only change your app's title if the search keywords themselves have changed. According to Fiksu, having critical keywords in the title can increase your app ranking by 80-100 spots.

Pro Tips for App Store:
  • Use the CamelCase practice when naming your app as it will allow your app to appear in search results through direct searches for its name, as well as any word in it.
  • Localize your app keyword, as localizing it can increase its downloads by 767%.

app stores search algorithm

2. Description

The app description is the core content of your app's page on the store. It has to reflect the quality of the app itself, focusing on your users' needs and what your app will actually deliver to them. You can do that by including the most searchable keyword in it, and having very clear messaging (which is to install the app) especially in the first three lines (167 characters), which make up the preview on Google Play and will be used as the meta description of its link on search engines. This point is more effective on Google Play than the App Store, as it can increase your app's ranking 10 to 20 spots, according to Fiksu.

Pro Tip for Google Play:
  • Repeat your app's most searchable keyword four to five times in the app description.

3. Visuals: logo, screenshots, promo video

Eyes pay attention to visuals first, then text -- that's science. Because of this fact, your app's page should be your art gallery! Do this by:

  • Designing your app's logo according to Google's material icons guidelines and approaches and ensuring that it's at maximum resolution.
  • Capturing the most beautiful screenshots that show how smooth and usable your app is and highlighting your app's top features. Also, use all available image slots on each store and include screenshots of your app running on all devices (Phone, 7" Tablet, 10" Tablet, Wearables, TV, etc.).
  • Including a short promo video, which is more engaging than images because of its motion and sound effects. Your video should be crisp and to the point (30-120 secs) highlighting your app's key features in action. And if you don't have the budget for a top-notch video or don't have the time, you can simply record a walkthrough video from inside your Android app using Android Studio commands.

4. Installs

The sole purpose of app store optimization (ASO) is to increase your app installs. Therefore, your repetitive installs should somehow pay back. Apple and Google continuously collect statistics about apps installs, uninstalls, and retention rates on their stores, and adjust their rankings based on these data. So make sure to keep an eye on your app's install and retention rates to avoid messing up your app's ranking. It's also worth considering the differences between how each store adjust its ranking, as the App Store only considers the data from the past 72 hours of the ranking adjustment, but Google Play considers it for the past 30 days.

Pro Tip for Google Play:
  • Use backlink campaigns to redirect to your app's page on the Play Store to increase installs.

5. Ratings and reviews

"The customer is always right" -- that's also true in the mobile apps industry. It's always better to maintain positive ratings and reviews for your app because they will affect its ranking and discoverability, as they are indicators of your users' satisfaction. This can be done by designing world-class user experience first, and then positive ratings and reviews will follow. And since we're discussing reviews, it's worth mentioning that we (at Instabug) have discovered the secret weapon to eliminate up to 80% of negative reviews.

There's no finish line

When it comes to ASO, there's no finish line, as app store optimization is a continuous process as long as your app is live on the store. You will have to stay on top of competitive research and keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, and also come up with something completely different every once in a while to surprise users and the app store algorithms.

Learn more:

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