App Optimisation – 10 easy steps

A Great App is not born. It’s found. And with nearly 1.5 million Apps in both Google Play and Apple’s App store,you want to increase your chances of being discovered, downloaded and ranked. Sure, word of mouth can be a significant factor in success, but you can’t ignore the other – ASO.

Not to be confused with SEO, although not entirely dissimilar, ASO – App Store Optimisation – is all about maximising your Apps chances of being found in a very crowded but very lucrative marketplace. ASO should be the key focus of your marketing plan, creating awareness and encouraging people to use your App . Now that we’ve planted that little seed, here are the main points to consider:

1.) Keyword research
Like the infinite puzzle that is Google algorithms, no one knows exactly how App stores rank Apps, but as is the case with SEO, you need to be thinking about your Apps keywords. Most organic traffic to your App page will be driven by a simple search in the App store so you need to get this part right, ensuring your page includes relevant, sought after terms – so do your research. And remember, requirements are different for Apple and Google Play with the latter providing more room for movement. Be smart and choose your terms wisely.

2.) Title/Name
The first thing potential users are going to see is your App name, so there are a number of things you need to consider here: Keep it short and catchy so that it’s easily read, easily understood and memorable – and so that users can read it in a single screen. Use keywords, but don’t overdo it – your title has to make sense and should include keywords, but makes sure there’s a flow to the information and you’re not just using keywords willy-nilly. Ensure your App title is unique – so that it’s not confused with others or lost in a plethora of over-used (and hence overlooked) App names. Your key focus here should be research, research, research! Devote plenty of time to researching your App name and how keywords will work for you – skip this step at your peril.

3.) App Description
Your App description comes a very close second to title in its importance and should be a compelling call to action. Be your customer and ask yourself what they’re looking for, then embody this in simple, jargon-free, informative copy that speaks directly to your target market, including keywords where possible but not cramming them in for the sake of it. Be clear about the value proposition – what will users get/learn/benefit from if they use your App? Put the important points you want to make ‘above the fold’. Regularly research your data and update your description ad infinitum as needed.

4.) Icon design
Your App icon needs to stand out – like a new product on the supermarket shelf, how you ‘package’ your App makes a huge difference – the competition is fierce so take your time in getting this part right. Top tips – don’t use text, keep it simple, design with detail and aim to stand out. It might not automatically mean App success, but it will certainly help to get you noticed, and could peak interest for further exploration.

5.) Screenshots
People love pictures – they can tell a great story better than lines and lines of text can do – hands down. So make sure you use screenshots in the store to tell your App story. There are lots of Apps out there which consider screenshots as an excuse to show bland pictures of various App features. Don’t make this mistake. As alluded to, use this opportunity to tell your story and to stand out.

6.) Video trailer
Let’s be clear here – if you’re looking for users for your App once they land on your App page, the video trailer is going to make a huge difference – so this is worth investing in. If a picture paints a thousand words – and according to the song, and to us (see above) it does – then providing a video trailer is the next best thing to actually trying your App and highlighting what’s great and unique about it in a few seconds. Video lets you go beyond images and screenshots to demonstrate what your App or game is all about: showing the UI, the gameplay, the features and so on. Now a crucial part of ASO.

7.) Competitive research
The App Store delivers more opportunities for competitive research than many other avenues and in ways that were previously unavailable. For it’s in the App Store that you can see what users are talking about, what they like, what they don’t like about an App, whether they’re satisfied or unhAppy customers, and of course whether they could become your customer. Think ratings and reviews to gauge how satisfied customers of your competition are. Can you spot opportunities to acquire dissatisfied customers? What are the key feature capabilities that really resonate with users? What’s the general ‘chat’ around the App? How engaged are users? You need go no further than the very place you’re planning on selling your App to figure out a strategy around it – all you have to do is listen.

8.) Choose the right Category
Placing your App in the right category isn’t only really helpful for users who will be browsing Apps by category, it’s also best practice – you’ve been warned! Furthermore, it influences your App’s ranking for that specific category so you need to think carefully about this. Choose your category primarily on relevancy, naturally, but consider also the level of competition in that category (which you’ve researched, right?). And if you feel like your App fits into more than one category you’ll want to pick the one that describes it most App-tly (no pun intended, Officer!), as well as checking out how many Apps are in these categories – the least competitive category gives your App a better chance of ranking closer to the top. Go forth and categorize!

9.) Price it right
To price, or not to price, that is the million dollar question. It’s no easy task. Determining your app’s worth to potential customers is tricky, particularly with the vast number of free apps out there. It could seem a bit crazy to even think about charging money for it. Again, do your research (you’ll have done this already so you’re prepared for this part!). What is the competition charging? What are users saying about price, if anything? Is their App a success -if not, could price be the cause? If it is, could you charge a bit more – but you’d need a pretty good reason, beyond profit, to do so. Consider also in-App purchases – where you’ll make your money as users engage with your App as opposed to downloading it and often including subscriptions and other products of high value.

10.) Analytics, and more analytics, and more….
In the same way that Google Analytics is used to optimize websites, the same needs to be done for your App, and there are plenty of tools out there to help. These tools are specifically built to help you see where your App ranks in relation to the competition, to boost your ranking and to provide the hard facts you need to optimize effectively. They’ll demonstrate what you’re doing right, what you’re not doing so well, as well as what you should be doing to improve your chances of success. Think Snesor Tower, Appstatics and Appnique to name but a few. If you’re serious about your App – and let’s face it, why on earth would you be spending all that time and money on getting it out there if you’re not – then you’d be mad not to include analytics in your Optimisation strategy.

The bottom line?

You’ll be spending a lot of time, resources, energy and creative input in getting your App to market – so it’s a no-brainer that you want it to be a big success, right? Success means lots of things to lots of people, but in this case we’re talking visibility and downloads with revenue-generating potential – so you’ve got to pay close attention to App Store Optimization. It’s not a quick fix, a once weekly gander at how you’re doing with the odd glance at the competition. You need to put time and effort into it, and follow closely the guidelines above, measuring, tweaking, reviewing, gauging, measuring, tweaking, reviewing….. well….you get the idea. And if you’re successful, you might even stand a chance of shining brighter than the 1million plus apps out there. And if you need some help – you know who to talk to.

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