App store optimisation – the secret to an app’s success

You use search engine optimisation so that your web pages rank highly on search engines. But did you know mobile app download pages need to be optimised too?

According to Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through app store searches, which means that any app that ranks highly is more likely to get traffic. Doing a spot of app store optimisation (ASO) can help your app achieve a higher ranking when people search for relevant keywords.

The key factors that determine the app ranking are:

  • Keyword optimisation (app title and description)

  • App icon

  • The number of downloads

  • Customer reviews

So while it may seem like you have little control over the number of downloads your app receives, you can encourage downloads by optimising the app title, description text and app icon, as well as responding to user reviews and providing regular updates to address any of the app’s issues. Here’s how…

Keyword optimisation

Keyword optimisation is the trick for a successful app because the keywords you chose will determine whether the app is visible in app store search results or not. So how do you choose the right ones?

Selecting the keyword

You should be able to generate at least 25 keywords related to your app. Take one important keyword and search for related terms using sites like or Google Keyword Planner or Keyword Tool, under ‘app store’. Choose the best of these keywords - those that are both relevant to your app and have high traffic. 

Want to make your app stand out from the rest?

Use longtail keywords in the app description. That said, if you’re launching a new app, it’s probably best to choose keywords with minimum difficulty and reasonable traffic.

Where to place app store keyword

Use the keyword in the app name (title)

According to MobileDevHQ, using a keyword in your app’s title will increase its rankings by up to 10.3% because both Android and iOS app stores scan names for keywords during searches. Use keywords with the heaviest traffic and include more keywords in the app description.

App icon and visuals

Use relevant visuals within the app icon and, importantly, no text. These visuals should help users understand what the app is about when they see it for the first time in the search results. App screenshots and preview videos are important as well. The small preview video (generally between one to two minutes long) is a great way of showing the app’s key functions and user interface. Add to that a couple of screenshots highlighting its key features to really boost the chance of a download.

Secondary factors that enhance ASO
  1. Number of downloads

    Apps with more downloads always tend to rank higher, so it’s worth considering a paid-for promotion of your app.

  2. Reviews and ratings

    Top-rated apps are always ranked highly, plus the words used in reviews are indexed by the app store search engines. Make sure your app is reviewed by users by giving them reminders and incentives. Having a pop-up message that politely asks the app users to review the app will help you gain more rankings on app stores. Responding to reviews is also a positive signal that can affect your app store visibility.

  3. App indexing

Finally, consider using app indexing to rank within the organic search results on mobile devices. In 2015, Google decided to include mobile apps in mobile browser search engines, which means that they now index apps just like websites. To get your app indexed you’ll need to provide Google with the information that relates your app to your website.

App indexing comes with several benefits:

  • Increased conversion rates

  • Increased retention rates

  • Increased app credibility

Apps are indexed as deep links which take the user directly to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store if the app isn’t installed on their device. If someone has the app installed, the link will redirect them to their app – for iOS, this is done through a universal link. You can find Google’s guide to app indexing here.

The bottom line

You may have created a great app, but if you don’t optimise it for app search, it could easily get lost in the crowd. There are so many little things you can do – put them all together to give your app the best possible chance for success. 

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