Nowadays, developing apps for our company is an excelent way to build customer loyalty or to generate recurrent business. A lot of sectors (such as banking or hotel industry, for example) are introducing digital platforms (mostly apps) into business developing, so they can contribute to add value for their clients, improving target’s experience.
Apps developement is a growing market in constant evolution. Smartphones and tablets’ generalization has implied an average of 197 billion of apps downloaded in 2017. The most mentioned benefits are velocity, easement, 24 hours use and a bigger trust, for example, while purchasing online (the well-known mobile commerce, increasingly used).
But it is not always necessary. In previous posts, we talked about the “if I run a business, I need an app” conception, which is idealized because in most of the cases it is not 100% correct, especially if we want to attract new business or if we want to increase our benefits. As we already said in “Do I really need an app?”, using an Internet browser is still the main way to discover new companies.
We would have to analyze our business situation and conclude our needs and opportunities. Is the launching of a mobile application appropiate for improving user experience and promoting our clients’ loyalty? If the answer is “yes” and we don’t want out project to be forgotten, it would be necessary to get visibility. But this may be really difficult, considering the great amount of uploaded apps in the most famous marketplaces (an average of 4921 in App Store and 3448 in Google Play Store each day).
What does ASO mean?
As we use SEO for our websites positioning, we should work the same way for our mobile applications. Here comes ASO or App Store Optimization, also known as “SEO for apps”. It is, basically, the process of improving the position and visibility of an app in a marketplace (as a result for searches but also in Top Charts). This will help increasing traffic and conversion rate (the amount of downloads).
ASO is not as used as other kinds of positioning, so it may be a strength, a great opportunity to stand out.
First of all, we have to be sure about our own business and analyze competitors and actual situation of our sector, so we can get some guidelines for our project.
The most relevant step is probably analyzing keywords, because we will have to use them in diverse fields, as we will see later. We will decide them according to user’s behaviour and how they search for apps, because the visibility is focused on them. We could add synonyms, related and complementary terms.
ASO On Metadata
ASO On Metadata refers to completely controlable factors, related to mobile apps developing and to the fields we will have to complete in order to publish them in the marketplace.
The main marketplaces, App Store and Google Play Store, are lightly different when it comes to complete the different fields to upload any app. If we study them, we will be able to adapt our optimization process so we can take advantage. The following showed points are the basic factors for ASO On Metadata:
Title or app name
It is one of the most important factors. It includes the name of the app itself, which should be short, attractive and easy to remember. A good idea is including an attractive keyword, always related to the app’s purpose and trying to simulate users’ searching style. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t abuse keywords. Short titles generate more impact and we also have to take into account the character limit in each platform: 50 words in Google Play, 30 for App Store even though this one offers a subtitle field.
It can anticipate doubts, explaining the main features in a deep but brief way, ordered according to different ideas.
In App Store, using keywords and long tail words while writing description does not have any influence for our visibility, because it also offers the possibility of completing a “keywords” field, but Google Play Store (where you can set a long and a brief description) considers them for improving ASO.
Google priorizes developers with experience and previous projects, because of the good quality and reliability it could imply.
It does not define positioning, but it is easier to find an app by using categories if we choose one of them for our application. It also allows us to know out direct competitors and the average amount of downloads for that category.
Images and videos
The icon does not affect positioning (at least not directly), but it is a great help to increase conversion rate, getting our target’s attention and standing out from the competitors, as it also happens with the featured image.
Screenshots and videos that show our app’s functions allow the potential user to get a clear idea of the app’s purpose. We recommend using short and very visible notes about the most important features and trying to keep the company’s design, keeping in mind that this part can increase conversion rate.
ASO Off Metadata
We can influence this kind of factors, but we will never be able to completely control them, as they depend on the own market situation, our brand’s popularity or our target’s reaction, for example.
Number of downloads
It is one of the most important factors and it also takes into account the velocity of the amount of downloads: a higher number of downloads in less time will make our app get a good place in rankings, especially in Top Charts.
So the question now is… how can we increase the amount of downloads if we don’t have already a good visibility and people probably won’t find us? It seems something really difficult, but there are different ways to increase them. For example, social networks contribute to our app’s visibility (and using Google+ is an added value for Play Store!). Another method consists in having an optimized landing page, and even while developing our app we can consider using different strategies such as gamification or translation into different languages.
The amount of active members of an app has recently started to be considered, as well as the frequency and how many hours do they use it, cause it could mean the app is useful and interesting.
But the amount of users who uninstall it has a negative influence for our ASO, although this factor is usually related to the own app, as we can see in App Store Optimization 2017, that explains the main reasons: lack of use (77%) and the failure to meet users’ expectations (51%).
Reviews and ratings
Ratings are one of the most important ways to increase downloads because most users think an app with a good rating must be a reliable one. Reviews allow users expressing their thoughts about it, maintaining a feedback and lets developers know their problems so they can work on them. Google also uses keywords written in reviews for app positioning.
As we can see, reviews are important in both marketplaces. Positive reviews act as a recommendation for the rest of the users, while the developer’s reply makes customers’ loyalty even stronger.
We can also consider linkbuilding, which refers to our app being mentioned by third parts, really useful if we have received any kind of award.
Some interesting tools for research and ASO are Sensor Tower, The Tool, Annie o App Tweak. We need to mention Google’s Firebase, which allows applying Google Analytics’ tools into our app and it has a beta function called “Predictions”, that predicts users’ behaviour.
These factors are basic for ASO optimization, but that’s not all. It is not only about improving our app page and waiting for results. This market keeps receiving new apps, developers and users, so this process needs a constant work and research if we want to keep and increase traffic and conversion rate.