Intro to App Store Optimization (ASO)

This post will cover two topics: how to submit your app to the App Store and Google Play, and app store optimization (ASO) strategies. Feel free to scroll to the bottom if you’d like to skip the submission process and get straight to ASO best practices.

ASO

Image source: Flickr, user: Todd Chandler

Submitting the app

iOS

Begin by registering first as an Apple Developer for free, and then by registering as an iOS Developer and paying the annual $99 fee. The process is fairly straight-forward, but in the event that you need step-by-step instructions, this tutorial has a great explanation. It takes a day or so for Apple to process the entire registration, so be patient.

After you have created an account, you may start the process of submitting your app to Apple’s App Store. The process is summed up in these five steps:

  1. Create a distribution certificate.
  2. Create a store distribution provisioning profile.
  3. Archive and validate your app.
  4. For Mac apps, test the Mac Installer Package.
  5. Submit your app using Xcode or Application Loader

You may see Apple’s instructions for the process here.

The App Store is notorious for rejecting apps based on a stringent set of rules. From offensive content to features that Apple just plain doesn’t like, Apple commonly rejects app submissions – leading to frustration from developers. In case you missed it, here’s a refresher for accepted rules. Thoroughly check that your app is in line with Apple’s standards to avoid sending your app through the submission process multiple times.

Android

To submit your app to Google Play, first create an account on the Developer Console and pay the one-time $25 developer registration fee. It can take up to 48 hours to process the registration.

Google offers step-by-step directions for submitting apps to Google Play. After you have reviewed your app for potential fallacies – Google is much more lenient than Apple on rules – you may submit your app by following the links on the directions. The process is simpler than Apple’s; developers upload their APKs, fill out a few key fields and publish to the queue. If you’d like a tutorial with screenshots, click here. The review process for this takes a few hours.

App store optimization (ASO)

The goal of ASO is to drive traffic to your app in the store so users download it. Once you’ve loaded your app to the app store, you can take advantage of four ASO factors that will improve your app’s ranking: title, keywords, downloads and ratings and reviews. Think of this as marketplace SEO.

Title

Your app title is the first thing that users see when sifting through search results. It needs to be descriptive enough that users understand your app’s purpose instantly. In the App Store and Google Play, you only have 30 characters to work with. Begin by researching your main keyword. Including the right keyword in your title can improve the chances of your app showing up in search results by 10.3%. If you need help choosing an effective keyword, MobileDevHQ has a popular “Keyword Research” tool. Above all, remain confident in your decision, as changing the title after launching will confuse users and make it harder to spread the word about your app.

Keywords

After you’ve picked your title, you can use other potential keywords to increase conversions. Apple gives developers a 100-character allotment. Discern your biggest competitors’ keywords, and use MobileDevHQ again to determine their difficulty. The trick is to pick relevant keywords that have low competition and high searches. It’s better to choose average-searched keywords and show up higher in the search results than pick highly searched keywords (like “game”) and show up as the last result. It’ll take some playing around before you find the magic combination, so keep testing keywords even after app submission.

Downloads

While the title and keywords are the most important factors to affect ASO, downloads also affect app ranking in the App Store and in Google Play. We’ll cover user acquisition in-depth in our next post, but as a general rule of thumb, drive app downloads via social media (Facebook, Twitter), PR, and referrals.

Ratings and reviews

The last ASO tactics we’ll mention are the app’s ratings and reviews. These also affect app ranking, but aren’t as easy to control. The goal here is to not just acquire ratings and reviews, but to acquire positive ratings and reviews. Find a way to connect with users, so they have a place to directly give you negative feedback, rather than venting publically on the marketplace. One incentivization tactic developers commonly employ are in-app prompts asking repeat customers for ratings and feedback. Use this as a way to encourage positive reviews, while offering a chance for users to mention concerns privately. However, be sure these prompts don’t interrupt user experience. If they pop up at inopportune moments, they’ll drive away users; if they appear too many times, it might look as if you’re begging for ratings.

If you need more guidance, this is a great cheat sheet that will help you integrate ASO best practices.

ASO app store optimization

Wrapping up

When implementing these tips, reference our last post about mobile app analytics. You can determine what drives installs based on user behavior, while tweaking app functionality based on common feedback. Combining these best practices with ASO is the first step to successfully marketing your app.

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This is part of Kiip’s ongoing Developer Success Guide.

Kiip is a leader in the field of app monetization. We enable developers to reward their users with advertising they enjoy. We want all developers to be successful in their ventures, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide with industry observations, best practices and expert advice.  

To learn more about monetizing your app, visit kiip.me/developers or email us at success@kiip.me.

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  • Great post.

    Icon and screenshots are a super important take into account as part of your ASO strategy.

    With the recent addition of video previews on iOS there is no doubt that having a video on your app page is also going to help you rank.