There’s a new term Internet marketers need to become familiar with: ASO, or App Store
Optimization. As apps have ushered in a new era of business on the Web, ASO will
soon take its place alongside SEO as a key component of online success.
Consumers are quickly realizing that apps are increasingly
abundant, providing solutions to problems, and conveniences
never before seen. But as the number of apps
increases at a rapid pace consumers need a little help
finding what they need. That’s where ASO steps in.
And, just like SEO, ASO takes up-front planning to
achieve top rankings in the app stores.
Plan Before You Build
It pays to do your research. Apps are neither easy
nor cheap to build — so it is critical that just as
much care is given to ensure its adoption and help
turn that app into a solid business investment.
What’s more, under-developed apps can incur
the wrath of poor user reviews, all but dooming
its future. It’s easy to dream up the next great
app but far more difficult to fulfill an actual
consumer need. Study the market.
• What do the top 100 ranking apps in
your category have in common?
• What features do the top apps overall
have in common?
• What are consumers searching for
(services or features) that could
give your app an edge?
Try to identify what users are searching
for and use those keywords when developing and promoting
your app; starting with the title and description and possibly
even using the developer name. Words like “easy,”
“fun,” “fast,” and “exciting” are highly searched and enticing
to the consumer. Your mission is to build an app that
has mass appeal and easy-to-understand benefits.
Naming and Description
The name of the app must feature a strong keyword. This
will have a major impact on your app store ranking and, of
course, helps consumers discover your app through search. Take care in researching keywords that are appropriate to the
app and its functions before settling on a name.
When it comes to app descriptions, clearly outline the benefits
but be strong and concise — enough to grab the consumer’s
attention and convince them why they should install your app.
Avoid using special characters in your title as this will have a
negative effect on how the name appears in the app’s URL. Also,
include “Free” or “Lite”, if appropriate. Another strategy is to
build your app dependent on a popular platform such as Facebook,
and use that name in your copy. If building on a thirdparty
platform, however, engineer a user notification when that
third party has an outage so that your app does not get blamed
and slapped with a low rating. Remember that every good piece
of copywriting includes a strong call to action.
Included in the research phase of app planning is pricing. App
prices will vary but should stay in line with similar apps or
functionalities. Price an app too high and it will quickly fall out
of favor — meaning lost ratings and reviews and the possibility
that cheaper alternatives dominate the app stores. Pricing
too low can add a “cheap” feel to the app and also result in
More than 80 percent of the traffic in the Apple App Store is
directed to free apps. So, one pricing strategy is to use the
“freemium” model — that is, offering a free version of the app
while outlining the benefits of the paid model both in descriptions
and in the app itself. Review your options, such as in-app
purchasing to monetize on engaged users. Half of the top-grossing
App Store apps are now free with in-app purchasing, and this
percentage has been increasing rapidly. Paid apps should stay
under the $4.99 price point, as consumers still expect to pay very
little even for high-quality apps.
Should you decide to charge for your app consider using
price promotions. For example, offering a $4.99 app for $.99 for
a limited time can create a sense of urgency on the part of consumers
and garner media attention.
Create High Quality Images
Create quality images to showcase your app and its benefits and
label the images with strong keywords. The app’s icon must also
be of high quality, and make sure it “pops” off of the page.
Plan the Preview
Search for an app and you will quickly see app store page results.
Many times, the iTunes Web Preview is listed higher than your
app’s home page as they are very search engine friendly. These
preview pages are critical to building organic traffic and attracting
links — these pages must be optimized.
Use keywords and be sure to maximize the use of copy
before the “More…” button, seen on Apple App Store previews,
for example. You are limited to three lines here; each made up of
120 characters before word-wrapping. The URL, page title, meta
description, meta keywords and the H1 tag should all be loaded
with the app name and keywords. Currently, the iTunes preview
page uses a “no follow” attribute for links to the app’s home page
so there is no benefit to the developer. Again, do your research
— it will pay off with more downloads and higher rankings in
the App Store.
Before officially launching an app, it is important to build some
• Launch a website for your app.
• Promote the app on social sites, and start networking with
app review sites and other online communities, like LinkedIn
• Leverage your social network by integrating Facebook Connect
into your app and request user ratings.
• Create a video featuring the “value” the app offers the user.
Consider creating a professional screencast in high definition
to demonstrate the quality of your app. Post on YouTube and
use the links in press releases and requests to app reviewers.
• Demo the app at mobile industry shows — you never know
when someone from Apple is watching (or reading) and it
could land the elusive App Store featured app.
Most Web marketers are familiar with display ads and, therefore,
attempt to buy mobile display ads first. The problem is that mobile
display ads are not very effective at growing traffic. Most
marketers of free apps report that it costs between $1.50 and
$3.00 (or more) to acquire an installation using mobile display
ads, and that mobile display ad campaigns do not scale very well.
Since it now requires approximately 50,000 U.S. installs in a single
day to place in the top 25 in the U.S. App Store free rankings,
explore lower cost alternatives such as “cost per install” networks,
which provide cost per install campaigns below $1.00
and at the high volumes required to break into the top of the
App Store rankings.
Apps that rank in the top of app stores and retain that position
do not achieve that status by sheer luck. It takes planning
and careful execution to land in the Top 25. But the effort will be
handsomely rewarded with higher revenue and user engagement.
Consider ASO a requirement before, during and after
launching every app in your arsenal.
About the Author: Robert Weber is a Co-founder at W3i, a leading provider of performance
based marketing solutions for mobile and desktop apps.
W3i has distributed over 500 million apps on behalf of its clients