App Store Optimization 101

Why Your Users Matter

Text by our friends from Gummicube – leader in providing App Store Optimization and App Store Intelligence

With over 2 million apps available on both the App Store and Google Play Store, many developers are realizing that getting their app noticed is next to impossible. Identifying the customers’ search behavior is the best way to maximize visibility in the App Store.

But how do developers get started? They start by utilizing effective creative management; i.e. marketing tools, which help to identify and convert users organically, which grows their app’s installs.

Marketing is a second thought to many developers during the developmental process. While some find the term “marketing” scary there are helpful tools to aid developers through the process. The key marketing tool that many developers have turned to is App Store Optimization (ASO), an acquisition strategy that helps drive visibility and create the best conversion through keyword and metadata optimization.

What is ASO?

ASO is the standard marketing tool for app developers to build visibility in the app stores. This tool also helps developers improve their conversion and become more relevant to their audience’s searches.

It’s crucial for an app to appear above its competitors. Developers do not have a second chance to make a first impression, so they need make sure their app’s metadata and creatives convey the app’s core features at first glance. Keep in mind, the icon and screenshots are the first visual aids users will see. Other than the creatives, developers need to hook their audience with the app name, meaning it’s crucial to have a unique and relevant name.

For an app to appear above its competitors, the developer must first sit down and monitor user trends and behavior. This can extend to understanding where their app gets the most traffic and gauging how to adjust their marketing strategy.

apple app store vorm

Types of Traffic

Traffic can come in one of two forms: organic or non-organic. Organic is when users encounter the app and device to purchase or download for free. Non-organic, however, is most commonly achieved through incentivizing users with virtual goods or extra app/game content. Developers want to make sure that their app has more organic traffic than non-organic because it means that their audience is built of quality users. These quality users help developers gauge how their app is really doing on the stores from number of installs and downloads, to understanding what things users enjoy about the app. The only way to ensure that an app has more organic traffic that non-organic, and that the app is being downloaded by quality users, is by creating a bullet-proof marketing strategy with ASO.

How to Implement ASO

Developers need to keep their audience in mind while optimizing their app’s metadata with ASO. An app’s metadata consist of its app name, keywords, descriptions and creatives.

Any changes need to be carefully thought out and closely tied to user trends and behavior. If developers make sure their metadata is more closely aligned to their users’ wants and needs, they are sure to improve their visibility in the app stores.

  1. App Name 
    The app name is the most important piece of metadata when it comes to improving visibility. Apple and Google recently changed their character limits, meaning developers now only have 30 characters for iOS, and 50 characters for Google Play. Regardless of how much or how little space developers have to work with, it is crucial to target the audience with high-volume keywords, which will in-turn be used as title tags to help express the app’s core features.


  1. Keywords 
    Keywords connect an app to its users and their searches. It is important for developers to have insight into what terms or words their users are searching with. Effective keyword management helps developers reach the right users and grow their app’s reach. Developers should choose their keywords based on their target audience’s search behavior. Identifying how users search, is key to the optimization process. However, iOS developers need to know that Apple restricts them to a 100-character keyword bank.


  1. Description 
    The description is the largest piece of metadata and is limited to 4,000 characters for iOS and Google. Within this space, it is important for developers to entice users with vivid but clear depictions of the app’s core features. While developers need to put emphasis on their targeted keywords, they need to integrate the keywords in a natural way. Once the keywords have been integrated well to reflect the app’s core features, developers can finish the description with a strong call to action that solidifies why users should download the app.


  1. Creatives 
    First impressions matter most! Users only take 3–5 seconds to scan an app, meaning the creatives (screenshots and preview video) are incredibly important piece of metadata for improving app conversion. These are the first visual representations of the app’s core features, and need to clearly express how users can operate the app. If developers make the screenshots and preview video, confusing or overly cluttered, they may risk diminishing their conversion rates. However, developers can improve their conversion rates by incorporating high-volume keywords to address any features their audience is interested in such as characters, gameplay, and more.

Differences Among App Stores

It should be noted that while the product page looks nearly identical across both stores, each app store has additional pieces of metadata used to continue boosting visibility.

  1. App Store 
    With the announcement of iOS 11 came another huge change; entire redesign of the App Store. With this redesign, Apple is introducing two new pieces of metadata called subtitle (30 characters) and promotional text (170 characters).


  1. Google Play Store
    Along with the long description, Google has developers give a small summary of the app’s core features called the short description (80 characters). This small space appears underneath the app name, and is used to quickly tell glancing users what to expect from the app.

Key Takeaways

Developers need to constantly think of their audience when optimizing their metadata with ASO. It is critical to monitor user trends and behavior to ensure that metadata consist of keywords, descriptions, and creatives that align with what the audience wants. This will ensure the most effective conversion by analyzing click through rate (CTR), keyword movements and installs.