App Store Optimization has become a critical component in making sure your app gets noticed and installed. Find out what our experts say are the most important considerations you should make when you’re developing an ASO plan.
App Store Optimization (ASO) is a big part of ensuring your overall app marketing is fresh, relevant, and effective, but the bigger question is what to optimize in your app and when.
It’s hard work, especially for indie app companies that can’t invest the man hours to make ASO part of the regular routine. Done effectively, ASO consists of keywords (that you should optimize regularly), app screenshots (that you should update at least quarterly), and other components you should refresh as part of a wider strategy to supercharge your complete app-marketing funnel.
It’s hard work, and that’s why it’s critical to map out a realistic routine to boost ASO results and monitor the metrics that will tell you you’re on the right track. Being able to distinguish ASO best practices from urban myths and legends about what flies and what fails can save you time, money and disappointment.
In the June 15th VB Live webinar called “Making ASO Your Routine To Rocket Your App Up The Charts” — Part 3 of our nine-part, in-depth masterclass series developed by VentureBeat to accompany the forthcoming VB Insights ASO Practitioner’s Guide — Oliver Kern, Chief Commercial Officer at Lockwood Publishing and noted growth hacker, exposed three urban myths about ASO practices. In Kern’s view, some popular shortcuts can boost results for your app, while others can send it spiraling down the charts.
Take A/B testing of your app icon, for example. Popular myths dictate that following this procedure will reveal the best icon and — ultimately — point you in the direction of a winner. But what if the icons you are testing are missing the mark? In that case, Kern says, you are limiting your options from the get-go, since A/B testing here can “only provide you the best from what you have, but not identify a real winner.”
That’s where it may be best to be open and explore “wild card” icons that are on brand, but the result of thinking out of the box. Kern’s example of an empire game belonging to a large franchise demonstrates that pursuing this approach allowed the app company to choose an entirely different kind of icon (than the one on which it was originally A/B testing) and exceed all expectations.
It helps to make it your goal to “find icons that make a big difference, then you can also stop your A/B testing much faster and be much more confident about your results,” Kern explains. “Tests that only show a difference of a few percent will need lots of impressions to come to a conclusion, and it’s unlikely that one of the variants will deliver the big difference.”
Lock down your keywords
Another ASO myth revolves around keywords and their impact on app discoverability. You may think you can target uncompetitive keywords and magically end up ranking for them, but Oliver points out this is nothing more than an “urban legend.” Using the 100 characters for keywords will not automatically let you rank for anything that you put in there,” Kern stresses. “You have to be smart about it and use keywords that are relevant and, at the same time, allow you to rank in the top 20–40 search results.”
He draws from the example of Avakin Life, Lockwood’s flagship app that has reached 17 million organic installs (and counting) without spending on UA. The app, which opens a 3-D virtual world for users to meet new people, has a high affinity with fashion brands and allows users to dress their avatars. “You would think we could therefore use some fashion keywords and just magically end up ranking for them, but we learned it isn’t that simple.”
Finally, Kern takes on the ASO myth that app descriptions are not so important. “Research suggests that, similar to SEO, it is important to optimize your description for the right density with the right keywords, especially for Google,” he explains.
His advice: Start with quite a lengthy text and, once you can see that you are ranking for keywords you want to rank for, start shortening the text a bit (in a few iterations) to increase the density of your most important keywords. Avoid trying to optimize for too many keywords.
Kern’s no-holds barred approach to calling out myths and sharing best practices encouraged audience questions — and time ran out before Kern could answer them all. We take this opportunity to share a few of his final tips and tools.
One attendee asked: Why are app images important?
According to Kern, the reason is brand. “App images can help tremendously in your strategy to convert users that come to the store page. You want to reaffirm that this is the app that they want to install, and it’s a strong visual placement that will convince them that your app is a fit.”
Kern also outlined a bullet-point list to help you pick the right keywords, and a routing to follow as you track your keywords, check for new ones, and test and optimize them regularly. Look for this and more in our forthcoming VB Insights ASO Practitioner’s Guide.
Be sure to register to join us for “The Terrible Truth About Black Hat ASO,” Part 4 of this 9-part masterclass series. Gabriel Machuret — a world-leading ASO expert and author of the first book on the subject available via Amazon — will help you to recognize how, when, and where app companies are using Black Hat ASO tactics to manipulate algorithms, and how you can counter these tricky attacks with appropriate, effective strategies to get your app noticed (and not banned) in the app stores.
Don’t miss out!
In this half-hour masterclass, you’ll:
- Put urban legends around ASO to the test in a no-holds barred “mythbusters” marathon
- Determine how (and when) changes to your app store presence will drive positive results
- Identify the tools, techniques and strategies that will encourage installs and boost sharing
- Peggy Anne Salz, VentureBeat analyst
- Oliver Kern, Chief Commercial Officer, Lockwood Publishing
- Rachael Brownell, VentureBeat