Article in Mobile App Development category.

App Store Optimization (ASO) for Apps and Games in 2019

There’s a cost-effective solution to stand out and get more traffic and downloads in this overcrowded market: App Store Optimization.


As of April 2019, there are approximately 3 million apps and games in the Google Play Store and 2 million in Apple’s App Store, but this number is even higher if we consider other markets (Windows Store, Amazon AppStore, Blackberry World, etc.). You have probably heard the expression “there’s an app for that”, haven’t you? Well, taking these numbers into account, that expression becomes more accurate than ever.

There’s a cost-effective solution to stand out and get more traffic and downloads in this overcrowded market: App Store Optimization. This complete guide covers how to improve an app’s visibility organically to get more downloads. The first step is to take care of the product page and appear attractive to users.


What is App Store Optimization?

Definition of ASO

App Store Optimization, also known as ASO, is the process that consists of optimizing a mobile app or game to maximize its visibility in the Google Play Store, Apple App Store or other markets. It boosts traffic to product listing and therefore improves the chances of getting the maximum number of organic installs. ASO is a cycle that includes three steps:

  • Keyword research. An essential element of ASO and Search visibility optimization. Read more about ASO keyword research here.
  • Optimize for search and conversion. Improving the listing on the App Store and Google Play, as well as the Conversion Rate by using A/B testing.
  • Tracking and improving (and localizing) main KPIs, such as keywords ranking and competitors’ rankings, conversion rate to install, organic installs, etc.

It’s really important to keep in mind that there’s plenty of space for optimization, so ASO is a process that never ends. There’s always a way to improve a current strategy!

Reasons to Go For It

These are some facts that will convince anyone to do ASO right away:

  • App discoverability. An optimized product page ranks higher and it makes the app or game easier to discover.
  • Get more organic installs thanks to that better ranking.
  • Better Conversion Rate to Install: if there’s more traffic, there are also more probabilities that the app or game gets downloaded.
  • Low acquisition costs: By running paid marketing campaigns, more organic installs will derive in lower acquisitions costs.
keyword research app store optimization

Main ASO Factors

In terms of factors to take into account for an ASO strategy, those are the following:

  • On-metadata factors: Developers can control and edit them easily from either Google Play Console or App Store Connect, such as App Name / Title, Subtitle (App Store) or Short Description (Google Play), Keywords Field and Promotional Text (App Store), Icon, Screenshots and Video. Both visual and textual assets can be optimized.
  • Off-metadata factors: They can’t be controlled directly but are influenced by developers. Some of them are Installs, Average Rating, Ratings and Reviews.

How To Do ASO Step By Step

Keyword & Market Research

Before implementing any strategies, it’s necessary to study the market so as to know who are the competitors of our app or game. Moreover, learning their tactics will also help to outrank them.

Once this is done, it’s time to select the keywords we would want our app or game to rank for. Firstly, the usual path to follow is to brainstorm those keywords that seem appropriate for the app or game. Then, by using the keyword suggest feature of the stores, we can come up with mid- and long-tail keywords, which are a combination of keywords that have less traffic, but also less competition. These make mid- and long-tail keywords very useful, as there’s more probability that the user finds exactly what he is looking for. This strategy can work really well, and with time this will translate into more visibility within the app store.

We can also divide keywords into three categories, which make it easier in order to come up with new ones:

  • Core business keywords
  • Competitors’ keywords, which are useful to try to outrank competitors
  • Brand keywords
long tail keywords

Google Play Store and Apple App Store Optimization

When it comes to optimizing an app’s listing, we should take into account that strategies differ depending on which app store we’re aiming to improve. There are several things that we can (and need to) apply in the Google Play Store but aren’t possible for the Apple App Store, and vice versa. We’ll share a brief guide of differences between both app stores.

On-Metadata Factors

On-Metadata factors in both app stores can be divided in two: textual fields and visual assets.

Google Play Store ASO

Let’s see which factors we should work on.

play store elements

The Title is one of the most important textual fields and needs to include the leading keywords that will allow users to find the app or game. It concedes 50 characters that can be complemented with a Short Description of 80 characters and affects ASO in terms of search and conversion rate. The last textual field to consider is Description, which allows you to write up to 4,000 characters—it should contain targeted keywords that will help it reach higher rankings.

When it comes to visual assets, the Icon is a crucial one to optimize, as it is the image of the app that needs to stand out on the browsing page. It’s the first thing that users see, and first impressions are really important. Another vital visual asset is the Screenshot Gallery, that lets you place 8 images and videos.

google play store
ESPN app on the Google Play Store

If you’d like to read more on how to do Google Play ASO, don’t miss this guide!

Apple App Store ASO

There are many textual fields and visual assets that need to be considered when planning an Apple App store ASO strategy.

The App Name is the first field to work on. It allows a write up of up to to 30 characters and needs to contain some of the leading keywords. One of the differences of the App Store is that it includes a 30-character Subtitle on which some keywords can also be included. The next field we have is a description that can’t be longer than 4,000 characters and, although it is not relevant for Search ASO, is important for marketing purposes.

Last but not least, App Store also has a Promotional Text Field that should be used to let users know changes, in the likes of updates, events, special offers, and so on. It’s relevant to keep the app fresh and up to date, and this field can be edited at any time. The last textual field is Keywords Field, which is not public and includes the keywords for which we opt our app to rank for in a maximum of 100 characters.

Visual assets are items that focus more on marketing than ASO but at the same time, they are relevant for conversion rate. The icon is also very important in the App Store, although the major visual claim is the Screenshot Gallery that displays up to 10 screenshots. It shows how the app works and can include a video that reproduces automatically.

For more information on App Store ASO, this guide is for you!

app store
ESPN app on the App Store

Off-Metadata Factors

Off-Metadata factors are quite “uncontrollable”, as they depend almost entirely on the market response towards the product. Those ASO factors are:

  • Volume Installs, as they allow an app to rank better (data not available on App Store).
  • Speed Installs: the less time it takes an app or game to download, the better. It affects its position in Top Charts.
  • User Ratings are good for conversion and increase visibility on App Store.
  • Average Ratings have an influence on conversion rate, as it shows the average of the total of the ratings received. App Store shows this data by country.
  • References on websites: it’s an ASO conversion factor. They give good publicity to the app.
  • User Reviews: useful feedback improves conversion rate, as it allows developers to solve bugs and identify issues to improve the app or game.
  • Engagement: a large number of active users will help rank the app in Top Charts and Featured.

Tracking and Monitoring ASO

Mobile app business is an always-changing world, so it’s really important to keep track of new tendencies and updates; a strategy can swiftly become old-fashioned. as a strategy can become old-fashioned really quickly. The key to avoiding that is to keep an app always ready, as well as the ASO strategy. Keeping track of the most important KPIs periodically is vital (daily would be the ideal), such as installs volume (organic and non-organic), keywords rankings, top charts rankings, and ratings and reviews.


This statement extends to the keyword strategy: remove the ones that don’t perform and add new combinations, experiment with graphic elements by using A / B testing to decide whether those changes are good or not. Users’ feedback becomes really helpful to detect issues, so provide them with the best user experience and quick responses to their problems. Try to convert negative reviews into positive. By achieving this positive sentiment there’s an increase in conversion rate, and it will also help ASO.

To Sum Up - App Store Optimization for Apps and Games in 2019

This guide covers how to get started in the ASO process, but it’s key to keep in mind that it’s a cycle and it needs constant monitoring in order to make progress. Try different elements to find the perfect combination that increases Search and Top Rankings. Moreover, remember that ASO is not a magical process that automatically does all the work, as the product needs to be good, too! To develop an app or game takes time in order to make it great.

One final tip: there is always room for optimization, so never stop doing ASO!

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