What is ASO and Why does App Store Optimization Matter so Much to Developers Nowadays?

This article is dedicated to mobile app promotion with the help of ASO and localization. That is why first of all I would like to explain what that ASO actually is, what components it consists of, what it is tightly related to, and why it is so much important. As we go forward, I will gladly tell about how to use those instruments with the most efficiency, what results to expect in the long and short term according to my own experience and the experience of the company I work in. Also I will explore the ASO algorithm and will share useful resources that will help to shorten the ASO activities time and improve conversion rate optimization.   

Let’s start from the very beginning. Every mobile application developer wants his product to be effective and successful. Success rate may be measured in different ways (the number of downloads and the number of active users, ratings and feedbacks of customers, etc.) but we all understand that the greatest indicator of success is the return on investment and the profitability of the whole affair. So, what the numbers tell us is that in 2012 the global market of mobile apps applications equaled to 7.83 billion dollars approximately. According to Flurry data which you may see on the diagram below, the most iOS and Android devices are in USA and China, while United Kingdom is the third on the list.

That means that application localization for just two languages (English and Chinese) will bring you almost 500 million of potential users.

Have a look at the number of devices, volumes and the income in these markets:

Let’s analyze the data.

USA are certainly the leader in the App Store with a very heavy competition.

Japan is a promising market in case your app will be loved there (a little secret of successful monetization in Japanese Google Play zone is funds withdrawal from mobile operators’ accounts but not from credit card).

In China you will get the main profit from the App Store. You are able to download APK for your paid application from numerous Chinese forums the next day after it appears in Google Play.

And so we get back to 500 million of prospective Anglo-Chinese users. Even if one-fifth of these people buy something from you at USD$ 1.00 and 30% more of them will take the market the sum will still be quite impressive.

But what if it’s not enough for you? Here is the data about fast growing mobile devices markets. These directions and languages are really challenging and in most cases the competition is lower than in USA mobile applications market.

Here is good news for independent developers. Pay attention to the diagram below. We may see positive tendency of independent and small developers’ growth in income. Games and applications that take the positions below 100 bring 68% of the whole mobile developers’ revenue.

It means that if you are really good at what you do, you will receive the return on investment. Well, in case of financial failure you will have one less excuse.

So let’s get back to App Store Optimization, which is called new SEO by many people nowadays. I will try to explain in my own words what it is and why one may need it. There are more than 800 thousand applications in App Store currently. App Store interface updates (now search results look not like a list but large blocks with icons, screenshot, and upper description line) in conjunction with imperfect search system make our app invisible for potential users. That is why ASO is supposed to help us handle this situation.

So what does this mysterious ASO include and why is it so much effective? App Store Optimization is a set of measures. Icon, screenshot, and application name (both the app and the publisher) matter. Furthermore, keywords hidden from users play a very important role too. And do not forget about users’ reviews, their quantity, the number of backlinks to your app, the number of publisher’s applications and their quality, and many other factors influencing the ranking and position in the search results.

Let me give one more interesting diagram to show that everything is going well.

What do we see here? Almost 20% of queries are “platitude” that may be estimated in thousands and even millions. Try to search for “game” (about 160 thousand results), “travel” (23 thousand), “camera” (12 thousand), “news” (15 thousand), “shopping” (3 thousand). Certainly, nobody is going to look through a thousand of apps to find yours (do not forget that the more often an application is downloaded and the more it has positive feedbacks – the higher it is shown in the search results, so there is no room for new applications here). Let’s look at the diagram one more time. 70% of queries are rare words or words combinations, long tail or specific queries. Thus, one of the ASO bases is SEO keyword optimization that will get you to the first position in a specialized search.

So how to choose keywords? It is necessary to pay attention to the fact that long tail and efficient keyword research is typically applied to App Store. In Google Play the situation is different: the description text is indexed as opposed to App Store, and hidden from users keywords line is absent. However, it is necessary to write a separate article devoted to App Store, Google Play and Amazon keywords. ASO is a really broad theme.

In the meantime, here are some ASO newbies’ mistakes:

• Use only a comma when listing the keywords in the App Store, but not spaces!

• It is not worth making up new non-existing words. Ideally, there must be at least one keyword in application name. This will significantly increase the chances of the application for being found.

• Do not place the text on the icon. This is superfluous for sure.

• The first screenshot should provide maximum information, so it is better to place there “gameplay” or the main features of the application. It is not a good idea to put the menu or splash screen first.

• Localize the screenshots necessarily! This is obligatory!

• The most important thing in application description is the first line. Make it as informative as possible.

• App description in App Store is not indexed that is why there is no point in stuffing it up with keywords.

• It is worth to list the awards application gained or positive users’ feedbacks. This really works.

• In description on App Store it is impossible to use asterisk and tick since recently, but you still may model it creatively.

• Changing keywords in App Store is possible only when updating the application. But it is not worth updating the app only because of that. Guys from Apple may not like that.

• Use App Storerankings.net, searchman.com and other services of that type to find good keywords and to track competitors, but do not forget to double-check their work.

• Localize your applications, their descriptions and keywords, if that has not been done yet.

• The last but not the least – analyze your competitors! Check what they are good at and probably you will be able to borrow something from them.

Adapted from: http://blog.flurry.com/






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