ASO is the new black!

ASO is the new black!
Part 1: the devil is in the detail of app stores

Let’s face it, in this blog we’ve only had eyes for SEO. We believe in it and we’re sure SEO is worth your time. But we’ve been hearing gossips that SEO is so last year and that this year, ASO is the new black.

First of all, SEO has definitely changed and is now much more complex than it was before Panda time. It has evolved more into digital marketing or, how others call it, growth hacking mixed with inbound marketing. It’s no longer only about keywords and inbound links, and Google has made it clear with its policy changes that in the future keywords and links won’t enough to secure your visibility. So SEO specialists have started also dealing much more with paid commercials (SEM), remarketing, analytics, keyword research and contextual research.

In the meantime, ASO was born to lead the mobile market. App Store Optimization describes the rules of the whole mobile ecosystem – you have to take care of your app listings in Apple App Store and Google Play, but you also have to remember about mobile Google results (here comes SEO in a refreshed form). A lot of good practices from SEO apply also to ASO since it’s all about good optimization.

We’ve decided to share some tips and tricks on ASO and here we’ll show you small things that make Apple App Store and Google Play very different fields for optimization.

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What’s the difference?

App store is a tricky term because it’s both a name and the general word, so let’s sort that one out. There are two major app stores on the market – Apple App Store (also referred to as iTunes or just App Store) and Google Play. In general they are pretty similar with small, but significant differences when it comes to optimization. Let’s start with the differences!

  • Length: Google Play believes in KISS principle, Keep It Short and Simple. That’s why you can use 30 characters for the title when in Apple you get 255! In the former one you’ll need to think of a name that’s short and catchy. In the latter you should consider including some keywords because the rumour has it that the keywords from the title rank higher!

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Our advice: Be reasonable and think how your app will look on your users’ screen. There’s probably a reason why Twitter isn’t called “Twitter – an instant messenger for short messages that you can follow and share with your friends” so think about the brand that you’re creating.

  • Keywords: As you’ve already read, Apple ranks higher your keywords from the title. It also lets you do a special list of keywords for your app. In fact that’s almost all that matters because what’s written in a description isn’t as significant as those words (100 characters at your disposal to be precise) that you list and they will be your keys to being found. In Google Play you get 4000 characters for your description and that’s the place where you can show your keywords skills. Make sure your text is not a list of random words as that won’t be accepted – it’s meant to be read by real people! And don’t overdo it because a keyword repeated too many times may get you a ban rather than a higher position.

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Our advice: Do your research! Check what apps you can find for each keyword that comes to your mind. Maybe check synonyms. Maybe go for a different, less popular phrase that will let you be visible. Test singulars and plurals, they may give different results. Check pairs of words. Keep your search for a right word organized and repeat it often as top keywords change. And there’s no point in using a great keyword that gets thousands of results if your app will end up on page 100. Believe us, nobody has ever reached that far when looking for an app.

  • Updates: Every now and again you will want to add some new features to your app or fix some bugs, and that’s the same for any store. However, it’s much harder to change how your store LOOKS on Apple App Store because any changes to icons or screenshots is also treated as an update and needs to pass a review. It’s a big problem for a marketing specialist like you since you cannot freely test your ideas at any time. On Google Play you can change the way your store looks without restrictions.

16638657367_d3c0d5cb46_oOur advice? Try to schedule your marketing changes together with product changes to minimize the number of reviews you need to pass on Apple App Store (in the next point you’ll see why you want to reduce their number). You can either test your marketing ideas on Google Play (if your app is available at both, but mind that they are not identical in terms of rules, algorithms and users!) or have a careful plan of when and how you want to test new graphics, keywords or descriptions. If it’s a must, then of course never fear applying for a review with just app store changes! The benefit is, it usually takes much shorter to get an approval if no product changes were made.

  • Ratings: It’s important to know what the users think of your app and they can share their thoughts by rating and commenting in the app store. The higher their marks, the better your position in the store. So it’s good to have a lot of users who gave your app 5 stars! The problem is that every time you update the app on Apple App Store (and it doesn’t matter if you’re just changing the icon, screenshots or a significant part of your code), the whole rating disappears and you have to start from the scratch… It doesn’t apply to Google Play where your rating lasts forever.

Our advice? Think before you apply for a review at Apple App Store. Maybe you can use this opportunity to also test a new icon? Try to be prepared with some new marketing assets you want to test, because we all know that tests are crucial for marketing but they are much harder with Apple.

 

It may not be much but it’s definitely enough to realize that if you’re going for two app stores at the same time you’ll have twice the amount of work to do. Apple App Store and Google Play are different stores and they need to be researched and optimized separately. Take your time to learn about the differences, embrace them and apply them to make sure you’re doing ASO just the right way!

 

images from flickr.com