Updated: Apr 19, 2020
App Store optimization (ASO) is relatively new. It is about having your app appears in the top search results when users search in app stores (i.e., Apple App Store, Amazon Appstore or Google Play) for apps in a specific category. For example, if you're building a dating app and a user searches for "dating for singles", what apps come at the top of the results.
App store optimization shares many characteristics of search engine optimization. ASO tools are becoming a growing trend and a booming business. There are a lot of tools within three categories.
Some ASO tools can provide basic information about your app or maybe a competitor's app for free. These include the app store itself (App Store, Google Play, etc.). Information include number of downloads, reviews, and ratings.
Other ASO tools are a little bit more expensive and advanced. Some tools offer a Freemium plans where you get basic information for free and pay to get more advanced information. These include competitive market analysis, your competitor apps' performance in keywords and rankings.
Like search engines, app stores are country-specific. If your app ranks high in the shopping category in the USA app store, that does not mean that it is going to rank high in Germany App Store for example. So, apps have different versions per operatiig system and per each country. This represents a huge difference from search engine and websites.
Premium or enterprise-scale tools can offer comprehensive competitive information about category ranking, keywords position and historical daily performance. Most importantly, they also provide estimates for private competitor's performance metrics through sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. For example, they can provide intelligence on how much revenue your competitors generated from their apps if they have e-commerce or in-app purchases. In addition, they provide estimates of daily active users and engagement on competitors apps. ASO vendors compete on how accurate their AI estimates are. Those premium tools are pretty pricey. They can range around tens of thousands of dollars per month and yearly commitments.
To get ranked high in app stores, the technical specs of your app have to be of high quality. Native apps are usually ranked higher than cross-platform ones. Native apps means that you need to have a version for iOS Apple and another version for Android, etc. Your app has to have a good user experience (UX) and an easy-to-use interface. App pages should load fast. App shouldn't crash.
Frequency of app updates are also an important factor for ranking. Another important factor for getting a better ranking in app stores is listing. When you submit to the app store, make sure you conduct a proper keywords research, exactly as you did for search engine optimization for your website. Find all the relevant keywords that users use. Make sure to have an optimized title for your app and a subtitle. Make sure to have a proper description. Make sure to list the app under the proper category in the app store. Ensure that all the listings fields in the app store are complete and optimized.
Another very important factor for high app store ranking is having high user ratings and positive reviews. The higher reviews and ratings you have the more you're going to get ranked high. But how to get positive user reviews? Well, you have to build a good app to begin with. Also, you can encourage your users to rate and review your app. Do not annoy users by having pop-ups of ratings when they haven't used the app yet or while they are in the middle of doing a task on the app. Instead, have those pop-ups appear strategically. For example, after finishing a task on the app or reaching an achievement.