What is App Store Optimization (ASO)?

If you’re in the marketing bubble, you’ve likely heard the acronym “ASO,” which stands for App Store Optimization.

App Store Optimization is a growing priority for mobile app publishers as the number of apps on the markets skyrockets.

Take the following statistics for context:

How important is app store optimization?

Think about the standard steps app users take in finding the app that scratches their itch. Data shows that the most common way users find apps is through search,

Most consumers are familiar with the process of opening the app store, querying what you’re looking for, and viewing the top few listings that appear.

To support this, Google reports that 40 percent of phone users search for apps within app stores.

With over 2 million apps on the market, however, your platform faces tight competition. Ranking high and maintaining an optimal position in app store search results is becoming harder and harder over time.

If you devote thought to ASO now, you can ensure that your platform will naturally continue to grow in the rankings over time.

Benefits of App Store Optimization

Here are some additional key benefits you can expect from ASO.

  • Increase Discoverability: ASO helps you get noticed by the right users by increasing your chances of appearing high in the search results.
  • Decrease Acquisition Costs: Rather than over-spending on paid ads, ASO allows you to target users through organic search, which saves you a valuable budget.
  • Reach Global Audiences: By optimizing your app listing for different regions, you can localize for global audiences who may now better find and appreciate your offering. This will help you expand into new markets.
  • Increase Installs: Perhaps the most obvious but also the most important benefit of ASO is increasing the number of installs your app receives. The higher you rank in popular stores, the higher the number of downloads you will get over time.

How does app store optimization work?

ASO focuses on driving click-throughs, downloads, and conversions for your app through improved visibility in popular app stores.

The process of ASO consists of taking the time to optimize each important element of your app’s listing. Although ASO is often compared to SEO, the process of optimizing your app for app stores is significantly more straightforward than optimizing for web searches. SEO depends on hundreds of factors, whereas ASO can be narrowed down to a fewer number of components.

The exact steps you take to optimize your app for the Apple App Store and the Google Play store will depend on each store’s unique ranking algorithm.

Each algorithm scores your app in a different way, so you’ll want to do the appropriate research to learn how each works.  Here, we’ll get into some background.

Optimizing for App Store Search on iOS and Android

In the process of developing, testing, and finally launching a mobile app, you’ll want to submit it to the most popular app stores in order to be published.

The two most common app marketplaces are the Apple App Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android devices. Each will rank your app according to a slightly different list of factors based on their unique algorithms.

The key differences, which we’ll elaborate on below, include how each store handles keywords, rankings and reviews, and updates.

What to Optimize in Your App Store Listing

So what factors contribute to ASO? Here are some elements you should be focused on.

App Name and Title

This is the first field that users see and use to understand what your app actually does. Not only that, but it’s also the biggest ranking factor that algorithms use in placing your app in the search results. You should use important keywords in your name and title section and also use your brand name. Make sure you clearly communicate the value you prop in this section.

In both the Google Play Store, and the Apple app store, you’re limited to 30 characters.  


For both app stores, keywords are the number one component you need to focus on to achieve a favorable rank. Both the Apple and Google app stores will index your app based on keywords, with a couple of distinctions.

The Google Play Store will evaluate your app based on all text elements to rank you for keywords, whereas the Apple App Store gives you an explicit field for keywords. Keyword optimization in Google play will involve simply optimizing your description and app title.

Research keywords in your category and prioritize claiming those with high search volumes and low competition. The keywords you target will largely depend on your category and your competitors. In general, make sure not to keyword stuff to the point that it compromises the quality of your copy.

Example keywords you can target include “fitness” and “weather.”


App downloads are a key component of your ASO strategy. If you can increase the number of app downloads you receive, you’re not only getting more users down the funnel but also further amplifying your ASO efforts. Both app stores use downloads as a signal to place your app higher in the rankings.

To incentivize downloads, you should already be taking key steps such as implementing user feedback, releasing regular updates, and fixing bugs.

Other steps you can take include promoting your app on your website, through email campaigns, or through paid advertising. Launching a multichannel marketing campaign is also another way to promote downloads.

Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews are factors that heavily influence an app’s ranking in both the Google Play and Apple app stores. They are also critical elements that play into users’ decision to download your app in the first place, which contributes to a positive cycle of increased visibility. Each store has different criteria for which reviews are featured on your app’s page.

Aside from weighing directly into an app’s ranking, ratings and reviews are displayed directly in a user’s search results and featured app charts. In the Apple App Store, you can reset your app’s ratings after each update, but not in the Google Play store.

Getting more positive ratings and reviews will strengthen your position in the rankings, so make sure to prioritize tracking your average reviews and ratings and getting more positive feedback from existing users.

Visual Elements

The visual elements that go into your app store listing include your app icon, preview videos, and screenshots. Your icon or brand logo is the first visual representation of your brand that users see when they’re searching a query in one of the stores, and it’s displayed in search, charts, featured sections, and listing pages. As with any type of visual branding, make sure your icon is a clear visual representation of your brand and that it measures up to your design standards.  

Screenshots also give potential users a sneak peak into your app. You have the opportunity to include up to three in your app listing, so choose wisely in deciding what parts of your app to highlight. Screenshots are required as part of your app listing.

You can also optionally include videos in your app store listings. The videos you can display are referred to as app promo videos in the Google Play Store and previews in the Apple App Store. Make sure whatever video components you include clearly highlight your app’s core features and a positive user experience.

App Optimization Tools

There are a variety of ASO tools on the market that you can consider leveraging if you’d like to invest in a more in-depth ASO strategy. Common services these tools provide include troubleshooting your store performance, giving you detailed analytics, providing keyword optimizations, helping you monitor competitor performance, and providing ad intelligence.

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