The Beginner’s Guide to Apple App Store Optimization (ASO)

by Bill McCown - Feb 11, 2016

A of mid-Joly, 2015, there are over 1.5 million apps in Apple's app store. With so much competition in the mobile app marketplace, how can you be sure your application is found?

“Successful app store optimization shares some techniques with a good inbound marketing search engine optimization strategy,” said Jay Joyce with The Idea People. “Just like the inbound methodology, you must know your ideal customer, the challenges they are facing and the keywords they’re most likely to use while looking for the solution.”

The Title – Your Most Important Asset 

The old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply here. A good title is one of the main factors that determine whether a user will download your app or not. There is no need to be clever here; using your best keyword(s) in the title will help your app appear in more searches and let the user know what your app offers right off the bat.Kayak main screen optimized for Apple App Store

If the name of your app doesn’t immediately describe the service you provide, it is especially important that your description serves that purpose. Let’s use Kayak as an example:

If you weren’t already aware of their brand, the name “Kayak” might lead you to believe it’s some sort of watersports app. But, all is clear when you see their title.

Searches in the app store with the term “hotels” will feature Kayak because of the title. The same is true for any searches containing “flights” and “cars.”

One more cool thing; whenever someone searches via spotlight, the app will show up as a result (if they have it downloaded,) or they can download it with one click (if they don’t have it downloaded.)

Kayak's Apple app store title shows for "hotel" searches The title tag on Kayak's apple app store description returned results for "flights"Good ASO allows for an app to be found in spotlight searches

Keywords – Your Second Most Important Asset

You have chosen your strongest keyword (or keywords if relevant) for your app title, but the optimization doesn’t stop there. You can add additional keywords in order to cast a wider net. Apple allows just 100 characters for your keywords. Choose wisely!

To illustrate this point, I searched for “cheap travel” in the app store, and guess what? Kayak was the first result. Kayak has cleverly optimized their keyword tags to target users who are in need of competitively priced travel.

You can change these keyword tags any time you’d like. It is important to monitor which keywords seem to be working, compare your results with competitors and change a few words accordingly. Be careful not to completely overhaul your list of words unless you are receiving no hits or downloads.

In-App Images – Show, Don’t Tell

With the short attention spans of users, you may only have a few seconds to sell them on whether or not to download your app. Be sure to show several screenshots of your app in action. This allows the potential user to see exactly how your app works, how intuitive the design is and what features you offer.

Add photos of the app for optimal ASOKayak Feature 2

If your app is functional on Apple Watch, be sure to show that off as well!

The Description – Brevity is Key

Apple gives you approximately 255 characters before the user is forced to tap “more” to expand the description. Nine times out of ten, they aren’t going to tap “more.” Make sure your most important features and solutions to problems are outlined before the 255 character mark.

If you have room, add credibility statements. If your app has received a lot of good press, it is okay to write, “as featured on WIRED!” Did you make another successful app? Consider writing “from the makers of…” to boost your authority.

Test, Test, Test – Iron out ALL of Your Bugs Before Launch

“A buggy, or non-functioning app is your biggest credibility killer,” said Joyce. “You could do all of the app store optimization in the world, but if your app does not back it up, it was just wasted time.”

Make sure your app is built the right way. To learn more about our approach to mobile app marketing and iOS app development please call (704) 398-4437 or email us:

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