Create Educational Apps: Tips and Best Practices

Educational apps and mobile learning are trending upward. In fact, roughly 50% of smartphone users use mobile apps for learning and education.

Apps for education are penetrating a wide range of categories, as they’re versatile enough for so many different use cases.

Schools and universities are using educational apps as an extension of the classroom. Tutors and educators are using mobile apps to create their own learning environments. Even businesses are using educational apps for employee training and compliance. 

Regardless of your unique use case, this guide is perfect for anyone who wants to create an educational app

The proven tips and best practices in this guide will help you engage mobile learners, drive more app downloads, and ultimately scale your business. 

Get Inspired by the Best Educational Apps

Lots of educational apps use the same core principles and concepts for success. 

Whether you’re creating an app for employee training, teaching language learning skills, or expanding your educational organization, you can learn from the best educational apps on the market. 

At the end of the day, your mobile app will still be fully customized to your specific needs. But you can borrow ideas and apply the same concepts used by apps that are already thriving in this space. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best educational apps that you can use for inspiration:

Khan Academy Kids

Khan Academy Kids is a free app for younger children. 

The learning program helps keep kids engaged through educational games, animated videos, and interactive lessons that hold their attention. The app includes fun and charming characters that guide kids through the learning journey.

Khan offers educational content in core subjects like writing, math, language, and reading. The app is designed to not only teach young students but also help them build creative, emotional, and social skills. 

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is designed specifically for educational institutions. The app makes it easy for these organizations to create, distribute, and grade assignments. 

The core goal of this app is to streamline the way files are shared between teachers and students. It enhances the learning experience and simplifies the way assignments are submitted.

Teachers have the ability to create an online classroom. From here, they can manage all of the documents that their students need to access for lesson plans, homework, study materials, and more. 

Students and teachers can use the app to take photos and attach them to assignments. It also simplifies file sharing on the go, and it’s supported by offline access. This means students can access classroom materials even when they’re not connected to WiFi.

NSF Science Zone

Science Zone is a mobile app with free resources from the National Science Foundation. 

The app has hundreds of video lectures, photos, and educational content for iOS and Android devices. It’s a fun way for children and other students to access information from the NSF. 

Teachers can use the app to engage with students in the classroom. Parents can use the app to teach their kids at home. And anyone interested in science can use this to learn more about interesting subjects.


Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps in the world. 

It’s versatile enough for teachers to use in the classroom at any level. The app can help pave a child’s learning path through elementary school and beyond. It’s also used by adults who want to learn a new language.

The app uses AI to facilitate personalized lessons. It includes educational games to keep users motivated throughout the language learning process. 


Kahoot is one of the most versatile learning apps on our list. It’s trusted by 97% of the Fortune 500 and more than 50% of teachers in the United States. 

There are more than 50 million public games available through the app that can be used for educational purposes.

The app stands out from other educational apps for its ability to drive engagement, regardless of the use case. It’s used at the elementary level all the way through higher education. Kahoot is also used in the workplace by employers for employee training and education.

If you’re looking for inspiration to get started with educational app development, you should definitely look at the five apps listed above. 

Create Educational Videos

Up to 75% of all global video consumption is watched on mobile devices. The average adult in the United States watches at least 30 minutes of video per day via mobile.

In short, people are already consuming videos on their smartphones and tablets.

So when you’re creating an educational app, it makes sense to have video content for your audience to consume. 

58% of people are already using videos to learn new skills.

Video content is easy to consume, and it’s what your audience prefers. In fact, 45% of students in elementary school said that watching videos is their favorite way to learn something new. 

The great part about having video content on your education app is that it appeals to users of all different ages and backgrounds. It can be applied to virtually any mobile learning use case as well. 

Videos help speed up the learning process.

It’s easier for someone to consume content via video, as opposed to simply reading through slides or digital books. 

All of the best educational apps have some form of video learning. So your app should have it as well. 

If you’re using BuildFire to create an education app, it’s easy to add video content. You can simply sync the app with your YouTube or Vimeo channel to repurpose your existing content. 

This can be done with just a few clicks. All you need to do is add the YouTube or Vimeo plugin from the BuildFire marketplace. The rest of the steps are very straightforward.

From there, you can organize your video content by category or lesson. You can even set up a video sequence for different lessons so that certain videos aren’t available until others have been watched.

This ensures that your audience is going through the right sequence of learning—with each lesson building on the other. 

Make Learning Apps For Different Age Groups

Not every mobile app is intended for the masses. That’s because everyone learns differently.

Think about it for a second. Apps for kids will have different materials than apps for high school students. 

You can keep younger kids engaged through animations and cartoons. Those tricks for young learners shouldn’t be used on your adult audiences. 

If you look back at the best education apps that we discussed earlier, you can see that some are uniquely designed for specific age groups. For example, Khan Academy’s app says it’s only for kids between the ages of two and eight.

So make sure you understand exactly who your app is for before you start building it. 

Your target age demographic will also impact how your app is submitted and managed. For example, Apple has specific rules if you’re building apps for kids.

Apps in the kids category need to comply with certain user safety instructions. 

When parents browse for apps in the kids category, they expect them to contain age-appropriate content. There are also rules you need to follow in terms of data collection and advertisements when you’re building apps for kids.

If your brand targets multiple age groups, you may ultimately decide to create more than one version of the app to simplify the distribution and compliance rules. 

For example, Khan has two different versions of an education app—Khan Academy and Khan Academy Kids. 

The children’s version has more than one million downloads, and the other version has more than ten million downloads. As you can see, both versions of your app can still be highly successful. 

You can also repurpose the same core principles and learning instructions. But the content will obviously vary based on the audience. 

Check out our Kids Learning Tube customer success story to see how this brand used BuildFire to create an educational app for children across the globe. 

Start With a Free Educational App

Charging people to download an app can hurt your installation rates. 

According to Statista, about 94% of all apps on the Apple App Store are free to download. 

That number jumps to 97% when you look at the Google Play Store.

Simply put, most apps are completely free. So charging for downloads isn’t the right approach.

Instead, you can use in-app purchases and other monetization methods to make money from your educational app.

For example, maybe the free version has ads. But you can let users upgrade to a paid plan that’s ad-free. Or maybe your free app just provides basic learning materials. But users on a paid subscription have access to premium content.

This is how lots of educational apps make money, and it’s an approach that you should consider as well. 

Create a Personalized Learning Dashboard

Everyone learns at their own pace. So if you want to have a great app in the education space, you need to recognize this concept and adapt accordingly.

A personalized learning dashboard makes each user feel special and unique.

As a result, they’ll continue coming back to the app for more information and learning materials.

The app should help track the user’s progress and give them the motivation to continue learning. You can do this by creating different tiers for lessons and subjects.

For example, let’s say you’re using an educational app for employee training.

You might have different categories related to safety, compliance, and basic HR information in the employee handbook that everyone needs to follow. But beyond that, each unique position or department could have separate training materials. 

A new project manager won’t need the same job-specific training as a new accountant. So you can create personalized lessons and learning tasks for each type of user.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re creating a mobile app for your college or university. 

A freshman who is just arriving on campus shouldn’t be seeing the same content on their homepage as a junior in their third year. The freshman could get alerts and notifications that would be useful to their specific needs.

Maybe you want to send out an alert that tells them how to check out books from the library. Or maybe you’ll be asking them to fill out a survey related to the freshman move-in experience. 

But someone who has already been on campus for three years probably knows how to borrow books from the school library. So that type of information wouldn’t be useful to them. 

You could also have specific information for users based on their major, class schedule, and whether they live on or off campus. The possibilities are endless.

Drive Engagement With Interactive Quizzes

Engagement is crucial for mobile learning. This holds true for all target audiences at every level.

In many cases, the average user won’t always find learning to be fun. Not every student loves going to school. Similarly, adults that want to learn new skills on their own time might struggle to stay interested, especially if it’s not a requirement.

The best educational apps understand this and find ways to keep users engaged.

In addition to educational videos, interactive quizzes and tests help drive engagement. That’s because a quiz forces app users to stay active when they’re using the app.

They’re not just sitting back and watching videos or scrolling through flash cards. They need to answer questions to progress through the learning experience.

Adding interactive quizzes to your app is simple if you’re using BuildFire. Just use the Free Text Questionnaire Feature from our marketplace to create a test or quiz.

You can use this for opinion surveys, practice tests, graded quizzes, and more. 

Check out our Free Text Questionnaire Tutorial from BuildFire University to learn more about how this plugin works and how to add it to your app. 

Educational apps are boring if they don’t have some level of interaction from the end-users. Creating quizzes is one of the easiest ways to solve this problem and drive more engagement from mobile learners. 

Final Thoughts on Educational Apps

There are a growing number of use cases for educational apps. 

Educational apps are great for elementary schools, high schools, universities and higher education institutions, tutors, and more. They’re also trusted by businesses for employee training and compliance. Entrepreneurs are even creating educational apps as a completely new business for things like teaching people how to speak a new language. 

With so many education trends shifting towards mobile learning apps, now is the perfect time to get started creating one on your own.

You can use BuildFire to create an education app for iOS and Android without writing a single line of code. Our simple yet powerful app builder for iOS and Android lets you create an app from scratch in a fraction of the time compared to traditional development. This also helps lower your costs and gets your app to market quickly.

Sign up today to start your free trial

We have plenty of education app templates that will give you a head start on your development project. Then it’s just a matter of customizing the app content for your particular use case. 

If you need some assistance getting started, we’re happy to help with that as well. 
Just request a free consultation, and an expert from our team will get back to you shortly.

The Complete Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO)

The app store is one of the top places for potential users to find your app. In fact, 48% of new mobile app discovery comes from browsing app stores. An additional 34% of new app downloads are the result of app store recommendations. 

So when it comes to mobile app marketing, the app store is your most powerful channel. 

There are more than 1.96 million apps Apple App Store and a whopping 2.87+ million apps on the Google Play Store. How can you possibly make your app stand out in an ocean of countless alternatives? 

The answer is simple—app store optimization.

But what exactly is ASO? And how does it differ from search engine optimization (SEO)? This complete guide will answer these questions and provide actionable ASO techniques for maximum impact on app store rankings and organic downloads. Let’s dive in.

What is ASO (App Store Optimization)?

ASO is an acronym that stands for “app store optimization.” 

App store optimization is the process of ensuring that an app appears in the top search results for relevant keywords in the app store. It’s a great way to boost downloads and increase revenue for any app

Most of you are likely familiar with SEO (search engine optimization) for websites. ASO can best be described as the cousin of SEO. Instead of competing with other websites, you’re competing with other apps for organic search terms. The higher your app ranks in a search result, the greater its visibility to potential users. This increased visibility typically translates to more downloads. 

ASO Metadata

Each app store has its own algorithm to determine how apps rank for any given search. So you may need to slightly tweak your approach to get downloads from Android users compared to iPhone users. These algorithms are based on several factors, and many of those ranking factors are unknown. But what we do know is that the app stores index keywords used in your app’s metadata.  

The best way to approach ASO is by conditioning your app by using relevant search terms or keywords in your metadata. 

What exactly is metadata? It’s the following five elements of your app:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Keystring
  • Promo Text
  • Description

Not every component of metadata is indexed by search algorithms. Here’s a visual example to show you the differences:

App store metadata is important because it helps you gain more exposure. As you can see, each metadata element has a character restriction. To get the most out of your ASO strategy, we strongly recommend using as many characters as possible with your metadata. 

Avoid using terms like “and” or “the,” as these will be ignored by the algorithm. Instead of wasting characters on those types of words, you’ll want to maximize your metadata characters with highly relevant keywords. 

Everything surrounding ASO starts with your metadata. You want to make sure that the information you include will help your app stand out and encourage people to download your mobile application

Keyword Research: How to Select Keywords For App Store Optimization

Keyword research is the most crucial component of optimizing your app for searches. 

App store algorithms pick up the keyword combinations across your app title, subtitle, and keystring.  Most people don’t realize this, but the title of your app is the keyword field that has the most significant influence on search rankings. So your keyword strategy should always start with the app name. Subtitles also play a large role in ASO visibility.

Include your brand name in the title, followed by the most relevant terms that best describe the core components, functions, and features of your app. Think about search terms consumers may use when searching for your app on the app store. With so many different combinations available, don’t be afraid to try variants and test them over time. 

Pro Tip: Do NOT repeat keywords across your title, subtitle, and keystring. 

Since the app store algorithms pick up keywords throughout your metadata, repeating a keyword is just wasting character space. Instead, use that as an opportunity to include other relevant keywords. Here’s a great example from Mint:

As you can see, Mint uses all 30 characters in the title. It starts with the brand name, then continues with the most relevant terms to describe the app’s functionality—”personal finance & money.”

The subtitle shows even more relevant keywords, without repeating anything within the title. You’ll also notice that the subtitle uses 28/30 potential characters, trying to squeeze every last potential keyword in there. 

One of the best ways to decide what keywords to use is by creating a list of your app’s key features. Then create another list of search terms that people would use to search for an app similar to yours. Test the terms on both lists to see which types of results they produce.

ASO Keystrings

Keystrings are not customer-facing. So they won’t be seen anywhere in your app store listing. This is specifically made for search algorithms in the app store. 

Make sure that you use the best keywords in your app name title and subtitle. Any remaining keywords on your list can be included in your keystrings. You can update your keystring within your App Store Connect account. If you can’t access this account, speak to your development team. 

According to Apple, avoid using the following in your keywords:

  • Plural words that have already been used in the singular form
  • The word “app”
  • Names of categories
  • Duplicate words
  • Special characters like @ or # (unless they are part of your brand name)

Consider whether you want to rank for highly competitive keywords or less popular terms. Competitive keywords like “job” or “social” tend to get a ton of traffic, but they’re much harder to rank for. So you might be better off going for the low hanging fruit—or less popular search terms and keyword rankings that you have a higher chance of ranking for. 

App Store Description

Your app’s description can be up to 4,000 characters. This is an opportunity to sell your app to consumers. 

Descriptions are not directly indexed by the search algorithms. However, Apple Search Ads and search engines like Google will index these keywords. So it’s still important to have a keyword strategy in your description. Include relevant keywords from your title, subtitle, keystring, and other relevant keywords in the description at least 4x. 

For example, let’s say someone searches Google for “personal finance app.” Mint is one of the top organic search results:

Where exactly did those keywords come up from? Let’s at a snippet of Mint’s app description in the app store:

So even though the app store algorithms technically don’t use the description for rankings, search engines do, which can lead to more visibility and potential downloads for your app. This is known as app store SEO.

How to Optimize Screenshots For ASO

App screenshots are always a hot topic when it comes to app store optimization. Technically speaking, the screenshots aren’t used as an algorithm factor for ASO.

However, high-quality screenshots are arguably the most important way to catch people’s attention and entice downloads for new users. It’s widely accepted that downloads play a role in search rankings. So if you’re getting more people to download your app, it will move you up in the app store search results. That’s why your screenshots matter for ASO.

Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when optimizing your screenshots:

  • Don’t clutter the images with information
  • Use graphics to clearly show the app’s key features
  • Don’t use too much text
  • Avoid giving users too much information to read and consume
  • Try different variants of screenshots with A/B testing

Check out this amazing app store screenshot case study from ClearScore. Here’s what the app store screenshots looked like originally:

After analyzing elements like the copy, graphics, in-app visuals, colors, background, and layout, it was determined that there was a ton of room for improvement for the app preview on the app store page. 

This became the new and improved version of the app store screenshots:

As you can see, there’s a significant difference between these before and after shots. But did the changes actually make a difference? Absolutely.

In the 50 days prior to the new screenshots being implemented, the conversion rate of impressions to app installs was an average of 7%. In the 50 days after the new screenshots were added, the average conversion rate jumped up to 13%, nearly doubling.

Organic vs. Paid App Discovery

Organic vs. paid discovery will always be part of the app store optimization discussion. This is similar to the paid vs. organic search conversation for websites and SEO.

Here’s the simplest way to explain these two components:

  • Organic — App Store Optimization (ASO)
  • Paid — Search Advertisements (like Apple Search Ads)

So which one is better? Which is more important?

The two work best when used side-by-side. Paid discovery is a faster way to get your app in front of potential users. But once you pull the ads down, your app’s visibility will drop. That’s why it’s equally as important to focus on ASO. App store optimization is more of a long-term game. It gets your app in front of users even when you’re not running advertisements for certain keywords.

As previously mentioned, downloads impact organic search rankings—regardless of where those downloads are coming from. So if you’re driving downloads from your search ads, it will help boost your position in the organic search results. 

What is Apple Search Ads?

Apple Search Ads is the quickest way to boost the visibility of your app in the Apple App Store. That’s why it’s such a popular tool for new mobile apps. 

At the top of search results, the advertised app will appear with a light blue background. You’ve probably seen this in your personal life, even if you haven’t run any ads for your own app. 

Here’s an example of what those ads look like in the App Store search:

Even though you and I both know that Instagram is the name of an app, it’s not the top option that appears in this search for “Instagram.” Instead, the Apple Search Ad is at the top of the listing. It can be identified with the light blue background and the small “AD” icon. 

The actual Instagram app is the first organic search result. 

Only one app is advertised at a time for any given search. Apple decides which advertisement is shown based on the app’s relevance, the search, and how much the app owner has said they’re willing to pay for exposure. The relationship between Apple Search Ads and organic search is bi-directional, meaning they both impact each other. Any marketing strategy used for one, the other must be taken into consideration.

The optimization of your app’s product page is important for two reasons when it comes to successful ASO:

  1. Unlike some advertising networks, Apple Search Ads create ads solely from assets on your product page. The screenshots and even the app’s description could be used. That’s why Apple recommends reviewing your metadata before you start an Apple search campaign. Screenshots, descriptions, and other components must clearly show what your app offers, or the ads won’t be successful.
  2. Apple search matches functionality. When used correctly, this can be a way for you to find new keywords for your app. Apple uses keywords from your metadata for search ads. So if you have a relevant title, description, and more, it can really impact the performance of your ad campaigns through the discovery of new keywords. 

Apple Search Ads create more downloads, and in turn, boost organic visibility. 

The Best App Store Optimization Tools

Tackling ASO on your own can be tough if it’s your first time creating a strategy. Even app developers and marketers who have previously been through this process still need assistance. 

That’s why finding the right ASO tools and resources can significantly improve your strategy.

Here at BuildFire, we always want you to be successful long after your app has been developed and launched. As a partner in your success, it’s our job to constantly research and test different ASO tools. After testing and using dozens of options on the market today, Redbox Mobile has become our new favorite. 

The Redbox Toolbox is available on iOS and macOS. The software allows you to review your ASO score for your own app as well as your competition. 

It’s perfect for testing new metadata for your title subtitle, description, promotional text, and keystrings. You’ll even have the ability to review your ratings score and the content associated with your reviews. The tool has at-a-glance looks for how your app ranks across all of your categories. Use it to see the top charts for any app category in and app localization. 

The platform is a great way to review screenshots, especially if you want to assess your competitors. You’ll also get a full ASO guide with best practices for ASO creation and strategy implementation. 

Best of all? The Redbox Toolbox from Redbox Mobile is free to download and use.

ASO Tips and Best Practices: How to Optimize Like a Pro

If you’re in a rush and just want to quickly refer to some of the top highlights mentioned throughout this guide, the following points identify the key takeaways:

  • Use as many characters as possible for your metadata (within the limits)
  • Avoid using terms like “and” or “the” (the algorithm ignores these)
  • Include brand in title, followed by most relevant terms describing app’s core functions
  • Do NOT repeat keywords across title, subtitle, and keystring
  • Use your best keywords in the title and subtitle
  • Use relevant keywords in your description at least 4x each (for search engines)
  • Avoid using lots of text in your screenshots
  • A/B test variants of screenshots
  • Use a mix of organic and paid search strategies for app discovery
  • Try ASO tools like Redbox Mobile to gain a competitive advantage

ASO is an ongoing strategy. It’s not something you do once and forget about. You need to constantly come up with new ways to improve ASO and get more app downloads. 


It’s impossible to have a successful app without having an ASO strategy. You’re competing with millions of other apps available for download. For iOS apps and Android apps alike, the only way to stand a fighting chance is by leveraging app store optimization. 

Don’t get overwhelmed. I know this guide contains a ton of information. Trying to implement everything at once is unrealistic. So start with a few points, like optimizing your title and subtitle, then go from there. 

Using a mix of organic and paid strategies will be the best way to drive downloads in the short-term and long-term alike. Good luck!

Increase Your App Downloads and Improve Mobile App Rankings

What makes an app successful?

Sure, there are lots of factors that go into this question. We could talk about how well your app performs or go into detail about your marketing strategy.

But one of the best ways to ensure that your app is successful is by getting lots of downloads. It’s a simple concept, but for the most part, downloads will translate to dollars.

Your ranking in the app store has a big impact on how many downloads you’ll get. This is ironic, because if you can achieve one of these, then the other will follow suit and come automatically.

So if you can get lots of downloads initially, it will improve your app ranking. Once you have a high app ranking, it will be easier for you to get even more downloads. Make sense?

The concept may be easy to comprehend, but applying this is definitely easier said than done.

If it could be accomplished in the blink of an eye, then everyone would be doing it. But that’s what separates the good apps from the great apps.

As an expert in this space, I’ll explain how you can master this art to drastically improve the success of your app.

Continue reading “Increase Your App Downloads and Improve Mobile App Rankings”

How to Get Your App Ranked In The Google Play Store

Building an app is a big deal.

So you should feel proud of your accomplishment.

Time to sit back and relax, right?

If only it were that easy.

Developing an app is only the first step if you want to actually make money.

You’ve still got to get your app approved and find a way to get potential users to download it.

Getting downloads is much easier if your app is ranked high in the Google Play Store.

But how do you improve your ranking?

Similar to the Google search algorithm for websites, we don’t know the exact weight of each factor.

However, we do know that there are certain things you can do to improve your app store optimization strategy.

I’ll discuss the main components of the app store optimization that will improve your app’s Google Play Store ranking.

As an industry expert, I’ve launched several mobile apps on the Google Play Store myself.

I’ve also helped numerous companies get their app off of the ground.

So I know which strategies work and which ones won’t lead to success.

Luckily for you, this is the right place to find out how to make improvements that will boost the overall perception and performance of your new app.

Continue reading “How to Get Your App Ranked In The Google Play Store”

How to Get Your App Ranked In The App Store

So you’ve finally built your first app.

It’s a big step for your company and your career.

If this is your first time building an app, you’ll quickly learn that the building process is only the first step.

You’ve still got to get people to download your app and find a way to actually make money.

In order to do both of these things, you’ll need to get your app ranked on the Apple App Store.

Nobody will be able to see, find, or download your app if it’s not ranked properly.

It all comes down to search optimization.

You may be familiar with this concept if you’ve done search engine optimization (SEO) for a website.

Well it’s the same idea here, but the rules and algorithm are slightly different.

If you’re not sure where to get started, fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve got experience building my own apps as well as apps for other people, so I’m an expert when it comes to getting ranked in the App Store.

Every time I do consulting with a company, there’s always someone in the room who doesn’t think that the search ranking is important.

Let me take a minute to address this points in case you or someone in your company feels the same way.

I tend to hear something along the lines of, “We’ve got other ways to promote our app. We can generate downloads from our website, social platforms, email, and other marketing strategies.”

While I won’t argue that those are all valid ways to promote your app, the data still suggests that your app store ranking will significantly impact downloads.

Here’s a study that shows how people discover various apps.

how people discover apps

Two of the top three most popular ways that people find apps has to do with your search ranking.

Now that I’ve explained the importance of getting your app ranked, I’ll show you exactly how to do it.

It’s not as hard as you might think, but it definitely requires some effort and attention to detail.

Here’s what you need to know.

Continue reading “How to Get Your App Ranked In The App Store”

How to Get More Downloads on Google Play Store (Get First 1000 REAL App Downloads)

So you’ve finally launched your first mobile application.

It’s a big accomplishment.

You should be proud of all the hard work, effort, and money you put in while completing this process.

Now that you released your app on the Google Play Store, you can just sit back, relax, and watch your software climb the app store rankings – right?


If you want your app to actually make money, which I’m assuming you do, you’ll need to get more app downloads.

Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t seeing a massive surge of downloads right away.

As an expert in this space, I can give you some tips for how to get downloads fast. These tips go beyond your app title, app icon, app page, app screenshots, user reviews, and basic tools for app promotion. I’ll help you target real users that will lead to more app downloads by building a quality app.

Follow my guide, and you’ll be on your way to 1,000 downloads faster than you ever thought was possible.

Just because your app didn’t have the initial success that you thought it would, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to enter panic mode or do anything drastic.

I’ve steered you in the right direction when I explained how to get downloads on the Apple App Store, and now I’m going to do the same for the Google Play Store.

Here’s what you need to know if you want to be successful and how to increase app downloads in Google Play Store.

Continue reading “How to Get More Downloads on Google Play Store (Get First 1000 REAL App Downloads)”

How to Get The First 1000 REAL Apple App Store Downloads [FAST]


You’ve successfully built your first mobile application.

After long months of testing, coding, trial, and error, it’s finally complete.

Now what?

You need users to start downloading your app.

Unfortunately, apps don’t always promote themselves.

You’ll need to come up with a launch strategy.

So if you just released your app and came to the realization that nobody is downloading it, don’t worry – all hope isn’t lost.

I can show you some powerful strategies to boost mobile app downloads.

Here are some of the most popular apps available on the market today.

most popular apps

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not saying you need to try and compete with Facebook or YouTube to have a successful promotion strategy.

The graph can just give you an idea of which kinds of apps people like to download the most.

It’s never a bad idea to model your approach after companies with proven success stories and track records.

There is lots of misleading information out there on the Internet.

I’ve seen so many “helpful guides” on this same topic that don’t provide any actual techniques.

It’s just a bunch of generic suggestions.

As an industry expert, I’ll show you proven methods and data to back it all up.

If your new app is struggling, here are the best ways to get REAL downloads – fast.

First, figure out exactly why you even want build an app

Let’s backtrack for a second here.

Not everyone has already completed the app building process.

Some of you are still coming up with ideas and designs.

Why are you building an app?

Here are some potential scenarios.

  • Because it’s cool
  • You need an app to make your business more efficient
  • It’s a new way to monetize your business
  • You’re trying to build the next unicorn (like Tinder, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.)

Except for the first bullet point, the rest of these scenarios are valid reasons.

OK – so “being cool” may be your initial motivation for wanting to get involved in the mobile application industry, but it’s not enough to get started.

If you need some inspiration to get the ball rolling, take a look at which kinds of apps people spend the most time using.

app category

This is useful information to those of you who want to build the next unicorn as well.

The top categories that encompass the most time spent on mobile apps are:

  1. Social networks
  2. Music
  3. Multimedia

There may be a lot of big name competition in this space, but it could be a home run if you’re successful.

If you already have an existing business, mobile applications can be a great way to improve your current concept.

You can also incorporate a monetization strategy into your app.

What’s monetization?

It’s a process that converts existing traffic to revenue.

Websites do this by implementing advertising strategies such as:

  • Pay per click (PPC)
  • Cost per impression (CPI/CPM)
  • Banner advertisements
  • Affiliate programs
  • Data monetization

You can apply some of these concepts to your app as well.

But let’s take a look at some of the most successful driving forces for in-app revenue.

in app revenue

Take this into consideration when you’re determining why you want to build an app.

Regardless of your reason, you need to get this straightened out before you start worrying about downloads.

Once that’s done, you can proceed with your launch strategy.

Understanding the iPhone App Store algorithm

To get lots of downloads, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the Apple App Store algorithm.

Here’s a comparison you can probably relate to.

If you have a website, you’re always trying to optimize your page to get a high ranking on Google’s search engine.

That’s pretty much the same concept here.

We want to make sure your app is a top hit on iOS platforms.

Similar to Google, Apple doesn’t release an exact blueprint that describes specifically what you need to do in order to get a high ranking.

You’ve got to read between the lines to figure it out.

It’s an imperfect formula, but the Apple developers share some pointers.

Here’s what you need to know.

It all starts with the name.

Make sure the name of your app:

  • Has less than 30 characters
  • Is easy to spell
  • Indicates what the app does
  • Doesn’t have a similar name of an existing app

Focus on the features and functionality when you’re coming up with a subtitle and description.

Your description shouldn’t say “The best app on the planet.”

Instead, write about some of your top features and make sure users fully understand the purpose of its functions.

Here’s an example from TypeShift.


The title and subtitle both describe what the app does.

Make sure you assign an accurate primary category for your app.

The category is the best way for users to find you based on what they’re looking for.

Examples of categories include:

  • Games
  • News
  • Music
  • Social Networking
  • Travel
  • Photo & Video
  • Health & Fitness
  • Entertainment
  • Medical
  • Education

Here’s something else to consider, if you select a primary category that’s irrelevant to your app’s functions, Apple will reject you from the App Store.

Let’s say you have an educational app.

But you know (based on the statistics we saw earlier) that social networks are more popular.

You might think you’re being slick if you choose to assign social networking as the primary category.

Big mistake.

Apple sees this as grounds for removal.

Obviously, you can’t get downloads if your app isn’t available.

Another way to get ranked high in the App Store is by promoting your in-app purchases.

in app purchases

Here’s how TypeShift promotes those upgrade options.

For $1.99 users can get started with 180 primo puzzles.

Apple encourages developers to include in-app purchases in their design.

If you’re not sure how to do this, take a look at this guide for setting up in-app purchases on BuildFire’s control panel.

It’s really easy to do, so don’t exclude it from your app.

Apple allows you to promote up to 20 total items on your in-app purchases page of the description.

Ratings are important as well.

First off, users may be discouraged from downloading your app if it’s got negative reviews.

But furthermore, the Apple App Store algorithm factors these ratings and reviews into your search ranking.

Your app must create a positive experience for the user.

Once they have time to get used to your platform, send them a notification asking for a review.

Take the user feedback into consideration whenever you’re updating your app.

Understanding the basic concepts behind Apple’s algorithm will make it easier for users to find you in the App Store.

Ultimately, this will help you get more downloads.

Figure out exactly what it takes to get to 1000 downloads(or whatever target you are aiming for)

So how many downloads do you want?

Sure, 1,000 would be great. But 10,000 is better.

You can use the concept of quant-based marketing to predict this execution.

Here’s how it works.

Think backward.

Don’t look at it as an uphill climb from zero.

Instead, start with the number of downloads you’re aiming for and work in reverse.

So the first step of this process involves coming up with your goal.

Just makes sure it’s legitimate and realistic. Set a reasonable time frame.

Think about your target market as well.

app hours age

What audience are you going to focus your launch strategy around?

Based on this data, people between the ages of 18 and 24 are the only group that spends over 3 hours a day using mobile digital media.

Users aged 25 to 34 have the second highest daily usage.

With that in mind, it’s a smart idea to target these groups.

What’s your customer acquisition strategy?

Here are some suggestions you may want to consider.

  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Public relations
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Direct sales
  • Blogs

It’s totally acceptable to choose more than one of these options.

In fact, I highly recommend that you use a combination of these methods.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Diversifying your launch strategy through different marketing channels will increase the chances of getting more downloads.

That’s exactly what we want to accomplish.

Continue reading, and I’ll give you some more details about the strategies that have high success rates.

Get influencers and big blogs to mention your app (even with no money)

If you’ve maxed out your budget during the development stages of this app, you might be worried about finding the funds for advertising.

Fortunately, you can try and get big blogs and other influencers to pitch your app without giving them any money.

But before you can do that, you need to look for the most relevant results.

Use a website like Buzzsumo.


Their platform can help you search for the top blogs that are related to your app.

Earlier we talked about the importance of finding the right primary category for your app on the Apple App Store.

Search for that same category on Buzzsumo and see what kind of results you get.

For example, let’s say your app is in the health and fitness category.

If you search for “health blogs” the results will look like this.


This is a great place to start.

You’ve got the top 2 most shared links in the last year about this topic.

Play around with the filters to narrow the results.

You can sort this data by the shared source (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) or by date.

Now you’ve got to reach out to these sources directly.

Don’t be intimidated.

Sure, they’re going to be helping you out if they feature your app on their blog, but you’re doing them a favor as well.

These sites are always looking to provide their readers with fresh information about the industry.

That’s what keeps people coming back.

So send an email.

Email is the preferred method of communication for 81% of writers.

Keep it short and be direct.

Here’s some information you should include in the message:

  • You’re full name
  • The name of your company
  • The name of your app (if it’s different than your company’s name)
  • A link to your website
  • Short description of the app’s functionality
  • Why you’re better than competitors in this space
  • The status of your app (have you launched yet?)

Contact as many relative blogs and influencers as possible.

You don’t have to offer any money or incentive other than the relevancy to the category they cover.

Don’t be discouraged if not everyone jumps on board.

But keep sending out these messages, and I’m sure you’ll get featured in several legitimate publications.

It’s a great source for downloads.

The blog readers will take the advice of the authors if they faithfully read and trust the websites.

Run pay per install campaigns

If you’re willing to spend some money, you may want to consider a pay per install strategy.

The publisher gets charged based on the number of downloads for the app.

This strategy increases your exposure in the App Store, which can lead to more downloads.

Here’s the average CPI based on your country.

cpi country

Let’s break this information down a little bit further.

We’ll focus on the United States.

For our purposes, we only want to look at the Apple App Store.

Here’s what it looks like.

looks like

This may not be the most cost-efficient way to get downloads, but it could be one of the most effective.

So run the numbers and see if this customer acquisition cost can still be profitable for your app.

If you combine this method with other strategies, like contacting influencers and big blogs, your marketing budget can still be reasonable.

Here are some places to look at as a promotional channels for your pay per install strategy.

Check out some of these platforms and see which ones you think would be the most beneficial for your company.

Keep your target audience in mind when you’re choosing an advertisement platform.

Use email marketing tactics

Not all mobile applications are for a completely new business.

As we discussed earlier, you may be building an app to monetize your business or make it more efficient.

Take advantage of your existing resources.

You don’t have to start from scratch.

If your business has a current customer base, contact these people.

Send them an email about your new app and let them know how it will improve their customer experience.

Here’s a great example of this approach from Walgreens.


So come up with an effective email campaign and reach out to your current list of subscribers.

Since these people are already familiar with you and your company, they will be more apt to download your mobile application.

That’s especially true if you give them an incentive and it enhances the user experience.

SMS marketing

Instead of just sending an email, try sending a text message to your customers as well.

If you have their phone numbers in an existing database, you can send them information if they’re signed up to receive alerts.

Include a promotion in the text message.

“Receive 20% off your next purchase if you download our app.”

Something to that effect should do the trick.

Find an SMS marketing company like Slicktext to get started.


Platforms like this make it super easy to contact your customers via mass messaging.

It’s an effective way to get more downloads.


Now that you’ve built your first mobile application, it’s time to start getting people to download it.

Unfortunately, this won’t happen if you just sit back, launch the app, and do nothing.

You’ll need to come up with an effective launch strategy.

You should keep this strategy in mind from day one when you’re figuring out why you want to build an app in the first place.

Whether you want to be the next big hit like Instagram, or you’re trying to monetize your current business, you’ve got to get downloads in order to be successful.

Make sure you put lots of emphasis on the Apple App Store algorithm when you’re trying to get downloads.

apple downloads

The graphic shows how many billions of downloads happen on Apple’s App Store each month.

That number continues to grow, so there’s a huge opportunity for you here.

Focus on:

  • The name of your app
  • Subtitle
  • Description
  • Primary category
  • Reviews
  • In-app purchases

Use the quant-based marketing strategy to come up with a plan.

Start with your goal.

How many downloads are you trying to get?

What’s the time frame you’re going to get these downloads in?

Who is your target audience?

Once you answer these questions, you can proceed with your marketing strategies.

If you’re on a tight budget, reach out to big blogs and other influencers.

Contact them directly and ask if they will feature your app in a blog.

You can also run a pay per install campaign on various platforms.

If you’re an existing business with a database of customer email addresses and phone numbers, take advantage of these resources.

Use email marketing and SMS marketing techniques to promote your app and get more downloads.

If you follow these tactics, you’ll be on your way to 1,000 or even 10,000 real downloads in no time at all.

What kind of in-app purchases will you offer to increase your ranking based on the Apple App Store algorithm?

How to Increase App Downloads – 10 Powerful Strategies for Mobile Apps

You’ve finally built your own app.

You love your design, your app icon, and it works flawlessly on every device you tested it on. The niche you found is unexplored and competition-free.

There’s only one problem (and it’s a big one):

No one is downloading your app.

If that’s the case, you’ve run into the same problem many developers encounter after they publish their apps. But don’t be discouraged – if you have an app you want the whole world to use, you can make it happen.

Once you get downloads you’ll be able to make some real money.

All it takes is a little effort and the right know-how to bring your app to the attention of the masses. So, to learn the best ways to boost your mobile app downloads, let’s first understand how apps are downloaded in the first place.

How App Store Optimization Works

How App Store Optimization Works

The first thing you need to grasp to generate more app downloads is how the app stores you publish your app to actually work. Your mobile app marketing strategy will vary slightly when you’re dealing with the Apple App Store vs. the Google Play Store.

Let’s go over some basic app developer language.

You may have heard of SEO – Search Engine Optimization. But have you heard of ASO – App Store Optimization?

The two are very similar in relation to your app’s success, but ASO has even greater impact on its listing than SEO does for Google search results. ASO is specifically what increases the visibility of your app in the marketplace. The higher its rank, the more users will find your app when they search.

And once a user finds your app, ASO also helps determine whether they actually download it. There are quite a few factors that affect your ASO:

  1. Positive reviews: The more positive reviews an app has, the higher its rating will be. When users rank an app highly, it will also be ranked highly, which naturally improves downloads.
  2. App downloads: The more downloads you have, the more downloads you’ll get. App publishers should aim for a steady amount of downloads to rank highly.
  3. Keyword relevance: Apps with popular keywords in their title and description may see more downloads.
  4. Revenue: Apps with a good record of revenue generation will get more visibility from the app store.
  5. Country: Regional success can influence your ranking in that region. Boosting your ranking in multiple regions can have a snowball effect.
  6. Backlinks: If you can include backlinks to many relevant pages, you can improve your app ranking.
  7. Social proof: Your app’s popularity across social media platforms can affect its app store ranking – especially on Android. Shares and +1’s on Google+ can determine whether users notice your app or ignore it.
  8. App starts: The number of times users actually open your app also has a significant impact on ranking.
  9. Retention: The number of people who uninstall your app vs. the amount who keep it within 30 days also affects rankings. To ensure retention, cater heavily toward your target audience in the app description.

Taking all of these into account can dramatically alter the way your app is perceived by the general public, and how it’s treated by the app store algorithm.

For more information on App Store Optimization, check out this blog post.

Now that you have a better understanding of where your app lives once its published, let’s look in more detail at the 10 best ways to boost your app’s downloads.

1. Create an Enticing App Icon

app icon examples

Your app icon is the first thing someone sees in the app store, so the design you choose is critical to your success. As users scroll through the app store, yours should pop out as eye-catching and recognizable.

Make sure you use a design that serves as a clear representation of your app. It should provide as much of a clue as possible to what users will find after they install it.

With that said, you should keep the app icon as straightforward as possible, and not too flashy. Simplicity is best – you don’t want it cluttered and confusing to the eye.

Tip: For more information on designing a perfect app icon, check out this blog post.

2. Social Media Outreach

Social Media Outreach

App developers must expand their online presence. Before you decide on which social networks to use to build your app’s public persona, you have to decide what angle to start from. This means your social media voice must match your app’s personality.

Who is your app? If it were a person, what would it sound and act like?

When posting, use that voice consistently. If your app is edgy and “cool,” don’t bore your fans with bland business language. But if your app is geared towards young professionals, that business speak might suit your audience well.

The social media platforms where apps tend to get the most attention are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • FourSquare

But don’t just post information and promotions concerning your app to these platforms. Create conversations and engage with your fans. Reply to comments in your app’s voice to increase engagement. Such a relationship will increase word-of-mouth praise of your commitment to users, and increase downloads as a result.

One word of caution: each social media platform has its own terms of service regarding contests, giveaways, and advertising. Be sure you’re never in violation of them while you draw attention to and build loyalty for your app.

3. Name and Describe Your App Appropriately

A good title means the difference between people knowing your product by name and referring to it as “This thing on my phone.” Having a great name on the app page can really encourage users to download your app.

So, if you want your app title to stick in people’s heads, the name needs to be unique and appropriate. And while no one can give you the perfect name, here are some evergreen tactics for coming up with your app name:

  • Don’t use names that are already in use – Search extensively before you settle on a name and click Publish, or else you might end up face-to-face with a lawyer.
  • Keep your app name short and sweet, easy to spell, and memorable.
  • Do your best to choose a name that reflects what your app Users should not scroll past your app when looking for something to fit their needs.

And while app stores give you a 225 character limit, you should only use around 25 of them. That’s all that shows up in a search result, so be sure those characters are used wisely.

Your description, on the other hand, is where you need to be most strategic about ASO. It works similarly to the meta description tag for a website but isn’t searchable on the app store.

So, while you don’t need to pack it with keywords, you do need to be strategic with it. By listing important information, benefits and features, social proof, and a call-to-action, you can greatly affect your ASO.

4. Market Your App Effectively

If you’re fortunate enough to have a marketing budget, don’t be too conservative with it.

Typical marketing is structured over a few weeks or months. But if you want to get a sharp spike in downloads for your app in a very short time, concentrate all your marketing spending into a small time frame.

It takes some courage and dedication to roll out a full marketing campaign all at once, but if done successfully, you can see some awesome returns.

Depending on your total budget, you should spend the money within a few days or a week at most. Spread your advertising across the channels that are most popular with your target audience, which could include:

  • Social media channels
  • Sites like Reddit and Digg
  • Email Marketing
  • SMS marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • App directory sites
  • Relevant blogs/magazines
  • Influencer marketing

A lot of your downloads will come from organic searches, but many downloads will come from your web-version landing page. That’s why you should also create a webpage dedicated to your app with a clear call-to-action directing users to download your app.

5. Using Eye-Catching Photos and Videos

Use eye catching photos and videos

One of the most important aspects of your app description is your collection of photos, app screenshots, and videos. Your app store page must be appealing.

Photos related to your app that highlight your most popular and needed features will immediately encourage downloads. Screenshots from your app itself are what users will typically look at after they first find you in search results.

A good combination of these two is crucial to encouraging users to click that download button.

Here are a few ways you can use photos to make users more interested:

  • Show what your app actually looks like for users – not splash screens.
  • Make sure your screenshots contain different aspects of the app in action.
  • Include explanations, captions, and arrows that show users what they can do inside your app.
  • Put extra emphasis on the most popular and needed features of your app.
  • Convince users that your app has a better design than that of your competitors.

If you have the necessary tools, you can even design a video for your app. If you don’t have the tools to make your video, you can hire a professional agency or find mobile specific video editors like the creators at Apptamin.

And if you can, have your app subtitled and translated in several different languages. Reaching out to as many people as possible is key to increasing your download rate, after all.

6. Encourage User Reviews

If you can draw positive user reviews from fans of your app, you can see your downloads increase exponentially.

Reviews from existing users that declare your app a valuable download or say it provides a great user experience are “testimonials” that let other potential users know your app is worth downloading. This can also help enhance your app store visibility.

You might be tempted to purchase fake reviews just to increase the amount of attention your app is receiving as a whole. But if the app store finds out you used this tactic, you may have your app suspended entirely.

Organic reviews from real people are far more valuable to your app than fabricated ones because you as the developer can learn from it as well. Not only will the feedback provide other users with an understanding of your product, it can also inform you about what needs to be fixed or changed.

So, send out requests to a variety of people with real influence. Popular YouTubers and critics on major tech websites with large readership are some great targets for your requests.

In your press releases, mention the fact that you’re looking for feedback. In some cases, the media outlets you’ve sent them to will already have someone on their staff specifically there to review apps.

Because you took the time to alert them to something related to your product, they might return the favor by reviewing you positively. And once a publication writes about you, contact every smaller outlet you’ve reached out to in the past. Refer them to the new article and they might write their own with the initial reviews in mind.

You can also offer incentives to users who leave you reviews. This is a great method to increase the amount of users who actually choose to do so. Coupon codes, tangible prizes, or redeemable points to be used within the app can all be great encouragement for people to leave you positive reviews.

7. Devise Clever Promotions

If your app is available with a pay-to-download monetization model, you can experiment with temporary price drops to drive downloads.

An analysis by Distimo compared downloads and revenue data estimates for 12 games from the week of their price-drop promotion to the previous week without the promotion.

The games were able to increase total global revenue by an average of 437 percent in the seven days during the price-drop promotion.

Sure, this might not work for every app or game. But if you have loyal users and powerful word-of-mouth, people might jump at the opportunity to snag your app on the cheap.

8. Hacking the Press

According to a story from, one app developer was able to dramatically increase his downloads and drive impressive revenues by “hacking” the press.


Iliya Yordanov, founder of the personal finance app MoneyWiz, first tried to get publicity by contacting US media and app review sites. To his disappointment, none of the media sites got back in touch with him.

He then realized that if he sent the same press releases to select foreign markets – Russia, Spain, Germany, Italy, and France – he could get reviews and write-ups on his app. The response from the media in these countries drove his app all the way to the number one spot in the finance category on the App Store.

As a result, his app got noticed in the US, which led to Apple featuring his app. After that, the US media quickly took notice.

You can take a similar approach in boosting your app downloads. When you make a list of media outlets to send your presses to, include many in Europe, Asia, Australia, and any other substantial market. If you think users there might love your app, tell them about it!

9. Sharpen Your Keywords

Remember when we talked earlier about the difference between SEO and ASO?

We’ve covered a lot about ASO so far, so here’s how to make sure your app is optimized for search engines.

Say you have a finance app called “Modern Finance.” When choosing your keywords, you’ll want to include the word “finance” as many times as possible in any relevant copy or descriptions found by search engines.

What other terms do you think users are searching for when looking for the need that your app fulfills? Take the time to perform keyword research to see which words tend to get the most traffic.

You can also use the normal Adwords Keyword Tool to search for lateral keywords to use as well. Lateral keywords are the ones suggested by Google after you’ve located your app.

But remember – you shouldn’t just choose any keyword because it has high search volume. Any keyword you use should be accurate and relevant to your app and audience. If you pack your descriptions full of irrelevant keywords, your app could lose credibility and your downloads might suffer as a consequence.

10. Focus on the User

It’s not all about the number of downloads you get. It’s also important to know how, when, where, and by whom your app is used.

Analytics are very important to determining what your users want the most out of your app, and how you can deliver that. They’re also the key to generating continuous downloads.

Analytics should inform you of your users’ behaviors from download until deletion (if they ever do delete your app!). They should also facilitate A/B testing to determine what works best based on certain trigger points you set up inside the app.

The most used analytics on the planet is undoubtedly Google’s Universal Analytics.

Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics allows you to connect to multiple devices and associate multiple sessions with a unique ID. When you send that ID to Universal Analytics, you can get an accurate user count, analyze the signed-in user experience, and get access to a huge amount of other helpful data.

There’s also Flurry Analytics, a service that boasts huge clients like Yahoo!, EA, and Groupon.

Flurry Analytics

Flurry provides you with loads of info about your app, including:

  • Usage: Active users, sessions, session lengths, frequency, retention, and more.
  • Audience: Your users’ interest, personas, and demographic breakdown.
  • Technical: Device information, carrier data, firmware versions, and details on bugs and errors.
  • Events: Define events, see user paths, and create funnels.

There are a lot of other resources out there for analytics for your app. Here are a few:

Any of these are great options to know how your app is used and what you can do to improve the user experience. The data you’ll get along with your download tracking will help you adjust your app marketing and improve your tactics for boosting those downloads.

Final Thoughts

Increasing app downloads for your app is not always the easiest thing to accomplish.

But, if you make use of these tips and best practices for app promotion, you’ll see a considerable boost in downloads and app store rankings.

Always remember to keep your target audience’s preferences in mind when trying out these strategies. What works best for general consumers might not work as well for your audience – so use these tips while keeping their best interests at heart.

And here’s one last tip: the iTunes App Store and Google Play sometimes change what they consider most important for apps to feature. So, always stay on top of on industry trends and update whatever elements of your app are necessary to deliver exactly what your users need. That way, you’ll always stay high in app store rankings.

If you do all of this successfully, you can feel pretty confident knowing you’ll be able to drive some serious app sales.

Which of these methods for boosting mobile app downloads are you most excited to try? Share below in the comments section!

App Store Optimization 101

Do you remember how you found the last app you downloaded on your tablet or smartphone? If you’re like most people, you probably searched for it in the App Store or Google Play. As it turns out, the battle for app discovery is being won (or lost) in app store search results, according to research by TUNE, an ad analytics company. Take a look at these interesting charts:



charts courtesy of Tech Crunch

This study shows pretty clearly that app developers need to focus on app store optimization (ASO), as opposed to other mobile app marketing channels, if they want their app to be discovered. If you’re about to release your new app, or want to get better organic download numbers from an existing mobile app, here are the basics of ASO to help you the best results.

What Is App Store Optimization (ASO) Exactly?

Simply put, app store optimization are the steps you take as a mobile app marketer to help your app rank higher in app store search results. ASO functions as a tool to drive traffic to your app in the app marketplace and prompt more users to download your app. You can liken it to SEO for your mobile website, because the general idea and overall strategy is the same, but the tactics are somewhat different.

ASO requires a good understanding of your buyer persona; it will shape your keyword strategy. You need to know what keywords your target customers are using to search for apps so you can choose yours wisely. Because keywords matter just as much for ASO as they do for SEO, perhaps even more so, since you’re working with smaller, more tightly focused fields.

Basically, app store optimization is one of the most crucial components of your overall mobile app marketing plan. So…let’s get started.

The 8 Basic Parts of App Store Optimization

While there are a few variations between optimizing for Google Play versus Apple’s App Store, the process for both rests on eight basic elements. For simplicity’s sake, you can break them out into three main categories:

Optimizing Keywords

➤choosing the right title

➤writing an optimized description

➤including localized keywords where appropriate

App Store Visuals

➤your app icon

➤the screenshots you use

➤the promotional or preview video

Offset Factors that Affect ASO

➤number of downloads (and uninstalls)

➤number and quality of your app ratings and reviews

We’ll look at each of these elements in more detail and break out the differences between optimizing for the App Store and Google Play.

Choosing Keywords for App Store Optimization

You probably already know how important identifying the right keywords are for ASO, but you may not know which factors are most important when it comes to choosing them. Don’t make the very common rookie mistake of looking for keywords with the highest search volume—your top priorities should be choosing the most relevant keywords and the ones you have the best chance of achieving a higher rank. After all, it isn’t going to do you a bit of good to choose a keyword that gets 500,000 searches a month if your app ranks 699th for that term.

If you need help with keyword search, try tools such as Sensor Tower, TUNE (formerly MobileDevHQ) and App Annie. You’ll find a wealth of useful app analytics to shape your marketing efforts.

Of note: Keywords are more important for Apple’s App Store ASO than for Google Play, but you should still choose wisely.

Title Keywords for App Stores

Simple rule: Use a keyword in your title. Period. The graph below gives you ample reason to do so:


Image courtesy of MobileDevHQ via Kissmetrics blog

As a matter of mechanics, the App Store displays 25 characters in the title, while you can use 30 characters for Google Play. Don’t use special characters ($,%,&, etc.) in your app title; keep them all URL friendly. And don’t use category words (free, game, puzzle, etc.) in your app name, because you already select those when you list your app.

The App Store also gives you 100 characters to list your keywords; here are some tips:

➼Separate words by a comma, but don’t use a space after the comma. Use your 100 characters wisely.

➼Don’t repeat keywords.

➼Use numerals, don’t write out numbers.

➼Skip stop words like “the,” “at,” etc.

➼Don’t repeat the app name in this section.

Optimizing Your App Description

This is the space where you sell your app by offering compelling copy about all the features and benefits they user can expect if they download your app. Since the recommendations for optimizing the app description are quite different for the App Store and Google Play, we’ll break them down here by marketplace.

The App Store

Google Play

First three lines visible; make them count Focus on first 167 characters for web search
Prioritize compelling copy over keywords Watch keyword density; don’t keyword stuff
Include social proof (awards, reviews) Don’t use testimonials
Highlight features/benefits list If possible, get backlinks
Include press releases and updates in the “what’s new” section Use long-tail keywords and take advantage of all 4,000 characters
Don’t overuse keywords, it will lower your rankings Use main keywords a maximum of 5 times each

One other important note about optimizing your app description: This is a good place to do A/B testing and find the copy, keywords, and features or benefits that do best with your target customers. You can also A/B test your icon, screenshots, or any other part of your app page. Google has added improvements to Google Play so that you can A/B test your app page elements right from the Google Play Developer Console.

Localizing Your Keywords

Depending on your app and your target audience, it may well be worth your while to localize your keywords. What does it mean to “localize” your keywords? It just means to translate your title, the first sentence or two of your description (including a call to action), and even your screenshots. Is it worth it? Check out these charts based on one developer’s experience with keyword localization and the “Harlem Shake Yourself” app:

            Before localization, approximately 3,000 downloads


After localization, approximately 23,000 downloads (760% increase)


Of course, your results may vary, but if you are marketing an app that targets customers in more than one country, you should definitely do keyword localization.

Getting the Visuals Right for ASO

Technically, your visuals aren’t going to really impact the ranking algorithms, but they are going to make a huge difference in how your app is perceived by potential users and how many of them will be interested enough to click through and ultimately download your app. So yes, you do need to get them right for ASO. Let’s look at the three main visual elements in detail.

The App Icon

This is the first (and sometimes only) visual impression you will give potential customers, so it needs to be powerful, yet simple, and consistent with the rest of the app design. This is also a great place to emphasize branding. Some tips for icon design:

?Don’t use words or text in the icon design.

?Borders help your icon stand out.

?Focus on one idea; don’t let the icon get “busy.”

The Right Screenshots for ASO

With the App Store, you get slots for up to five screenshots, and Google Play allows up to eight. Use them all, but give special attention to the first two slots, because they are the ones that searchers will see when they visit your app page. Best practices for screenshot ASO:

?Avoid generic screens such as menus.

?Add explanations if necessary so people know what features/benefits the screenshot is illustrating. Localize your screenshots if applicable.

?Don’t neglect A/B testing.

?Consider combining two or four screenshots in one slot if you need more images to explain app flow.

One note about Google Play: You must submit a “feature graphic” if you want your app to be featured anywhere in Google Play. Use this space to tease or highlight some feature of your app, don’t load it down with text or make it too fussy.

The Promo Video

You can add a preview or promotional video to your app page in both stores; there are separate guidelines for the App Store previews and for Google Play promo videos. While these aren’t mandatory, they can be extremely compelling and give you a leg up on branding and promoting your app. Some tips:

?Write a script and stick tightly to your video plan.

?Get to the “magic moment” right at the beginning; this is especially important with the App Store, since you only have 30 seconds to make your point.

One major difference between App Store and Google Play videos: You can localize your video on Google Play, and in fact, you can add a separate video for each language translation. You only get one video on the App Store, so it has to work for all countries you are targeting.

Off-Site ASO Factors

These are the most difficult ASO factors for mobile app marketers because they have a relatively high impact on rankings—and they are pretty much completely out of your direct control.

Both app store algorithms factor in the following offsite stats:

?average rating and total number of reviews

?number of downloads and uninstalls

?user engagement (how many times they open the app, session length)

?growth trend line

Moz did some research into just how important each of these factors were in each of the two app marketplaces; one of the key takeaways was that ratings and reviews matter much more to the Google Play algorithm, and there are almost 16 times more rankings on Google Play apps than iOS apps (3.1 million versus just 196,000).


Downloads and Uninstalls

This is difficult metric to influence, but obviously, all your app marketing channels need to be oriented toward achieving as many downloads as possible—your website, press presence, social media, and app website should all be focused on this goal.

But downloads aren’t the be-all end-all for offsite ASO, either. The Moz study referenced above showed that monthly active users (MAUs) was one of the best indicators of rank, the keyword being “active.” There are several steps you can take to increase engagement and reduce churn, not least is using push notifications to keep users involved.

Ratings and Reviews

As we mentioned, there are two factors involved in weighting this offsite ASO criteria: Total number of ratings or reviews, and the average review quality (number of stars). Rating quality, in particular, is important, because few potential customers will download an app with a poor review rating.

You really have no choice but to ask users to rate your app, but some ways are better than others when it comes to posing the question:

➼Don’t ask users to rate your app when they are in the middle of doing something; keep the overall user experience in mind and time the ask with sensitivity.

➼Give users an alternate channel to communicate with you if they are having trouble or need technical support with the app. You do not want feedback in the form of a crash report on your page.

➼Consider offering an incentive in exchange for an app review. This could be a one-time discount, an extra life in a game, a free product—whatever works with your business.


Image courtesy of

Once you’ve taken care of all the basics in your quest for ASO, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels. App store optimization is a process, and regular testing, tracking, and optimizing every element of your app page and listing. It’s also a good idea to take a look at what your most successful competitors are doing and see if there are elements you can recreate for your own app.

If you’ve done your work with ASO, you’ll go a long way toward ensuring that your app is getting in front of your target audience as often as possible. Are you using any app store optimization tactics we didn’t cover? Share them in the comments below.