Mobile App Store Optimization: A Different Type of SEO

How app developers can get more visibility for products

There’s no question that high-quality app developers have potential to really rake in some serious dough.

As of June 2015 over 100 billion apps have been downloaded from Apple’s app store.

There are over 2 million apps available through all the major app stores online, and this number is only going to continue to grow.

More and more smartphones continue to be sold and a younger generation that grew up with technology continues to increase their overall purchasing power.

However, there is a very obvious problem when it comes to getting your app recognized by the masses: how do you get attention with over 2 million competitors?

This is where you need to understand how search engine optimization (SEO) works when looking to get attention for your mobile apps over the competition.

Plus, this will help you make more money for your mobile app and ultimately offset some of your development costs.

The first step in this starts with finding critical information, and a good starting point is to know that SEO for the app markets even has its own name: App Store Optimization (ASO).

โ€œApp Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of improving the visibility of a mobile app (such as an iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone app) in an app store (such as iTunes for iOS, Google Play for Android, Windows Store for Windows Phone or BlackBerry World for BlackBerry).โ€ โ€“ Wikipedia

Why Is ASO So Important?

First off, a few numbers. There’s no question that App Store Optimization is too important to just ignore.

When people are searching for a new app, it’s judged that 58 to 63% of all app purchasers have said that their new app purchases or downloads started with someone doing an app search in the store.

Obviously the higher your app is ranking for certain keywords, the more likely it is to be found before the competition.

On the other hand, if your app is buried then good luck making it to the top.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing has often been touted as a good way to get attention, and while this can be a great tool in conjunction with ASO, it’s important to note that only 15-20% of apps come from social media ads, reviews, or referrals.

That isn’t a bad number, but it certainly isn’t any 63%!

In addition to this, getting found and getting to be one of the top downloaded apps can be rewarding in and of itself.

Getting on those lists is huge because 25-34% of people reported downloading an app after seeing it on a best-selling or best rated list.

This is one example where clearly the rich get richer!


This is also an important time to make a simple disclaimer: not much is static in the world of SEO for your apps right now.

Just as Google is constantly changing and tweaking their algorithm (including mobile) to change up their results, the idea of ASO is relatively new and can/will change over time.

That being said, there are several main factors and secondary factors that are going to always matter when it comes to ranking high in the app stores, and several strategies to help individual apps get to where they want to be.

Primary App Store Ranking Factors

There are two main ranking factors that are always going to matter.

The first is the title of your app. You should think about this very carefully because not only do you want a popular keyword (if possible) in the title, but you want a name that is easy to remember.

This is going to make it easier for word of mouth to spread, and good branding is just always important no matter what the business.

Plus a unique title means no one will mistake a competing app for your specific offering to the marketplace. Besides your app icon, the title is the first thing users will see.

Another tip for the title: keep it short. You only get 25 characters on a phone screen before it gets cut off, and if someone can’t see the full title they are far more likely to just skip on by rather than take a serious look at your app and what it has to offer.

The second main factor you need to look at to rank your app in an app store are keywords.

Just like with classic SEO, having the right combination of a few important keywords not only helps you show up for searches but makes sure that your app is actually being found by people who want what your app has to offer.

Don’t underestimate the importance of keywords in the description, tags, and title.

And, never keyword stuff, but otherwise make sure it’s there.

Secondary Ranking Factors

There are also several other secondary app ranking factors that you will want to keep in mind when it comes to getting your app in front of searchers.

The total number of downloads do matter. Not as much as many people think, but it does make a difference.

This is why an early push for free downloads to employees, friends, or a beta testing team can make an important difference in where your overall app ends up appearing in the total app rankings for your main keywords. Social proof carries weight as you know.


Overall ratings also have some type of an effect on ranking. While no one is 100% sure exactly how much ratings matter or how they’re weighed against one another (benefits for a positive or negative effect for a bad review, etc) there’s no denying that this is part of the rating process.

Ratings will help for what apps appear at the top of a list and which don’t appear anywhere close to the top.

What Is Keyword Optimization?

People talk about keyword optimization when it comes to SEO for your individual apps, and this is simply the process of keyword research. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Which keywords are most searched for that relate to your app?
  • Are there any keywords that are related to your app that have very little competition?

Doing basic research to see what valuable keywords look the most valuable can go a long way to getting you the best possible results.

What Is Asset Optimization?

Asset optimization for apps is simply making sure that everything in your app’s layout is giving the best possible impression to potential downloaders. Another way of thinking about this is sales optimization.

You want everything looking as professional and appealing as possible so that anyone who does find your app’s listing is much more likely to download it or buy it.

What goes into asset optimization?

  • Do your screenshots look good, especially on mobile devices?
  • Do you have an excellent icon that is clear and distinctive?
  • How does your video preview look to potential buyers?
  • Does your setup look good on both computers and mobile devices?

What Are the Current ASO “Best Practices?”

The ASO best practices list isn’t something official like the “Google SEO best practices” guide (good read for beginners).

This means as more is discovered about the app market and how they rank apps, and as those things change, a best practices list can (and will) change over time.

However, this is a great starter list of what to do to help increase your chances of rising to the top in the app stores.

Starter list for ASO best practices:

  1. Keep titles short, memorable, and under 25 characters while using an embedded keyword
  2. Make sure to have a preview video uploaded
  1. Check to make sure your app icon looks good and is clearly visible and eye- catching
  2. Make sure your screenshots are scaled for mobile
  3. Have a good detailed description of what the app does
  4. Translate listings into other languages if you want an international market

In Conclusion

You don’t need to be a business genius to understand the importance of ranking towards the top of your most important keywords in the app store.

By following the SEO (ASO) tips outline in this article, you will end up extremely happy with the results you get for your next world-changing app!

About the Author: Jon Rognerud is the CEO at Chaosmap, Author of a Best-Selling Book with Entrepreneur Press, โ€œThe Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Websiteโ€. Want to learn more? Register your FREE seat for John’s next online marketing (SEO) webinar: