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App Store Optimization in the Mobile World

By now, you’re surely more than familiar with search engine optimization (aka SEO). But what about App Store optimization (ASO)? Is there even such a thing? And more importantly, can you make your next app more visible and grow its App Store rankings by experimenting with some ASO practices? Here’s our take:

1. App Icon

Your App Store marketing starts with the app icon. It’s what people see first, and ultimately, what people get interested in the most. If the icon itself doesn’t look modern then it can be very difficult to fix this issue through copy later on.

Here are some guidelines when designing the icon:

  • Don’t make it too complicated. The more detail there is, the more difficult it will be to convey your brand’s message. Less is more, so be as minimalistic as you can.
  • Mind the competition. What’s also important is standing out from the crowd and being different from your competition. Try to notice certain patterns that your competition uses in their app icons. For example, if everybody has poker chips in the app icon, maybe you should ditch the idea and replace it with something more creative.
  • Try semi-flat or completely flat design. Flat design is the trend of today and it seems to be working quite well for whoever uses it.

2. App Title

Right after the icon, your app title is the second most important thing in the App Store optimization game. After you generate some interest with the icon, it’s the title’s job to do the final convincing and get the visitor to click through and learn more about what you have to offer.

Here are the qualities of a good app title:

  • Make it short. If the title is too long and complicated, you will lose a lot of people just because they can’t be bothered to read the whole thing. If you can get away with a short two-word title, do it. (The App Store limits the title to 30 characters anyway.)
  • Make it descriptive. This is the tough part. Apart from your title being short, it also needs to be descriptive in a way that it convinces the visitor to click through.
  • Include keywords. On top of all this, you can also include a keyword if there’s anything that’s important to you. This isn’t a mandatory step though.

3. App Description

This is where your copywriting skill comes into play. The app description has the same job as every other sales page copy on the web – it needs to convince the visitor to take action and click the big (install/buy) button.

One trick that a lot of developers use is that they start their description with a quote (or testimonial) from a respected brand that has reviewed the app. The idea is that the things that other people say about you are always much more convincing than anything you can say about yourself.

4. Screenshots

Everyone looks at screenshots prior to downloading a new app. So be creative here and instead of just taking standard screenshots, add your own commentary directly on them. This is what apps like Messenger (by Facebook) and WhatsApp are doing. You can even use free tools like Skitch for this.

5. Reviews and Ratings

Reviews and ratings is how App Store basically knows if your app is a quality one or not. To improve your chances, make sure to invite your partners to the app, so they can test it before it gets released. Then, on launch day, you can ask them to submit their ratings and reviews. Getting some good 4- or 5-star reviews right off the bat can increase your App Store rankings.

In the end, to make an app project successful, you need all of the above elements playing together as an effective team.