Understanding App-Store Optimization

There are more than 6 million mobile apps in major app stores today. Getting an app discovered, much less downloaded, is one of the biggest challenges app developers face.

Luckily, there is a strategy that can help your app get discovered more easily. 

What is App-Store Optimization?

App-Store Optimization goes by a few titles: ASO, App Store Marketing and Mobile App SEO.

ASO is fundamentally about improving the visibility of your apps inside any given app store, or “search engine” such as Google Play or Apple App Store. By increasing the visibility of your app, you’re gaining impressions which can support other goals such as traffic to your app and getting downloads.

The focus of ASO is to drive traffic to your app. The more people that see it, the more likely you are to get downloads. App-store optimization is commonly done by targeting keywords that users are typing into any given search engine, and then connecting them to your page, or in this case, app.

Here are a few key factors used in ASO:

  • Keywords
  • App title and name
  • Description
  • Number of downloads total
  • Reviews
  • Subtitles

Why is App-Store Optimization Important?

In 2020, there were over 218 billion app downloads, compared to 140.8 billion downloads in 2016. This is an industry that keeps growing exponentially over time, and if you’re not optimizing, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. We’re not just talking about missing downloads, either– you’re missing out on other supplemental benefits, such as:

  • Increased brand exposure
  • Audience engagement
  • Marketing channel diversification
  • Getting positive app reviews

Even though there are hundreds of thousands of apps being pushed into the app-store atmosphere every year, a lot of publishers are not even using ASO. This is good news for you!

Here’s how to get started with optimizing your app and get it ranking at the top of the search engine results.

How to Start Optimizing Your App: The Basics

1. Search Engine Optimization

ASO and search engine optimization are alike, and quite frequently overlap during this process. The biggest overlooked part of ASO actually has to do with SEO, and that’s having a website that is acting as the driving force and main entity behind guiding curious visitors through the buying funnel and main content all the way to a ready-to-buy/download audience, aka your app store. 

2. In App-Store Tactics

There are a number of different search engine strategies you can use within the app-store that can be targeted for updates, refinement and continual improvement in optimization.

These include: 

App details

Images & videos 

A description


Update information

Additional information

It’s important to maximize on every space you can within an app-store, so you don’t miss any potential optimization factors. Never leave a space blank, and be sure you’re using our next tip when filling these factors in.

3. Use Researched Keywords

Your app-name, or title, should have the keyword with the heaviest search traffic. It’s important to research keywords associated with your app because then you can understand what users are searching for. Do not change your title often– this can be detrimental to any user that was familiar with the original title. Spend some time researching keywords that you can then translate into one forever title. In fact, optimizing a keyword in your title can increase your ranking by 10.3%! 

Researched keywords should also try to be used in your description, additional information, app details and update information. This will take your app from the bottom of the list to the top. 

A Good Example

Pandora is a great example of a fully optimized app. Check it out:


Title: The title is short, clear and also utilizes the most popular keywords: “Music & Podcasts” If you search the app-store for “free”, “music” or “radio”, this is what pops up at or near the top of the search results.

Image: The Pandora icon is simple but relevant, and attracts the eye.

App Subtitle:: Pandora managed to fit not one, not two, but three keywords in its app subtitles: streaming, radio, podcasts. 

Reviews: Pandora is one of the largest music streaming apps in the world, so it’s likely you’re not going to have 7.3 million ratings. But you are likely to have some ratings, and it’s imperative that they are included, and are for the most part positive.

Be like Pandora.

Extra Tips for App-Store Optimization Strategy

  1. How you present your app store product page will have a big impact on the conversion rate value (downloads) you get from the page. Product page conversion-rate optimization should be an ongoing focus for generating downloads.
  1.  Thumbnail images and screenshots used to promote your app in app stores will dramatically increase the click-through rates (CTR) of impressions to extra app pages.
  1. Test each of your app store fields for continually improving key metrics associated with the field (CTR, CRO, etc.). While a little more technical, experimentation and hypothesis testing is crucial for getting every ounce of value from the available optimization areas within app stores.
  1. Consider using Apple’s Spotlight Search. By using the Apple App Store,  users can search the apps that they have already installed on their mobile phones. When you enable Apple’s Spotlight Search you can also impact app use and engagement levels as people are going to be exposed to your app more frequently. Think of it as coming up on a user’s “Recommended For You” list. 

App-store optimization is continually growing and expanding. Something that works now might not work within a year. It is always changing and evolving, so be sure to keep up with app-store updates, trends and follow Target River frequently for any changes in ASO. 

Target River now offers Target App Install Services, an all new way to get more downloads and installs for your app. You put in the time and effort making the app, so let us put the time and effort into its success. We were recently named Best Marketing Agency in the USA for best TV Advertising Agency, and have 12 teams of marketing professionals ready to tackle any marketing campaign at any time. Contact us today to get a free marketing plan for your business by visiting our website.