App Store & Google Play Search Optimization Basics

March 14, 2014

There are around 2,000,000 apps in the App Store and Google Play, so making apps visible for potential customers is getting harder every day. Even if you developed a stunning product it doesn’t mean yet that downloads would increase rapidly. No doubts, ads and promo publications, in popular tech resources specifically, can achieve their goals in boosting the popularity of a given app. But millions of downloads are still made through mobile app stores. Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, predicts that the total number of app downloads will reach around 138 millions worldwide this year. Therefore, higher ranking in the App Store’s search can provide you with more downloads and the right App store optimization will help you reach this goal. So, what is app store optimization?

In a few words, app store optimization (ASO or search optimization) is a set of methods for optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in app store search results to become more visible for potential clients and, as a result, ensure more downloads.

It may sound easy, but it’s only in theory. First of all, nowadays search optimization is not a secret and many of your competitors have been already using it. Besides, if an app is not of any interest for your potential users, any marketing tricks won’t help you. But if your app is really palatable, has an appealing design and not only your friends are certain it’s really awesome, we can continue our discussion and learn how to apply ASO tools effectively.

Text part:

1. Title

Remember that your app’s name is the first thing users look at, only then they pay attention to icon and in the end – to description. So if the title is bad – make masterpiece icon. Title must be short, understandable, descriptive and catchy. User must get interested with app name. Also don’t forget about pronunciation because if I don’t know how to utter app title – most likely I will move to the next one. People don’t like to seem stupid to themselves.

Examples: “Tweetbot for Twitter (iPhone & iPod touch)”, “Simple Finances – expense tracker, family budget, personal finance”, “Cameo”, “ Task & To-do List”, “Lumosity Mobile” etc…

2. Description

Identify your target users and from the first sentence incite their curiosity, impress them with your app goal or achieved results (number of downloads, awards, etc). Offer users a clear understanding of your app functions, why it’s significantly better than the rest and why they have to download it. Address users’ all possible inquiries in a short message to not leave any room for doubts. Description is a foreword to your app, so it’s in your best interests to make it understandable and attractive for the user.


“Editor’s Choice and Top #1 Weather App World Wide — Designed & developed by Taptanium in partnership with Robocat ” – Haze.

“Kate Moss’s favourite game, according to The Guardian!” – Dumb Ways to Die.

“Used by over 100,000 entrepreneurs worldwide. Featured by Apple as a Business Essential. Featured by Apple on New & Noteworthy” – Elevatr.

You asked, we delivered: The long-awaited, hit strategy game Clash of Clans is officially storming the Android realm, pillaging and raiding your tablets and phones. The time has come to unleash your inner barbarian. Get the game, join the fun – it’s free!” – Clash of Clans.

3. Keywords

Follow the SEO principles. Brainstorm different ways people can use to search for an app in your category. It’s better to employ unique keywords over highly generic ones. Keyword research tools can  be helpful  to this end.

Visual part:

1. Icon

Look through the lists of top icons in app stores, analyze your competitors’ choice, scan users’ feedback to understand better their preferences and current trends in design. Don’t try to economize on the app icon since  it can negatively affect expected results. Do your best in finding good professionals that will ensure the needed result. In addition, familiarise yourself constantly with the Apple tips on creating better icons that will be useful also for Android.

2. Screenshots

In screenshots you have to reflect effectively what have been written earlier in description. Demonstrate consistently app options from the first moment you see it, when opening the app to its core function. Avoid adding screenshots of text descriptions or pictures with excessive text details, in small sizes they won’t provide any useful information and can be confusing to the user. Try to use always only high quality images.

3. Video

Video can be a great addition to your visual part. It doesn’t matter what you want to show: happy users, an app in action or something else, it’s more important that it has to be creative, innovative  and of superior quality. Otherwise, it can be missed or ignored.


1. Category

Categorize your app appropriately to get into the area where potential users can find it.

2. Rating & reviews

You can’t influence ratings and reviews directly (in this way, please, don’t  try to cheat with fake users) but you must try to get as many reviews as you can. At the beginning, don’t be ashamed to ask all your friends and family members to download your app. It makes also a good sense for you to simplify the process of writing an application review. In this case, users can save their valuable time and you won’t lose potential reviews. You can usually do it with pop-up messages, but don’t be annoying not to disrupt their workflows while the app is running. Be positive and open-minded about negative comments, which potentially can be great hints for further improvements.

3. App Store Optimization Tools

There are different tools available on the market, which can help you find the right keywords, track your competitors, apply popular keywords and build your apps’ strategy more effectively. Most popular of them are Search Man, MobileDevHQ, Sensor Tower and AppCodes.

Just try them all and pick your favorite ones.

App Store Optimization is a hard and long process, but with enough time and efforts it will bring the desired fruits. The main trick here is to keep testing different approaches and respond quickly to market changes. Good luck with that!