The 7-Step Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO)

By Tinuiti Team

Globally there are billions of smartphone users, and that number steadily increases year after year, generating a huge market for the creation and purchasing of apps. 

There are over four million apps that rank on the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores today, which means you’ll need to get strategic about marketing your app if you want to generate mobile downloads and engagement.

Here is our 7-Step App Store Optimization Guide (ASO) to boost the visibility and ranking of your app.

“Getting an app discovered can be a major hurdle marketers face as there is a lot of competition in the space. ASO helps improve your app ranking and visibility, getting it in front of the right users organically.”

– Liz Emery, Director, Mobile App Strategy – Tinuiti

What is App Store Optimization?

App Store Optimization (ASO) are improvements made on an app download page to help your app to climb the visibility ladder and encourage more people to download it.

ASO is primarily focused on the world’s two leading app store platforms: the Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android).

If you are creating an app or already have one on the marketplace, ASO is crucial for standing out in a crowded app market.

“ASO is not a ‘one and done’ project, it needs continuous attention and consistent updates,” explains Emery.

7 App Store Optimization Tips

There are seven basic principles for ensuring that your app is optimized for the app store.

Following these tips will help you effectively market your app, identify your top competitors, and take your app to the next level.

1. Use Relevant Keywords

Researching the right keywords for your audience is essential.

You will need to pinpoint what keywords your potential customers are searching for and ideally the keywords that your top competitors use.

app store optimization guide use relevant keywords

Matching keywords with your customers’ needs will help them more easily find your app on the app store.

For help analyzing keywords, we recommend starting with Google Keyword Planner and migrating to app store optimization tools like Mobile Action and Sensor Tower.

2. Optimize Your Title & Description

Titles are the single most important metadata you can use to get more downloads. 

Focus on writing a title that is under 25 characters so the entire title is visible on the app browse screen. A title should also be memorable to increase downloads. Using your company’s name and top keyword will make your app easier to search for.

app store optimization - titles and descriptions

Once you have chosen your title, try to search for your app. If there are thousands of results, your title isn’t creative enough.

The description should include as many relevant keywords as possible (without stuffing) in the first 250 characters. Anything after this initial description requires a “read more” click from the potential customer.

3. Include Compelling Icons & Screenshots

Compelling visuals can give you an edge in the app marketplace.

Choose an app icon that is easy to recognize and will be memorable for your brand. Aim to use different colors than your top competitors to eliminate any confusion from potential customers.

app store optimization aso screenshots

The majority of people will look at your screenshots before making the decision to download, so don’t skimp on these. We recommend using as many screenshots as the marketplace will allow you to upload. 

Use a colorful template so your screenshots look professional and aesthetically pleasing together. The text should not be the primary focus. Include visual features that show how your app is more valuable than its competitors.

“Always be testing your creative; screenshots & preview videos. This will have a large impact on your ASO performance,” says Emery.

4. Add Video

Creating a video within your app’s page can increase downloads by 35%. 

This significant increase is more than optimizing your title (15%) and visuals (30%). Every increase in downloads is also an increase in your rankings.


Since most people prefer to search and download an app within a few minutes, upload a video that showcases your app’s most valuable feature.

5. Research Your Competition

While understanding who your competitors are and their business strategy is important for any successful business, it is especially important in ASO. 

Before adding your app to the marketplace, you should nail down the best category for your app. 

Factors to consider when choosing a category include: 

Once you have added your app to the marketplace, you will need to consistently monitor the top performing apps in your chosen category. See if their ranking changes when they add a keyword or change their metadata. 

app store optimization research competition

Do your best to rank new keywords before your competitors have a chance to. You will also want to track competitors that have a similar purpose, app features, and even apps that are simply using the same top keywords you are using. 

According to App Tweak, a competitor analysis tool, you should be able to narrow your top competitors down to five so you can effectively manage a consistent ASO routine.

6. Build Backlinks

To build the best backlinks, your app should be actively linked on websites that are relevant to your app and have authority according to Google’s current algorithm standards. 

Backlinks can be in text form or by image using the ALT (ALTernative text) tag. 

While there is some controversy about the effectiveness of backlinks in regards to ASO, it is conclusive that quality vs. quantity is the preferred method of backlink success.

7. Drive Traffic (and Downloads) to Your App Store Page

Having a website that is SEO optimized to host your app information will allow you to drive traffic directly to your app store pages.

Utilizing this website for your app can also help you rank on Google, enabling those doing a simple web search for another option for finding and downloading your app.

app store optimization traffic to app store page

You can also use paid app advertising to drive traffic to your app — such as Apple Search Ads (ASA) or Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC).

app store optimization apple search ads aso

“You should always leverage your ASO learnings to support your paid media efforts to make your dollars work harder,” says Emery.

App Store Optimization Strategy

Mastery of ASO will not happen overnight.

However, if you spend a little time each day working on your app store optimization checklist, you will be pleased with the progress you can make.

Once you are comfortable with the traction your app is receiving, you can venture into promoting your app with paid advertising to further take advantage of ASO and increase your app’s market share.

“Creating a holistic approach to ASO where creatives and keywords are designed to complement one another are crucial to a successful app marketing strategy. ASO is a strategy that needs to be adopted from the beginning and considered an ongoing initiative. The sooner you start, the better.”

– Ben Swain, Sr. Specialist, Paid Search – Tinuiti

Want to learn more?

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