How to Create an Effective ASO Strategy

Alexandra De Clerckby 
CMO at AppTweak

7 min read

App Store Optimization (ASO) can be overwhelming. There are multiple ranking factors – from keywords and creatives to ratings, download velocity and retention – that all have an impact on your app’s visibility. Measuring the impact of your hard work is another puzzle piece that is difficult to solve. So where do you start? Let us show you how you can improve your ASO strategy with a step-by-step approach.

An ASO strategy is the process of planning, outlining, and implementing steps to improve an app’s visibility in the app stores with the objective of increasing organic app downloads. Here, we illustrate the 6 steps you should follow to create an effective ASO strategy:

1. Define your goals & KPIs

First things first, to understand the bigger picture, you have to set your ASO priorities, goals, and KPIs.

Examples of ASO goals and KPIs include:

  • Increase keyword visibility by 35%
  • Increase app page conversion rate by 20%
  • Double reviews while maintaining a 4.5 rating
  • Localize app listings in APAC countries and reach top 10 rankings for most relevant keywords

Discover why an effective ASO strategy is fundamental to your app growth

2. Audit your current performance

Once you’ve established your main goals, you have to understand where you’re currently standing – especially when it comes to keyword optimization. How is your metadata currently working? Are you ranking for the keywords you are currently targeting? Do they drive volume and downloads to your app?

This kind of research is crucial as it will make sure you don’t remove keywords that are currently driving downloads to your app while replacing those keywords for which you lack visibility.

To audit your current performance, you need an ASO tool like AppTweak. We’ll explain the importance of this step using a quick example from Spot Hero.

SpotHero Parking App title & subtitle
On the Apple App Store, Spot Hero is currently targeting keywords including ‘parking’, ‘find’, ‘garage’, and ‘airport’ in their metadata. From looking at their rankings and keyword installs, we can see that the keyword ‘garage’ (and ‘find garage’) brings very little visibility and downloads to the app, suggesting Spot Hero should consider replacing ‘garage’. On the other hand, the keywords ‘parking’, ‘airport’ and ‘find’ are working very well and should not be replaced to avoid a loss in ranking.

metadata keywords for the spothero parking app

Even though Spot Hero targets the keyword ‘garage’ in their subtitle, this keyword does not drive any downloads to the app. Therefore, Spot Hero should consider replacing this keyword.

While the keywords you target play a pivotal role in ASO, there are a number of other ranking factors you should not neglect to consider when optimizing your app store listings.

3. Review competitor strategies & A/B tests

Before crafting your own strategy, have a look at what competitors have been doing and try to understand what worked for them and what did not. Carefully analyzing your competitors’ strategies can give you ideas for your own and help you avoid pitfalls. This goes for both keyword optimization and creative optimization.

To demonstrate the kind of information you can extrapolate from competitive research, we’ll dig deeper into the icon updates from ‘Empires & Puzzles’:

  • First, the theme of the icon was tested. Based on future updates, it seems that the first icon (with the focus on the main character) was the best performing one.Empires & puzzles icon A/B test 1
  • Next, they tested whether or not to remove the brand name from the icon.

Empires & puzzles icon A/B test 2

  • Then they tested whether to add match-3 gems in the icon to reinforce understanding of the game type (a match-3 puzzle game).

Empires & puzzles icon A/B test 3

  • It is likely that the addition of the gems in the icon had a great impact on conversion rate; in the next round of creatives, the game tested a version with even more focus on the gems.

4. Prepare your metadata updates

Now that you’ve finalized your audit and reviewed your competitors’ strategies, it’s time to create high-quality updates.

When preparing textual metadata changes, it’s important to start with careful keyword research. Find out which keywords users use most often when searching in the app stores, discover which keywords are driving downloads to competitors and select those relevant keywords for which your app has the highest chance to rank.

AppTweak App Keyword Research tools

With AppTweak’s Keyword Research tools, you can find Opportunity Keywords – keywords for which your competitors rank but your app does not.

When designing new creative updates, carefully research trends and best practices in your category. What color palette is used most often? Do apps and games in your category have horizontal or vertical screenshots? What value proposition do others put forward?

App Icon colour palette analysis
AppTweak’s colour palette analysis indicates which colours apps use most often in their icon.

5. Define update timeline

Before you start implementing your metadata updates, it is important to establish a timeline. This step is crucial to help you measure the impact of your ASO effort as there are a lot of internal and external factors that influence app downloads.

Therefore, never implement both creative and keyword updates at the same time. Otherwise, you won’t be certain if an increase in conversion rate is due to an increase in keyword visibility or due to creative optimization. Also, make sure to leave enough time between updates. We usually recommend waiting 3-4 weeks between each update. That gives you enough time to gather adequate data to assess the performance of your creative updates. Additionally, the app stores’ algorithms take about 3-4 weeks to fully assess your keyword changes and update your rankings.

When defining your update timeline, you should coordinate with the UA and product team so that every step of the entrance funnel is aligned and all efforts get maximum traction. Make sure each team stays clear of each other so that each team can measure the impact of the changes they submit. For example, neither Apple nor Google differentiate between downloads from an organic search and downloads from a paid search. This means that, if you update your keywords and increase your ASA budget at the same time, you won’t be able to fully assess the organic uplift of your ASO efforts.

More information on how often to update your metadata

6. Implement, measure, monitor, iterate

On the Google Play Store, you can choose to first A/B test your updates before fully implementing them (with the exception of title updates). When you create an A/B test, Google will divide your audience into various samples, show them the different versions and measure how each version performs. So, instead of personal preference, data can guide you to decide which version to implement.

ASO is a long-term process. Once your updates have been implemented, you need to carefully monitor your performance and iterate your updates accordingly. Also, newcomers and algorithm updates can shake up rankings from time to time. To maintain your visibility, it is important to monitor rankings and adapt as needed.

Expert Tip

When developing an effective ASO strategy, you must also regularly monitor the latest ASO trends that could impact your performance in the app stores.

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To create an effective ASO strategy with the objective of increasing organic app downloads, you should follow this step-by-step approach:

  1. Define goals & KPIs
  2. Audit current performance
  3. Review competitor strategies
  4. Prepare metadata updates
  5. Define update timeline
  6. Implement, measure, monitor, and iterate your ASO strategy

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Alexandra De Clerck
by , CMO at AppTweak
Alexandra De Clerck is CMO at AppTweak. She is responsible for developing AppTweak's marketing strategy and brand recognition across the globe.