How to create an effective ASO strategy
ASO can be overwhelming. There are multiple ranking factors ranging from keywords and creative 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 piece of the puzzle that is difficult to solve. So where do you start? Let us show you how you can improve your ASO with a step-by-step approach.
An ASO strategy or App Store Optimization strategy is the process of planning, outlining and implementing steps to improve an app’s visibility in the app stores with the objective to increase organic app downloads. Here is the process you should follow when creating your ASO strategy:
- Define Goals & KPIs
- Audit current performance
- Review competitor strategies
- Prepare metadata updates
- Define update timeline
- Implement, measure, monitor, iterate
1. Define your goals & KPIs
First things first. To be able to see the trees through the forest you have to set your priorities and set goals and KPIs.
Examples of ASO goals and KPIs include:
- Increase keyword visibility with 35%
- Increase app page conversion rate with 20%
- Double reviews while maintaining 4.5 rating
- Localize app listings in APAC countries and reach top 10 rankings for most relevant keywords
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 that 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. With a quick example for Spot Hero we’ll explain how important this step is.
On the Apple App Store, Spot Hero is currently targeting keywords including ‘parking’, ‘find’, ‘garage’ and ‘airport’ in their metadata. When 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’. The keywords ‘parking’, ‘airport’ and ‘find’ on the other hand are working very well and should not be replaced to avoid a loss in ranking.
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.
3. Review competitor strategies, updates & A/B Tests
Before crafting your own strategy, have a look at what competitor’s have been doing and try to understand what worked for them and what did not. Carefully analyzing your competitor’s strategy 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 learnings 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 looks like the first icon, the one with the focus on the main character was the best performing one.
Next they tested whether or not to remove the brand name from the icon.
Then they tested to add match-3 gems in the icon to reinforce the type of game (a match-3 puzzle game).
Likely the addition of the gems in the icon had a great impact on conversion rate as in the next round of creatives, the game is testing a version with even more focus on the gems.
4. Prepare your metadata updates
Now you’ve finalized your audit and reviewed your competitor’s strategy, it’s time to create high quality updates.
When preparing textual metadata changes it’s important you 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.
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 colour palette is used most often? Do apps and games in your category have horizontal or vertical screenshots? What value proposition do others put forward?
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 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 the creative optimization. Also, make sure to leave enough time between your updates. Usually we 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. But also 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 are bringing. For example both Apple and Google do not make a difference between downloads from organic search and downloads from paid search. That means that if you update your keywords and at the same time increase your ASA budget, you won’t be able to fully assess the organic uplift of your ASO efforts.
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 in 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. And to maintain your visibility it is important to monitor rankings and adapt as needed.
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