Most Common ASO Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Yuliya Tsimokhava by
ASO Manager at SplitMetrics Agency

11 min read

The tightening economic landscape, combined with a post-COVID digital cooldown, is placing app marketing budgets under heavy scrutiny in 2023. While app leaders are shifting focus from growth to profitability and planning to lean on organic channels where it is possible to optimize costs, App Store Optimization is getting new momentum.

In this blog post, we’re going to highlight the most common mistakes made in the App Store product pages as per the results of 70+ ASO audits held by SplitMetrics Agency in 2022. We’ll also provide expert advice on how to create an efficient organic growth machine.


SplitMetrics ASO audits: Introduction & methodology

To help app marketers level up their ASO efforts and maximize ROI, SplitMetrics Agency aggregated the results of 70+ first impression audits held across various app categories in the US, App Store. The resulting report offers a detailed look at the most common ASO mistakes, their potential impact, and practical advice on how to avoid making those mistakes. Since the analyzed apps had different budgets, team sizes, and proficiency levels, this research will bring value to both entry-level and seasoned mobile marketing professionals.

Analyzed apps by categories:

Category Apps analyzed (%)
Education 13%
Finance 13%
Health & Fitness 13%
Social 10%
Lifestyle 8%
Photo & Video 8%
Sports 8%
Travel 8%
Entertainment 6%
Food & Drink 4%
Medical 4%
Utilities 4%
Productivity 2%

The most common ASO mistakes: Types and impact

As a result of the audit analysis, typical ASO mistakes can be grouped into two categories based on the impact they cause:

  • Visibility and ranking mistakes
  • Conversion mistakes

Mistakes limiting app visibility and decreasing rankings include neglecting cross-localization, keyword duplication across metadata fields, insufficient length of app title and subtitle, usage of low-performing keywords, and lack of a consistent ASO strategy. At the same time, ineffective optimization of app visual assets, poor review management, and low app performance indicators result in a decreased product page conversion rate.

Type ASO mistakes Apps making the mistake (%)
App visibility & ranking Absence of ASO cross-localization 54%
Keyword duplication in app metadata 38%
Insufficient length of app title & subtitle 37%
Low-performing keywords usage 29%
Lack of ASO strategy 8%
Conversion rate Screenshots: Inconclusive information 56%
Screenshots: Poor text readability 40%
Screenshots: Messy design 37%
Screenshots: Unclear messaging 35%
Screenshots: Low-quality design 31%
Icon: Non-associative design 31%
Unanswered reviews 19%
Dominance of negative reviews 19%
Insufficiency of ratings & reviews 17%
Incoherence of visual creatives 10%
Icon: Indistinctive elements 2%
Other Category specific issues, image orientation, screenshot mismatch, etc. 19%

Source: SplitMetrics Agency: ASO audits analysis (2022). 

Noticeably, more than half of the analyzed app store product pages lack an ASO cross-localization and well-designed app screenshots, while keyword duplication across app store metadata is the close second problem. Thus, 56% of the analyzed app screenshots fail to illustrate product value proposition and do not contain vital converting elements such as call-to-actions, social proofs, industry awards, and impactful app performance data. We also found that 37% of analyzed app titles and subtitles are too short, which, given the rigid 30-character limits for these fields, is quite a surprising fact.

How to avoid the most common ASO mistakes

To ensure that ASO efforts bring the highest number of high-LTV users, let’s take a closer look at the most common ASO mistakes app developers make and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Absence of ASO cross-localization

With the 30-character limit for app title and subtitle, and 100-character long keyword field on the App Store, there is not much room for describing all app features and including all possible search terms. Thankfully, the keywords on your app’s product page can be indexed in more than one market. This means you can increase your character space by utilizing your app metadata space in different languages. This is what we call cross-localization.

For example, one of the app’s core market is the United States, and thus the app is in English. But the app also supports 9 additional languages, which gives it the opportunity to translate its product page assets to all these languages to better suit target markets:

According to the App Store Connect documentation, search algorithm is indexing these 9 localized product page assets for the US region as well. Basically, it means you can expand your app’s semantic core 9 times for the US region with the help of App Store’s localization capabilities. Hence, the task of incorporating all the relevant keywords to an app’s product page becomes a lot easier. While app localization is a complex project demanding in-depth knowledge of local culture and customs, do not overlook this organic growth opportunity and at least make use of an extra space for keywords.

Discover the benefits of cross-localization on the App Store

Mistake #2: Keyword duplication in app metadata

Message duplication across product page assets doesn’t improve your app ranking, nor does it help motivate potential users to discover an app. Duplicate keywords take away valuable character space, clutter an app’s product page, and reduce chances to expand organic reach. Yet, our research showed that 38% of analyzed product pages were missing an opportunity to widen their keywords lists due to keyword duplication.

Mistake #3: Insufficient length of app title & subtitle

Your app title and subtitle are critical factors influencing both search ranking algorithm and users’ decisions. They must be unique, eye-catching, highlight core app’s features and benefits, and match users’ expectations. In our research, we discovered that 37% of apps fail to hit the 30-character target length, leaving precious keyword space empty.

Mistake #4: Low-performing keyword usage

While including long-tail keywords to an app’s product page might be a good strategy to win a chunk of traffic in highly competitive categories, it is important to track their performance. Before experimenting with keywords, conduct market and competitive research.

Select 100-200 keywords and prioritize them based on their search popularity and relevance to your app. This simple exercise aims to help you develop your ASO strategy and forecast possible outcomes from a specific combination of keywords. Since ASO is all about continuous improvement, don’t forget to exclude low-performance keywords from your app’s metadata.

Mistake #5: Lack of a robust ASO strategy

There are cases when an app does not rank high on the app stores, even though it doesn’t contain any obvious ASO mistakes (for example, an optimized app title and subtitle, relevant keywords, cross-localization, well-designed creatives – everything is in place). This is when a lack of well-thought-out strategy becomes obvious.

An all-encompassing ASO strategy based on deep market and competitor analysis is a must. Beating high-rated apps with millions of installs and awards demands a long-term plan. For example, for a recently released app, it might be difficult – if not impossible – to improve the app store visibility score by relying on high-volume and, hence, high-competitive keywords.

In its case study, SplitMetrics Agency described how its ASO experts were able to increase Delta Investment Tracker’s visibility score by 70% in the US storefront and by 58% in France through replacing high-volume keywords with medium-volume ones. As a result, the app enjoyed a 52% increase in paying users and 50% in revenue.

Nevertheless, optimizing your app product page assets is not where the work ends. ASO professionals should coordinate with UA, retention, and product teams to ensure high performance of metrics, including number of downloads, active users, retention rates, and user ratings and reviews.

Mistake #6: Inconclusive information in app screenshots

According to the research, 56% of analyzed apps had poorly designed screenshots. The main purpose of app screenshots is to catch users’ attention and convey what your app is about. A simple showcase of an app’s UI might not do the trick. Use a carousel of screenshots to tell a story about your app, highlight the benefits, and showcase user experience. Best practices include adding:

  • Awards and recognitions
  • Impressive app store performance metrics
  • Interesting features that set you apart from the competition
  • Call-to-actions
  • User testimonials
  • Press quotations

Keep in mind that the first 1-3 screenshots usually get the highest number of views, which makes them the most important ones. Make sure they contain all conversion impacting elements.

Read these practical tips to optimize your app screenshots and encourage user downloads

Mistake #7: Poor text readability in app screenshots

According to SplitMetric’s ASO Benchmarks, it takes users less than 10 seconds to take action on a product page and around 50% of users leave the app product page after 3 seconds. This means users won’t make an extra effort to read badly formatted text in app screenshots. In spite of that, 40% of the analyzed apps’ product pages have messy and hard-to-scan captions and texts in their screenshots. These expert tips can help you design user-friendly visuals:

  • Maintain contrast between text and background colors
  • Using readable fonts and a larger font size
  • Avoid long sentences and rarely used words

Mistake #8: Messy screenshot design and unclear messaging

There are a lot of converting elements to be added to your app screenshots, but it is important to keep the design clean, spacious, and pleasing to the eye. According to our audits, 37% of the apps overuse text and graphic elements on their app visuals, which conveys unclear messages to a market. Also, while designing your app screenshots, make sure to avoid only including direct screenshots of your app. This is not an ideal practice and shows a lack of effort in aesthetically demonstrating your app’s main features. If you can’t decide on the approach to screenshot design, we recommend creating several versions focused on different aspects of your app and conducting A/B tests to identify the most appealing version for your target audience.

Mistake #9: Low quality of app screenshots

The most common signs of low-quality screenshots are usage of clichéd stock photos, blurry text, and graphic elements with low contrast. Blurry, distorted, or pixelated screenshots will negatively impact your brand value. It is also a great idea to A/B test your product page visual assets – user behavior, social acceptability, and the concept of beauty vary across countries and app categories. Thus, Chinese people are more accustomed to bright colors, flashy animations, and clutter in design, while the US citizens favor clean interfaces, laconism, and dark modes.

Mistake #10: Non-associative app icon design

The main purpose of the icon is to depict the essence of your app. In some app stores’ locations, the icon is the first and only element of your product page that highlights the app’s main functionalities. Often, apps within one category tend to illustrate the same object in their icons to better match users’ expectations. In their pursuit of uniqueness and desire to stand out from the crowd, some app developers omit associative elements widely used by their direct competitors. Unless you’re heavily investing in brand awareness, this might be a bad strategy.

Check out these best practices to design an optimized app icon

Mistake #11: Poor ratings & reviews management

App rating is one of the most crucial factors impacting conversions and visibility scores. Users tend to choose apps with a rating of at least 4 stars. At the same time, they consider apps with a 3-star rating as a “potentially poor product,” while apps with a 5-star rating and relatively small number of reviews cause suspicion under the “too good to be true” scenario. It is also worth mentioning that the Apple team rarely considers apps rated below 4 stars for featuring.

Reviews are a great source of information about user experience and satisfaction with your app. We recommend responding to all users’ reviews to build trust and show care, as well as encouraging your most loyal customers to provide feedback.

Learn how to monitor your app reviews and ratings to drive conversion


Conclusion

The economic downturn urges app marketers to revisit their user acquisition strategies and invest in channels that produce the highest ROI. With budget cuts, discrepancies in measurement, and rising costs of paid traffic, organic sources are projected to be in high demand in 2023. To maximize profitability of your ASO efforts, get a fresh look at your app’s product page, fix the most common mistakes related to your app keywords, visual assets, and app performance metrics. Intelligent ASO tools like AppTweak, combined with seasoned experts from SplitMetrics Agency, can help you uncover new organic growth opportunities.

Yuliya Tsimokhava
by , ASO Manager at SplitMetrics Agency
Yuliya Tsimokhava is an ASO manager at SplitMetrics Agency. In her current role, she helps leading mobile app publishers and developers reach new levels of organic visibility and downloads on the App Store and Google Play. She loves teamwork, video games, and travel.