HOW ASO WORKS

iOS APP STORE

What gets taken into account for your iOS keyword ranking? Apple’s algorithm indexes your title, subtitle and keyword bank. Based on how ASO works for the Apple App Store you must take advantage of the limited space provided to make sure your app ranks for as many relevant keywords and phrases as possible.

Your App Store Optimization strategy is impacted by your metadata, how it indexes, and your ongoing maintenance.

METADATA

Apple looks at how you structure your title, subtitle and keyword bank. Apple takes every word you use to build out the foundation of your keyword rankings. Gummicube uses proprietary technology to understand how ASO works related to the store algorithm, what keywords are best for an app like yours and how to best structure your metadata.

APP TITLE

The app title is critical in how ASO works in the Apple App Store. Apple allows developers to add a title of up to 30 characters. Your title is one of two visible areas of metadata. The title, after the brand name, needs to highlight a core feature most important to the app. Users must be able to read and understand how the app works or what it does immediately. A good title needs to incorporate high volume keywords while reading naturally

APP SUBTITLE

Apple allows developers to input a subtitle of up to 30 characters. The subtitle appears immediately under your designated app title. The subtitle will need to further explain the app and its functionality while maintaining readability. The subtitle should further clarify the app for users, expanding upon the app title.

In conjunction with the app title, the subtitle should round out the most important aspects of the app while incorporating keywords that you would like the app to rank for. Based on how ASO works for the App Store, Apple will view each section as independent keyword banks, factoring in all individual words as “keywords” to build out phrases that your app will rank for.

Do not repeat terms - this is not how ASO works. Apple will not take any additional mentions of the same keywords into consideration when ranking for keywords. Maximize all opportunities possible to target different individual terms across both fields.

KEYWORDS

The keyword bank is a 100 character field where you can input the keywords that matter most to you. Look at trends and keywords that are relevant to your immediate feature set and demographic to understand what to target.

Look at terms that are relevant to:
  • Your app category
  • Your app demographic
  • Your app features

Relevance plays a large role in how ASO works. Apple will only rank you for terms that it finds your app relevant for. Look for keywords that are highly relevant to your app while also being high volume, ensuring that your app will gain visibility across a wide audience who would be more likely to use your app.

With the right tools and the right keywords, App Store Optimization will allow your app to rank for many keywords and across many placements in the store.

APP PROMOTIONAL TEXT & DESCRIPTION

Apple allows developers to input a line of promotional text up to 170 characters, followed by a description at 4,000 characters. This is an important part of how ASO works and how Apple Search Ads works, as promotional text also plays a role with paid search campaigns.

The promotional text only appears on mobile devices before the main description. The promotional text is meant to be a compelling introduction to your app, summarizing how your app works and should describe any key events or value propositions you wish to include.

The description exists to fully describe your app, its functionality and core features. By the time users reach the description, they will be interested to learn as much as they can. Break down your features and other unique value propositions to ensure that users fully understand your app before they download.

The promotional text and description do not have an impact on how you rank for keywords. This is another area where how ASO works differs from web search. Users will look to these areas to learn as much as possible about the app, making them key selling conversion assets to your app.

CREATIVE

Apple allows users to download an app directly from the search results page. In search results, alongside a title and subtitle, the following assets will influence a user’s decision whether or not to download your app. This means when thinking about how ASO works, you have to account for two landing pages: your store listing and the search results.

ICON

Your app icon needs to highlight your brand and/or the core functionality of your app. Users will need to be able to immediately recognize what the app is generally about, allowing them to quickly learn the functionality they can associate with it when they see the icon on their screens.

SCREENSHOTS

Apple allows developers to upload up to 10 screenshots on the product page. Depending on the screenshots’ orientation (between portrait or landscape), either three portrait screenshots will appear in the search results or one landscape.

Screenshots should include copy that highlights what each image displays, telling users about the features and functionality. Screenshots occupy a large amount of the on-screen real estate in search results, and coupled with the title, subtitle and icon can ultimately determine additional clicks or even downloads for any app. Your screenshots and how you A/B test them to maximize conversion is critical to how ASO works.

APP PREVIEW VIDEO

Apple allows developers to use up to three 30-second app preview videos to their product page. If the creatives are in portrait mode, the first portrait video will display alongside the first two screenshots in search results. If landscape, only the first landscape video will appear there.

Videos should highlight core functionality. Because user behavior in this case dictates how ASO works, the most important statements should be included within the first 5-10 seconds. Apple has strict guidelines for developers to adhere to- accurately portray in-app functionality while still including text to explain what users are viewing.

CREATIVE TESTING

Creatives should always be updated. To test the effectiveness of your App Store Creative, testing your screenshots, icons, featured graphics and other store listing assets is an important part of how ASO works.

Research is an important part of how ASO works. Gather an understanding of what makes other apps successful. Apply new copy, new colors or new design concepts to your screenshots and test these in the App Store. From there, you will be able to measure and compare your conversion rates to understand if your new iterations are successful.

PAID MARKETING

It takes 2-3 weeks for you to understand how your metadata is performing. You can increase the speed of your indexation by running paid marketing campaigns and supporting your app with Apple Search Ads, Facebook or Google Ads to help drive more clicks and improve your keyword rankings.

MAINTENANCE

The market for apps changes every day. Stay up to date and monitor trends on a daily basis. When new apps and new keyword terms emerge, capitalize on them by incorporating them within your metadata. Comparing how ASO works to web optimization isn’t helpful, because Apple and Google index and change rankings much faster than Google does for web search. Apps are also much more dynamic than websites.

Your metadata should be updated every 30-45 days to ensure that you’re giving Apple’s algorithm more information in order for it to understand your app and how relevant you are for new terms.

With Gummicube and DATACUBE you can stay on top of any emerging trends in the App Store to make sure that your metadata is up to date.

DEVELOPER NAME

You have to be thinking about how ASO works even when first registering your Apple developer account. After prioritizing terms in a title, subtitle and keyword bank, Apple will use the developer name to index apps for additional keywords and phrases. Apple provides developers with 50 characters where developers can input additional terms to help their apps rank. If your company focuses on a single genre or category of app, you can opt to include these terms in the developer name to help build additional phrases that your app can rank for.

REVIEWS & RATINGS

An app’s overall rating will be displayed in the search results alongside the title, subtitle, and creative assets. Users will be more inclined to click or download apps that have higher ratings overall, indicating a better user experience. The less clicks your app receives, the more likely you will start to see declines in keyword ranking.

Users will also look to the app reviews to understand what real users are experiencing after downloading the app. If your app has negative reviews, responding to them as the developer will allow users with bad experiences to know that the developer cares about their users and recognizes their issues. For new browsing users, this can show that their developer cares about their user base. This user driven aspect of your store listing is just another example of how ASO works.

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