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App Store Optimisation: Five tips to improve your app store ranking3 min read

3 min read

2018 saw worldwide app store spend exceed the $100 billion mark for the first time, with over 194 billion downloads across Google Play, the iOS App Store and third-party Android stores.

This growth in consumer spending – an increase of more than 140% from 2015 – has been matched by the meteoric growth of new apps released daily, making App Store Optimisation (ASO) increasingly important.

With this in mind, here are some key factors to consider to improve the visibility of your app and drive downloads.

1. Identify your keyword opportunities

Several aspects of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and ASO overlap, and the fundamental need to identify keyword opportunities is one of them.

This can be achieved using standard SEO tools, such as Keyword Planner, to give an indication of search volume and competition for each of your keywords. For app store specific research, Mobile Action gives keywords “search score” and “chance” ratings, pulled from Apple Search Ads data.

Unlike Google Play and Microsoft Store, the iOS App Store gives publishers 100 characters for keywords in a designated section. Utilise the full character count by avoiding plurals of words that you’ve already included in singular form, the names of App Store categories, or the word “app”.

2. Understand the different ranking systems

Each app store uses different ranking signals to determine the visibility of your app, so it’s important to optimise accordingly for each store.

The key ranking signals for the iOS App Store are the app name, subtitle and keywords, whilst the description and promotional text are not currently indexed and therefore have no influence on rankings.

Google Play also places weight on the app name, so including at least one keyword is important. In contrast to the App Store, the description is indexed and will influence rankings, so include keywords naturally throughout.

3. Index your app on Firebase

Indexing your app on Firebase will allow its content to be searchable by Google, driving traffic directly to your app listing through an install button, or straight to your app if users have already downloaded it.  

By enabling Core Spotlight and NSUserActivity for your iOS app, users will also be directed to your app for searches relevant to its content from Spotlight and Safari. This can increase user engagement, which in turn will improve your App Store ranking.

4. Encourage positive ratings and reviews

Ratings and reviews are another key ranking factor, as well as having an influence on your app’s conversion rate. Actively encouraging reviews from satisfied users is therefore a great way to boost your rankings on all app stores.

Circa News demonstrate how to achieve this effectively – by asking for ratings from users enjoying their app, and asking for feedback from dissatisfied users.

Image courtesy of Circa News

The timing of this request is also important because it’s likely to influence the response. Delaying the pop-up until after a successful exchange, such as placing a booking or completing a mission, will increase the likelihood of a positive rating.

5. Build backlinks to your app

Backlinks are links from external sites to your app listing. One study claims to have proved that web backlinks have a direct impact on Google Play rankings, and whilst this is still debated by some, at the very least they will direct traffic to your app listing.

Link building strategies include creating and distributing a press release, sponsoring or speaking at an event, or writing guest posts for blogs. Ensure that any content and anchor text is relevant to your app, and focus on attaining links from high authority websites.

Although social media links are often “nofollow”, meaning they won’t directly pass authority onto your app listing, they will contribute to a healthy “link profile”, as well as increasing traffic and consequently downloads.

These five tips should form the foundation of your ASO strategy. If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, or if you’d like to find out more about app store optimisation, please get in touch.