It’s the moment of truth. The burning question is this: does ASO really works? Can it really propel your app to the coveted number 1 spot in the app store charts? Is there even a direct correlation between ASO and app success?
We’ll analyze the impact of app store optimization to apps by answering questions that may bother the newbie and pro app marketer alike.
What’s really the goal of app store optimization?
App store optimization or ASO is generally considered as the app stores’ answer to SEO. From that comparison alone, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that ASO is used so that an app can rank high in app store searches. The main goal is to increase the app’s visibility within the app stores and discoverability both inside and outside the said stores. ASO increases traffic but the end goal is still the glimmering downloads.
But does ASO directly correlate with an app’s ranks in the app store charts?
Can ASO bring an app to the top of the app store charts?
On a post from about two years ago, common ASO mistakes are enumerated. The last in the list is ‘being unrealistic about the app’s ROI’. Several app marketers have had used (or considered) ASO as a marketing strategy with a solid return.
Just like with SEO, the “optimization” part isn’t a guarantee of topping any search results page or app store charts. But optimization is important. Without SEO, a web page won’t even have a chance on being in the first several pages of the SERPs. Without ASO, an app won’t even be visible in the app store search results. Therefore, ASO is that important in app discoverability. ASO is basically an extension of market research. It’s the part where you target your audience and adjust according to competition.
But to answer the question, yes, ASO can bring an app to the top of the app store charts. App metadata (title and description) is the top ranking factor for both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. According to an October 2016 survey, 48% of users discover apps by browsing the app stores. Another 21% discover apps through search engines. One of the top motivators for installing is the description (71%). Though video previews only account for 20%, it’s still a significant number.
The effectiveness of the app’s ASO strategy doesn’t necessarily correlate with a top ranking the app store charts, though. This is the same with how downloads don’t necessarily translate to revenue. There are also secondary factors that can actually increase or mute an ASO strategy’s effectiveness – factors like downloads and ratings/reviews. The effect of the secondary factors sometimes blurs the cause/effect relationship between ASO and app store search rankings.
For example, ASO is necessary in order to rank higher in search results. Ranking higher means visibility and eventually downloads. But it’s also proven that in order to rank higher in the app store search results, an app should also have high downloads and high ratings. So, which comes first? This is actually a case of ASO continually giving. The app continues to gain more downloads after optimization. It also gains a lot of 5-star ratings and good reviews. The app stores saw these as positive ranking signals so the app bumped up in the search results. This then results to more downloads, so on and so forth.
Do the top apps even use ASO?
Is it effective? If ASO really works, then apps that implement it are surely in the top charts, right?
To see the direct impact of ASO to apps, let’s check the numbers. Top apps that use keywords on their titles experience a 10.3% increase in ranking in comparison to other apps within the app store chart’s top 25.
To learn more about how the top apps implement ASO strategies, read one of my articles, App Store Optimization: How the Top Apps Do It
ASO is not a one-time thing or a quick fix. It takes time and constant tweaking. But when it works, it sticks. Ian Sefferman, the CEO of MobileDevHQ has this to say about ASO, “ASO is having dramatic effects on our client apps. For those who put the time in to understand, iterate, and test, we’ve seen many apps increase their downloads by a factor of 2x-10x, and an increase of revenue by a similar, or bigger, rate due to the increase in engagement of users earned by ASO. ASO is not a simple process, and you might not see the impact overnight, but if you’re willing to invest in it, the outcome can be incredibly worthwhile.”