Common app store optimisation mistakes to avoid

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One of the greatest challenges faced by app owners today is making an app easy to discover in such a highly saturated market. ASO, or app store optimization, is a crucial step in the marketing process. ASO is the process of optimizing your mobile app so it shows up higher in a user's app store search results. The higher the ranking is, the more visible your app will be to potential users. Ultimately, the end goal of ASO is to get more users to find and download your app.

While trying to navigate the ASO process and increase an app's visibility, many companies make common mistakes that actually do more harm than good. Make these five common ASO mistakes, and not only will you fail to deliver more traffic to your app store page, you may also lower your ranking.

Mistake #1: Changing Your Title Too Often

Don't make the mistake of frequently changing your app's title in hopes of improving your ASO ranking. Your title is the single most important aspect of app store optimization, but repeatedly changing your title will not help your ranking. In fact, doing this may be detrimental to your ASO. As more and more users begin downloading your app and leaving reviews, your app will naturally move up in the rankings. If you keep changing the title, however, it will be more difficult for users to spread the word about your app. Instead, pick a good ASO title from the start and stick to it.

Mistake #2: Stuffing Your Title or Description With Keywords

Keyword stuffing will negatively affect your ASO just as much as it would affect the SEO of a website. Repetitive use of keywords in a title or description in order to increase ASO won't help your app move up in the rankings. Your app could actually end up suspended if you attempt to stuff it with keywords. Instead, use keywords naturally throughout your title and description.

Mistake #3: Underestimating the Power of a Google+ Plugin

Many companies miss one of the crucial steps in their app's ASO by neglecting to include a Google+ plugin. Don't underestimate the power of including this plugin, because the more good Google+ feedback your app receives, the better its visibility will be in Google Play. Your ASO ranking will improve organically because more positive feedback proves to the bots that your app is a good one.

Mistake #4: Only Focusing on High Volume Keywords

If effective ASO were as simple as finding and using the most-searched keywords, every company's app would rank well. Just because a keyword has a high search volume doesn't necessarily mean your ASO ranking will improve if you use it.

Compiling a list of relevant keywords is the first step in keyword research. If you filter this list by search volume and only choose the highest ones, you're undermining all of your hard work because you've lost focus on the keywords' relevancy. For your app to gain popularity and move up in the rankings, your keywords must be relevant, even if they're not the ones at the top of the search volume list.

Mistake #5: Neglecting the Quality of Your Screenshots

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By now, you probably realize the importance of a good description. The latest high-end smartphones with reliable networks allow users to browse an overload of information anytime and anywhere. When users are browsing the app store, a compelling description can quickly persuade them to pass over competitor apps and download yours immediately. You might be surprised to learn, however, that the quality of your screenshots is just as important—if not more important—as the description.

In order to improve your ASO ranking, be sure to include a few high-quality screenshots of your app. Show potential users how your app works, what features it includes, and how good it actually is. A well-written description and excellent screenshots are a winning combination that will entice users to download your app.

With hundreds of thousands of apps all vying for the top ranking position, effective ASO is more important than ever. By avoiding these five common ASO mistakes, you are well on your way to the top.

Do you have any other tips to boost your ASO? Let us know in the comments.

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30 Jan 2015, 8:53 a.m.

Mistake #1- The link that you provided "single most important aspect" is outdated. The keywords in titles used to have more weight than the keyword field, so keeping the same title would mean those keywords stay indexed and do not loose rank. Keywords in titles no longer have the same weight and titles longer than 80 characters are often times being rejected by Apple reviewers (as seen in the last 3 months). We recommend the title be made up of brand name followed by the Unique Value Proposition (UVP).

Mistake #2- The description is what Apple reviewers use to validate the keywords in the keyword field as relevant. For Google Play, the description IS the keyword field and formatting a "Google friendly" description is imperative in order for keywords to be indexed. We target 60-80 keywords and keyword phrases in our ASO partner's apps. Our more succesful partners rank 100+ keywords and phrases in the Top 10 for their category. The more keyword phrases an app ranks the more likely the app will be found when searched for.

Mistake #3- Huh? Google plugin? Not exactly. The 3 most important strategies for Google Play ASO are:

1. Authoring a effectively formatted short and long description using relevant keyword phrases.
2. Creating a YouTube video
3. Building quality backlinks to the app sales page.

While downloads and reviews effect rank so does the number of uninstalls. Yes, having a G+ page is important but so is having a company website.

Mistake #4- Keywords by themselves are useless. In the last 4 years, through mobile search data we have collected, it was discovered that 80% of all mobile users are constructing searches with 2-3 keyword phrases based on app features. The other data point we uncovered is there is only a 20% overlap in web search and mobile search. What does that mean for keyword research? Basically, if you are using the Google Keyword Planner or Sensor Tower, Mobile Dev HQ etc. for keyword research, you are using web search data and it will be way off. You are spot on in saying that volume of search and number of apps is a poor metric. Keyword competition is based on category not every app using the same keyword. The point of keyword research is to find relevant and trending keywords which make as many effective keyword phrases as possible.

Mistake #5- Another part of ASO is increasing Click Through Rate (CTR). Apple was supposed to provide this data in iTunes Connect as part of iOS8. For now, we run Focus Groups for our ASO partners to gain user feedback on icons, screen shots and even app features. As seen by most of the top apps in the app stores, having a preview video/ promo video also helps to increase CTR.

ASO is still very new and strategies are constantly changing with algorithm changes. Understanding mobile search and search semantics is key to effective App Store Optimization.