The world is full of so many acronyms, and more are being created all the time. Specialists in any given field, of course, throw them around like confetti – and in our neck of the words, ‘ASO’ is one that has quickly become a fixture. But what does it stand for, and what does it mean?

App Store Optimisation (or ASO) is, at its most essential level, the app version of that venerable web development acronym with which many in business are now familiar, SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation). It is the set of tools and techniques that can be employed to enhance an app’s performance in the stores where it features.

We’ve all searched for apps on Google Play or the Apple App Store, and we all know what happens: certain results rise to the top, and most of us download one of the few that appears first. Rare is it that we will scroll through all the options, much less to the bottom of the page – and that’s why ASO matters.

top of the app store

ASO is how a business can ensure that their app is the top search result for the most relevant search phrases. The good news is that, where SEO relies on a long and ever-changing list of factors, ASO’s requirements are much lighter.

These largely revolve around the metadata attached to each app in the store: the app name, its description, usage and quality metrics (this in addition the content of your user reviews), the uninstall rate of an app (which can be seen to be in direct relation to its quality), and – in iOS at least – keywords.

Get each of these elements right and your higher visibility will result in more downloads by savvier users – which will, in turn, if your app is good, result in better usage and installation metrics, and therefore a virtuous circle of ASO goodness. Even better, app downloads from good search placing in-store means you don’t have to spend on advertising.

Getting all this right requires a strategy. Start thinking about ASO from day one of your app development: decide on a name that relates to your app’s function, devise an expression of what your app does that can be used as an engaging and keyword-filled description on the store; make these instantly catchy and readable. (By the way, that means being sure of the language your users use – localize your app to its intended markets.)

Ensure your app icon, too, is crisp and exciting – try out a few in user testing and go for the best performer. The same goes for your app screenshots: make them appealing, since many users choose to download based in large part on aesthetics. Offer a good range of screenshots that encompass all aspects of your app, though – don’t only choose the most beautiful art. Users want to understand what all the screens look like.

vibrant app store icons

Of course, you also need to know what your keywords are first, and this takes research. Don’t assume you know what users will type in to that box: make the most of tools like App Radar to know for sure what keywords are most popular in your market segment, and then knit those into your app and its metadata.

The trick with all this is to understand your niche and work tirelessly to improve your standing within it. ASO isn’t a one-time thing: your initial launch is important, but so, too, is tinkering constantly to maintain and improve your standing. We’ve written about obtaining good app reviews before, and those matter hugely – but don’t neglect these basics, either. Every piece matters: that’s what ASO is.

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