How to conduct an App Store Optimisation (ASO) Audit

There are plenty of ways to utilise organic channels to drive users to your app and increase visibility. However, the biggest contributor is your presence in the app store. When done correctly, App Store Optimisation provides you with an opportunity to reach a huge amount of high-intent users and make your app visible against the millions of apps already out there.

Last month, we teamed up with AppFollow to conduct a live online app auditing session. Our Associate Growth Director, Rishan Weerakoon, and AppFollow’s Head of Consulting, Anna Kochetkova teamed up to audit a selection of apps that had been submitted by the Webinar attendees. The session was packed full of so many insights and learnings that we have decided to provide you with the top ASO tips and real life examples inspired by the audit event.

Phone Keeper: Cleaner & Booster App Audit

Phone Keeper is an app found in the Google Play Store which helps users to boost their memory and save battery by managing apps and clearing space on their phone.

Optimising Titles and Subtitles for Android

The title of an app is extremely important for keyword optimisation because the app will get indexed for the keywords in the title. In this case it is a great opportunity for the developer to include more high value keywords in the title and increase the app’s discoverability on the Play Store.

Using the AppFollow platform, it is also possible to view the store performance index, which reveals that the app is currently at 62% for search performance. This would indicate that there is a bit more work to do and it is necessary to try figure out:

  • Which keywords are relevant for the app
  • How competitive these keywords are 
  • How much traffic these keywords drive 

Another important field of text is the short description. This app has used 73 out of 80 characters, meaning that there are 7 characters left which could be used to plug in an additional keyword or two. As with the title, the short description gets indexed by the algorithm so making use of these copy elements is going to be very important in order to rank for important keywords and increase the app’s discoverability.

Mastering Long Descriptions on the Google Play Store

When looking at the description, which is also a key text field in the Google Play Store, this app has used approximately 3,700 characters, which includes a vast amount of text and icons. The use of icons is smart as it is a great way to grab the user’s attention. However, there is further work to be done in regards to the formatting. Unlike the App Store, the Google Play Store allows you to do some rich formatting such as using a bold format for titles, incorporating clever spacing which can help the key elements of your description stand out. It is important to ensure that the key points and value propositions really stand out.

If you’re uncertain about what formatting works best, it is also worth A/B testing using Play Store Experiments, for instance testing a copy version with fewer icons, more formatting and clearer text, as well as trying out different descriptions to see which one drives the best improvement in conversion.

Utilising Keywords to Maximise App Discoverability

From a keyword and discoverability perspective, the main description also gets indexed by the Play Store algorithm, so including keywords in the main description will help your app rank for search terms. It is recommended that apps utilise the Play Store description which is above the fold to optimise for keywords, ensuring repetition of high value keywords. In this app’s case, it is clear from the title that emphasis is placed on ‘cleaner’ and ‘booster’, so it is beneficial to use these alongside a few additional keywords that are relevant for the app. Again, A/B testing for the full description is a good way to increase the overall number of keywords that will be indexed. In the Google Play Store, the variants that you include also influence your ranking. By including ten more keywords per variant for three variants, then you will have 30 more keywords that you index for.

A focus on keywords will help to improve app store visibility. Through using the AppFollow platform to search for relevant keywords, it reveals that the app ranks in first place for ‘phone keeper’, which is the brand name, however this may not be the most common way that people search for this app. People may be more likely to search for terms such as ‘boost memory’ or ‘memory cleaner’ and for a lot of these keywords this app is currently not ranking.

Whilst some of these keywords are integrated into the name or the short description, it is important to use the title, subtitle and main description to integrate keywords more often. By doing this periodically, the algorithm will regularly index the app and over time the app will start to rank for those keywords. A good way to do this is to find keywords that have a high search volume of popularity.

Finding Relevant Keywords for a Cross-Genre Mobile App

If you have a cross-genre app, that is one which sits in between two categories, it is important to prioritise understanding your competitors in both genres as well as the keywords they are utilising. An ASO tool will really come in handy to help you understand your competition. One way of doing this is to select two competitors in each genre and start to break down the keywords they are using and what they are optimising for. You can then use this information to build out your own custom keyword bank. Some keywords will have more popularity than others and this will help you to prioritise the ones you should be aiming for. 

Often, the way users search on Google on a desktop is not the same way they would search in the app store. App store searches tend to be more long-tail, people search for a number of words rather than just one. A great tool you can use is the auto-complete feature that Apple and Google often provide. As you start to type in keywords it will start to auto-populate a list of search results, where you will find additional keywords that may be relevant for your app.

Ensuring Impressions Convert into an App Downloads

When it comes to app store screenshots and videos, it is important that an app makes full use of the screenshot limit, which is 8 on Android, and seriously considers incorporating a video as well. By using all 8 screenshots, you are able to highlight the different value propositions and it is an extra opportunity to convince the user to download the app. Using big bold letters and clear captions in your screenshot is crucial to ensure the message stands out. The Phone Keeper app has chosen not to showcase the app’s UI in the screenshots, which is the real sell of using screenshots and is worth testing. It is important to note that Apple is a lot stricter when it comes to screenshot guidelines, requiring developers to showcase the app’s UI in screenshots, whereas Google gives more creative freedom. 

Another important area of consideration is engaging with featured reviews. The developer for the Phone Keeper app has responded to 5 out of 6 featured reviews, which is really positive. It is especially crucial to address any negative reviews as this shows users you have taken their concern, understood it and changed things accordingly. You can also ask users to update their review once you have addressed their feedback appropriately. This shows new and old users alike that you care about their opinion and can also improve your app’s rating in the long run. You can also look into an app review strategy to maximise positive reviews whilst minimising negative reviews left on the app store.

La Koketa: AI Outfit Planner App Audit

La Koketa is an app that can be found on the App Store, which provides an AI powered outfit planner, helping users to plan outfits, get style tips and build out their dream wardrobe.

Optimising Titles and Subtitles for Apple

La Koketa is using 28 out of the maximum 30 characters for the title which is a real positive as it is important to make use of the full amount. An important thing to note is that they are also using 30 out of 30 characters for the subtitle, however on the App Store the last character in the subtitle does not get indexed so as a result neither will the last word in the subtitle. In this case ‘closet’ would not be indexed. The recommendation here is to use 29 instead of 30 characters, this way you can ensure you are ranking for all the words in your subtitle.

Tackling Long Descriptions on the App Store

Unlike on the Play Store, there is no evidence that the main description on the App Store is indexed. This means adding keywords into the description is unlikely to change your ranking.

La Koketa has started its description well with above the fold text that is clear and catches the user’s attention. They have also done a good job of spacing the text out and adding bold titles to increase readability for the user. However, when you look at the text on a mobile app, it can still appear to be quite long. One recommendation is to see how the text looks on a device to understand how much reading there is for users and whether this feels like too much. A lot of text can sometimes distract the user from the key points and the description here uses almost all of the 4,000 character limit. Instead, highlighting value propositions and streamlining copy can be beneficial when it comes to attracting users.

The Importance of App Screenshots

This app has used 8 out of 10 of the available screenshots. As on the Google Play Store, it is important to utilise the maximum number of screenshots possible to promote all the value propositions of your app. Even if you run out of value propositions, having the last screenshot as a call to action can be an effective way of encouraging users to download your app. 

Having brand consistency across the icon and screenshots is also really important. This shows users that it is a well thought out brand. Having screenshots that flow also helps to tell a story and grab user attention.

Encouraging Ratings and Reviews

In order to drive more ratings and reviews, the app could implement a review and feedback management strategy. Certainly the initial reviews are all very positive, which indicates that users will find this app useful and continue to leave positive reviews. Encouraging ratings and reviews at the correct moments within the app will help to improve the algorithm and the app’s discoverability and it will also play a key part in convincing users to download the app. A lot of users place great emphasis on existing reviews when choosing whether or not to download an app, so this will make a significant difference to user acquisition rates. When implementing an app review strategy, it is important to use native solutions, like native review prompts, offered by either Apple or Google as any other methods to increase reviews are now restricted.

Plex: Stream Free Movies, Shows, Live TV & More

Plex is a video on demand service on Android that offers access to TV shows and movies. The app reviewed was in the US market.

Improving Titles and Subtitles

The app’s name contains a multitude of keywords, a lot of these are the same keywords that can be found in the app screenshots. There is a hypothesis that on Google Play that the text in screenshots can be indexed, so it is worthwhile taking a look at different keywords in order to add in more variety. It is also important to note that whilst ‘free’ is a keyword that is allowed on Google Play it is banned on the App Store.

Plex is making use of character limits and optimising for keywords well, ranking for over 3,900 keywords, but it still has some opportunity to improve on the rating and review side, which will be highlighted below. 

Localisation of App Screenshots

Plex’s app screenshots are bold and showcase a range of different UI elements which is important. It is easy for an app in the entertainment category to implement popular content within screenshots to help advertise the app and programmes available. You can also take different regions into account here and focus on localisation, for instance in the US app store the screenshots can cater to popular American movies or TV shows. Your graphic screenshot should thus vary depending on what is popular in a certain country in order to increase conversion rate optimisation. 

The captions and text used within the screenshots need to be large and stand out more to ensure users can read them clearly. Currently the existing captions are small and are getting lost in the bright colours of the background. There are a few easy ways to resolve this:

  • Add shadowing to the text
  • Use different colours for the background
  • Dim the brightness of the background to help the copy stand out 

Something that has worked well in the past for similar apps, and is worthwhile testing, is highlighting certain UI elements that fall in line with the caption being used in the screenshot.

Considering an App Review Strategy

The average rating for featured reviews for this app is currently low at 2.7, which is problematic as these are the ratings visible to new users. Seventy-one percent of respondents said a four-star or five-star app store rating of a well-known brand positively impacts their view of the brand as a whole. The best method to improve this is to reply to those reviews, making sure the brand shows that it understands the concerns and is amending them accordingly.

Replying to reviews is extremely effective as it provides users with an intent to change the rating and reveals the app cares about its users. Given the size and scale of this app it is a good opportunity to also implement an app review strategy which would help to drive an increased number of positive ratings, as it reaches users at crucial moments in the app journey.

However, this is only the start, it is important to combine ASO with a holistic app growth strategy that ensures the acquisition of high-value users that will not only remain engaged with your app, but become spokespeople for your app promoting it in the long-term.

Make sure to sign up to our newsletter to get notified when we release a new blog post. Want to find out more about optimising your app and keeping up with the latest OS capabilities? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. You can also get in touch by visiting the Contact Us page. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #AppMarketingUK LinkedIn group.

About the Author:

Sonia is the Marketing Executive at Yodel Mobile, a leading app marketing company. Assisting the agency growth efforts, Sonia regularly shares insights on the latest app marketing strategies, promoting sustainable and long-term growth.

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