What is App Store Optimization? Guide to ASO 2021

22nd July 2021

An App store optimization tool will show you that there are over 5,000,000 apps in the store. That means that there's a lot of competition. So being #1 in the search results is the safest and the most cost-effective way of getting users to download your app. Here's where ASO comes into the picture. ASO- (App Store Optimization) is essential to get long-term marketing results. The paid campaigns bring in downloads only while the ads are running, ASO is constant maintenance.

It's time to plan and think ahead in the long haul. Cause nobody really wants their app to have only 15 minutes of fame, right? So here's a guide to ASO 2021, about everything you need to know.

How does App Store Optimization work?


You develop your app and now you are familiar with the basics of app marketing. The next thing you need to decide is where to publish your app or game. Most of the developers choose the App Store for iOS and the Play store for Android. If your app has been developed for both, you will be publishing it on both operating systems.

Let's dive into the two major app stores in more detail.

How do I optimize my App Store for Google Play vs. App Store?

Both the stores provide the same features, they allow users to look for apps or games and download them. However, they do not work in the same ways. Let us get a better view of The key differences between both and how their Algorithms work.

The key difference between App Store & Google play

The main difference between both the stores is the publishing aspect. Apple and Google have invented the app review process, wherein both ensure that they have high-quality apps in their stores. Apple's review process tends to take much longer than Google's. A 3-day buffer period should be taken into account after releasing your new app or update. Once approved by the stores, the app will be visible in the next 24 hours.

Keywords are essential for ASO in both the stores, but they are evaluated differently. The Google search and Google play store have similar ways of indexing. In other words, Google's indexing considers textual elements when indexing keywords for your app or game. You need to repeat keywords 3-5 times across all the fields to rank for them.

The Apple Store, on the other hand, is where you cannot repeat the same keywords across any field for iOS apps. They provide a specific field for your keywords. In some cases, it gets them from your competitors or category names. In contrast to Google play, there cannot be a repetition of keywords in iOS apps.

Below are the ranking factors for both the stores:

What are the Ranking factors for Apple App Store & Google Play Store?

The Apple Store & Google Play Store have sophisticated algorithms to get your rank on the search results. Although we do not have the exact information, factors can influence the app store rankings.

Apple App Store Ranking Factors

  • App Name
  • App URL
  • App Subtitle
  • Keyword field
  • In-App Purchase
  • Rating and Reviews
  • Updates
  • Downloads and Engagement
  • Some Hidden factors

Google Play Store Ranking Factors

  • App Title
  • Short Description
  • Long Description
  • In-App Purchase
  • Rating and Reviews
  • Updates
  • Downloads and Engagement
  • Some Hidden factors

Here are a few top ranking factors for ASO


1. App Downloads:

The number of downloads your app gets by users is an important factor for rankings. In other words, getting users to download your app fast can boost your app's rankings. It is also known that the source of the downloads doesn't matter, it places the same importance as organic and paid downloads. So there are two kinds of options to increase your downloads.

(i) Steady growth: If your small business has less money to invest in paid ads, a strategy that helps to slowly grow your download numbers will work best. The best way to do this is to get the help of an Digital Marketing Agency.

(ii) Burst campaigns: This is a strategy to aggressively grow your downloads in a short amount of time by using paid ads on social media. High budgets will gain high rewards. The burst campaign requires high budgets. Depending upon the campaign, you will achieve app installs quickly in a matter of days. Thus making your app grow on installs quickly, giving your app a rise in the app store rankings plus organic installs as well.

App Revenue

App stores have the exact data as to how your app performs. They profit by taking a cut of your app's revenue. For instance, if your revenue is high so will the profit be. Hence app stores tend to reward high earnings with a higher rank. It's a win-win for both the app store and app owners.

Coming to revenue, trust plays a major role. The app has a higher sale because the app users clearly trust the app. This is taken into consideration by the algorithm. Usually, an app's revenue comes from the first download or in-app purchases. The app stores consider all the apps revenue. A free app with paid features will rank higher than any paid app. In 2021, Apple cracked down on apps by removing them from the app store because they were charging irrationally high subscription fees. If the app team or owner cannot justify why the subscription fees are high, your app is removed. The intention behind these removals is to reduce App store scams. There are other regulations, even while producing high revenue.

User Experience

Your app's user experience can affect your rankings in the app store if the user installs the app once and uninstalls it right away. The result of a bad user experience often leads your rankings to drop. Here's how you can prevent it:

  • Make an app that is smooth and compelling to users
  • Create reasons for users to use your app every day
  • Encouraging users to spend money on your app

Most users might find your app difficult to use or find the app of no use to them and may not return to it. Another tip could be to avoid the users' onboarding process to be overloading. Make sure to keep your users' journey easy and smooth rather than them leaving the app. You surely do not want to make the app complicated for the user.


App Title

Another game-changing tip would be to include your keyword in the App title. Your app downloads can organically increase to over 10% downloads if you integrate a specific keyword in your title. That 10% can make a big big difference for your app's rankings. The app stores have limits to the characters you can add in the app name, title. They differ from each other. Apple store only allows up to 30 characters while Google play allows up to 50. Hence use the most valuable searchable keywords in your app title. Example: Amazon integrated the word "shopping" in the app title for this purpose.

App Keywords

Using keywords in your app is one of the most important things in ASO. For every keyword you use, users will be searching for your app in the app store search bar. The search traffic is targeted more, making it the highest quality. The users will always be trying to find or look for a brand directly with intent. Their high-value presence makes keywords important in ASO. Research shows that over 65% of Apple store downloads are organic from people searching for keywords.

App Reviews & Ratings


The ratings and reviews play an important role in your rankings and conversion rates. The app owners want to provide the best quality apps to customers to experience the best. Want to find out how good an app is? The ratings and reviews section is the best place to find out. It's social proof provided. You get to know if the audience is enjoying the app or not. New users find out if your app is worthy or not.

Apps that consistently get bad reviews, will be taken out of the app store. 59% of people check your ratings and reviews before downloading them. Here's a tip on how to get ratings and reviews from your audience. Use a "Rate us" pop up in your app. Be careful not to make them pop up too pushy or at a time that will not make sense to the user. This may result in the user deleting the app later. Consider using pop-ups at the right timing with the right message.

Specific Rankings Factors: App Store vs Google Play

Both of these stores have their own specific algorithms and guidelines. We have already talked about ranking factors but in general. Screenshots, icons, and app preview videos are features that play important roles in the App store. Whereas Google Play depends a lot on SEO.

1. Metadata

App store:

  • Title: 30 characters maximum limit.
  • Subtitle: up to 30 characters that are integrated inside the app page, under the app title and icon. These texts allow the users to be encouraged to try out your app.
  • Description: 4000 characters max. This is where the app's features and USPs are mentioned. Let's not forget keywords too.

Google Play Store

  • Title: 50 characters max limit.
  • Short Description: 80 characters where keywords can be integrated. This is an important feature for your conversion rate.
  • Long Description: 4000 characters max. Here's where the ASO efforts are taken into consideration through indexing. Emojis can be used and formatted using HTML.

2. Keyword Field

Play store does not have a keyword field. Instead, it reads both your descriptions and decides where to rank your app based on the keywords you used in them.

The app store lets you integrate your keywords in the keywords field, instead of just relying on metadata. This way the algorithm better understands what keywords you are trying to rank for. This is influenced directly by the keywords you have researched and decided on.

3. Backlinks

Backlinks and ASO are mainly related to the Google sphere. The backlinks in ASO for Google Play for play store are the links in your app store that are from other blogs or websites, which provide extra information about your app and hence helps in rankings.

Also considering its parent company, there's no surprise here that Google Play Store shares the same ranking factors with SEO. Backlinks also help by increasing your downloads through traffic that is the referral. Getting relevant backlinks from high-quality websites is important. Trying to use black-hat SEO or buying links will not help you.

Final Thoughts

ASO or App store optimization today is outperforming growth trends. Over the past few years, the necessity of marketing has been cemented to play a major role in marketing tactics. During the initial stage, the challenge is to get your app recognized by users. Hopefully, you have enough practical knowledge to generate great results for your app or Contact us to get a personalized ASO plan for your app that will make your business successful.

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