This year I've spent much time learning App Store Optimalisation (ASO) and managed to have my app Daily, a time tracker for macOS, rank first for its most important keyword in many countries. This has been a gamechanger for the (financial) success of the app. Keen to do the same for your app? This post describes how. Its content is heavily based on Appfigures's excellent Keyword Teardowns, which I've thoroughly analyzed and summarized.
Please let me know how this content has helped grow your app. I'm constantly updating it with new findings so follow me on Twitter to get notified of updates.
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Choose the right keywords by doing research. In general, use popular (but relevant) keywords with low competition.
Analyze your competitors in order to build a (keyword) strategy. What are they doing wrong (e.g. keyword duplication, keyword positioning, missing keywords, lack of focus, etc.)? How can you do better?
Keywords put in the app name get the most weight, followed by the subtitle and keywords fields. Hence, put primary keywords in the app name.
Keyword density is important. Weight gets distributed over the used (key)words. Either focus by using fewer keywords or increase reach by using more keywords. The best strategy (as always) depends on your competitors.
The position of keywords does matter. Keywords at the beginning get the most weight. Hence, put primary keywords at the beginning as much as possible.
The order of keywords matters. For example, an app named "Timesheet: Time Tracking" will rank better on "time tracking" than "tracking time".
Duplication of keywords should be avoided. Only the last occurrence (in the app name, subtitle, and keywords fields combined) is considered meaning it will get less weight.
(Simple) pluralization (e.g. blogs for blog) is done automatically, so only include the singular form. Also, note that (simple) pluralization is considered duplication.
Avoid using irrelevant keywords (e.g. app) or copy (e.g. & more) as they will take weight from your primary keywords. They often don't play a role in conversion but do harm to discoverability.
Remove spaces between keywords (separated by commas) in the keywords field to optimally make use of the character limit.
Double (or even triple) the character limit of the keywords field by adding additional languages, even when your app (store page) doesn't include translations for those.
(Great) ratings not only help convince users to download your app, but also play an important role in determining your app's ranking.
The (average) rating, the number of ratings, and the trend of the ratings are all considered. Make sure they're positive.
Ask users to rate your app, but only if they're likely happy with it (e.g. based on usage). Ask them again for each version you release.
The number of (recent) downloads and its trend is also determining your app's ranking. This is especially the case when the algorithm isn't able to rank properly on just keywords and ratings.
Increasing the number of downloads acts as an ASO flying wheel: it will result in an improved ranking, resulting in even more downloads. And when done properly, it also results in a higher number of (positive) ratings.
- Older apps seem to rank slightly higher, especially when the algorithm isn't able to rank based on just keywords, ranking, and the number of downloads.
- Some keywords are connected with certain categories. E.g. learn in Education. Being in the right category improves ranking in those cases.
- Having promoted in-app purchases seem to give a slight ranking boost. Since it doesn't hurt and could make a difference, consider promoting one or more.
- Frequently updated apps rank higher.