Whether your self-publishing your game or partnering with a Publisher, you’ll need to know a thing or two about ASO. App Store Optimization (ASO) is SEO for the App store. Don’t know what SEO is? Go read this wiki.
The ASO process starts by understanding how the App Store algorithms rank apps. What happens when you press that magic “release app” button?
It’s simple, in theory. The app store tests your app.
How? By matching you up against other apps recently released in your apps designated Primary Category.
The app store then tracks and calculates the performance of just about everything. From the number of installs, to reviews, down to the number of people who have scrolled through alternate screenshots!
In addition to this, the app store will try to understand the relevancy of your app based on keywords specified by definition & description.
There’s quite a lot of details in the process, but I’d like to focus Part 1 of the series, ASO Tips & Tricks: for launching a brand new app.
The ASO process and techniques can be refined, and each app should be maintained over time. Don’t let your app get stale on the market!
By the end of this post, you’ll be able to improve your games app store & play store rank by using these three fundamental ASO techniques.
Tip #1 – Keyword Research
List out the top 10 keywords that you think make sense for your app. Then ask someone else to come up with an additional 5 keywords, preferably someone who is not involved in your project.
Do a live test these keywords. Type them into the app store and see what auto populates. Was there a better suggested keyword that might be more relevant?
The auto suggestions are based on volume of searches, so your goal here is to identify BIG keywords. Ideally, find keywords in the top 6 position after pressing just 2 or 3 letters.
Here’s an example. If you have an infinite runner game, let’s test the keyword “infinite runner”
After pressing I-N
Infinite runner isn’t in the top of the list, but rather instagram, instasize, etc
Going 1 letter more, I-N-F… STILL doesn’t yield infinite runner, but rather infection, infinity blade, etc
So the conclusion on this particular keyword, is that there really isn’t enough volume to warrant targeting.
Instead, I’d look at “R-U” – and there’s a keyword in the top 6, Running Games.
Running Games is great candidate.
Go through this process with all 15 keywords, identify at least 3 “candidates” and narrow this down to 2 target keywords.
Tip #2 – Keyword Targeting
App title & description. Once you’ve narrowed down your keyword list to 2, identify the primary & secondary keyword target.
The primary target keyword should be included into the App Title. The App title is ultra important in the app store(s) ecosystem.
Good titles are short. Great titles include keywords.
Try formatting your title with the following structure:
[App Name] – [Primary Keyword]
You can separate keywords using a comma or a dash (–) from the actual title of your app.
The first 25 characters are shown on the Charts, so try to keep the total length of your app name within this limit.
Once you have nailed down the perfect title, you’re ready to move onto developing your description.
Most developers who self publish don’t set aside enough time to write a strong description. Take your time to develop and perfect your apps description, it’s worth it!
Even once your App has launched, you’ll likely need to revise and freshen up the description once in awhile if you app goes flat.
How to start your description:
The first sentence should be your thesis statement. It’s the summary of your app that highlights the best parts. You want to keep the first sentence succinct, and to the point. Use your primary keyword in a different way than is used in the title. Make it plural, change its tense, or if its 2 words- switch up the order.
In the 2nd sentence, support your thesis statement and if possible, use your secondary keyword.
Do not waste the first 2 sentences with hype about being “the best game in the world” or with quotes. Also refrain from writing about how the app is free or discounted.
This will hurt your apps visibility, and you will lose out on the targeting power of the 1st and 2nd sentence.
It’s also best practice to include similar keywords to your primary and secondary keyword targets throughout your description.
Have between 10-14 sentences, grouped into multiple easy reading paragraphs.
Adjust the frequency of certain words and improve your Readability (Gunning-Fox Index) which should be as close to 6 as possible (easy to read).
It should take you 1-2 days to really nail down a strong description. When writing, you want to take frequent breaks. This allows your brain to “cool down” and allows you to see the description in a different light, versus overworking it.
Again, don’t rush your description. It would be a waste of time developing an awesome game without giving some attention to writing a good description.
Tip #3 – The Money Shot
The 1st screenshot in your listing needs to be the MONEY SHOT. This is the absolute best screenshot you have, coupled with optional text-overlay of your best feature or draw.
I’ve read recently (though I couldn’t find the source) that the highest CTR (click through rates) on web banners were WARM COLORS. Red, orange, yellow, so try to take advantage of the heat seekers. Catch a player by prioritizing a perfect– warm colored screenshot.
Important to note that when searching for your app on the store, the 1st screenshot to show up is the ONLY one to show up. Check for yourself!
This about wraps up the first checklist of our ASO series. Do you have any tips & tricks you’d like to share with the game dev community? Write us on twitter or in the comments!