How to drastically boost your downloads: ultimate ASO guide

Tips May 13, 2015

“Second page of Google, doesn’t exist” SEO people say, and I guess most of us can back that up with personal experience. In the App Market, search works the same. What doesn’t appear within first few results will be quickly forgotten. The good news though, is that you can change your ranking by using ASO techniques. What’s even better news is that 50% of developers don’t do this at all. So take this Ultimate ASO (which stands for App Search Optimization) Guide, and boost your downloads within minutes!

ASO overview

Forrester institute revealed data that clearly shows that the number one new app discovery method is general browsing in the app market. What this means is that around 60% of your downloads are based on how well you did your homework with ASO. Ankit Jain, at Google I/O, made it very clear: “for the average app, search actually makes up the vast majority of installs.”

Most experts suggest dividing ASO to on-page and off-page methods, and as it is very accurate, I’d rather divide it to direct and indirect methods. Just to empower you with confidence, know that you have influence over everything. Direct methods relate to the activity of search engine bots, while indirect methods are ways to encourage users to download when they eventually get to your app page.

Direct optimization

Search bots, while queuing apps, pay attention to two factors: title and keywords. To make most of optimization follow these guidelines:


  • Must be short and to the point describing clearly what your app does. This means that you should explain what your user can expect from your app.
  • Must include the most important keyword. But don’t change your app name, just follow the best ones: Gmail – email from Google, or Spotify Music, KAYAK Flights, Hotels & Cars.
  • Due to high screen size variation, keep it under 25 characters. So start with your company name, and then add keywords that are crucial for searcher to find the app.


  • Do not use your competition’s names because you will be banned quickly, especially in Apple’s market.
  • Use as many keywords as possible, but make them accurate and to the point.
  • If you use English keywords, you have a higher chance of being successful worldwide.
  • Use keywords related to localization, if that make sense for your audience.
  • Remove spaces after commas to gain more characters e.g.: example1,example2,…
  • Use commas to separate phrases such as: Barcelona, Guide, or passive, income.
  • Use each word only once (do not double keywords from title) but for the most important keywords, you may want to use both the singular and plural version. If you are not sure, just go for singular.
  • Do not include free in your keywords list, as it is already clear in your price.
  • Spy on your competition to see the best keywords and to differentiate yourself.
  • To understand how people think, go to google keywords planner for AdWords and look for your best fit.

Indirect optimization

Research shows, that in the long run, the number of downloads, ratings and reviews may be key factors of success, especially after the freshness period indicator ends. Make sure your page is as persuasive as possible to get users to download your app, after they eventually got to your page. Good old rule to keep in mind is: the less mystery the better. So:

  • Set up a nice and professional icon for your app. It works like a logo for a company.
  • Make your description short and to the point, showing all the advantages of your app. Make sure that you talk about the features that either your users might be looking for or are not offered by your competition
  • Description should be at least 1000 characters, 2000 is optimum; however, if you have 4000, and if you can use them, then go for it.
  • Since Android doesn’t have a separate keywords section, search is based  on your description. Make sure that the first line of he description contains all of the important keywords and is short and to the point.
  • Although you have 4000 characters for your description, you don’t have to use them all.
  • Include screenshots of all crucial pages and features of your app. The first two pictures must be the best ones.
  • If you can, make a demo video for your app. Usually, it is way easier to show functionalities than describing them, especially for new and innovative projects. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t choose to watch video versus reading text?
  • Take care of ratings and reviews, as they will matter in long run. Ask your users nicely to rate your app if they like it  and to leave a comment. You can make it either by in an app pop-up or by placing rate button in a visible place.
  • Show that you care about users’ opinions by reading existing reviews and fixing and implementing things they mention.
  • Set the right category for your app, as many users may go directly to the category they are looking for. If more than one category is really accurate, put your app in the one with less apps.
  • Try to do some link building, especially in Google Play, since it has access to Google Index. Links from respected sites will certainly help.


ASO might be your secret weapon in the mobile war, but it is crucial to understand that ASO is less of a thing to be done, and more of a strategy to be implemented. It is like with SEO, there are things that should be done at the very beginning, and the real works start later when you build your link network. Pay special attention to rates and reviews. In the end, happy customers are the best clients. You can spy on the competition’s reviews to see what users complain about or demand, and offer it in your next update.

What is your experience with ASO? Do you have any special techniques or have some great tips? Please leave them in comments below.