Android ASO Tips for 2021

   · ☕ 11 min read

App Store Optimization

How many times has your business's Android app been downloaded? It's frustrating when you invest your time, energy and money into developing an app, only for it to attract few or no downloads. The Android ecosystem is often overlooked when app-based marketing efforts start with iOS and often don't allocate enough to Android or any at all.

This is another's opportunity as the Play Store has many ways of pushing your app to the top of the search results. But it requires some research, a/b testing & additional outside web efforts as well.

Whether your app is designed to sell a product or service, or simply to educate your business's audience, you should focus on improving its Google Play visibility. By following these ten app store optimization (ASO) tips, you'll attract more downloads and greater success with your Android app.

1) Identify Your App's Target Keywords

The first step in optimizing your app store description is to research keywords that people use to search for apps like yours. A tool like Apptweak or Appfigures can give you information on the keywords people use when searching the app store. Use one of these tools (or try both! they both have free trials) to build up a list of keywords that you plan to use in your app description. You can also monitor which keywords your competitors are using to see how your app compares week by week.

ASO involves optimizing your business's Android app to rank high on Google Play for one or more keywords. Statistics show there are now over 2.7 million apps available to download on Google Play. Unless your app is properly optimized, it probably won't rank high, resulting in few or no downloads. Before you can begin to optimize your app, though, you must identify the target keywords for which you want your app to rank.

Start by creating a list of 10 to 20 keywords that are relevant to your app. Next, go to the keyword research tool within your specific app's section. This will reveal insights into each keyword you're targeting including search volume, competition, advertising cost and even related keywords.

2) Create a Keyword-Rich and Branded Title

The title is arguably the most important ranking factor for Google Play. As you may know, it's displayed alongside your app's icon in the search results. When creating a title, include your app's brand name as well as one or two target keywords.

Some businesses make the mistake of only using their app's brand name as the title. As a result, they typically experience poor Google Play visibility. Ideally, the title of your app description will include the keyword that attracts the heaviest search traffic. According to a study by TUNE, apps that contain a relevant keyword in their titles rank more than 10 percent higher than apps that do not use a title keyword.

Google Play allows up to 50 characters for the app title. By structuring the title with your app's brand name and target keywords, your app will rank for more keywords on Google's mobile marketplace. Try to keep your title short and snappy: just the name of the app, a dash or vertical bar, and then the main keyword that you want to focus on (or the main keyword first).

Studies by Sensortower show that apps with the right keywords in the app title rank much higher than similar apps. On average, an app with targeted keywords in the title ranks 10% higher than apps with no keywords in the title. Sometimes your competitor is already using a good keyword. There are more keywords, and that 50 character limit provides opportunity, as each app can only target 1-3 keywords.

Take a look at the apps: “Gmail - email from Google”, “Skype - free IM & video calls”, “Spotify Music” - all of these apps include their main target keywords in the title. These keywords sound so natural that they've become a part of their branding, plus they work as tips for users who want to download an app with a particular function.

Adding keywords to the app's title is not easy because the space is limited. It's best to maximize the first 35 characters as that is what is most commonly seen in different mobile phone layouts. This will need to be a/b tested and fine tuned over time. Sometimes the best opportunity isn't the most popular keyword.

Changing the title of your app too often can have a detrimental effect on your rankings. Changing the title will also make it difficult for existing users to find your app in the store, recommend it to their friends, or return to the app description to leave a review. Avoid creating this confusion by keeping your title consistent once you have chosen your keywords.

3) Include Screenshots With Overlay Text

For Google Play to accept your app, you must include at least two screenshots. Screenshots aren't displayed in the search results. Rather, they are displayed in your app's listing. If a user searches for a keyword and clicks your app in the search results, he or she will see the screenshots directly below the install or purchase button.

To entice users to download your app, and subsequently boost your app's rankings on Google Play, add overlay text to your screenshots. Using graphic design software, add overlay text to your screenshots that explains your app's unique features and why users should download it. Keep in mind, Google Play only requires two screenshots; you can include up to eight screenshots for each supported device.

The goal is to give potential users a detailed view of what the app looks like while in use. Most app users won't even read the text-based descriptions of your apps if your screenshots aren't enticing. Spend time creating stunning screenshots for your mobile applications and you can significantly improve your ASO.

4) Create a Simple, Attention-Grabbing Icon

Icons are displayed in several areas on Google Play. In the search results, they are displayed to the left of app names. In app listings, icons are displayed in the upper-left corner. By using a simple yet attention-grabbing icon, you'll attract downloads to your app, which may convince Google Play's algorithm to rank it higher.

According to SplitMetrics, apps with a well-designed icon attract over five times as many downloads than those with a poorly designed icon.

Because icons are scaled down – and viewed on small devices like smartphones and tablets – you need to keep it simple. If your app's icon is complex and highly detailed, it will appear blurry. At the same time, you should design your app's icon so that it grabs users’ attention.

Using a combination of light and dark colors, for example, will make your app stand out among the countless other apps on Google Play.

Google Play requires the following for app icons:
• Saved in 32-bit Personal Network Graphics (PNG) format
• 512 by 512 pixels
• Maximum file size of 1,024 KB

Use this handy Android Icon Generator to quickly create all your Android app assets.

5) Use the Short Description to Describe the Purpose of Your App

The short description is displayed in your app's listing and is proceeded by a button that users can click to read the complete description. With a maximum length of just 80 characters, though, you won't have space to describe your app in the short description field, so you need to use this space wisely.

In the short description field, explain the purpose of your app and what it does. And if there's enough space, try to squeeze in one or two of your target keywords.

Need help with your Android app's App Store Optimization?
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6) Create a Killer Long Description

For your app's actual description, you'll have the freedom to use up to 4,000 characters. The description field allows you to convey more details about your app, such as its origins, features, updates and more.

While you don't have to create a 4,000-character description, apps with longer descriptions tend to outperform those with shorter descriptions on Google Play. If your app has a long description, Google Play will likely rank it for more keywords, especially the keywords used in the description. Those keywords should be mentioned up to 5 times within this long description, but not more. And be careful of words within words that might accidentally put you over this limit.

In addition to text, Google Play supports HTML in the description field. You can use HTML heading tags, for example, to make subheadings larger. You can also create unordered or ordered lists using HTML list tags. Regardless, HTML can improve the readability and aesthetics of your app's description.

Optimizing your app description so it shows up highly in app store searches is not the same as using SEO techniques on your website, but there are many similarities. When working on improving the search ranking of your app, you need to spend time on keyword research and develop a strategy for using them effectively in your app description.

As your app begins to gain recognition in the app store, news of the fantastic service it provides will begin to spread by word of mouth. Users will leave reviews that help your app rank more highly, leading to more downloads, more reviews, and even greater popularity.

7) Update often

Updating your apps on a frequent basis is a good way to improve your chances of increased downloads. If a user looks at the description for your app and discovers you haven't updated your app in over a year, they may think you're no longer focusing on improving your application. Even if you only make small tweaks to your mobile apps, making sure your app descriptions highlight recent updates is a savvy ASO move to make.

Another helpful bit of advice is integrating a blog on your app and updating the app each time you write a blog post. You can highlight each new blog post title in your app description giving you some long tail keyword discoverability for just the thing people can find info about with you.

8) Answer reviews

Make sure to reply to reviews both positive and negative for two reasons. It shows that you are engaged, active and listening to your users. When you reply positively it's an opportunity to showcase a positive air about your app. When you reply with a thoughtful response to a negative review it gives you the opportunity to explain how you're going to address it to the general public. This can turn into free marketing as well as app improvement ideas.

The second reason to reply to all reviews is that your review counts as a review to google's algorithm. That's right! So if you reply to your reviews, then that is more reviews that have been done on your app. So reply to all reviews!

And you can't answer reviews if you don't get them so encourage satisfied users to share their positive experiences with your app using in-app pop-ups after set periods of time (but not immediately!!).

9) Actively Promote Your App

Don't forget to actively promote your app. Not surprisingly, Google Play's algorithm favors popular apps with many downloads over less-popular apps with few or no downloads.

If you have a website, put a link to your app's listing on Google Play. Android users who visit your website will click the link and download your app. Promote the app on social media, blog posts & through PPC (Pay Per Click) strategies.

10) REALLY Actively Promote Your App in the First 30 Days

This is a less known secret, but there is a significant boost given to a new Android app within its first 30 days of being released. Take advantage of this! Not only will it get you started off right but you'll get helpful, easy to obtain ASO juice.

Launch right, your app's long-term success can be greatly affected by its first days and weeks on the market. Without a strong start, the algorithms used by Google Play to determine the popularity of an app won't promote your listing to users. On the other hand, if your app does launch successfully and gains a lot of attention, it can attract a lot of revenue quickly and take your business to new heights.

For better launch results, focus on content marketing through social media channels for higher ROI and the potential for your app to go viral, get your app reviewed on technology-related blogs and narrow your target audience down as much as possible.

To turn up and hone in the marketing efforts I recommend:

Facebook Ads

Just a bit. Use sparingly and shut it off quickly if it runs up a hefty bill.

Microsoft Ads

Formerly Bing Ads. This is much more affordable than Google Adwords and allows you to focus only on Android users and specific geographic areas very well.

Android specific ad networks

There are many Android specific ad networks that app developers have integrated into their apps. Get your ads on their apps! I can steer you toward the most suitable Android specific ad networks depending on your industry or niche.

Wrapping up

With Android accounting for over 76 percent of all mobile operating systems, Google Play has become a highly competitive platform for businesses looking to reach mobile users. Regardless of what type of app your business has, you can outrank your competitors with ASO.

Perusing mobile apps in the app store is the #1 way smartphone users discover new downloads for their digital device. If you're not taking a strategic approach to optimizing your app discovery efforts, you're losing out to savvier competitors who understand the power of detailed ASO efforts. Just as business owners utilize SEO (search engine optimization) to make their company's content easier to discover on search engines, so too, should you be using app store optimization for your mobile apps.

Need help with your Android app's App Store Optimization?
email me at:

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