Mobile App Store Optimization (ASO): How does it work

Things you must tell your Clients as an ASO specialist

App Stores have two major functions: crawling and building an index, and providing search users with a ranked list of mobile apps they’ve determined are the most relevant.

Imagine the app store as a network of stops in a big city MRT system.

Each stop is unique (usually an app page, but sometimes an icon, screenshots, JPG, or other files). The app stores need a way to “crawl” the whole city and find all the stops along the way, so they use the best path to reach a certain destination.

Crawling & Indexing

Crawling and indexing millions of apps, app pages, files, JPGs, videos, and media on the App Store World.

They Provide Answers

The app store provides answers to user search queries, most frequently through lists of relevant apps that they’ve retrieved and ranked for relevancy.

The structure of the app store world serves to bind all of the apps together.

The keywords used in the metadata allow the app store search engines’ automated robots, called “crawlers” or “spiders,” to reach the many millions of interconnected apps on the app store.

Once they find these apps, they decipher the code from them and store selected pieces in their databases, in which to be recalled later when needed for a user search query.

To accomplish this tedious task of holding millions of apps that can be accessed in a fraction of a second, the app store (Apple, Google Play Store, Amazon, etc.) have constructed datacenters all over the world.

They have monstrous storage facilities that can hold thousands of machines processing large quantities of information quickly. When a user searches at any of the major app stores, they demand results quickly and instantaneously; even a one- or two-second delay can cause dissatisfaction, so these app stores work hard to provide answers as fast as they can.

These app stores are like answering machines. When a user performs an app search, the app store search engine scours its corpus of millions of apps and does two things: first, they return only those results that are relevant or useful to the user’s query; second, it ranks those results according to the popularity of the apps serving the information. 

It is both about relevancy and popularity that the process of app store optimization is meant to influence.

How do the app stores determine relevance and popularity of an app?

To an app store, relevance means more than finding an app with the right keywords. In the early days, these app stores didn’t go much further than this simplistic step, and their results were kind of a limited value. Over a couple of years, their engineers have developed better ways to match search results to users’ queries. Today, there are so many factors that influence the relevancy of an app, and we’ll discuss more about it in our next post.

App stores typically assume that the more popular an app is, the more valuable the information it contains must be – this assumption has been proven successful in terms of user satisfaction with search results.

Popularity and relevance can’t be determined manually. Instead, the app stores employ their own proprietary equations “algorithms” to identify and sort the wheat from the chaff “relevance”, and then them in order of quality “popularity”.

The algorithm comprises hundreds of variables. In the app store marketing world, we refer to them as “ASO ranking factors.”

Keep Reading App Store Search Results

You can surmise that the app stores believe that Math Master is the most relevant and popular app for the query “learn math” while the app Math For Kids is less relevant/popular.

“How to achieve success then?”

Or, “how app marketers succeed”

The complicated algorithms of the app stores are very difficult to decipher. In fact, their search engines provide little insight into how to achieve better results or get more traffic for your app. What they do provide us app store optimization guidelines and best practices is described below:

Have No Fear, Fellow App Marketer!

Aside from this freely-given advice, over the 5+ years that app search has existed, mobile app marketers have found new methods to extract information about how the app stores rank apps. ASOs and app marketers use that data to help their apps and their clients achieve a better ranking.

Surprisingly, the app stores support many of these ASO efforts, though the public visibility is low. Seminars and conferences on mobile app marketing, such as the GMASA, Mobile Growth, Future Mobility Days, Mobile World Congress, Mobile + Web Devcon, Mobile Tech Conference, App Promotion Summit attract engineers and representatives from all of the major app stores. App store search specialists and representatives also assist app developers by occasionally participating online in social media, forums, blogs and groups.

 OK, So what is ASO?

ASO stands for “app store optimization.” It is also known as the SEO for mobile apps. To put it simply, ASO is the process of getting traffic from search results on App Stores such as Apple or Google Play.

These app stores have their own primary search results, where the apps are ranked based on what they consider most relevant to their users.

How ASO Works?

With millions of apps in the app stores, climbing to the top of search results is hard but essential to your mobile app’s success.  While these app stores try to keep their processes a secret, their criteria for high spots on search results isn’t a complete mystery. App stores are successful only if they provide a user the best apps related to his or her search terms. If your app is the best scuba diving resource on the app store, it benefits the app store to list it high up on their search results. You just have to find a way to show them that your app belongs at the top of the heap. That’s where app store optimization (ASO) comes in — it’s a collection of techniques an app marketer or developer can use to improve his or her app’s search position.

In the ASO world, we have two philosophies: the white hat and black hat approach.

White Hat App Store Optimization (ASO)

White Hat ASO refers to legitimate practices that can improve your search performance on an App Store Listings. Best practices include LEGIT ASO strategies, techniques, and tactics  – focusing on a human audience as opposed to app store search engines.

Black Hat Optimization (ASO)

Black Hat ASO refers to a mobile app optimization strategy that violates the rules and guidelines of the App Stores. The problem with this is that it can actually decrease traffic to your app, and even get your developer account suspended/banned from the app stores. For example, Apple penalizes an app if they detected fraudulent activities or any other type of black hat aso methodologies used in your app listing.

Some examples of black hat ASO techniques include buying fake downloads, and fake reviews. It also includes stuffing your apps’ page with spammy keywords.

Black hat ASO is unethical, and I think the name Black Hat is a fair warning to you guys to not use it.

In essence, white hat wins out. The app store is a competitive world and in order to ‘beat their system’, the best strategy is to work with it and invest in the future of your app.

Like anything in life, taking shortcuts to achieve your goals is usually the path to failure. Great ASO strategy, a quality app, and a well-planned out marketing plan, that’s what will give your app the competitive edge in the end.

Most ASO companies or service providers offer a legitimate service, but it’s quite expensive and you are better off with Games Gadgets Gizmos!

What Our Company will Offer You

We offer inexpensive yet reliable ASO service to our clients. We follow the app store’s developer guidelines as much as possible. We strive to minimize risk to your app and business.

Your Best Interests Are Central

We take our commitment to white hat ASO very seriously. If you insist on utilizing gray or black hat ASO techniques which are against our recommendations, we will sever the relationship with you. We not only completely adhere to white hat ASO techniques, we completely avoid any association with techniques that are black hat.

We Work with Complete Transparency

We adhere to white hat methodologies and completely transparent with our customers. We will fully explain to you our recommendations and why they are important. You will always be updated so you’ll know exactly what we are doing on your behalf. Reports and explanations will be tailored to your audience, whether it be your CEO, Marketing head, or app developer.

Moreover, we are completely forthright in our communication. We will tell you what you need to hear because we believe that it is our sole responsibility to provide you with the best recommendations, even when those words may be something you don’t want to hear.

We value your business and understand that your needs may override our recommendations, but we feel that you must have the best information available so you can weigh the PROS and CONS and understand the possible ramifications of your business decisions.

See all our ASO services here.

Learn More

Contact us for more information or to learn more about our white hat ASO services.

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