The App store Optimization Guerrilla Checklist

This is a guest post I wrote for an AWESOME Appmarketing magazine – . Be sure to download it today and learn from very smart cookies publishing there in each edition.
I was asked to write about App store optimization, in fact I was asked to write the most complete guide about App store optimization ever written!
But then I realized, wait a minute, I already wrote book about app store optimization, full of theory and some boring and unpractical tips…. 😉
That’s why I though… hey! may be this is the chance of writing an actionable blueprint, a guerrilla manual for App store optimization, the type of checklist you need to tick before launching an app, something with less fluff and more real actionable steps.
So here we go:
The App store Optimization Guerrilla Checklist.
Before we start lets recap the goal of ASO.
App store optimization is the SEO of the app stores, our goal is to attract more organic traffic to our app and convert this traffic to download out app.
There are 2 parts of ASO… getting the traffic and converting the traffic.
Usually developers think ASO is just about getting the traffic and they forget if traffic doesn’t convert, any effort to attract that traffic becomes worthless.
So where do we start??
Let’s start by the most common topic in ASO:


If you are familiar with SEO, you understand that keywords is what people put in any search bar to find something.
That something can be a service, a product, or in this case… obviously: apps.
So the challenge is… what keywords to people type to find YOUR app. What keywords do people type when looking for apps like the one you are trying to market.
So the big question you need to pin on your pinboard is:
What is your marketing looking for?
Only when you understand what your market is looking for, you can work your way to “appear in front of them” when they perform a search. But without knowing your target is looking for, or the keywords you need to target you will certainly fail.
Find your keywords:
Like in SEO in ASO we have ASO tools. And this ASO tools provide a general understanding of competition levels, search volume and keywords opportunities.
Tools like,, give you the option to find potential keywords in your while provide you with an estimate calculation for the popularity of the search terms and the difficulty to achieve ranking.
Using ASO tools is the smartest way to find different range of ideas and potential combinations. They are usually easy to use, takes 1-4 hours to learn to master them and for a less than $15 per week, you can obtain valuable data to manage your ASO strategy.
The main rules to keep in mind with your keywords are:
Limit it baby: You only have 100 characters, don’t waste them, use them wisely and use them all.
Don’t double it: Do not include keywords that you have already on your title, doubling up makes no sense and brings no value.
Try to avoid trademarks or other keywords very similar to extremely popular or iconic apps. So if your game is about amazing cats that fly trying to destroy dogs… don’t use the keywords angry and birds. It will not work to rank for angry birds.
– Only Choose one: Try to find out what keyword is the most popular between singular and plural and only choose one.
Don’t forget who is your target, keywords that may make sense to you, in other app stores may not be so popular. (Example: the UK market may use different keywords when looking for apps that then USA store)
Have a plan B: Have a second potential list of keywords. Keywords should be modified and update, keywords are not suppose to be there for ever… remember, you are just trying it out, so be brave to have a second list to try in a new update.
Track your ranking: you can’t know how you are doing if you don’t track your ranking. Tracking your ranking vs your competitor can give you a good benchmark of how well your app is doing.

App description:

We all know by now that the app description in iOS doesn’t make a difference regarding ranking, this means… the algorithm will not use the description as a ranking factor.
In Google Play instead the description works as the description of a website.
The content will be used for ranking, therefor you need to optimize the description to include the keywords you are targeting . (Just like in a normal website using conventional Search engine optimization).
Now, the interesting point is that the app description in fact has an organic value in the Apple App store.
iTunes pages rank in Google… therefor not having an “SEO set of mind” when you write your app description can be a waste of traffic.
If Google ranks iTunes pages, your app page could get traffic from Google just for having optimized content that includes what people are looking for… so why not do it?
It’s easy and practically less than 5% of app developers are even bothering to do so.


With Icons is like with small dogs. Yes. Small dogs. Every owner loves his/her small dog, even if their small dog is dead ugly and barks a lot! This means… you may love your icon, but that doesn’t mean your icon is a GOOD icon.
Icons is something that developers seem to fall in love with and they usually never test. Testing icons is a must and it can save you a lot of headaches and questions in the long term.
My app rocks, but why nobody downloads my app!!!
Or even worse…
why my competitor with is getting more downloads if we have similar apps?
Believe it or not, it can be about the icon.
Icon conversion is a almost an art, but nobody seem to define very clear what are the rules for icons… so hopefully I will be able to provide some tips here:
– Use dark colors, good strong contrasts, if your app blends with the screen don’t wonder why people don’t click on it.
– Icons that comply with the “apple” blending, convert less that the once without the “appleish style” (I know, I know, apple recommends that your icon looks and feels like Apple icons, right, but it has been proven many times that those icons CONVERT less. The reason is simple: people click on things that stand out.
– If standing out is a must, think of re-inforcing your icon with a border or frame. Borders or different color provide a clear difference and in simple marketing tests, ads with colorful borders get more CTR than plain ads. The same applies with icons


Do you think a screenshot is just a screen shot or just another word to define a capture-screen?
Oh boy… a screenshot is your POSTER. Is the opportunity to make the user fall in love with your app… so use it!
You have 5 screenshots, please don’t make them the same, spice things up, make them different, included call for actions and smart marketing tactics! (don’t be freaking boring….)
Remember: is not just about showing what your app does… is about inspiring the user to download the app.
You need to connect… and connecting with just a “capture screen” is challenging.
Reviews is one of those factors that are difficult to fake and manipulate, and app stores are giving more and more relevance to reviews precisely for that factor, reviews are REAL signs of how much users REALLY like an app (compared to downloads).
So reviews shouldn’t be taken lightly, in fact you need to have an active strategy to reward reviews and encourage users to post them.
The golden rule is to understand that angry users are 10 times more likely to post reviews vs. happy users.
Happy customers don’t feel they have to post reviews, unless you manage to create in them a unique feeling.
That’s why, you need to have a proper plan:
– How are you going to encourage reviews?
– How are you going to reach future reviewers?
– How are you going to prevent a flow of bad reviews in case things to go according to plan?
Reviews need to be a constant process and not just part of burst marketing effort. Not ranking at all? Check your reviews and compare your review rating average vs competitors… you may be surprised.
Every time you update your app you have the opportunity to test new changes, new keywords and different marketing approaches. That’s why updating as much as possible gives you the most important weapon you may have:
Like in SEO DATA is a must.
If you don’t test, track and compare, you will never be able to know what is working vs. what it doesn’t work at all.
One of the most mind blowing facts I have discovered after working with over 100 app companies in the last 6 months, is how many app developers don’t change or update their App keywords or even modify their description, screenshot, icons, or any factor in their app marketing.
If you update frequently, get out of your comfort zone and try to have a checklist of factors you are willing to experiment with.
Be brave. If things don’t work out, you can always revert in the next update.
It’s important to think out of the box with ASO, App store optimization is not a miracle solution, and it’s nor something you do tomorrow and then voila! Voila! You find amazing rankings suddenly .
It doesn’t work that way, what ASO does for you is to allowed you to optimize, test and experiment.
Why is it such a valid marketing strategy?
Mainly because it works! It works because the App store is not only flooded with apps, but it’s also flooded with static apps, with mediocre marketing and with developers not willing to go the extra mile to understand how the algorithm works.
The app store is young, and more and more apps are emerging every single day.
Pay per download to win user loyalty is not a valid option any more… and many developers are just tired and exhausted of marketing solutions that cost more than the app development itself.
It’s time to think organic; it’s time to understand user’s physiology and to go back to the basics.
The Algorithm is not a black box… in fact is not so difficult to understand once you invest some time in looking at why some apps rise and why some other ones die in the graveyard.