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June 6, 2022

Creating A User-Focused ASO Strategy

Are there some app elements that are more important than others? Is the app icon more important than the screenshot set? Is the short description more important than the full description? 

The process of App Store Optimization (ASO) improves every app asset – all of which serve a different yet equally fundamental purpose in increasing visibility and conversion. Each element also guides the user through a journey, and it’s up to a developer to make that journey easier for the user from start to finish. 

How can developers ensure that their ASO strategy continues to pull the results they need to increase visibility and conversion rates? Better yet, how can they ensure that their ASO strategy works symbiotically with user experience at the forefront of their success? In this article, we’ll explore some ASO best practices that engage the user and in turn, pave the way to sustainable app store growth. 

What is App Store Optimization?

App Store Optimization is a bottom-of-the-funnel mobile marketing process that enables developers to increase their visibility on the app store. This process involves both metadata optimization and creative optimization in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Apple reports that 70% of all app store downloads take place on the search page.

To better capture users where they download, developers must first ensure that they’re visible on the search page to begin with. If a user can’t find an app in the first few results, odds are they might opt to download a competitor app or give up their search altogether if they can’t find what they need. 

Building on organic search results is the foundation of long-term app store success. Organic growth is both a user-friendly way to effectively market an app and supports internal and external paid marketing campaigns. This can be done through metadata and creative element optimization.

Depending on the app store platform a developer publishes their app on, these optimization processes and guidelines look quite different. However, there are universal ASO best practices that apply to all ASO processes.

To Capture the Mobile User, Use Mobile Data

Contrary to popular belief, ASO is not SEO for mobile apps. Moreover, users simply don’t feel the need to “explain themselves” at the search bar with specifics as they typically do on web. Realistically, there is only a 20% overlap in web and mobile search data. This statistic is often overlooked and misunderstood by developers. The way a user searches on the app store compared to web varies on the premise of user intent. Web search semantics and search queries are often long and detailed, while mobile app search queries are typically 2-3 words at most. Thus, developers need to go above and beyond to capture what the user searches for by relying on true mobile data, rather than SEO and web data. The wider the range of keywords a developer can target while still maintaining the main core relevancy of their keywords intact, the better. Simply put, what works for web, does not work for mobile. To capture mobile users, developers should forgo the SEO strategy that limits their user reach and engagement. By making the switch to mobile data, a developer can better align their data strategy with their users and what they search for. 

Remember the Importance of Seasonality and Iteration

The seasons change, and so do user search trends. The process of App Store Optimization isn’t a stagnant or one-and-done mobile marketing strategy. Mobile search trends can change at the drop of a hat, so developers need to arm themselves with strategies that allow them to change with the times, rather than getting swallowed up by their effects. 

Stagnancy in all metadata and creative assets is a surefire way to fall behind in the optimization process. Seasonality and iterative practices serve to help developers stay up to date with changing times. Through iteration, developers can actively navigate keyword search trend changes and creative conversion effects and adjust their strategy accordingly. Seasonality changes help developers address internal and external events that may affect user search and download behaviors. Both of these practices allow developers to be more adaptive and proactive to meet user needs. 

To illustrate the importance of adaptability, let’s take a look at food delivery apps as an example. During the height of the pandemic, there was a massive spike in demand for these mobile apps. However, instead of searching for “quick food delivery”, or fast food restaurant names, users were searching for “contactless food delivery”, “safe COVID-19 delivery”, and in some cases even “small [local] business delivery”. 

This change in the external environment was abrupt, and fast-moving, so the developers of these apps had to incorporate these new terms into their app assets to show that their app had what they needed. However, the changes that may affect app performance can sometimes be slow-moving, hard to spot, or recurring. Thus, developers have to understand what their target users search for, when, and how they can best present their app to the user when they need it. 

Localization Is Not Just Translation

Mobile use and mobile gaming are on the rise across the world. An increasing number of developers are expanding their apps into new, international markets with different cultures, languages, and search habits. International markets are a lucrative opportunity for app expansion. The largest market for mobile games, for example, isn’t in the US or Europe, it’s in Southeast Asia where 1 in 3 smartphone users admit to playing mobile games daily.  To capture international users, developers must “speak their language” in more ways than one. Yet, translation alone isn’t enough. For example, the screenshot features that are important to highlight in the US may not work in Japan – language differences aside. This is true of metadata assets as well like like app titles, and descriptions. The terminology used across different territories may be vastly different from the native markets developers may be used to. For example, if a music streaming app showcases pictures of popular American celebrities in their screenshot set, or mentions popular songs in the US description, the conversion and visibility effects they have in the US may not translate over to South Korea where different celebrities, genres, and songs are popular. Thus, developers should reflect international variances in their app assets to better address what users search for, not just translate them. 


A user-focused ASO strategy brings the best out of your app value in more ways than one. Creating a strategy that connects with users requires a lot of work behind the scenes; however, employing ASO best practices that allow users to engage with your app creates value to both the user and the developer. Making the switch to mobile data, updating crucial app assets, and adapting to international markets are just a few of the steps you can take to make your app store performance grow over time. 


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