Industry Exposed: App Master’s Steve Young’s ASO Lessons for Big and Small Apps in 2018

ASO, or App Store Optimization, has been a trusted weapon for app discovery used by app marketers to be in front of their most valuable customers. A higher visibility in the App Store’s search results can significantly impact the success of an app, especially in the “Launch” phase of the app.

“App Store Optimization is the best way to drive organic downloads. For indies and startups it’s the only way they drive downloads while for bigger companies it will help drive more downloads that are NOT reliant on acquisition dollars,” says Steve Young, app marketing & ASO consultant and founder of App Masters.

We reached out to Steve Young to understand what big and small apps should be doing in 2018 to make the most of their ASO strategy. Take notes:

Defining Your Keywords Strategy

Make sure your app’s keywords speak for the app. “The app name has the most weight when it comes to keyword rankings. Also, utilize the Spanish Mexico localization when you’re targeting the US app store,” shares Steve. “If you put English keywords in that localization you can double the keywords you are targeting.”

Make ASO Your Primary Channel for Download

This advice is mainly for smaller apps who think they don’t need ASO. Here is a piece of advice from Steve: “For indies and startups it’s the only way they drive downloads“

It is also important to pay attention to what keywords are accessible: “Smaller apps need to find keywords that have medium traffic and low competition since ASO is likely their primary channel for downloads.”

Bigger Apps? Approach Your ASO Differently

ASO strategies can work very differently for larger apps. The techniques that work for smaller apps may not necessarily work in favor of larger apps. Utilising smart ASO keywords can be instrumental for larger apps to gain traction and get ahead. Here’s what Steve suggests: “I would focus on relevant keywords with medium to high traffic for larger apps, since their acquisition dollars and brand name will actually help them rank well for highly competitive terms that the smaller apps have no chance at.

Apple Search Ads Can Affect ASO

Now, whether you are a big or a small fish, Apple Search ads greatly affect your ASO: “Part of the keyword ranking algorithm (Apple) is based on people clicking on your app after searching for a particular keyword. Obviously if you’re running ads on a particular term, you will be the first search result thereby garnering the bulk of the clicks which in turn help you rank better for that keyword,” says Steve.

Don’t Forget About Data

Data is a wonderful thing for mobile advertisers. Whether it is managing UA and retargeting campaigns, to fixing your ASO strategy, data is your best friend. Steve suggests using Mobile Action and Sensor Tower to “gather traffic and competition data.”

“I found that if both tools tell me that a keyword has low competition then I’m highly likely to rank in the top 10 for that keyword, whereas if one tool says it’s low competition then there’s a 50% chance of us ranking well for that keyword.”

Think Outside the Box

Too many people think ASO does not work because they’re all targeting the same keywords. For ASO, Steve says, “I would say think outside the box. We’ve been successful because we think outside the box and look for terms or apps that our target market would use in their search queries.“For example, one of our clients was a Groupon competitor just for Miami. We increased downloads by 144% because we were able to rank the app #2 for “miami heat”. The phrase obviously had good traffic volume and low competition.”

App Reviews and ASO

App reviews that feature keywords can certainly help ASO, but not as well as they did in 2015. “Two years ago we saw immediate impact in keyword rankings when we “planted” reviews with keywords,” Steve says.

But that doesn’t mean you stop encouraging your customers to leave feedback. “If you want to get reviews legitimately, then a simple way would be to guide your users by asking them if you helped them in a certain way. For example, if I had a meditation app and I wanted users to leave a review with the words “reduce anxiety” I would ask users “Did we help you reduce anxiety?”. If users said yes then I’d ask users “would you mind leaving a review on the app store about how we helped you reduced anxiety?”

Counting down to 2018? Check out our tips on ASO techniques to try in the new year and our top predictions for ad tech!