Congratulations, you’ve created a badass app! The hard part is over, right? Easy there Turbo, don’t pop the Champagne bottle quite yet…
Ever wonder how an app can hit the Top Charts without buying a ton of traffic? Yes, it is possible to get on the Top Charts and make thousands of dollars without being a big-time company like Zynga. How? The answer is ASO.
ASO is responsible for deciding whether an app gets 100 downloads a day or 10,000. And it’s rather painless to do. Got your attention?
App Store Optimization is the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in search results. The better your ASO, the more likely your app will reach millions of devices.
Everyone wants to know => “What is the secret formula that Bluecloud uses for picking titles and keywords?”
Well… I’ll show you. For FREE!
The challenging part of optimizing apps is that platforms like Apple are constantly changing their algorithm. One day a trendy word is boosting your app’s ranking, and the next day your app is completely dead.
In the past there have been a lot of ASO tricks used, such as stuffing keywords in company names and app titles.
I’m not interested in teaching you tricks like the above that may put you ahead of the game for a week or two. These are damaging in the long run and simply a waste of time.
I’d rather show you some serious strategies that the elite developers use to maximize their app’s exposure and that can lead to bringing in a consistent cashflow.
This is serious stuff and is critical to the success of your app. Use the examples below to get ideas to pump up your ASO. It will improve your downloads and rankings.
To learn more about how you can dominate downloads, check out The ASO Mastery Course that will guide you step-by-step through the entire process and teach you exactly what you need to know. Learn more here.
Here are some ASO examples to give you some ideas…
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Mmm that hamburger looks good. What is this game even about? Who cares, right!?! I just want that tasty burger.
[tweet_box design=”default”]When marketing an app, Icons are the most significant visual #ASO strategy. [/tweet_box]
Make sure your icon is capturing your audience’s attention.
Remember that your icon always looks gorgeous on your 21 inch monitor at home. But it can be a totally different story when people see it on a smaller device. Use services like AppSparky to test icons against others in the Store.
Stick with big, bold images. Don’t clutter up your icon with tons of details or words.
2. Retina Images
If you haven’t checked out Monument Valley already, you really should. It’s more of a piece of art than a game. Monument Valley cost over $1 million to develop, but has already made an ROI of X5.
Monument Valley’s screenshots play a big role with the success of their ROI.
Their screenshots can be measured against any others in Stores, and will most likely come on top. They look pretty slick, right?
These are masterpiece designs not just screenshots. They resemble famous pieces of art like Escher’s Relativity.
Monument Valley has succeeded in showing a higher level of quality and design than the rest. Make sure you are uploading retina display images to your screenshots. It will pay off.
Check out this post to learn how to create icons and screenshots in under 5 minutes!
3. Bundle Your Apps
Ever get suckered into buying a wholesale item? You walk into a store like Costco just to get some milk and end up somehow buying two 5lb jars of Cheetos?
C’mon you know you have!
[tweet_box design=”default”]Bundling apps have the same triggers as wholesale items at stores, and they are a huge game changer.[/tweet_box]
For starters, you’re increasing the exposure of your products on the App Store. Thats already a big win.
Secondly, you can upload more screenshots. Checkout Aaron’s Easy Tiger bundle on the Store. You’ll notice there are 9 screenshots. Screenshot 1 & 2 are the most significant in capturing a customer’a attention. After Screenshot 2, the visibility dramatically decreases as customers either download or discard an app.
What’s unique about the Easy Tiger bundle is that it’s made up of photo and design apps. The extra screenshots in bundles are perfect for showing off a photo bundle right?
Finally, price plays a huge role in bundles. Customers are inspired to purchase bundles because of the additional value.
Start bundling your apps, its great for ASO and Cross Promotion.
Did you know the average app bundle saves iOS users $5.64?
Now you know why users are so stoked on great bundles, because of the savings! Read more stats about the 4,500+ bundles on the App Store here.
4. Repetition & Conjugation
Stick Texting repeats words like emoji and emoticons throughout the app’s title and description. This is a style of stuffing where developers try to capture every variation of a word.
Go through Stick Texting and look at how many times variations of emoji, emoticons, or animated are repeated in the title and description.
Apps with keywords in the title see a 10.3% Ranking increase. – Kissmetrics
This strategy is very common with Android, but Stick Texting was able to use it to help hit the Top Charts on the Apple App Store.
Get more tips to creating a description that crushes by reading The App Description Formula.
5. Maximize your Description
Wow. I better download this right now! Look at the first line of the description:
* 24hr SALE! $1.99 FOR ONLY A DAY! *
Theres a solid sense of urgency being displayed. The developer is discounting his product through a 24 hour promotion.
The developer also used the description to showcase a review by a highly credible source.
Finally, check out the capitalization used. Text capabilities are limited in descriptions, but developers do find creative ways to better market a product.
A lot of outside information can be included in descriptions. My favorite two items to include in descriptions are support emails and links to social media pages. Check out this formula for writing a badass description.
6. Ride the Coattails!
Find an app that has a unique look and low competition and create something similar. Block City Wars is obviously a takeoff from Minecraft. The developer recognized an opportunity and did a great job capturing the Minecraft feel and marketing to the Minecraft audience.
Popular Minecraft searches: block, city, mine, mini, skins, exporter, minecraft
Take advantage of these powerful words like Block City Wars did by placing the words with the biggest punch in the front of your title.
Be careful when mimicking brands. I’ve been hit with a Minecraft trademark infringement message. It’s not fun and usually results in having to remove an app from the Store. Make sure you create some distance between your product and the brand your are copying.
Read more about developing games like Block City Wars in the article Tips & Strategies to Conquer Games.
I love this strategy and am surprised more developers don’t use it.
If someone likes your product, why not make another one? This is a solid skinning strategy for games. Create a game and publish it on the Store. If it does well, create a sequel with new resources and simply put a 2 at the end of the title.
I’ve done this countless times and created not just a single sequel, but a whole series!
8. Expose your Brand
Aviary made a killer photo editing app and then realized they could make a lot more money by selling licenses.
Now indie developers and huge companies like Walgreens can save tens of thousands of dollars in development costs by simply buying a license from Aviary.
Note how Aviary included their brand name in the title ‘by Aviary’ and also in the company name. Guess who is getting indexed #1 when a customer searches Aviary?
For BIG development projects, take the extra time and money to create a separate account under your company name or app’s title.
9. Video Previews
Video previews are proven to increase downloads and ratings.
Descriptions and screenshots don’t always get the job done. And users don’t always want to spend the time reading through a description.
This is where video previews come in. Customers are more likely to watch a video preview to learn about a product than read through a description.
Make sure you create video previews if you have high quality graphics and animations in your app.
Follow video formats from similar successful apps.
If you’re interested in creating your own video previews, check out my post that will walk you through making previews.
Did you catch it? Complete Guide and Walkthrought?
Ahmed is making tens of thousands of dollars a day and is a veteran developer. So why did this misspelling get through?
Misspelling words is a huge ASO strategy. Ahmed realized there are so many Walkthrough Guides published in the Store that it is unlikely they will show up in the search results. But by using common misspellings like Walkthrought, he hit gold!
Checkout Straply.com to find common misspellings you can capitalize on for your apps.
One of Bluecloud’s best success stories is straight up Gangman! Read more about the app and how it rocked Chartboost campaigns in Carter’s post Gangnam Style Insights, Chartboost Tips, CPI Trade-Offs.
11. Sharing is Caring
Alejandro is a master at promoting his apps through Social Networks. Download any of his apps and you’ll notice that when sharing he includes the name and download link of the app in the shared text.
Genius right? And incredibly easy to do.
Promote your apps on social media and enter links whenever possible.
12. Everything is Awesome!
Target trendy topics.
Arlie did a hell of a job marketing to the Lego Movie. She captured bright fun images in her first 2 screenshots that her audience would recognize right away.
When targeting trends, it is important to be first. A simple source code (like a wallpaper code) is your best bet for going after trends. They’re quick to develop, great for skinning and low risk.
Read more about making BIG money with skins in Carter’s post App Reskinning On Steroids.
13. Your Company Name is ASO
Imagine being a kid for a second. You probably don’t have tons of cash lying around, especially to spend on Star Wars apps. So what are you going to search for? Free Apps For Kids! And guess who pops up…
A lot of accounts in the past have used keyword stuffing in company titles. I advise against this. Keep your company names short but relevant to your products.
…and BTW, the same thing goes for the names of your in-app purchases.
14. Localize like a Boss
As you probably know there are a lot of Spanish speakers in the US. Toca Boca capitalized on this and used the Spanish word “toca” to capture Spanish speakers logged into the English App Store. The result has been Top Charts gold for Toca Boca.
Localize your apps. Start by getting 1 version approved, then localize the metadata and measure. If you’re still showing big revenue localize your app entirely.
Learn more about localization with The ASO Mastery Course that will guide you step-by-step through the entire ASP process and teach you exactly what you need to know. Learn more here.
15. Get Indexed with Brands
Notice how the developer used the grammar “for Instagram.” You see this type of wording all the time on the App Store with titles that end with “for Instagram, for Facebook, for Photoshop…”
This is a strategy a lot of developers use so they can get indexed along with a brand like Instagram while also protecting themselves from copyright and trademark violations.
Reviews are heavily measured and boost an app’s visibility.
Take the opportunity to creatively ask users to leave a review in the app. One trick apps are using is to code a unique review feature that sends negative reviews to a support email and positive reviews to the App Store. Checkout Tiny Town to get an idea of how this works.
Don’t pay for false reviews. Not only is it immoral, but its damaging your app. Accounts have been booted for falsified reviews, but it’s also not helping you improve your app.
Get your app to a point where it’s getting positive reviews, then ask for people to give their honest unbiased opinion. Finally, keep review campaigns consistent.
17. Long Tail Keywords
When you’re picking titles and keywords, try to maximize long tail keywords that users will search for.
What are long tail keywords?
Long Tail Keywords are specific phrases users search to find a product.
For Casino apps, you’re probably not going to index very well if someone searches “Poker.” There’s just too much competition.
But if you target phrases users may search for, you are going to show higher results.
- Texas Holdem Free Poker – Offline Heads Up
- Free Video Poker Games
- Jackpot Slots Machines Free With Bonuses
Pick titles and keywords that will rank well with low competition.
Get the keyword step-by-step walk through with The ASO Mastery Course. Learn the entire process for dominating ASO. Check it out here.
18. Change Categories
There is no easier way to experiment with ASO than to change categories. It takes less than 1 minute to do and has big results.
Who is to say a Loan Calculator app can’t go under Lifestyle, Business, or even Productivity?
Don’t forget to use Primary and Secondary categories.
Did you know that the Navigation Category only makes up less than 1.5% of the apps on the Apple Store? Read more here.
19. Add copy to screenshots
Hell ya! This game looks SWEET!
But not only are the graphics awesome, checkout the copy. Easy to read, instructive, and engaging.
“Can you escape alive?”
You bet I can!
Sometimes text can add a bit of a push for users to download. Use simple fonts, highlight key words, add banners… anything you can do to make it pop. Your text should be the FIRST thing the viewer sees.
Explain features that may be hard for the viewer to understand with a screenshot alone. Also make sure to market the biggest feature of your app.
Don’t say the same old thing => Share with your friends!
Make your text unique and engaging.
Read more about using colors to stimulate feelings in the blog post Mobile App Design Checklist.
20. Niche Themes
Yes! Thug life!
I saved the best for last.
A Niche App focuses on an area of the market specializing in a specific type of product or service. The theme should be particular and have low competition.
The idea is to not compete with the monster apps like and Flappy Bird. But to dominate a niche category of the App Store.
If you see a niche app killing it in the Market, try and share its success with the same ASO.
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Don’t beat yourself up. ASO is never perfect and no one has it completely figured out. There are data companies storing huge servers with information just so they can stay slightly ahead of the rest of us.
We have also compiled a set of ASO success stories. Although there are many out there, these are the best ones we found.
Your ASO should grow with your app. Constantly test new keywords and strategies. Try using symbols like dashes to connect words, create websites, name your In App Purchases with ASO in mind. There are dozens more strategies that can be used.
Get pumped. And kick ass today!
The biggest secret to successful ASO is to experiment.
Ask me about anything ASO related in the comments section.
Your post is a piece of art 😀
Awesome stuff! I have one question though; by experimenting with ASO, how often/long would be enough to change it and to collect the results? I mean, I guess that changing your keywords everyday you won’t even be able to calculate if that works or not. So, is there any magic recipe?
It should be noted for #18 that you must submit a new build in order to change categories. Apple doesn’t allow you to just “switch” categories.
Great question! When making major changes (title/keywords) give AT LEAST 2 weeks to measure. Sometimes longer as Apple may delay metadata to populate in the App Store.
The magic recipe is ==> to record your data (downloads+what info you’re changing), update app with new changes, wait at least 2 weeks, record new results.
A great way to get tons of data is through running small (and cheap) FB campaigns. Checkout Carter’s walkthrough here if you’re interested:
@Instaliker – good call. An app must be submitted for review when changing categories. But a new build is not always needed. Most often you can simply change categories and submit as ‘Submit Metadata.’
One of the best posts ever Carter! I struggle as I am new to the scene. Any suggestions for tools in helping with KW searches?
Thanks for the shout out Matt! Glad the post was of use. Check out the article below for some ASO tools and reviews:
I also strongly recommend Google Keyword Planner, Straply, Google Play Store,topappcharts.com… But the best resources are Sensor Tower and consistently checking the Top Charts on the App Store.
So Matt what do you mean you can get lots a data by running cheap FB campaigns? Do you use this to see changes faster inside your actual app or do you use FB campaigns for strictly analyzing ad campaign changes? Can you explain a bit about your comment? If I can get data faster about my app via FB ad campaigns I’m all for it! haha Please clarify what you meant though.
My last comment was for @ Mark.
Correct. You can use FB to see changes faster inside your actual app. FB also analyzes ad campaigns for you, so do platforms like Chartboost.
Check out Carter’s post Buying Facebook App Install Ads Like A Boss => http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/blog/buying-facebook-app-install-ads-like-a-boss/
Specifically take a look at – Soft Launches in Tier 1 and 2 Countries:
Let’s say you just spent a lot of money on your new app. You’ve got a lot of PR buzz and marketing that’s ready to rip when you say Go. Wouldn’t you want to get some intel on how the app was going to perform before doing your big launch (which typically happens in the US store)?Answer is yes, you would. Buying installs allows you to open your app in a country like New Zealand or Canada and buy a bunch of users quickly so that you can see how they use your app. You update, improve…THEN you launch in the USA and get everyone and their sister to tweet about you. Your app has a much better chance of catching on since you’ve cleared out a lot of the crap that gets people to uninstall.
@Mark Awesome! I will definitely add this to my launch routine. Thanks
@Mark So I can do this instead of creating a advertising campaign on chartboost to see how my app runs? Is that correct? Or am I taking about something unrelated?
@Connor – Tons of platforms offer CPC (Cost Per Click) or CPI (Cost Per Install) campaigns. Facebook and Chartboost are 2 that I like using. When you run an advertising campaign, it increases traffic => increases data.
Nice article Mark and i impress with your energetic post. Here a team name “appfillip” which worked hard and impressive for users. Before some time ago i hire this team for my app optimization and i glad to share with all that results are very good.