40 App Store SEO Tips to Boost App Downloads (2021 ASO Guide for iOS & Google Play Apps)

40 App Store SEO Tips to Boost App Downloads (2021 ASO Guide for iOS & Google Play Apps)

Do you want to boost your mobile app downloads for free? Read these 40 App Store SEO tips!

You’ve put in a lot of hard work to make a great mobile app, and published it in the app stores.


Now what?

It’s time to get people to download and use your app.

After all, if you don’t care about it, who will?

app store seo increase app downloads no one cares

To help you get started, I’ve put together a list of 40 App Store SEO tips to boost app downloads.

But wait, what is App Store SEO?

App Store Search Engine Optimization (App Store SEO)
App Store SEO is the process of optimizing mobile apps for the purpose of achieving a higher rank in the app store search results and top charts rankings. Due to its similarities to search engine optimization (SEO) for websites, App Store SEO is also referred to as App Store Optimization (ASO), App Search Optimization, and Mobile App SEO.

You may still be wondering:

“It sounds interesting, but does App Store SEO really work?”

From our case study,  App Store SEO helped boost app downloads by 1478% in less than a month!

app store optimization 10x growth

Free Bonus:

The best part?

You don’t need to spend a penny to do most of these tips!

Okay, let’s dive right in!

  1. App Name & Keywords
  2. App Name Format
  3. App Name Length
  4. App Subtitle
  5. App Description & Keywords
  6. App Description – The First Few Sentences
  7. App Description – The Expanded Description
  8. App Description Length
  9. App Promotional Text
  10. App Icon
  11. App Store Keywords – Getting Keyword Ideas
  12. App Store Keywords – Selecting Your Keywords
  13. App Store Keyword Optimization
  14. In-App Purchases
  15. App Screenshots
  16. App Preview Video
  17. App Store Ratings – The Impact
  18. App Store Ratings – Getting Five-Star Ratings
  19. App Store Ratings – Reply To Reviews
  20. App Store Ratings – One-Star Reviews
  21. App Localization Strategy
  22. App Localization – Best Countries For Your App
  23. App Localization – Top Countries By Revenue
  24. App Indexing – Spotlight Search
  25. App Indexing – Firebase Indexing
  26. App Conversion Rates – The Impact
  27. App Conversion Rates – Page View CR
  28. App Conversion Rates – Download CR
  29. App Size
  30. App Pricing – Free with In-App Purchases
  31. App Pricing – Free with Ads
  32. App Pricing – Paid Apps
  33. App Compatibility – iMessage
  34. App Compatibility – Apple Watch
  35. App Compatibility – Family Sharing
  36. App Compatibility – Game Center
  37. App Updates
  38. iOS App Store vs. Google Play
  39. Putting It All Together
  40. Here’s What To Do Next

Note: If you find the tips below useful, remember to get the summary checklist here.

App Name & Keywords

According to research by MobileDevHQ (now renamed Tune), using keywords in your title can result in up to a 10.3% boost in rankings.

app store seo keywords titleImage courtesy of MobileDevHQ via John Rampton on Forbes

Both Google and Apple’s search algorithms scan the app name for keywords when a user performs a keyword search in the app markets.

And both platforms give quite high priorities to apps with app names that contain the search input.

So it is a good idea to include a few keywords in your app name as an App Store SEO practice.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

To come up with the keywords, use these tools (they are free):

app store keyword optimization

But don’t stuff every keyword into your title or your app will look spammy. You need to find a good balance between keywords and branding. But how? Read on!


App Name Format

Keep the actual brand name short and sweet. You can then append this short brand name with a few keywords, typically preceded by a dash or a semicolon.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

App Name Format
Use the format “Brand Name – Keywords” or “Brand Name: Keywords” to include relevant keywords in your name.

Use this tool to analyze your app name and get the recommendations of best name format and length.

Here are some real examples:

app store seo increase app downloads google map
Google Maps – GPS Navigation

app store seo increase app downloads amazon icon
Amazon – Shopping made easy

app store seo increase app downloads ebay icon
eBay: Buy & Sell – Find Deals

app store seo increase app downloads pandora icon
Pandora – Free Music & Radio

app store seo increase app downloads weather channel icon
The Weather Channel: Forecast

It’s also important to use only URL-friendly characters in your title, particularly in the App Store. It is because Apple uses the app name to create your app URL. Also, avoid any special characters in your app name, like the trademark or copyright symbol. They will cause iTunes to refer to your app’s numeric ID to scan for relevant keywords instead of your app name.


App Name Length

iOS App Store: Apple limits the app name to a maximum of 30 characters in iOS 11. So you have to make good use of every character in your app name.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

Brand Name: Use 23 characters or less for optimal presentation on every device.

Total Length: To make the most of the 30 character limit, use more than 20 characters to include a few relevant app store keywords after your brand name.

Google Play Store: App name in Google Play Store is limited to 30 characters. Again, use a short and sweet brand name. If you also have an iOS version, use a consistent brand name, and use the remaining space to include a few app store keywords to boost your search exposure.


App Subtitle (introduced in iOS 11)

iOS App Store: This field is introduced in iOS 11 and available in the iOS App Store only.

app store optimization subtitle

App subtitle appears under your app name, and is limited to 30 characters only.

It is ideal to include some keywords in this field to communicate the value of your app. More importantly, the keywords in your subtitle will be indexed in app store search. So be sure to make good use of this precious field to cover some important keywords.


App Description & Keywords

iOS App Store: 

iOS App Store does not search for keywords in the app description, but that does not mean iOS developers can be lazy with it. Read the next sections below for more tips about App Description.

Google Play Store:

The Google Play Store provides you with a short description field (up to 80 characters) and a long description field (up to 4,000 characters) to describe your app.

More importantly, Google indexes words in both these two description fields to become your app store search keywords. By repeating your most important keywords up to 5 times in your description fields, you tell the Google Play algorithm that your app is most relevant to those keywords.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

There is a major difference in using keywords between the Google Play Store and Apple App Store:

In Play Store, you are encouraged to repeat important keywords throughout App Title and Description (Short and Long) up to 5 times. However, in App Store, repeating keywords in App Title, Subtitle and Keyword fields is considered a waste of precious keyword space.

That said, it’s important to incorporate keywords into the description in natural and sensible sentences. Use bulleted lists and paragraphs to make it easy-to-read.


App Description – The First Few Sentences

According to StoreMaven, only an average of 5% users will click the “read more” button below the short description on Google Play.

This number is further down to only 2% on Apple’s App Store.

So every character in the short description counts!

On mobile, you only have 252 characters for this short description.

app store seo increase app downloads app description

You don’t want to waste any space here. Make it concise and attention-grabbing. Avoid blank lines and interrupted sentences.

Tell users what makes your app unique and why they will love it. Focus on your app’s values, instead of features. And don’t forget to include a call-to-action text to get the users excited!


App Description – The Expanded Description

Highlight the features of your app here. Use spacing and bulleted lists to make it easy to read. If possible, also list out all the social proofs, awards, and honorable mentions your app has received. Don’t forget to include your app’s social media links too.

Also, Google Play Store allows rich formatting and emoji in your app description. Make good use of these to make your description organized and stand out from the crowd.

Communicate in the tone of your brand. Use terminology your target audience will appreciate and understand.


App Description Length

We analyzed the description length of the top 100 apps. Here are some findings:

  • 90% of top 100 apps use more than 589 characters
  • 90% of top 100 apps use less than 3385 characters.

Though app description length doesn’t have a very big impact compared to other factors, it is still a good idea to keep your length within this range.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

Benchmark with the Top 100 Apps
Do you want to know the latest statistics of description length? Just use this App Store SEO tool. The tool benchmarks your app with the top 100 apps and tells you how to improve.


App Promotional Text (introduced in iOS 11)

iOS App Store: This field is introduced in iOS 11 and available in the iOS App Store only.

Your app’s promotional text appears at the top of the description and is limited to 170 characters.

Though the promotional text is NOT indexed in the app store search, the good news is you can change this text anytime without releasing a new version.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

A/B Test on Promotional Text
You can use this promotional text to do A/B test of different messages quickly without doing a version update. Once you’ve found the message that gives you the best conversion rate, you can then turn the contents of the message into your app store keywords.


App Icon

A better icon can boost your downloads up to 560%!

To design a good icon, keep your design simple and eye-catchy. Do not cram the small space with many items or words. You want people to remember the icon after the first impression. Also, make sure your icon will still look good when it is scaled down to the smallest size required by App Store / Google Play.  It should also look good against light and dark background.

To get more design inspirations, browse the top-rated apps in your category and Apple/Google’s top picks. Also, make sure your icon is different from your competitor’s to avoid brand confusion. Contrasting colors, different shapes or adding a frame can also help.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

Branded vs Functional Icon
If your app has an established brand, use the logo to make your brand and your future products recognizable. If your app is a functional app, use one object to describe your app.

app store seo increase app downloads facebook iconBranded App Icon – facebook

app store seo increase app downloads whatsapp iconFunctional App Icon – Whatsapp Messager


App Store Keywords – Getting Keyword Ideas

To begin with, try and come up with at least 50 keywords. Here are some great ASO tools that help you with the app store keyword ideas. These tools will then give you many keyword ideas to consider. And they are all free!

app store keyword optimization

Remember that your keywords must be relevant to your app. Don’t be tempted to use a keyword just because it is popular, but not relevant to your app. You want your app to be found by users who will really download and enjoy your app.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips

Time-sensitive Keywords
Let’s illustrate the idea by an example: using “Rio” and its related keywords during the Olympics 2016 would greatly help the exposure of your sports apps. Your app would also have a better chance to get into the app store’s feature lists too.

Review Keywords
Did you know the words in your app user reviews are indexed by the app store search engine?

That is why review analysis is a very good way for getting app store keyword ideas. Your app reviews speak your users’ mind. And the words are highly related to how they would search for your app. Just by looking at your review keywords, you will be surprised to find out the keyword ideas that you have never thought of before.

There are some review analysis tools in the market. And this one uses Artificial Intelligence on your user reviews to find out what your users like and don’t like about your app.


App Store Keywords – Selecting Your Keywords

With your initial set of app store keywords, you have to pick a strategy on how to optimize the right keywords. There are some keyword research tools that help you with this app store keyword optimization process. These tools provide the popularities (or search traffic) as well as difficulties (or chances) of your app store keywords. In general, carefully select around 25 app store keywords for the next release of your app.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

App Store Keyword Optimization Strategy
For a new app, choose the app store keywords with low difficulty and reasonable popularity. They help your app gain the initial momentum. After gaining the initial momentum, start using app store keywords with higher popularity and reasonable difficulty. They help your app stack up more downloads. Work your way up gradually as your app gets more popular.

If you don’t know what difficulty and popularity you should use for your keywords, use this tool that makes the decision for you using AI.

Long-tail App Store Keywords
Use longer keyword phrases (aka long-tail keywords) to outrank the competition. For example, it is hard to outrank Zynga Poker by the competitive keyword “Poker” (high difficulty). But you have a better chance to outrank it by the keyword phrase “Poker Casino”. It is because “Poker Casino” is less competitive (lower difficulty).

5X Your App Store Keywords
You can multiply the character space to store your app store keywords using this trick. That means you can use up to 500 characters to store your keywords for getting a lot more app store search traffic!

Retiring Poor App Store Keywords
If you have already released your app with your target keywords, check your current app ranking of these keywords. Keep those keywords that your app ranks within top 10, and replace the rest with new keywords in your next release.


App Store Keyword Optimization

Now that you have chosen the keywords, you are ready to use them for your app.

app store seo increase app downloads keywords

For iOS developers: Fill in the keyword metadata with your selected app store keywords. This metadata decides how your app gets discovered. Follow the rules below and make every character counts!

  • Use all 100 characters
  • Separate every keyword by a comma
  • Avoid space, articles and prepositions
  • Use singular OR plural, the easier one to rank for
  • Don’t repeat keyword
  • Use numbers instead of spelled out words
  • No need to include the words in your company name, app name and app category names.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips: 

App Store Keyword Optimizer
You can use the App Store SEO Grader to optimize your app keyword metadata. The tool applies the above rules to your app keywords and tells you how to improve.

How To 5X Your iOS App Store Keywords
Do you want more keyword space for your iOS app? You can get up to 500 characters for your iOS app store keywords using this optimization tip. That is FIVE TIMES more!

For Android developers: Google Play doesn’t have the keyword metadata. Instead, Google pulls keywords from your description to be your app store keywords. Incorporate your keywords in the description in natural and sensible sentences. Note that keywords in the above-the-fold section (the first few lines) carries more weight than the rest of the description copy in Google’s ranking algorithm, so remember to put your main app store keywords in this section.


In-App Purchases

Both Apple and Google index the names of in-app purchases (IAP) in the app store search.

And in iOS 11, each IAP has its own display name, promotional image, and description. In-app purchases can also appear in search results and be featured on the Today, Games, and Apps tabs. You can display a maximum of 20 IAPs on your product page.

To maximize your search exposure, be creative and include some app store keywords in the names of your IAP items.


 App Screenshots

According to StoreMaven, 60% of users won’t swipe past your first two screenshot images. A better version of your first two screenshots can boost your conversions by 25%!

To make great screenshots, make sure each screenshot is telling a single message about your app. Show your strongest messages in the first two screenshots. The best apps use all five screenshot slots to impress their users, and you should do the same.

Adding short caption texts on your screenshots can help, but make sure they are on a clean background. And try to create a positive impression in the viewers’ mind at all times.

Avoid login, registrations, purchase forms, ads and even “Welcome” screen in your screenshots. Make the best use of the screenshots to tell your users why they should love your app.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

Vertical Screenshots
Keep the screenshots vertical. The users can see more screenshots on the narrow screens when the screenshots are vertical.

app store seo increase app downloads clash of clans 1 app store seo increase app downloads clash of clans 2
Vertical screenshots of Clash of Clans

app store seo increase app downloads uber1 app store seo increase app downloads uber2
Vertical screenshots of Uber

App Screenshot Checker
To optimize your app screenshots, use this tool checks your screenshots’ dimensions, count, orientations, and their compatibility with various iOS devices, and tells you how to improve.


App Preview Video

Making a video may be difficult but it can boost install rates by more than 23% according to StoreMaven. Don’t forget to use a good poster frame (iOS) / feature graphic (Google Play).  This graphic has a big impact to whether your visitors would watch your video.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

App Marketing Video

Here are some of the essential elements of an effective app marketing video. They are recommended by Apptamin, a company well-known for its app videos and trailers:

  • Use the first 5 seconds to grab the viewer’s attention
  • Focus on the best features, instead of all features
  • Your video should make sense even with the sound turned off
  • Include a call-to-action

Remember, 80% of users don’t watch past first 12 seconds of the video. Do make sure you keep it short and to the point. Avoid any fade-in and “welcome” type of message at the beginning of your video.

iOS 11 notes:

In the search result page of iOS 11, up to three App Preview videos and/or screenshots can appear, rather than just two as in iOS 10. Videos will always be displayed before screenshots and the first video will now play automatically, but the sound will be muted by default.

app store optimization ios 11 search results


App Store Ratings – The Impact 

Ratings and reviews have a great impact on your app downloads. You need an average rating of 4-stars or above. Or else only less than 50% users are willing to download your app.

Check out this infographic for more details:

app rating infographic

App Store SEO / ASO Tips

User Review Sentiment
Use this tool to get a user sentiment analysis of your app. It applies artificial intelligence on your user reviews to find out what your users like and don’t like about your app.


App Store Ratings – Getting Five-Star Ratings

How can you get more five-star ratings for your app?

Delay asking for a rating until there’s a likely moment of constructive feedback. For instance, ask when the user completed a reservation, finished a mission in a game, etc. When the time comes, ask nicely, and don’t beg.

What does that mean? Circa News app is a perfect example. It got 90% five-star ratings for every major version. Here is a flowchart of how it asks users if they would like to provide feedback:

app store seo Service - Cicra News feedback flowchart
Image courtesy of Circa News

The key is to encourage satisfied users to leave positive reviews and deflect negative reviews by using a “send feedback” option.

For iOS Developers:

Since the released of iOS 10.3, you can only ask a user for an app rating three times per year.

To make the most of these scarce rating opportunities, you should first identify your app lovers, and then ask them for ratings at the right time.

You may be wondering:

“How can I identify who are my app lovers?”

You can do so by some simple surveys or dialogs.

For example, you can ask this famous “Net Promoter” question on a 10-point scale:

“How likely is it that you would recommend our app to a friend or colleague?”

aso tips nps survey

Those who respond with a score of 9 to 10 are your “Promoters”, or app lovers.

aso tips nps

And they are likely to give you 4 to 5-star ratings when you later ask them for app ratings at the right time.

To do this, you can either develop your own version of rating and feedback flow or simply use the tools like Apptentive.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips

The Right Paths To A Review
Direct only positive reviews to App Store, and negative reviews to support.

But what if I already have many bad reviews?

Luckily in iOS 11, you can decide when to reset the average ratings and start over with a clean slate.

In iOS 10 or before, you can use these tips about how to sweep bad reviews under the rug. He also tells you how to give a positive first impression about your app by making good use of the five-star reviews.


App Store Ratings – Reply To Reviews

Remember to reply the app reviews and feedback! Only the ones who care about your app will spend the time to leave a comment. Show them you care about them as well! This is a great way to let the visitors know that the developer is active too.

For Google Play, there is a “Reply to a review” option in Developer Console for you to do just that.

app store seo increase app downloads reply review

For Apple App Store, you can also do this since iOS 10.3 release in March 2017.

On iTunes Connect, go to ‘My Apps > Choose your app > Activity > Ratings and Reviews’.

There you can see the “Reply” option in each of the reviews.

app store optimization reply to review

App Store SEO / ASO Tips

How to Reply to Reviews

Try to reply to all feedback immediately following a major release of your app.

If you can’t respond to every review, try prioritizing reviews with the lowest star ratings or those mentioning technical issues with the most current version of your app.

When you release an app update that fixes issues users mentioned in older reviews, consider replying to the relevant reviews to let them know that your update addressed their concerns.

Once a user indicates that your response answered their question or fixed their technical issue, consider asking them to update their rating and review.

You can also foster deeper engagement by asking users for feedback on future app updates as part of your reply.


App Store Ratings – One-Star Reviews

One-star reviews are your friends. Read them all. Try to understand why the users complained your app, and think about what you need to do to turn them into five-star reviews. This thought process helps you improve your app from the user perspective. Also, fix all serious bugs, crashes and performance issues.

app store seo increase app downloads 1 star ratings

In the end getting more and better app reviews comes down to creating a great app users love. Listen, improve your apps and repeat until you are topping the app store ratings.


App Localization Strategy

App localization gives you a larger audience to download your mobile app. But localizing the whole app to many languages can be a daunting task.

Before doing a full localization of your whole app, consider localizing your app listing first. It means translating your app name, keywords, screenshots, etc.

David Janner of MAKE APP Magazine conducted a localization experiment. In his experiment, he only localized the app name, the keywords, and sometimes the top line in the app description. After this simple localization, his app received a massive 767% boost in downloads. Before localization, the downloads were mainly from within the US. After localization, his downloads looked like this:

ASO App Store Optimization Keyword Localization Keyword Translation
Image courtesy of MAKE APP Magazine

According to OneSky, only 31% of the world’s total app revenue came from the U.S., while 41% came from Asia, and 23% came from Europe. In particular, China has already surpassed the U.S. by both iOS app download and revenue. If your app only has an English version for the U.S. market, you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

App Localization Strategy
Localize your app listing first to see how well your app performs in different countries. You can then decide if you should perform full localization of the whole app for the best performing countries.

Icon and Screenshot Localization
Different countries have distinct preference of icon colors, screenshot layouts and annotations. Check out these posts about icon colors and screenshot localization for more insights.


App Localization – Best Countries For Your App

Now you know the strategy, but which countries should you start first?

If your app is already available in more than one country, you can use app analytics to find out the top countries by your app downloads. Check the official languages of the top five countries, and localize your app listing if you haven’t done so.

Depending on your priority, you can also do the same using top countries by revenue, ARPU, conversion rate, active devices or retention.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

Predict Your Next Successful Markets
This tool predicts where your next successful markets are based on ARPU (Average Revenue Per User), Conversion Rates, and more. With this information, you can proactively localize your app to grasp the market opportunities.


App Localization – Top Countries By Revenue

Another approach is to localize your app listing for the top countries by downloads and/or revenue in the world.  According to App Annie, here are the top countries in Q3 2016.

app store seo top countries

Again, check the official languages of the top countries, and localize your app listing if you haven’t done so.


App Indexing – Spotlight Search

aso ios spotlight searchFor iOS App Developers:

Apple’s Spotlight Search allows users to search for their iOS apps installed on their device. This feature helps app developers engage existing users more frequently.

For iOS app developers, enable Core Spotlight and NSUserActivity for your app. They improve your user engagement, which in turn improves your iOS app store search ranking.

In fact, 35% of top 20,000 apps on the iOS App Store have Spotlight search enabled. What are you waiting for?


App Indexing – Firebase Indexing

aso google firebase

For both iOS & Android App Developers:

Google’s Firebase App Indexing allows users to search the dynamic content in your app, and it works for both Android and iOS devices.

Firebase App Indexing not only helps improve your user engagement, it is also a user acquisition opportunity. It is because it allows users to search for your app contents no matter your app is installed or not.

If you have a content-rich app, you should enable Firebase App Indexing to make to most of these opportunities. See the official documentation here.


App Conversion Rates – The Impact

First, what is conversion rates (CR)?

Let’s use the analytics from Apple App Store to illustrate the concept.

In Apple iTunes Connect’s App Analytics, you can find the followings:

  • Impressions (the number of times your app showed up in the App Store)
  • Product Page Views (the number of visits on your app’s page in the App Store)
  • and App Units (the number of downloads)

With these data, you can easily calculate two CRs:

  • Page View CR = Product Page Views / Impressions x 100%
  • Download CR = App Units / Product Page Views x 100%

To put things into perspective,

  • The page view CR is the percentage of people who see your app from search results, rank lists, or featured app lists, and then tap the icon to check out your app.
  • The download CR is the percentage of people who visit your app page and then download your app.

These two CRs can be presented along with impressions, product page views, and app units in a diagram called Conversion Funnel in-app marketing.

app store optimization conversion funnel

Why is conversion rate such a big deal?

There are mainly three reasons.

1. CR is a strong quantitative indicator of App Store SEO effectiveness

Keyword ranking and number of downloads are not the best metrics to measure the performance of App Store SEO. There are many external factors that can influence those two metrics. For example, a big competing publisher may publish a hugely popular app and shift the apps in the keyword ranking by a margin (e.g. The impact of Pokemon Go and related apps on the keyword “Pokemon” and “Go”). Or you run App Store SEO and an advertisement campaign at the same time and the number of the downloads become not purely organic.

On the other hand, CRs are independent of market competition nor the source of traffic. They give you the true picture of App Store SEO effectiveness.

2. CR reflects the likelihood of getting ranked

CR is a natural ranking signal in app store search. If lots of people search certain keywords, click on the same search result, and download the same app, Google Play and the App Store should receive a strong message:

“Users want to see this app!”

and place the app in a dominant spot (i.e. rank or featured list).

3. CR saves you money!

It’s just simple math: if you double your CR, you cut your advertising cost by half for the same amount of downloads. For the same reason, if you haven’t optimized your CR, don’t spend big bucks on advertising campaigns! You would be wasting your money.

Just a side story: some ranking manipulation farms even go far and take advantage of this. They offer keyword-rank-manipulation service. They boost the ranking of an app by “searching” the app by specific keywords, tapping the app in the search results and download the app — the exact flow of conversion funnel.


App Conversion Rates – Page View CR

Now you know the importance of conversion rate, let’s see how we can improve them.

Let’s do a recap:

Page View CR = Product Page Views / Impressions x 100%

If Page View CR is less than 3%, you should try to improve it.

3%? Really? Yes, 3% sounds very low, but you won’t believe many apps have less than 1% we have seen!

To improve Page View CR, focus on optimizing these metadata:

  • App name
  • App subtitle (iOS only)
  • App icon
  • First 3 lines of app description
  • First 3 screenshots (or app preview video)
  • App ratings

It is because the app search result only shows these pieces of information. That means they are your baits to bring users to your app page. So make good use of them!


App Conversion Rates – Download CR

Now, let’s look at Download CR:

Download CR = App Units / Product Page Views x 100%

Folks from SplitMetrics have done a wonderful job on this topic. They gathered the download conversion rates from hundreds of experiments with over 10,000,000 users. Here are the best conversion rates in each app category in their study:

app store optimization conversion rateBased on this graph, you should set your download CR target to at least 60% for most categories. For Health & Fitness and Education categories, you may set your target a bit lower to around 40% and 50% respectively.

If your download CR is lower than the target benchmark, you should follow all tips in this article to improve this metric.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

Benchmark Your Conversion Rate
Use this tool to benchmark your app’s conversion rate (CR). It compares your download CR with your app category’s median and best CR, and tells you what you should do.


App Size

Try to make your app smaller than 200MB for iOS app, or 100MB for Google Play app. It is because users cannot download apps that are bigger than these sizes using cellular service.

So for example, if a user on a bus or a train can’t download “now”, it is unlikely the user will write down the name and try again X hours later when they’re home.

Need some proof? This post from appfigures shows that ~98% of the top 100 free and ~62% of paid iOS and Android games are under 100MB.

Do you think 200MB is not enough for your app? Take a look at Clash of Clans. Its iOS version is just 85.3 MB.

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

Make Your App Smaller
To reduce the app size, consider compressing some of the graphical assets or make some of the contents downloadable after install.

Compare with the Top 100 Apps
Do you want to know how your app size compares to that of the top 100 apps? Use this tool to see whether your app size falls in the reasonable app size range of the top 100 apps.

App Pricing – Free with In-App Purchases

Making your app free can remove the friction for users to download your app. After all, what price is better than free?

If you want to make money from your free app, consider In-App Purchase (IAP) pricing model if that makes sense to your app design. IAP account for 79% of app store revenue.

app store seo increase app downloads iap

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

New to In-App Purchase (IAP)?
Check out this Do’s and Don’ts IAP Checklist. It can jump start your IAP design.

Need In-App Purchase (IAP) Ideas?
Here is a wonderful list of 40 IAP ideas for you to consider.


App Pricing – Free with Ads

If you choose to make in-app advertising revenue, try to use native ads. They are created to fit the exact context of the app they appear on. This way, they serve as extra content for the app itself rather than a piece of promotional materials. Check out this post to see more reasons why native ads are better than traditional banner ads.


App Pricing – Paid Apps

Use a reasonable price by comparing your app price with your competing apps. Also, take reference of the price range of the top apps in your app categories.

A good starting price point to test the market is $0.99 or $1.99. Anything above $2.99 won’t make you a lot of money. The exception is Minecraft Pocket Edition, which is priced at $6.99.

App Compatibility – iMessage

For iOS apps, supporting iMessage App helps your app grow viral through the user’s phone contacts. You can also gain extra exposure in the App Store for iMessage.

app store seo increase app downloads imessage

Need ideas of how to use iMessage for your app? Check out how these 10 apps make use of iMessage integration for more ideas.


App Compatibility – Apple Watch

For iOS apps, supporting Apple Watch improves your app’s customer experience and user loyalty.

But don’t just copy your original app features directly to your Apple Watch app. Make good use of the Apple Watch characteristics to improve your user experience. Need inspirations? Check out these 50 best Apple Watch apps.


App Compatibility – Family Sharing

For iOS apps, Apple offers the Family Sharing opt-in for app developers. Family Sharing allows up to six family members to share app purchases on the same credit card across devices and parents to supervise their children purchases. Supporting Family Sharing means you can reach more family members and improves user loyalty.

Apple also clarifies that in-app purchases are not transferable through Family Sharing. It means Family Sharing gives higher revenue potential for apps with in-app purchases.


App Compatibility – Game Center

Though Game Center app is removed since iOS 10, the Game Center service is still available. If you have an iOS game, you can make use of these Game Center features:

  • Leaderboard
  • Achievements
  • Challenges
  • Saving Games
  • Matchmaking for multiplayer games

These features improve your game’s virality and user retention in many ways.


App Updates

Statistics show that there is a high correlation between high ratings and app update frequency. In fact, releasing regular updates has many benefits. It improves user loyalty and keeps an app top of mind because your app will show up in the updates list in the app stores. Apple and Google also like to see app updates because they show you’re committed to the app and that it’s still being maintained.

How often should you update your app?  Check out this chart first:

app version update frequency chart

For these 25 top iOS apps, the average was about 30 days between updates. I’d recommend at least an update a month, and up to once a week.

Don’t forget to use push notifications to alert users to new app updates. They have a big impact on your update downloads. Ideally, you should only send notifications to the users who haven’t downloaded your latest version. In case you can’t distinguish who have and who haven’t, you should word your message carefully to avoid the confusion.

For examples,

Hey! Have you checked for updates in the App Store recently?
Updates! Are all your apps up to date? Check the Updates button in the App Store.

Of course, you shouldn’t do an update just for the sake of doing an update. Your updates should always improve your app in some ways, either by bug fixings or enhancements.


iOS App Store vs. Google Play

If you wonder what are the differences between iOS App Store and Google Play on App Store SEO, here is a great summary:

app store seo apple vs google


Putting It All Together

Here is a cool infographic produced by Y Media Labs. It sums up the most important points about App Store SEO.

app store seo strategies increase visibility

App Store SEO / ASO Tips:

Do you want to learn more about app marketing strategies?
Check out The Essential List of 35 App Promotion & Marketing Strategies. It covers many app marketing topics such as PR, brand building, and marketing through social media, community, and other online channels.

After you have published the changes, keep an eye on the keyword rankings. The rankings change right after you published the new version. Target to make your app rank within top 10 of all keywords. If your new keywords are too hard to rank, you might have to replace them with your old keywords.

Review your App Store SEO every three weeks or four because that is when big trends of app ranking change. Don’t give up if the results of first few optimizations are not turning out well. App marketing takes time and App Store SEO needs many observations to master.

Good luck in your journey!

Here’s What To Do Next…


You’ve read to the end of this mega post (6,000+ words).

Give yourself a BIG hand!

Now it’s time to apply what you’ve learned.

app store seo checklist

The first step?

Click here to get a free summary checklist of all app store optimization tips in this post, and apply them to your app.

The checklist also includes 2 bonus strategies and additional details that I didn’t have room to include in this post.

app store optimization checklist
[Get the ASO Checklist]


  1. 10 Killer App Store Marketing Tips. StoreMaven
  2. 13 steps to perfecting your app store optimization. Moburst
  3. 14 Compelling Statistics About the Importance of Localization. OneSky
  4. 25 Top iOS Apps And Their Version Update Frequencies. Sensor Tower
  5. 3 Reasons Why You Should Launch Your Mobile App & Game In China Now. Meatti
  6. 40 Secrets to Making Money with In-App Purchases. Ray Wenderlich
  7. 7 Ways to Find New Keyword Idea. Smart App Marketer
  8. A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the iOS App Store Icon Colors. TranslateLab
  9. App Marketing Tools For Developers. Apptamin
  10. App Store Optimization – 11 Strategies To Make Your App Visible. Y Media Labs
  11. App Store Optimization – A Crucial Piece of the Mobile App Marketing Puzzle. Kissmetrics
  12. Are Smaller Mobile Games More Successful? appfigures
  13. Google discloses how search for Google Play works for the first time. SocialTimes
  14. Have an App? The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing It Free. Neil Patel
  15. How many downloads per day does one need to be a Top 10 Free iPhone app? Quora
  16. How Often Should I Update My App? Businesses Should Consider The Benefits Of Frequent App Updates. Business Insider
  17. How to Market Your Small Business Mobile App. Bizness Apps
  18. How to Gain Visibility Using ASO. Ryan Clutter on SEJ
  19. How to Select Name for Your Mobile Application. AppsDevPro
  20. I Found a Way to Interact with App Store Reviewers. Paul Mayne, Day One
  21. Increasing The Number Of Keywords In App Store Optimization By Localization. Moritz Daan on Mobile Growth Stack
  22. iPhone App Localization: 7x More Downloads By Localizing App Keywords. MAKE APP Magazine
  23. More Than 25% of Top iOS Apps Will Soon Need to Change Their Names. Sensor Tower
  24. Native Ads vs Banner Ads. Sharethrough
  25. Q3 2016 Index: China Hits an iOS App Store Milestone. App Annie
  26. Optimize Your Google Play Store App Details Page. Apptamin
  27. Quit my full time corporate job. Built an iOS game. It became #1 in the App Store. Reddit
  28. Ratings Prompts. Apptentive
  29. Screenshot Localization: Lessons Learned From Analyzing 1,127 Screenshots in 5 Different Markets. TranslateLab
  30. Search Ads – App Store – Apple Developer. Apple
  31. The App Store Optimization Checklist: Top 10 Tips. Apptentive
  32. The Beginner’s Guide to App Store Optimization. John Rampton on Forbes
  33. The best Apple Watch apps: 50 essential apps and games. Wareable
  34. The Essential List of 35 App Promotion & Marketing Strategies. AppInstitute
  35. The In-app Purchase Checklist. Appbot
  36. The One Secret To Effective App Store Optimization. Meatti
  37. The Ultimate Guide to App Store Optimization. BuildFire
  38. The Ultimate Guide To App Store Optimization For Localized Apps. PhraseApp
  39. The Ultimate Guide To App Store Optimization In 2015. AppFreak
  40. Try out Apple’s new third-party iMessage integration in iOS 10 with these apps. appleinsider
  41. What’s a Good App Store Page Conversion Rate? SplitMetrics
  42. Winning Mobile: First, You Have To Win App Store And Google Play Search. John Koetsier on Forbes
  43. Your Guide to App Store Optimization [Infographic]. Optimizely

113 thoughts on “40 App Store SEO Tips to Boost App Downloads (2021 ASO Guide for iOS & Google Play Apps)

  1. Very helpful post about seo tips for downloading apps…you cover so many great points here..thanks for sharing valuable content for every readers..

  2. The most comprehensive and insightful post about the topic that I’ve read to date. Great work! Thanks a lot for taking the time to put all these ideas together, Marcus!

  3. Most of the process are as same as website optimisation, from keywords, description, user experience, rating and so on.

  4. Hi Marcus!
    Great article, thanks for sharing! Love your point about localization.
    As I have been pushing for fresh research on how to increase App download rates with localization services, I would like to add a few more statements.
    First of all, it is very important to localize keywords. I would like to underline again – to localize, not to translate. If you translate the keywords, that means, that you do not use the keywords that the target audience uses while searching the web in their own language. Word for word translation or dictionary translation doesn’t work here. To boost downloads, you should be visitble. And visibility is possible with the relevant keywords in the target language.

    The second point is to organize customer support in the language that the users speak. It is quite easy, you can find a freelance translator and agree on some fixed fees.

    The third point is to localize email marketing.

    And the fourth one is to localize social media.

    Of course, it might require some investments. But fortunately there are still good options. Find freelancers, make an agreement on a monthly basis, or use translators from fiverr.

  5. A question:
    According to the article, “App Units” are defined as “the number of downloads”, but in iTunes connect itself, it’s defined as “Each app purchase on a device”. So, instead of Download CR = “App Units / App Page Views x 100%”, wouldn’t it be “Installations / Product Page Views x 100%”?

    Basically, I’m making the case for meshing the terminology in the article with that of iTunes connect. Or am I missing something?

    1. Hey Gabriel, that’s a good question!

      Many app analytics tools, including Meatti, use the metric App Units instead of Installations for analysis.

      It is because Installations is a user opt-in metric in iTunes Connect. Because of the opt-in nature, the value of Installations is inaccurately low for most apps.

      Also, thanks for pointing out that page view should be called Product Page Views instead of App Page View. I’ve corrected it. Thanks!

  6. Wow!! It’s a really great post.. All most important tips are cover here and thanks for sharing,it’s really helpful post and easily represent here, all beginner easily learn it and follow all the steps..

  7. Wow, so great and useful! Thanks for your sharing. The ultimate goal of developers is to get app downloads. Hoping these methods can help them a lot.

  8. That’s a huge list, Marcus. Will definitely try to implement these. I have a question; does app update frequency affect the ranking?

  9. Wonderful article! We should apply good tips for app store optimization such that we can be successful in this competition.

  10. Thank you for informative article. Yes developing an app is a tough job but it’s appearence on stores also plays an important role to get download, It’s appearence should be unique and attractive with informative.

  11. Thanks for such a resourced & information based article. Bit different article than the others. And full of information. Thanks for the share!

  12. Hello Marcus,
    I like your post really. The points you have mentioned are familiar to all of us but the mistake we all usually do is that not paying required attention to all these and wander in the search for something that provides overnight results. But in my opinion, if mention points in the article taken seriously into consideration then can also make huge and good results.

  13. Limit of 30 characters for an app name.

    App name you show: “eBay: Buy, Sell, Save! Electronics, Fashion & More”

    How does that even work?

    1. Hello Mark, thanks for pointing out!

      They’ve changed the app name to “eBay: Buy & Sell – Find Deals” after iOS 11 imposed the 30-character limit.

      I’ve corrected their name in my examples now 🙂

  14. Thanks for sharing the full guide for App Store Optimization. I also bookmark this blog. So I think in future, whenever you update the blog. I easily get new updates about ASO techniques.
    Please keep sharing!

  15. Thanks for your tips about the matter and I am really happy to hear that this post very useful for SEO professionals. I am sure people will enjoy your post and tips effectively.

  16. Good article. I think one of the important points to understand also is that reviews have a freshness period. also in the same way with downloads. So in theory an app that has a healthy grow can outrank an old app with tons of downloads and a tons of reviews… is not about the number is also about the freshness and relevance.

  17. Marcus, thank you for the informative article!
    You’ve pointed out great pieces of advice to boost app downloads. I believe app developers tend to make common mistakes when trying to attract users. It will help me to avoid some of the more common issues.

  18. Great post, so informative and helpful! Thanks for sharing the full guide for App Store Optimization. I also bookmark this blog. So I think in future, whenever you update the blog. I easily get new updates about ASO techniques.

  19. That is really interesting information you share there Marcus! There are lots of application at the app store to grab onto, I would recommend this one for the apple users who’re with wild ideas to turn it to some game or apps.

  20. Great article. One suggested revision and a question:

    “Users cannot download apps that are more than 100 MB using cellular service…” (Now it’s 150 MB)

    “Avoid any special characters in your app name. They will cause iTunes to refer to your app’s numeric ID to scan for relevant keywords instead of your app name.” (What about ampersand? Will having “&” in app name also cause this problem?)

    1. Hi Dave,

      Thanks for pointing out the changes of size limit. I’ve corrected it.

      For ampersand, there are a lot of apps with ampersand in their name without problems, so it should be safe.

  21. Hello Marcus

    Quick question, if I have an app which is using English UK language for two countries, Can the app description be customised to read differently in both countries.


    for UK iOS App Store user (language in English UK) the description has word GB in its description

    For India iOS App Store (language is English UK) I would like the description to have word Indian (to replace GB) when user sees the app in Indian iOS App Store

    Is this possible to be done?

  22. Thanks a lot, for the great App Store SEO techniques. I have gone through various stories related to SEO but your one is quite different and interesting. The ultimate goal of developers is to get app downloads. Hoping these methods can help us a lot. So I Thank you again for sharing such great article. Keep Writing.

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  24. really interesting!
    you wrote this article very beautifully with the graphical representation and pictures which make sense to read this article carefully
    and yes it is really helpful..app optimization is really interesting topic to focus and to get more traffic for our business to thank you so much for this beautiful article

  25. I learned a lot in this blog and I thought I would continue to follow it, thank you very much for sharing this blog

  26. I am really happy to say it’s an interesting post to read . I learn new information from your article , you are doing a great job . Keep it up

  27. Hi Marcus,

    Great information with complete explanation for mobile SEO. I learnt so many new thing from this article and I salute your article writing skill.


  28. I really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. I assure this would be beneficial for most of the people.

  29. You have provided amazing tips and tricks that will definitely help one to increase app downloads. Your detailed explanation was amazing, keep posting.

  30. wow. 6k words. I didn’t got bored. These tips are really helpful. I will use most of them to improve my app rankings.

    Thanks, Marcus.

  31. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It
    truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something
    back and aid others like you helped me.

  32. For app business purpose it is very important to do the SEO. If someone in the home can prepare the app for business for them it is the best option because their are no more option to marketing and advertise the app. Therefore we can say that this is the best option.

  33. I am speechless! I have read many articles regarding ASO but among all those this is a unique and very detailed blog. Each and every point is accurate and helpful to consider while optimizing apps store. For the search and discovery of mobile apps over the years, ASO is the mandatory technique. You have done a great job here. Thanks for sharing. In addition, I would like to reshare this post.

  34. In this current world, only website SEO is not enough if you have an application and also it’s website. You have to do your application SEO in the app store like the iPhone app store or Android play store. If you’re doing this, it’s great but if you didn’t then must do otherwise your app didn’t get any recognition.

  35. Both Google and Apple’s search algorithms scan the app name for keywords when a user performs a keyword search in the app markets. And both platforms give quite high priorities to apps with app names that contain the search input.

  36. For app business purpose it is very important to do the SEO. If someone in the home can prepare the app for business for them it is the best option because there is no more options to marketing and advertise the app. Therefore we can say that this is the best option.

  37. Really an interesting blog I have gone through. There are excellent details you posted here on how to increase app downloads.

  38. This was a really detailed article.

    Even people who are new to app store SEO will be able to follow along step by step, which I think is pretty swell.

  39. I loved this post! I read your blog fairly often and you are always coming out with some great stuff.
    I will shares this on my facebook, instagram and some of my loyalty followers. Great jobs! Keep work it with it.

  40. A/c to a study, there are almost 60-70% searches done through voice search which means the most no. of traffic is from mobile. Now, this important piece of data cannot be overlooked rather should be used to cater more visitors and create websites in mobile-first manner and with mobile seo approach.

  41. Having read this I believed it was very informative.

    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worth it!

  42. Really helpful tips You shared with all ASO App Store optimization is a needful and useful for all Apps to grow on Market

  43. App store optimization (ASO) has been slightly unnoticed of late with the development of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence AI, Google’s mobile-first index progression, and other obvious industry vicissitudes commanding the attention of every marketer.
    Whether you are fresh to app store optimization, or intense to refine your approach to ASO, this writes up will provide some applied visions which are proven to get the most out of app store success.

  44. Great Article and almost everything that I am looking as a digital marketing consultant. The strategies shared here are really good and I will use them in near future and will come back to get new tactics. Thanks once again.

  45. Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post!
    It is the little changes that make the most significant changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

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