Debunking the top 5 App Store Optimization myths 

Igor Blinov is an experienced ASO strategist. He is currently ASO Director at Yodel Mobile, an App Growth Marketing Agency and ASO Agency of the Year. He has been working in the industry for over five years, and has a wide perspective on the field. His background in app development has shaped his approach towards app growth and ASO and he has led multiple award-winning ASO strategies for notable app businesses such as B&Q, Afterpay and Gymshark. Here he debunks five common myths around App Store Optimization.

The global app ecosystem is on an upward trajectory, with projections indicating a monumental $755.50bn (£595bn) valuation by 2027. Central to this growth, and the success of countless apps, is leveraging App Store Optimization (ASO) effectively as a growth lever. In the recent years, ASO has transcended its status as a mere trend. Its now an indispensable tool in the arsenal of any serious app developer or marketer.  

As the app market continues its rapid evolution, those who delve deeper into the opportunities offered by a multi-faceted ASO strategy are the ones who truly thrive, setting their apps apart in a saturated landscape. This requires a holistic strategy, from data-led keyword optimisation tactics to innovative A/B testing roadmaps. 

However, the path to mastering ASO isnt without its pitfalls. Misguided beliefs such as “ASO is just about keywords” or “A good app will naturally rise to the top,” can derail even the most promising of apps. In this post, we’ll debunk five ASO myths and misconceptions that may be harming your ASO efforts, and instead leave you with key tips to grow your organic app store presence.  

Myth 1: “Regularly changing my app title is the best way to rank high for keywords”  
Theres a common belief that frequently updating an apps title will skyrocket its rankings on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. While integrating the right keywords can enhance rankings, its not about keyword stuffing or constantly interchanging keywords in the title for every app update. Overdoing it might actually negatively impact your apps keyword-based conversion rates in both Apples and Googles algorithms. This is an essential hidden conversion metric that supports you ranking favourably by the app stores algorithms. 

The real art lies in achieving balance. Your apps title should seamlessly blend brand identity with carefully chosen keywords for a long-term strategy. If youre constantly changing the title or overloading it with keywords, you risk undermining your apps credibility and visibility. 

Afterpay’s iOS App Store listing

Consider these successful app title examples from the stores:

  • “Afterpay: Shop now. Pay later” – A blend of brand name and key features.
  • “Headspace: Meditation & Sleep” – The brand followed by its primary offerings.
  • “B&Q | DIY Home & Garden Tools” – Brand identity combined with popular products.

These titles are concise, incorporate the brand, and highlight the apps core features. The main triggers to alter these titles could be due to seasonality or trends (incorporating new product names into the B&Q title for example). Otherwise, leave your title alone! Instead focus on the subtitle and backend keywords on iOS, and the short and long descriptions on Android, which are less important for brand identity and conversion to install. 

Angry Birds iOS App Store and Google Play Store listing

Myth 2: “I can just copy over my ASO iOS strategy to Android”
While ASO strategies may share certain similarities across app stores, a uniform approach to ASO is unlikely to yield optimal results.  

Each platform possesses unique features and ranking algorithms.  

Here are key differences between the Apple App Store and Google Play Store: 

App Title: 

  • iOS App Store: Prioritise a concise title that focuses on brand and utility. Avoid low-value terms like “app” or “free” since Apples algorithm already factors these in when relevant and it won’t support your optimisation efforts.
  • Google Play Store: While your brand name is crucial, integrating descriptive keywords will boost visibility. But be wary of terms that suggest store performance or ranking – they might not sit well with Googles metadata guidelines and your app update may be rejected.

App description: 

  • iOS App Store: You have a 4,000-character limit for your description, and keywords are tucked away in a separate, invisible field. Promotional text keywords? Apple doesnt index those.
  • Google Play Store: Your full description has a tighter 4,000-character limit but plays a pivotal role in visibility. Think of your long description as an SEO-optimised blog post – its that crucial for keyword ranking. 

App screenshots: 

  • iOS App Store: Your apps first impression often hinges on screenshots and icons. Ensure your screenshots are device-adapted, and we all know Apple love an aesthetically pleasing App Store front, so try your best to appeal here (and who knows, maybe they’ll even feature you!)
  • Google Play Store: The app icon is the only graphic asset appearing in search results for generic keyword searches. Icons should be unique and descriptive. Screenshots for Android apps only appear in search results for branded searches.

App preview videos: 

  • iOS App Store: Apple likes its promo videos short and sweet, focusing purely on the in-app experience. Keep it between 15-30 seconds with content showing the in-app UI in the form of a screen-recording.
  • Google Play Store: While you can be a tad more promotional here, its wise to keep videos concise (30-40 seconds) and centred on user experience or gameplay.

Myth 3: “I don’t need ASO because no one searches for [insert app functionality here] in the app stores” 
There is no denying that driving high visibility for branded key terms can yield amazing results for your app. However, this is a difficult task for app-first brands launching with little to no brand visibility in the market, versus an app that is launched as supplementary to an established brand.  

Research from AppTweak shows that Brand terms, which make up 24 per cent of all keywords in the app stores, drive 49 per cent of App Store traffic. However, it’s very important to note that your competitors have spent time building up search power in the stores, and on top of that, generic keywords such as “dating,” “shopping,” “match 3 games” still drive significant downloads in the app stores. The aim is to balance your optimisation efforts aim for lower difficulty score keywords with high install volume potential, which would increase your chances for growth. 

AppTweak, UK iOS Search Results, (July 2023) 

Here is an example of relevant dating app keywords. Whilst Tinder, one of the biggest dating apps in the UK, owns a huge market share of the dating apps category, the app would still do well to optimise for generic terms “dating app UK” and its competitors “bumble” or “hinge” to capitalise on the thousands of installs driven by these searches monthly, rather than idly resting on its brand power.

Driving visibility through a holistic approach will be essential, combining owned brand keywords, Competitor keywords and Generic keywords to increase traffic and install volume to your app, so do your research! What’s more, search volume is only one decision-making factor; consider longer keywords with a lower search volume too, as these may be easier to rank for in the top position, which offers your app the competitive advantage.  

Myth 4: “I have an ASO tool, and that’s all I need for effective optimisation” 
Relying solely on powerful ASO tools like AppTweak, App Radar, or Mobile Action might seem sufficient, but it only scratches the surface of whats possible. While these tools provide invaluable insights into keyword selection, app performance, and competitor analysis, a truly holistic ASO strategy demands a broader perspective. 

One crucial strategy is analysing data from your paid user acquisition campaigns. By understanding which creatives or messages are driving downloads, you can refine your app store listing and promotional strategies to resonate more with potential users. Not only that, but now you can welcome new opportunities with Custom Product Pages to create that seamless and personalised user journey for your users. 

Additionally, creating a synergy between your app and web presence is vital. Aligning your apps keywords with your websites SEO efforts can foster a robust web-app affinity, seamlessly driving traffic between platforms and enhancing overall visibility. 

Lastly, platforms like Google Trends and YouTube Search shouldnt be overlooked especially in relation to seasonal strategies. They offer a wealth of data on trending topics and user interests. By aligning your apps messaging and keywords with current trends, you can ensure your app remains relevant and appealing to a broad audience. 

In essence, while ASO tools are foundational, they are the starting point. To truly excel in the app marketplace, integrating diverse strategies and data sources is the key to a comprehensive and effective ASO approach. 

Myth 5: “ASO stops at the in-app experience”
A truly effective ASO strategy recognises the symbiotic relationship between app performance and app store rankings. 

Google Play Store Console, 2023. Dashboard KPIs cover retention metrics such as DAU and MAU growth

Retention is at the heart of this relationship. An app can have all the right keywords, high-quality screenshots and promo videos, and an optimised title, but if users arent sticking around, its rankings can suffer. The app stores algorithms, both Apples and Googles, are sophisticated. They dont just look at download numbers; they evaluate user engagement, churn, and crash frequencies. These factors not only keep users engaged but also signal to the app stores that your product is of high quality.

In essence, a good product isnt just beneficial for user retention – its an ASO strategy in itself. The algorithms favour apps that demonstrate high user engagement and even consistent positive feedback. So, while keywords, creative, and other ASO tactics are essential, they should be built upon the bedrock of a solid product. In the world of ASO, a quality product isnt the end goal; its the starting point. 

In conclusion
Navigating the world of App Store Optimization can be a minefield, especially with the myriad of myths clouding the path to success. As weve debunked these prevalent ASO misconceptions, its evident that a one-size-fits-all approach or relying on half-truths can be detrimental to an apps growth. The global app ecosystems impressive trajectory shows the importance of getting ASO right. Its not just about keywords or tools; its about understanding the broader picture, from the apps in-store presentation to its in-app experience. 

To truly supercharge your apps growth and stand out in the bustling marketplace, its important to challenge and move beyond these myths. By doing so, you not only optimise for visibility but also ensure that your app delivers genuine value, fostering long-term user engagement and loyalty with your app users.