App store optimisation: A beginner’s guide to ASO

What is app store optimisation?

App store optimisation (ASO) is the process of getting better rankings in the app store than your competition. Being ranked higher in the app store tends to lead to more downloads, so this is a crucial element in the marketing process.

How does app store optimisation work?

There are several principles which you will need to understand in order to effectively optimise your iOS app store presence:

  • What keywords should people use to find your app?
  • Have you added a suitable title & description to your app?
  • How is your app rated?
  • How often has it been downloaded?
  • How well does your app store visual represent your app?

We’ll outline each of these steps and what should be considered to give your app the best possible chance of ranking well.

What keywords should you include?

The phrase “keyword” is often misunderstood in marketing. Think of a keyword as a phrase that someone would use to find your app. For example “run tracking app” or “music player.” Think of the words and phrases that your audience might use to search.

Try to find a balance between broad and niche. Keep it specific to your product but not so specific that no-one searches for it. For example, “run tracking app” is better to target for a tracking app than “running app” as the latter could be someone looking for tips on running, or wanting to buy kit rather than a specific tracking app.

Have you added a suitable title and description?

If you’ve ever visited the iOS app store you’ll notice that there are some quite lengthy descriptions available to use. This can include options, and paid-for or subscription elements, features benefits and even user case reviews (as distinct from the reviews section).

This gives you an opportunity to talk more to your audience about why they should download your app versus your competitors. It also gives more of an opportunity for the app store search algorithm to understand and rank your app effectively.

You should also make sure you include your keywords in the title without it looking too forced.

Later considerations

You’ve launched your app, you’ve added your keywords to the app title and to the description. It’s time to check how you’re doing on the softer signals that the store uses to rank apps.

How is your app rated?

Think about Apple as a market trader. Do you think they would rather sell a product that has a high returns rate, and a high complaints rate than one which their customers love? No one would. You’d go for what you perceive to be the best quality.

Reviews are not only important to convince potential customers to download your app but will also make a difference to how well positioned your app will be. As you can see in the graph below, the better the rating, the better the search ranking.

ratngs vs position in app store

Source: Neil Patel’s Blog

How often has your app been downloaded?

If your app is being viewed in the app store but not downloaded it may be worth taking a look at your competitor landscape, revisiting your keywords and targeting slightly different ones, or asking yourself honestly why people aren’t downloading your app.

There could be a combination of factors affecting your download rate. If your app isn’t downloaded regularly it’s unlikely that Apple will continue to give it prominence in the app store. Linked to this point is how your app is visually represented in the store.

How are your app icon and your screenshots representing you?

The first thing a prospective downloader is likely to see in search results is your app icon. Apple’s developer forum gives full guidelines as to how to design an icon for example embracing simplicity and ensuring it is recognisable. Don’t forget to test your idea against different background colours. You will also be required to provide different sizes of icons for use in the store.

Our free iOS app icon generator tool takes the pain out of creating your icons and ensures this often overlooked step is completed with minimal fuss.

Once you’ve encouraged someone to click your listing, the next thing they will see are the screenshots you have chosen to represent your app. This will either give people a good idea of what your app is about, or alternatively it could put them off completely.

Again, we understand the complexity involved in this, so we have provided a free app store screenshot generator to help.


These are some basic pointers as to things you can do in your first attempts at app store optimisation. If you’re still in the early stages of developing your app idea we’d love to help. Contact us today for all of your iOS app development needs. We can also help with Android app development if that’s your preference. Speak to one of our friendly team today.


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