With the mobile internet usage penetrating more than half of the world’s population, many online businesses have capitalized on this trend by creating mobile apps to interact with online users. Furthermore, the two biggest global platforms for mobile app distribution, Apple’s App Store and Google Play, have reported to have at least 2 million available apps each.

But with the proliferation of available apps, how do you make sure that your mobile app is noticeable enough to be downloaded? How do you get on top of the app store’s search list? In order to successfully stand out from the rest of competition, you have to create a compelling yet cost-effective strategy. And the best strategy for Shopify merchants? App Store Optimization (ASO).

Understanding why ASO matters to your mobile app’s success

The majority of online marketers are strongly familiar with the concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is the process of increasing a website’s visibility in a search engine’s unpaid, mostly referred as organic, results. In the same way, App Store Optimization helps in affecting the visibility of a mobile app’s to rank higher in an app store’s results page.

60% of online shoppers say that they discover new apps by browsing the app store. Thus, using ASO techniques will help in fueling the app’s visibility by putting your app in front of more potential customers during their browsing stage. This, in turn, can intensify the possibility of turning more downloads to your mobile app and essentially more purchase to your online store.

ASO Best Practices to Rocket your Mobile App on Search Results Page:

We have introduced you with what ASO is all about and its magnitude to your mobile app’s success. Now, we will run you through with the following best practices to ASO techniques that your online store can conveniently and immediately take action.

1 – Get noticed with the right app name

Let’s begin with the first gateway of your brand: your name. One of the key ingredients to app store optimization is coming up with a distinctive title. Your app name is your identity that sets you apart from the rest of the competition. It’s the first thing that they will read about you which can either make or break your mobile application.

There are several factors that hinder your mobile app to get installed because of wrong app name. It’s either you are too creative, too lengthy or unmemorable. In fact, a case study has compellingly substantiated that modifying your app name to match your targeted audience will significantly increase your downloads by 9 times.

shopify mobile app

Mobile Dev HQ’s study saw a 9x increase on the average daily downloads after implementing changes on the app title.

Optimize it! Enhance your app name by following these tips:

  • Make it short and concise: Choosing the right balance for your app name is crucial especially because you can only use limited number of characters. For Google Play, there’s a 30 character limit. While Apple’s App Store recently trimmed down the character limit to 50. Plus, app titles will still be truncated on the search results page. The title is truncated, including spaces, on the 23rd character for App Store and 30th character for Google Play.
  • Be unique and creative: Stay away from bandwagon app names by incorporating uniqueness and creativity to your title. For example, the top result when searching for “clothing store” in Google Play is an app game and not an online retail store.
  • Remove any special characters: For App Store, it’s vital to use only URL-friendly characters in your title. The use of special characters, such as trademark or copyright symbols, should not be placed in your app name as it weakens your ASO strategy and affects iTunes app page to only use your id, rather than your name, in scanning keywords.
  • Put primary keywords and avoid keyword stuffing: Assigning just the dominant keywords that accurately describe your app into your name is highly relevant in app store search results. In fact, a recent study revealed that apps that used keywords in their title were 10.3% higher in results ranking positions compared to those apps that did not. However, do not try to stuff all of your keywords in your title, first, because of the limited characters and mainly because you might get suspended. Google Play, for example, suspends apps that use repetitive or irrelevant use of keywords in the app title, description, or promotional description.

mobile app

Tune’s study revealed that applying keywords in title can affect app ranking by 10.3%.

2 – Carefully choose keywords for easy discoverability

Similar to SEO techniques, keywords influence where your app appears in the search results. These keywords are words or phrases that people use when searching a particular app via app store. App searchers use keywords to describe what they are looking for. Those searchers’ most frequently used words or phrases are then applied by online businesses as their keywords to tag their mobile apps.

Both App Store and Google Play allot keywords for your mobile apps but have different approaches. For the App Store, you are given 100 characters in total with words separated by commas. Maximize your keywords by avoiding broad or less significant terms because they can hamper your users to find your app. On the other hand, Google Play uses a more analogous approach to how SEO works today. Google steers clear of the itemized tags but instead sources from your app description to obtain your app’s relevant keywords. The app description is limited to 4,000 characters. Given that app description length, you might be tempted to overdo it by stuffing as much keywords as possible without any logical cohesion. But remember, repetitive or irrelevant use of keywords will get you suspended.

Maximize your keywords by avoiding the following:

  • the word “app”
  • identical words
  • plurals of words that you’ve used in singular form
  • unauthorized use of celebrity names, protected words or trademarked terms
  • offensive or irrelevant terms
  • competitor’s app names

Take action! Optimize your list of keywords by evaluating it with the following factors:  

  • Relevance: How applicable and important is your keyword to your app? You might be tempted to use irrelevant keywords because they’re trending now. But even if you might appear in search results, it doesn’t mean that users will download your app. You’re just wasting your time because you are directing users to the wrong app. Remember to ask yourself this: how likely will users download your app if they search for this keyword?
  • Competition: The saturation of keywords is extremely noxious. With multiple apps trying to use similar keywords, you need to be confident that you are on the Top 10-25 of the app store’s search results page, else you have to drop the keywords that pull you down and substitute them as soon as possible.

Traffic: How many people are actually searching for your keyword? Ranking number 1 is not a reason for victory if there is only 10 people searching for that keyword.

3 – Write a persuasive app description

We have mentioned earlier that Google Play uses app description to extract your relevant keywords and Apple, on the other hand, also recommends to enhance app description  in order to bolster your app store search result ranking. The app description is your marketing pitch, so engage with your potential user with description that showcases your features, functionality and competitive advantage.

The first few sentences of your app description play the most crucial part because this is where your users read first without having to click the “read more” link. Remember that clicking “read more” means that they are not convinced yet. And so, communicate your app in a tone that your target audience uses so that they can understand and appreciate it immediately. Be bold by highlighting why you are not just any other app.

Be creative! Influence your shoppers by creating compelling app descriptions through the following:

  • Don’t muddle up, categorize your app’s benefits: Don’t mishmash your app description by jumbling one idea to the other. Make sure your benefits are prominent in your app description and explain your capabilities in an orderly manner.

appstore search optimization

Koovs effectively promotes its mobile app’s benefits and features by carefully categorizing them in the app description

  • Refresh your write-up to specific holiday season: You can freshen up your app description by adapting to a particular holiday season. For example, Christmas is just around the corner, you can update your app description by saying that you have gift items that will be perfect for Christmas or you will be soon have a weekend sale for it. You want to get that sudden upsurge of customers shopping for a specific holiday to flow to your mobile app.

mobile shopping app

Zalora revamps its app description to get traffic from the upcoming Black Friday & Cyber Monday sales

  • Always be sure to avoid these: In your attempt to enhance your search results ranking, you add popular but unrelated keywords and use them over and over again or incorporate dubious references. These types of tricks create bad impression to your mobile app’s reputation. Plus, you can also get banned by doing so.

appstore search optimization 1

Google Play’s Developer Policy Center illustrates the commonly used violations in the app description.

4 – Eye-catching app icon

The first visual element that users will see during their browsing stage is your app icon. Thus, it is a critical component in grabbing your potential app users’ attention and establishing a strong first impression.

Your app icon conveys an immediate message about who and what you are as a brand. By making sure that your app icon can directly translate into your purpose, functionality and quality will eliminate the first barrier of entry to your customers’ attention.

Grab their attention! Follow these steps to create a well-known app icon:

  • Avoid complex icon designs: Remove unnecessary details in your app icon to prevent distractions to your users.
  • Test appearance in multiple devices: Too big? Too Little?  Do not forget to test your app icon’s look in all devices possible. The key is for them to recognize you even in just a blink.


Polyvore changed its mobile app icon to maximize the name to fit in the square.

  • Be distinctive: You have to checkout your competition in order for you to stand out. As much as possible, avoid the same colors and typography that your competitors used in their app icons.
  • Tell a story: Your app icon should narrate a story and not just some attention-grabbing visual without any depth in it. The story should be about you but also remember that it needs to be something that your audience can relate to. Or better yet, tell a story about them that they can associate to you.
  • Review the guidelines: Research on app icon’s placements, such as this Iconography, in app stores in order to ensure that you get the best out of your visual identity.

5 – Present visually compelling screenshots

The second visual identity that you need to incorporate is screenshots of your app’s user interface. These visuals help in communicating the experience of the user. Thus, playing a crucial role in ASO. The first two screenshots should relay the purpose, benefits, and features of using your mobile app.

Improve your screenshots by following these tricks:

  • Maximize all available screenshots: Upload as much as the allowable number of screenshots: 8 for Google Play and 5 for App Store.
  • Explain your screenshots: Write compelling descriptions on your screenshots to guide and convince users to install the app.

AliExpress mobile app

AliExpress provides compelling description in its screenshots

  • Stick to your branding: Have a consistent branding in your screenshots. For example, be uniform with the use of your colors to set apart from your competitors and create an easy recall association.

Ensogo mobile shopping app Ensogo applies vibrant pink to its screenshot to match its brand

6 – Improve your app downloads

The truth in App Store Optimization is that you need to improve your app downloads in order to get a better search results ranking. Simply put, if more people are downloading your app, the higher its search results ranking will be.

mobile app 2

Apprentive illustrates the positive relationship of downloads and ranking positions

What are persuasive ways to invite shoppers to download your mobile app immediately?

  • Email invites: Invite your existing and potential customers to download your mobile app via email. You can set up an automatic email inviting a customer to download your app after he/she has placed his/her first order.

SellMob mobile app on Shopify

  • Offer discounts and freebies for successful download: You can promote through your own website your mobile app and get your online visitors to download your app instantly in exchange for a discount or compelling offer.

mobile shopping app 3Zalora invites online shoppers to download its mobile app by offering a discount

7 – Get more positive ratings and reviews

Your app’s ratings and reviews are relatively new additions to the ranking algorithms used in app store optimization. The volume of positive ratings and reviews can lift the shift of your app’s ranking in the results page.


Fiksu’s analysis revealed that high ratings (4 and above) generate a higher top rank.

You might be tempted to generate fake reviews and ratings, but people are vigilant these days. They can sense if you are just making things up. Stay away from this deceitful tactic but instead encourage users to react and post a comment regarding the benefits and experience of using your mobile app.

Want to be on top?

With the rise of mobiles users demanding for a seamlessly-integrated shopping experience, many online businesses are continuously adapting to mobile apps to transform its interaction and transaction model to online users.

As a result, the rapid expansion of mobile apps has transformed various online stores to explore new ways to improve its visibility to online users in the app store’s results page.  App Store Optimization provides an avenue for online retailers to improve their mobile app store search ranking.

Transforming mobile apps by improving design, presenting compelling capabilities through visuals and write-ups, and increasing customer satisfaction are some of the best practices in ASO that we have presented. Optimize your mobile app today and share your victory in the app store!

Once your mobile app is ready, don’t forget to check out best ways to invite your customers to download your mobile app and become your loyal customers. Remember to share the result with us in comments as well 😉

mobile shopping appshopify mobile appappstore search optimizationASO