App Store Optimization aka ASO is the process of improving an app's visibility within an app store to improve app install rates. There are two main components that drive ASO: Searchability and Click Through Rates (CTR). Gone are the days of just focusing on searchability and keywords. At the end of the day, if users are finding your app but not installing it, you're leaving dollars on the table.
If you understand SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and are wondering if ASO is simply the same thing as SEO but for mobile apps, you'd be 70% right. Though both processes are very similar, the main difference between ASO and SEO are the ranking factors. SEO ranking factors for websites on search engines like Google and Bing involve more than a few hundred factors, where as the list for ASO is much shorter. Towards the bottom of this post we jump into ranking factors if you want to skip ahead.
For starters, Apple's App Store has roughly 2.22 million available apps for iOS users. Google's Play store has nearly 3.5 million apps. Needless to say there are more mobile apps than ever before which means individual app publishers are an ever shrinking fish in an ever expanding pond! One of the first factors app publishers should focus on is maximizing visibility, in doing so, you'll maximize downloads.
Another very important reason why you should care about ASO is that regardless of if you're running ads or have a fancy website to attract new users, at the end of the day new users must visit your app's page to download your app. If your page is hard to find or if it's not attractive or trustworthy, new users will bounce.
The following graphic shows the ranking factors shared by both Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store along with the unique ranking factors. Despite knowing the list of factors, app marketers and experts in ASO are still somewhat unsure which criteria are weighted highest. What they are sure of is that the App Title on both stores is the number one contributor to ranking highly.