ASO: 5 Ways Developers Can Compete with Category Leaders

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Dave Bell

    28 Feb 2018 - 5 min read

    Guest Post courtesy of Dave Bell, CEO of Gummicube


    When it comes to publishing a new app, the sheer number of competitors alone is staggering enough to send new developers running. As of March 2017, over 3 million apps were listed on iOS and Android. many of those are big names with even bigger budgets. This can make finding a place for an app within the category leaders seem daunting and almost downright impossible. In fact, a recent study found that over 99% of all apps are considered unsuccessful by their developers.

    However, if you take a deeper look at the Apple App Store and Google Play, you’ll notice something interesting. An impressive number of category leaders are actually not big businesses with astronomical budgets.  Many are smaller developers – some with only a single app.

    Their success could possibly be attributed to luck.  But, the majority of category leaders are actually where they are because they follow App Store Optimization (ASO) best practices, an industry standard.

    How ASO Can Help You Compete

    ASO is the practice of optimizing your app’s metadata and creatives to give your app the best chance to organically rank high in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Combined with reputation management and taking advantage of paid advertising channels, you’ll see your app shine.

    Here are 5 ways you can utilize ASO to compete with category leaders:

    1. Optimize Your Titles

    First and foremost, ensure that your title is unique and memorable. An app title should clearly communicate the app’s core functions and include any extra keywords you might be able to fit. If you’re publishing on the Apple App Store, you also have a subtitle of 30 characters to describe the app in more detail and call out a few more keywords.

    Above anything, just be cautious that your titles are written in a way that potential users can easily understand! While it may be tempting to stuff keywords into this area, forcing them may actually hurt conversion rates.

    2. Descriptions and Keywords

    Think of the app description as the meat of your ASO strategy. This is where you get to lay everything out there and tell a potential user exactly what the app is, what features it has and what they can expect.

    For the Apple App Store, you have a keyword bank of 100 characters, including commas, to declare what your app is about. Pick keywords that are relevant to your app. Then use the description to compliment those keywords.

    Google Play is a bit more complicated. They provide developers with a short description of 80 characters in addition to the regular description. However, instead of providing a keyword bank, Google scrapes your description to understand what the app is about, and what it should subsequently rank for. This means that the words you use in the short and long description play a crucial role in app store visibility.

    3. Creatives

    When we talk about creatives, this refers to the icon, preview videos and screenshots. They play a critical role in converting users. Visually striking creatives could mean the difference between a user clicking “get” to moving on to the next app.

    The icon is the first thing a potential user will see when browsing through the app stores.  Your icon should quickly communicate the general concept. Shoot for a unique and attractive icon that is up to date with user trends, as they’ll only consider each app for a matter of seconds.

    If a developer chooses to incorporate a preview video with their creatives, it should immediately catch a user’s attention. They will only spend a matter of 3-5 seconds considering an app.  That makes those few seconds the most important for user conversion. For iOS, the first preview video will appear in the search results and autoplay with muted audio. In the Google Play Store, the video appears at the top of the app’s page, above everything else.

    4. Reputation Management

    It’s very common for users to leave a review on your app if they are having a problem, have a request or need assistance. Having a lot of reviews can help an app stand out, which is great if those reviews are positive. Negative reviews tend to have an adverse effect on users who are considering an app. If they see too many bad reviews, they are less likely to convert.

    It’s not necessary to respond to every user review. Prioritize answering any reviews where users are having a problem or have questions. By responding to negative reviews and giving them the help they need, you’ll build confidence and loyalty in the user and they will be more likely to update their review in a positive way.

    5. Utilize Paid Advertising Channels

    Once your app’s metadata and creatives are optimized for conversion, it’s time to consider utilizing paid advertising channels. The three most common paid platforms are Apple Search Ads, Google UAC and Facebook. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but all offer amazing tools to get your app in front of more potential users and encourage them to click that download button.


    Success doesn’t happen overnight. But if you ever hope to compete with category leaders, you’ll have to learn to tap into the ASO strategies that they are already using. Always update your creatives and metadata to remain relevant with user trends. If your app is optimized, relevant and user friendly, it will surely see more downloads.  It could even eventually rise in the ranks among other category leaders.


    Additional Recommended Reading:


    Written by Dave Bell

    Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.

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