ASO Ranking Factors

ASO Ranking Factors

Increasing the visibility of your app in the app stores is likely one of your main objectives. In this article we will tell you what are the key aspects to improve your app’s positioning and increase the chances of being discovered by potential users.

Just like on the web, in the app stores everything starts when we search in the app stores. The first step that Apple and Google take to determine the search results is to identify which apps are eligible to be displayed according to keywords, based on the information provided by all apps (indexing). This simply refers to whether, for example, the keywords “route” and “hiking” can be found within an app’s metadata.

The next step is to evaluate the relevance of your app for a specific keyword. To perform this second step, algorithms primarily analyze the location of a specific word in an application’s metadata to determine its relevance. As a general rule, algorithms look at:

  • The visibility of the metadata. Higher visibility = higher relevance.
  • The number of characters allowed for each metadata element. Less space = higher relevance.
  • How frequently keywords appear in your metadata (only in Play Store). Higher repetition = higher relevance.

As for the relevance of your metadata in relation to a keyword, the algorithm also assigns more relevance weight if your metadata contains an exact match, particularly in titles and subtitles (or short description).

The following factors are commonly accepted as keyword ranking signals throughout the ASO industry:

Title

Google Play and App Store search algorithms consider the app title as the most relevant metadata element. Therefore, including a keyword in your app title will give you the highest probability of ranking significantly for that keyword.

App titles in both the App Store and Google Play can be up to 30 characters long. The guidelines for these stores state that app titles should be unique, distinctive and explain what the app is about. The app name should not not be misleading, and any references to the app’s performance, such as “best,” “number 1,” or “leading,” should be avoided.

Subtitle (App Store)

In addition to the title, Apple allows app developers to add a subtitle. This subtitle is limited to 30 characters and appears both in search results and in the App Store below the title. Again, we can say that the more visible the metadata is, the more weight it has in sending signals to the algorithm, so the subtitle is the second strongest metadata field, right after the title.

Keyword field (App Store)

In App Store Connect, we can also add a list of keywords for each location you open. This keyword field is hidden on the product page of the app and helps the App Store algorithm to better understand what your app is about and what keywords your app should rank for. The keyword field has a limit of 100 characters, so it is important to carefully follow best practices to maximize the available space.

Before adding keywords to the keyword field, it is important to understand how Apple uses these keywords to index apps: keywords added to the keyword field are combined by the algorithm along with the title and subtitle to rank apps based on combinations of those words.

Short description (Play Store)

Short descriptions in the Play Store are limited to 80 characters. This gives developers more flexibility in communicating an app’s value proposition than on the App Store. Keywords within the short description are also indexed, but less strongly than in the title. In the Play Store, unlike the Apple Store, keyword density is taken into account, so we recommend repeating the most important words.

Long description

Although this field is present in both Play Store and App Store, and in both cases we find a limit of 4,000 characters, we must warn you of a big difference: only Play Store uses it to index keywords. We remind you that in Play Store keyword density is important, so keep this aspect in mind when writing your long description.

Developer name

The developer name (Google Play) or vendor name (App Store) is indexed on both platforms as keywords. The developer name on Google Play can be updated at any time in your account settings, while this process is somewhat more complicated on App Store, as developer names are linked to a D-U-N-S number, so be sure to choose the right name when registering as a developer!

In App Purchases

In-app purchases (IAPs) also appear in App Store search results and are indexed by the keywords used in the IAP title. IAPs typically appear along with the supporting app in the search results. This means that IAPs provide additional keyword space to increase your app’s visibility.

In-App events / Promotional content

Just like in-app purchases, the event name and short description of in-app events are also indexed. This gives developers another opportunity to increase the visibility of their apps by adding new keywords. Event titles can have up to 30 characters, while their short description is limited to 50 characters.

Package name / Bundle ID

First of all, Bundle IDs in the App Store are not something you can rank for. However, you do rank based on the link address you chose for your app on Google Play.

App Category

The choice of the main category must be made carefully and must be appropriate for your application, as it will affect your visibility. The secondary category, however, is not something that will affect the visibility of your app from a navigation point of view and can be chosen with keyword visibility in mind.

Reviews

The reviews of your app is something that you can hardly control, however you should know that in Google Play their content can be relevant when it comes to indexing words. We recommend that you develop a strategy for managing the reviews you receive. You can design it by making templates of responses based on the rating received, or the topic the user is talking about. Some tools like AppFollow allow you to manage and filter all this in an automated way to save time.

Promotional text

This field is exclusive to Apple, and to date it has not been proven to be relevant for indexing new keywords in your app. Just as with the long description, we recommend that you use this field with good copy to help you increase your conversion rate. It is usual to see offers and updates announcements here.

What’s new?

In this section, you can announce all the updates and improvements you include when you launch a new version. So far, it has no relevance in indexing. This field is available both in Play Store and App Store with a limit of 500 and 4000 characters respectively.

App Tags

The first thing you should know is that tags are something exclusive from Google Play, and serve to help the algorithm understand what your app is about. This way, you will appear in more relevant searches. You can choose up to 5 tags from a pre-defined list provided by Google.

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