What is an off-page ASO 1

App Store Optimization - Tomorrow's SEO

A smartphone without apps? Hardly imaginable. We dedicate a full 85 percent of the time we spend on the smartphone to small programs. In addition, 84 percent of the usage time is spread over an average of five apps - the so-called "relevant set". High time for app providers to think about App Store Optimization - ASO for short. These are measures to optimize mobile apps in order to increase their visibility and ranking within the app stores. In the following you will find out which measures can be used to increase the download rate and thus the number of users of an app in the long term.

Why is App Store Optimization so important?

On the one hand, the Apple and Google app stores each offer more than 1.5 million apps for download. Each one aims to be downloaded and used regularly.

On the other hand, the majority of the available apps will not be able to do this. Because the “zombie rate”, ie the number of apps that never appear in a top list within the app stores and are therefore only rarely downloaded, is now over 80 percent. The reason for the drastic increase in this figure is primarily the constantly increasing number of available applications. The competition for consumer attention is therefore becoming increasingly intense. Apps that are not optimized have only a limited chance of being found by potential users. It is therefore time to recognize ASO as an important marketing discipline for developers and providers of apps and to introduce it across the board in order to increase the visibility and rankings of apps in the app stores - especially in Google's “Play Store” and Apple's “App Store” .

OSA measures at a glance

The criteria for app store optimization can be divided into two areas: on-page and off-page. On-page includes - as the name suggests - factors that are related to the appearance of the app and that can be directly influenced. Off-page, on the other hand, is made up of external factors that can only be influenced to a limited extent.

On-page factors

Similar to search engine optimization (SEO), keywords also play a major role in ASO. Apps can be optimized with regard to certain keywords in order to achieve a better ranking. When choosing keywords, some factors such as relevance to the content, search volume and competition must be taken into account. A "title" can be created for each app. It is the most important element among the app metadata. In addition to the icon, it represents the app within the app stores and serves as a decision-making basis for users to call up the app detail page.

The title should not be too long, but as meaningful as possible and let users understand immediately what purpose the app serves. An addition is essential, especially for new, as yet unknown offers: Descriptions such as “create a fitness plan” for a fitness app or “photos during pregnancy” for a baby app help the searcher to choose the right app. The same title should be used for all app stores to avoid confusion on the user side. The content of an app can be described in detail in the description. It offers enough space to show the most important functions and advantages of the app and thus arouse the curiosity of the user. After reading the description, visitors should have answers to the following questions:

  • What functions does the app have?
  • What advantages does it offer me?
  • Where can I use it in my everyday life?
  • Why should I download it now?

App icons as first contact

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

What applies to the first meeting between people also applies to the first glance at an app. The app icon usually represents the first contact between the user and the app. Therefore, it should be unique and reflect the app content to a certain extent. The design should be kept rather simple. Overloaded icons appear dubious and overwhelm users just like overloaded websites. The following applies: easy readability, not too small font, rather little text. In addition to the app description, there is the option of integrating screenshots into the app appearance in order to bring the content of the app closer to users. The most important functions can thus be shown graphically and users can get an initial insight into the app. Screenshots have a great influence on the conversion rate - because as the saying goes: "A picture is worth a thousand words".

Off-page factors

Both Apple and Google want one thing above all: to provide their users with the most relevant content possible for their search queries. A good rating is not only a positive signal for new users, the app stores also work with this indicator. App providers should therefore motivate their users to rate the app and leave their personal opinion in the form of a comment. It seems dubious, however, if the request to evaluate is made immediately after downloading. This puts the users under pressure. It is much better to switch the prompt for an action. If, for example, a navigation app has just been used, this is a good opportunity to ask the user whether he was also well received.

Negative comments can also be helpful to increase the quality of your own app and to keep user ratings high in the long term. The number of app downloads plays a major role in terms of positioning in the App Store ranking. Here, the relationship between downloads and active installations is particularly considered, since deinstallations in turn have a negative influence on the positioning. Another off-page criterion for evaluating an app is the number and quality of the backlinks to the app site within the app store. However, this only applies to the Google Play Store.

Better visibility in the app jungle

ASO is primarily used to increase the visibility of an app. But it also aims to improve the user experience of potential users within the app stores. Because regardless of the added value an app offers its users: If it is not possible to position it accordingly against the competition and to clearly communicate its advantages, the chance of a high download rate is rather low. Given the continuously increasing number of apps, ASO should not be viewed as a one-off project, but as a long-term process in order to be one step ahead of the competition and to offer users an optimal user experience in the long term.


Christina Neuhofer is Managing Partner at QUISMA and is responsible for change and innovation management, among other things. She started as Team Leader SEA in April 2008 and was particularly concerned with SEO and the optimization of conversion rates. As Director of Client Services from 2014 to 2015, she was responsible for the teams in the Munich and Frankfurt offices of QUISMA and developed strategies for key accounts. Before starting her career at QUISMA, she worked for almost three years at Google Ireland, most recently as Senior Account Coordinator.