Learning from mistakes: optimizing applications in the App Store and Google Play


    My name is Altai and I have been studying ASO (App Store Optimization) for more than three years. In Russian, application optimization in application stores. Remember this abbreviation.

    And now the main thing - ASO helped me save $ 500,000. Like this!

    Immediately I warn you, I do not need advertising. Our applications have enough installations thanks to ASO, and in this article I share my experience just and never pursue any mercenary goals. My goal is to develop a Russian-speaking community in the field of mobile application promotion.

    And now to the point. I want to focus on the mistakes that developers and advertisers make. And we will go from simple to complex, because surely not everyone here is well acquainted with the topic of ASO. But first, let me tell you briefly about myself.

    We are in the company engaged in the development of children's applications. So far, we have released only one application in Google Play and the App Store, and these are Little Stories (tales where the child becomes the main character). The application now has 600,000 installations, and almost all of these installations are free!

    Little stories have been refined many times in the App Store in various selections.
    * A feature is when an editor adds your application to a selection in a store.

    We also have three prizes in various competitions, and two of them are the first.

    In general, I understand the process well from the inception of an idea to the launch of an application and its further optimization. And it just so happened that the promotion of our applications was my main role in the team. Why? Because business depends on it. If people do not install, it means that there will be no sales. Therefore, this area takes a very important role and most developers have the most difficulties in this area.

    Mistake number 1: ASO underestimation

    And here we come with you to the first error - the underestimation of the ASO. What gives you the optimization of applications in the App Store and Google Play? It's simple - a lot of free, and most importantly high-quality installations. And immediately make a reservation that the installation that comes with the search is called organic.

    We consider the benefits of organic

    Now one motivated installation (which came from advertising) on ​​average costs from 50 cents to 2 dollars. For simplicity, take 1 dollar. If you make 100 free installations a day, then you save $ 100, a month is already $ 3,000, and $ 36,000 a year. And if there are 1,000 installations per day, then a saving of $ 360,000 per year.
    Yes, there are options when you get a 5 cent install through Facebook Ads and universal Google campaigns.

    But organic plants are the highest quality, as people specifically look for applications to meet their needs. And such people pay much more willingly. They do not compare with the users who found you through feature or advertising. Remember that 65% of people find apps through a search inside the app store. Therefore, ASO is a huge savings and best quality. The table below shows that advertising plays a weak role in the promotion of applications. The main channels of installations is a search in the app stores and recommendations of friends (and this is an organic installation).


    Go ahead. And for which applications does ASO work best? And here we come to the following error:

    Error number 2: creating poor-quality applications

    If you think that it is enough to release a quick game with bad graphics, a lot of mistakes and hope that you will get millions of installations - you are deeply mistaken. Now application stores select which applications will get to the top of the keyword search by many criteria:

    • Number of installations
    • Number of deletions
    • Involvement
    • The number of ratings and its average value
    • Monetization.
    • Availability of relevant keywords in metadata

    The App Store and Google Play are not interested in low-grade applications in the tops, as they spoil the impression of using the application store, plus they have a small income. Search algorithms are constantly changing and only high-quality applications will always be in the black. By the way, high-quality and good applications are really not enough.

    What are some other advantages of quality? This is a viral effect - you will be recommended to your friends and acquaintances. And there is a chance to enjoy the application store editor and be finished.

    Error number 3: use only one language

    Now many applications are translated into one language, mostly English. I am amazed when Russian developers are lazy to translate the application into their native language. So why do you need to do this?

    • These are additional installations. People find you on other requests, that is, you cover more search phrases.
    • Higher conversion to install. When a person sees the page of your application in his native language, he will be much more willing to install.
    • Greater audience loyalty. About your application it seems as a quality product, the developers who care about users.

    Do not strive to translate directly into all languages, start at least with one or two. Why? Because it is important to first test the ground, create and debug a system for transfers. You can easily forget to write something into your translation table and imagine how it would be inconvenient to ask you to translate two or three phrases into 15 languages.

    Also immediately create your own templates for the "what's new" field. You may receive an unplanned update, and it is impossible to prepare for it in advance. Therefore, if you have translated phrases like “made small improvements,” it will save you from a headache during an urgent correction of errors. By the way, Apple is against such explanations, but so far it rarely rejects such updates.

    And if you still need an unconventional translation, but it is not, and you can not wait, then use Google Translate - now he has started translating very well.

    Now comes the next question. What languages ​​should I translate the application into? You can google and see which countries generate the most installations and revenue. For example, if you look at the report from Appannie, then in iOS in the top countries among the total number of installations and revenues will be China, the USA and Japan.


    But on Android, the situation is different. There is no China in any of the columns. The thing is that Google Play is not popular in China and is not very effective, their own app stores are popular there.


    Therefore, if you have an app in the App Store and Google Play and you want to enter the Asian market, I would advise you to start with Japanese (or Korean). We have not yet implemented these languages. but Russian and German bring in an additional 20% of installations, which is quite good.

    Error number 4: do not offer to evaluate the application

    Our next mistake is not to offer the user to rate the application. The more ratings you have, the better you rank in the search and the better the conversion to the installation from the application page. All you have to do is introduce a window like "rate our application."

    In the App Store, this is generally easy to do by implementing their API, and Apple also requests this particular form. This API allowed us to get ratings many times more than usual. For several months, we scored as many assessments as we would have collected in two years according to the old scheme. Moreover, the fives become an order of magnitude larger, since the window is very simple and the user is not too lazy to make a couple of clicks. But the most important thing is that the window is inside the application, which is undoubtedly convenient. Thanks to this, our average rating has increased from 4.5 to 4.6, while in the USA it has become 4.7.


    And on Google Play there is no such thing, so there you just have to create your own window with a proposal to evaluate the game / application. And be sure to add the "later" button. Do not do so that the user can either leave a rating or cancel the action. Some make it so that they offer only two buttons: "evaluate" and "later." But you decide.


    Some tips:

    • Offer to rate you at the right moment. Asking when launching an application is a bad idea. Here, user behavior is unpredictable. It is better to offer to evaluate when the user succeeds in doing something and when he feels the value of it. For example, having passed the average difficulty level. Easy level is not perceived valuable, but difficult deduces from itself. So the average difficulty is the golden mean. Another example - a person has read an article or several articles. Perhaps he read a long article, it means he was fascinated and he is ready to appreciate your application.
    • Do not manipulate. Some offer to exchange the top five in the app store for a bonus in the game, for example, coins. This is punished by a ban from Google and Apple. Some more draw a cunning form. It is suggested to first evaluate the applications on a five-point scale, and if a person puts 1-4 stars, then they are asked to write a letter to the developer, and if 5, then they are sent to the App Store or Google Play. In short, it is also punished by a ban. Do not play with fire.

    Error number 5: ignoring analytics

    Analytics inside your application is a gold mine. It can show where users fall off. Perhaps you have something bad or too difficult to implement, which affects both the return of users to the game and income.

    For example, we found out that 12% of users do not reach the Small stories from the settings window to the carousel with books. We believe that parents are afraid to enter the data of the child, despite the fact that we do not store them anywhere. However, we do not write about it anywhere. Therefore, we decided to add the appropriate inscription.

    My advice to you is not to track everything. Before you decide what to follow, ask yourself the right questions. For example, how many hours / days after opening an application is the first sale made? And the second sale?

    Mistake number 6: high advertising expectations

    To learn from advertising to go into a plus, you must first implement analytics and clearly track traffic attraction channels. But this requires experience. Beginners usually go to order articles, video reviews for their product, but such channels do not pay off. Why?

    Let's take, for example, one of the best price offers in the Russian market - advertising on w3bsit3-dns.com in the "developer support project". Now the minimum package is 8000 rubles. Advertising will give you about 200-300 installations on iOS and 1500 installations on Google Play in 3 days.


    Let's count now. For an example, we take Google Play. We have 1500 installations. We divide 8000 by 1500 and we get 5.3 rubles for the installation, in dollars it is almost 0.08 cents. Now we go to the Google Play console and see what our installation alone brings in 2 cents.


    If the installation on w3bsit3-dns.com would cost 1 cent, then we would be in the black, but then there are 8 cents, which means we left in a minus, in spite of such a low price for the installation. But you must take into account the solvency of the audience and its interest.

    Then what is the meaning of such advertising? There are several advantages:

    1. Growth installations, which means you can identify a lot of bugs. This is especially important for Google Play, since the fewer errors in the application, the better it is ranked in the search.
    2. And Google Play can index links to your application on other sites. And the steeper the site, the stronger it raises the application to the top, because for him it is a signal. After publication, it turned out that when we asked for “Little Stories” we came out on top. The fact is that Google indexes the href attribute - that is, the name of the link, and in the title of the article it was just written “Little stories”. Therefore, buying ads on websites is cool in terms of weight gain applications on Google Play. The more backlinks to you, the better and there is a direct link. But this does not work for the App Store and there was a case when it only got worse.
    3. And one more plus - recognition. Someone can read the article and offer collaboration. Maybe the App Store Editor will notice. The more you are on the Internet, the more exhaust, but it is difficult to predict. Rather, it will work for interesting and cool applications, the usual game is unlikely to catch someone.

    Social networks

    Now dive. There is also advertising in social networks. But publications should be made not in groups (since this already has a very weak effect), but in the user's tape itself, that is, one has to go to the advertiser’s console.


    On Facebook, you can fine-tune advertising and one of my acquaintances makes an installation there for 6 rubles - this is 9 cents. And these installations pay off, as quality users come. I asked a friend what is his secret. He replied - properly configured audience. It's hard for me to talk about other social networks.

    Google adwords

    I generally use only one method of advertising and this is Google Adwords. Why? Because there you can get the installation for 2-3 cents. Advertising campaign is very easy to set up and you don’t need to be an expert here. First, of course, you register your account, and then create a campaign. Choose "universal campaign for applications."


    After that, you need to enter 4 phrases up to 25 characters, since they will mainly be shown to the user and determine the conversion to the installation. Where ads will appear - Google will determine itself. You can also download graphics and add a link to the video from Youtube. Then scroll down and select the countries and languages ​​in which we want to move.


    And at the very bottom we select the campaign target — I have the number of installations and specify the target price for the installation. Everything! Waiting for results. Google will decide what to show people: text, image or video.

    Further you will have enough information. You can find out what type of advertising gives the most installations. However, with a given price of 2 cents per installation, you will have about 100 downloads per day on Android. But I have the same application for children, not a game. For games, competition can be higher, so everyone needs to experiment. Just slowly, once a day, raise the price and see how the number of installations grows. And do not believe in the predictions of Google, see for yourself. And still incomes can strongly differ from the country.


    And one caveat - for some reason, the developer’s console doesn’t say in the reports how much money came from an advertisement, they write only the number of buyers, which doesn’t give much benefit. But in general, my sales with Adwords are very bad. I use it more for a set of installations (I increase the weight of the application).


    Apple Search Ads

    Now let's see what kind of advertising Apple offers us. They have two options for advertising in Search Ads - simple and advanced. In a simple version, everything is done by Apple. The price for the installation we have out 60 cents. In the advanced version, you are more flexible and I suppose the price can be reduced. But I use Search Ads only for the sake of one chip: in an advanced campaign, you can watch the popularity of keywords, which is very helpful in optimizing.


    You need to create a campaign, select a country and scroll down. But instead of digital values ​​there are strips and for convenience, I recommend downloading the free plugin for Google Chrome from TheTool.


    Also, various ASO-services have already entered this information in their tables. In general, all this helps us select the right keywords and here we are smoothly approaching the next error.

    Error number 7: poor application page optimization

    Here the developers have the most problems, so we’ll study the situation in the most detailed way. First, we note such a thing - different app stores look and work differently. They have different logic and audience. There are a bunch of factors that influence user behavior. An icon that is good on Google Play may be much worse in the App Store and vice versa.

    Therefore, for each application store you need to customize the page. Remember this.



    The icon should be attractive. We must look at how it looks among competitors. If the icon conveys the functionality of the application, then this is also good, as it may affect the conversion to the installation.


    Your icon can be displayed in the search without screenshots, and the name can not even be seen completely. And if you have a game about airplanes, then by the icon it should be clear that this is about airplanes.



    The most common mistake is unreadable text. People do not realize that in the search for their screenshots look small (especially vertical on the iPhone 5), and also do not understand that the bright font on a light background is a mockery of the eyes. The text should be a contrast, easy to read on a small screen. Here is a bad example:


    And here is a good example:


    The order of the screenshots must be done in such a way that the most interesting and important is ahead. It is necessary to have time to hook the user right away, because not everybody gets to the last screenshot in the carousel.

    And post-processing screenshots can be beneficial. Usually add device frames, text and additional graphics. However, games without screenshots WITHOUT processing can work better; there were such cases. Experiment, on Google Play, especially since there is A / B testing.


    In the App Store, videos are watched more often than on Google Play and it can increase both the conversion to the installation and the installations themselves. The fact is that in the search video is played automatically, but without sound and on a small screen.


    Therefore, the video must be done so that a person without sound can understand everything. The text should also be made readable, and the coolest pieces should be shown at the beginning of the video. The video helped us get 30% more installations.

    And Google Play is still not clear how it behaves, as they updated their store (September 2018). In the old design, 2-10% of users watched the video, now the situation may be radically different, because the video is before the screenshots.

    And remember that you can track the performance of your video in Youtube analytics.


    With graphics sorted out. Now let's talk about the text and search results.

    Name of the game

    Try to make the name of the game short so that the rest of the place can be used for keywords. For example, if your game is called “The Magnificent Four”, then this is a so-so option. Why? Because in this name we have 21 characters. In the App Store, you have only 30 characters for the title and it is not profitable to score most of it with non-keywords. It is better to shorten the name to “Mega Four”, these are 13 characters, which means we can fill the 17 remaining characters with keywords. For example, "cool arcade." I think the principle is clear.

    Why is this important at all? Because the words in the title are indexed best by the App Store and Google Play. So it is advisable to use a maximum of characters. In the App Store there is also a subtitle of 30 characters, which is also indexed well. So you have 60 characters in the name of the application.


    On Google Play, the title field holds 50 characters, but there is also a short description of 80 characters, which is also well indexed.


    Use your abilities to the maximum.

    Keyword field

    There is a special field for keywords only in the App Store. Here you can hold 100 characters. Place them separated by commas, without spaces. Try to match the words shorter, so you can make as many combinations as possible. And remember that phrases will be better indexed if at least one word is in the title or subtitle.


    Description in the App Store is not indexed, as well as the field for advertising text. There are no keyword fields on Google Play, but there is a long description that is indexed. Here you have a stock of 4000 characters and do not be lazy. You need to try to write a lot of text with a lot of keywords. One word is enough to repeat 3-5 times to start indexing on it. Good phrases will be combined if at least one of the words is in the title and / or short description.



    Both app stores index text in your feedback. Therefore, if you ask your friends to give you a five, then ask them to leave another comment with keywords.

    Buying reviews is a waste of money, as they are automatically deleted, especially on Google Play. App stores immediately see a fake review, as a person deletes the application after publishing a review.

    Google Play does not need to repeat keywords in a long description, if they are in the title and short description, because these words already have a good weight. For prevention, you can repeat it just once, but no more.

    The developer's name is also indexed by Google, so in the example below you see this nonsense with fixes, a robocar and three cats (by the way, this is the old Google Play design).


    Another thing - Google Play is able to incline words. Therefore, it is not so important to enter words one by one, as in a search query. Game, games, game - all these words will be intertwined with each other in the search.

    And the App Store? Does the keyword repeat work there? Here I made a little discovery. For a long time it was believed that the repetition of words does not work here, but this is not quite so. The App Store can use different words for different phrases. Let's look at the example below.


    Here we have the word “books” repeated twice. If I delete this word from the title, then at the request of “read books” I will be indexed an order of magnitude worse, but for the query “books for kids” everything will remain unchanged. But this is purely an example. Apple can take “books” from the title for the query “books for kids” and “for kids” from the subtitle. In this case, removing from the subtitle “books” for this keyword will not change anything. But no one knows how the words will be indexed in your case.

    Apple is also able to incline words only for the English language. For example, “car” will be indexed by the query “cars”, however, if you enter both options, you will be better indexed for each of them. They also say that you do not need to add the words “app”, “game”, “iphone”, “ipad”, as they are automatically added to the metadata, but if you add them, then the indexing will be higher. I still observe that Apple for other languages ​​is also slowly learning to incline words, but so far it is not good at it, so we will not focus more on this.

    Now we note that indexed best in each of the stores. We go in order of power.

    In the App Store:

    1. Title
    2. Subtitle
    3. Keyword field (works well in conjunction with keywords from the title / subtitle).
    4. Reviews
    5. And even the built-in purchases (are poorly indexed)

    On Google Play:

    1. Name
    2. Short description
    3. Long description
    4. Reviews

    And you have a question: how to find out which keywords to take? If yes, then great.
    The App Store has Search Ads, which shows the popularity of requests, which helps a lot. Plus, ideas can be scooped from auto-help, as the phrases that appear there are those requests that people drive in the search.

    There is no open information about the popularity of queries on Google Play, but you can also use auto-help.


    There is a website that is free on the web, you get these tips for both app stores (albeit, it works slowly).


    If you want to update something on the app page in the App Store, for example, screenshots or keywords, then you need to release a new version of the application. You can only change the advertising text, which, I recall, is not indexed. On Google Play, you can change anything, anytime.

    Another one of my tips - keep a history of keyword changes. Because if suddenly you start losing settings after an unsuccessful ASO, then you probably want to return the old keywords and the saved change history is very useful here.

    In general, ASO is a multiple thing. It is not enough to do only once optimization. Keep in mind that everything changes: people and their behavior, algorithms and appearance of application stores.

    Error 8: do not try to get feature

    It is strange that some developers do not have the desire to get feature, or rather, do not aspire to it. For feature, you have a much better chance if you have a cool and beautiful application with a good rating and other indicators. The App Store even has a special form for this.

    And even on Google Play there is a form , but the application should be no older than four months.

    In addition, you can try to find personal contacts editors. One option is LinkedIn. You can also attend various themed events and look for editors there.

    And now the latest and most important mistake.

    Error number 9: ignore ASO blogs

    You need to be aware of changes in the world of ASO and bloggers can help. We need to follow them and get fresh information, since the time factor in the field of ASO has a lot of pressure. Here is a list of good Russian blogs:
    ASO channel Secrets
    Appfollow Blog Pushapp

    In English:

    Youtube Appmasters
    Blog TheTool
    Blog Incipia
    Blog Asostack Blog

    That's all. I hope the article was useful and everyone learned something new for themselves.

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