Sponsored By

Do you want to increase your app downloads for free? Read these 35 App Store SEO tips!

You’ve put in a lot of hard work to make a great mobile game, and published it on the app stores.

Hooray! Now what?

Marcus Kay, Blogger

May 9, 2017

14 Min Read

Note: this is the last post of a 3-part article about App Store SEO. You can also read the full article of App Store SEO here.

App Localization Strategy

App localization gives you a larger audience to download your mobile app. But localizing the whole app to many languages can be a daunting task.

Before doing a full localization of your whole app, consider localizing your app listing first. It means translating your app name, keywords, screenshots, etc.

David Janner of MAKE APP Magazine conducted a localization experiment. In his experiment, he only localized the app name, the keywords, and sometimes the top line in the app description. After this simple localization, his app received a massive 767% increase in downloads. Before localization, the downloads were mainly from within the US. After localization, his downloads looked like this:

ASO App Store Optimization Keyword Localization Keyword Translation Image courtesy of MAKE APP Magazine

According to OneSky, only 31% of the world’s total app revenue came from the U.S., while 41% came from Asia, and 23% came from Europe. In particular, China has already surpassed the U.S. by both iOS app download and revenue. If your app only has an English version for the U.S. market, you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

App Store SEO Tips:

App Localization Strategy
Localize your app listing first to see how well your app performs in different countries. You can then decide if you should perform full localization of the whole app for the best performing countries.

Icon and Screenshot Localization
Different countries have distinct preference of icon colors, screenshot layouts and annotations. Check out these posts about icon colors and screenshot localization for more insights.


App Localization - Best Countries For Your App

Now you know the strategy, but which countries should you start first?

If your app is already available in more than one country, you can use app analytics to find out the top countries by your app downloads. Check the official languages of the top five countries, and localize your app listing if you haven't done so.

Depending on your priority, you can also do the same using top countries by revenue, ARPU, conversion rate, active devices or retention.

App Store SEO Tips:

Predict Your Next Successful Markets
This app analytics tool predicts where your next successful markets are based on LTV (Lifetime User Value), ARPU (Average Revenue Per User), Conversion Rates, and more. With this information, you can proactively localize your app to grasp the market opportunities.


App Localization - Top Countries By Revenue

Another approach is to localize your app listing for the top countries by downloads and/or revenue in the world.  According to App Annie, here are the top countries in Q3 2016.

app store seo top countries

Again, check the official languages of the top countries, and localize your app listing if you haven't done so.


aso ios spotlight searchFor iOS App Developers:

Apple's Spotlight Search allows users to search for their iOS apps installed on their device. This feature helps app developers engage existing users more frequently.

For iOS app developers, enable Spotlight search for your app. It helps improve your user engagement, which in turn improves your iOS app store search ranking.

In fact, 35% of top 20,000 apps on the iOS App Store have Spotlight search enabled. What are you waiting for?

aso google firebaseFor both iOS & Android App Developers:

Google's Firebase App Indexing allows users to search the dynamic content in your app, and it works for both Android and iOS devices.

Firebase App Indexing not only helps improve your user engagement, it is also a user acquisition opportunity. It is because it allows users to search for your app contents no matter your app is installed or not.

If you have a content-rich app, you should enable Firebase App Indexing to make to most of these opportunities.


App Conversion Rates - The Impact

First, what is conversion rates (CR)?

Let’s use the analytics from Apple App Store to illustrate the concept.

In Apple iTunes Connect’s App Analytics, you can find the followings:

  • Impressions (the number of times your app showed up in the App Store)

  • App Page Views (the number of visits on your app’s page in the App Store)

  • and App Units (the number of downloads)

With these data, you can easily calculate two CRs:

  • Page View CR = App Page Views / Impressions x 100%

  • Download CR = App Units / App Page Views x 100%

To put things into perspective,

  • The page view CR is the percentage of people who see your app from search results, rank lists, or featured app lists, and then tap the icon to check out your app.

  • The download CR is the percentage of people who visits your app page and then downloads your app.

These two CRs can be presented along with impressions, app page views, and app units in a diagram called Conversion Funnel in app marketing.

app store optimization conversion funnel

Why is conversion rate such a big deal?

There are mainly three reasons.

1. CR is a strong quantitative indicator of App Store SEO effectiveness

Keyword ranking and number of downloads are not the best metrics to measure the performance of App Store SEO. There are many external factors that can influence those two metrics. For example, a big competing publisher may publish a hugely popular app and shift the apps in the keyword ranking by a margin (e.g. The impact of Pokemon Go and related apps on the keyword “Pokemon” and “Go”). Or you run App Store SEO and an advertisement campaign at the same time and the number of the downloads become not purely organic.

On the other hand, CRs are independent of market competition nor the source of traffic. They give you the true picture of App Store SEO effectiveness.

2. CR reflects the likelihood of getting ranked

CR is a natural ranking signal in app store search. If lots of people search certain keywords, click on the same search result, and download the same app, Google Play and the App Store should receive a strong message:

“Users want to see this app!”

and place the app in a dominant spot (i.e. rank or featured list).

3. CR saves you money!

It's just simple math: if you double your CR, you cut your advertising cost by half for the same amount of downloads. For the same reason, if you haven't optimized your CR, don't spend big bucks on advertising campaigns! You would be wasting your money.

Just a side story: some ranking manipulation farms even go far and take advantage of this. They offer keyword-rank-manipulation service. They boost the ranking of an app by “searching” the app by specific keywords, tapping the app in the search results and download the app — the exact flow of conversion funnel.


App Conversion Rates - Page View CR

Now you know the importance of conversion rate, let's see how we can improve them.

Let’s do a recap:

Page View CR = App Page Views / Impressions x 100%

If Page View CR is less than 3%, you should try to improve it.

3%? Really? Yes, 3% sounds very low, but you won’t believe many apps have less than 1% we have seen!

To improve Page View CR, focus on optimizing these metadata:

  • App name

  • App icon

  • First 2 lines of app description

  • First 2 screenshots (or app preview video)

  • App ratings

It is because the app search result only shows these pieces of information. That means they are your baits to bring users to your app page. So make good use of them!


App Conversion Rates - Download CR

Now, let’s look at Download CR:

Download CR = App Units / App Page Views x 100%

Folks from SplitMetrics have done a wonderful job on this topic. They gathered the download conversion rates from hundreds of experiments with over 10,000,000 users. Here are the best conversion rates in each app category in their study:

app store optimization conversion rateBased on this graph, you should set your download CR target to at least 60% for most categories. For Health & Fitness and Education categories, you may set your target a bit lower to around 40% and 50% respectively.

If your download CR is lower than the target benchmark, you should follow all tips in this article to improve this metric.

App Store SEO Tips:

Benchmark Your Conversion Rate
Use this App Store SEO tool to benchmark your app's conversion rate (CR). It compares your download CR with your app category's median and best CR, and tells you what you should do.


App Size

Try to make your app smaller than 100 MB. It is because users cannot download apps that are more than 100 MB using cellular service.

app store seo increase app downloads 100mb

So for example, if a user on a bus or a train can't download "now", it is unlikely the user will write down the name and try again X hours later when they're home.

Need some proof? This post from appfigures shows that ~98% of the top 100 free and ~62% of paid iOS and Android games are under 100 MB.

Do you think 100 MB is not enough for your app? Take a look at Clash of Clans. Its iOS version is just 85.3 MB.

App Store SEO Tips:

Make Your App Smaller
To reduce the app size, consider compressing some of the graphical assets or make some of the contents downloadable after install.

Compare with the Top 100 Apps
Do you want to know how your app size compares to that of the top 100 apps? Use this App Store SEO tool. It tells you whether your app size falls in the reasonable app size range of the top 100 apps.


App Pricing - Free with In-App Purchases

Making your app free can remove the friction for users to download your app. After all, what price is better than free?

If you want to make money from your free app, consider In-App Purchase (IAP) pricing model if that makes sense to your app design. IAP account for 79% of app store revenue.

app store seo increase app downloads iap

App Store SEO Tips:

New to In-App Purchase (IAP)?
Check out this Do's and Don'ts IAP Checklist. It can jump start your IAP design.

Need In-App Purchase (IAP) Ideas?
Here is a wonderful list of 40 IAP ideas for you to consider.


App Pricing - Free with Ads

If you choose to make in-app advertising revenue, try to use native ads. They are created to fit the exact context of the app they appear on. This way, they serve as extra content for the app itself rather than a piece of promotional materials. Check out this post to see more reasons why native ads are better than traditional banner ads.


App Pricing - Paid Apps

Use a reasonable price by comparing your app price with your competing apps. Also, take reference of the price range of the top apps in your app categories.

A good starting price point to test the market is $0.99 or $1.99. Anything above $2.99 won't make you a lot of money. The exception is Minecraft Pocket Edition, which is priced at $6.99.


App Compatibility - iMessage

For iOS apps, supporting iMessage App helps your app grow viral through the user's phone contacts. You can also gain extra exposure in the App Store for iMessage.

app store seo increase app downloads imessage

Need ideas of how to use iMessage for your app? Check out how these 10 apps make use of iMessage integration for more ideas.


App Compatibility - Apple Watch

For iOS apps, supporting Apple Watch improves your app's customer experience and user loyalty.

But don't just copy your original app features directly to your Apple Watch app. Make good use of the Apple Watch characteristics to improve your user experience. Need inspirations? Check out these 50 best Apple Watch apps.


App Compatibility - Family Sharing

For iOS apps, Apple offers the Family Sharing opt-in for app developers. Family Sharing allows up to six family members to share app purchases on the same credit card across devices and parents to supervise their children purchases. Supporting Family Sharing means you can reach more family members and improves user loyalty.

Apple also clarifies that in-app purchases are not transferable through Family Sharing. Family members just the apps themselves. It means Family Sharing gives higher revenue potential for apps with in-app purchases.


App Compatibility - Game Center

Though Game Center app is removed since iOS 10, the Game Center service is still available. If you have an iOS game, you can make use of these Game Center features:

  • Leaderboard

  • Achievements

  • Challenges

  • Saving Games

  • Matchmaking for multiplayer games

These features improve your game's virality and user retention in many ways.


App Updates

Statistics show that there is a high correlation between high ratings and app update frequency. In fact, releasing regular updates has many benefits. It improves user loyalty and keeps an app top of mind because your app will show up in the updates list in the app stores. Apple and Google also like to see app updates because they show you're committed to the app and that it's still being maintained.

How often should you update your app?  Check out this chart first:

app version update frequency chart

For these 25 top iOS apps, the average was about 30 days between updates. I'd recommend at least an update a month, and up to once a week.

Don't forget to use push notifications to alert users to new app updates. They have a big impact on your update downloads. Ideally, you should only send notifications to the users who haven't downloaded your latest version. In case you can't distinguish who have and who haven't, you should word your message carefully to avoid the confusion.

For examples,

Hey! Have you checked for updates in the App Store recently?
Updates! Are all your apps up to date? Check the Updates button in the App Store.

Of course, you shouldn’t do an update just for the sake of doing an update. Your updates should always improve your app in some ways, either by bug fixings or enhancements.


iOS App Store vs. Google Play

If you wonder what are the differences between iOS App Store and Google Play on App Store SEO, here is a great summary:

app store seo apple vs google


Putting It All Together

Here is a cool infographic produced by Y Media Labs. It sums up the most important points about App Store SEO.

app store seo strategies increase visibility

App Store SEO Tips:

Do you want to learn more about app marketing strategies?
Check out The Essential List of 35 App Promotion & Marketing Strategies. It covers many app marketing topics such as PR, brand building, and marketing through social media, community, and other online channels.

After you have published the changes, keep an eye on the keyword rankings. The rankings change right after you published the new version. Target to make your app rank within top 10 of all keywords. If your new keywords are too hard to rank, you might have to replace them with your old keywords.

Review your App Store SEO every three weeks or four because that is when big trends of app ranking change. Don’t give up if the results of first few optimizations are not turning out well. App marketing takes time and App Store SEO needs many observations to master.



You’ve read to the end of this mega post (~6,000 words).

Give yourself a BIG hand!

And I wish you good luck in your journey.


[Back to Part 2] [Start from Part 1]

Note: this is the last post of a 3-part article about App Store SEO. You can also read the full article of App Store SEO here.

Marcus Kay

Marcus Kay

Marcus is the founder of Meatti - a platform that helps mobile game developers increase app downloads and revenue using data science. Find him on TwitterLinkedIn and his blog.

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like