App Store Optimization Tips and Tricks by the CEO of Appnique - Interview

For our ASO class in the "Indie Game Promotion Tactics" series, we'll talk to Jai Jaisimha, Ph.D CEO, Founder of Appnique who has had mobile and analytics career since 1989. Below are class notes, tools, and game links from the video.

ASO Class Notes, Tools, and Game Links by Red Fox Clan

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Jai Jaisimha, Ph.D CEO, Founder of Appnique has been involved with mobile and analytics since 1989, and started by building apps on the first version of Symbian around 1998. 

Appnique started in 2009 and their products include App Store Optimization and a second line of business that helps people market more effective on Facebook using rich targeting. A foundation of their services is helping you to understand and track your competitive landscape.

What is ASO (App Store Optimization)?

For someone new to ASO, a simple analogy is SEO for the app stores. At the highest level - ASO is everything you can do to make your app more visible in the store, excluding paid marketing. From the game title, to keywords, to description, ASO can even include your logo and screenshots.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is considering ASO as a one time event instead of a multistep process that you should keep on top of.

Can it have an impact on small studios?

 It can have a big impact! The emphasis needs to be what are the wide spaces that the big guys haven’t gone after that your game and ASO strategy should address. How can you find things that people are interested, but not highly competitive words like Casino or Puzzle game. 

ASO alone will not make your business profitable, but use it to attract an audience of people interested to your topic, and find out what are they interested to improve your core mechanics. Make sure you have the tools in place to measure stickiness and understand which keywords are helping. 

How is ASO a continuous process?

In a pre-launch analysis phase, it’s good to find out how many other games are out there, that are similar to what you want to build. How many games are targeting the same space? Find a known space, and see if you can make something differentiated. 

After you’ve filled your meta data in the first launch, you will have a list of backup keywords that can potentially have value for your app. Track the performance of your keywords, and run experiments to test your keyword hypothesis. 

Before you try to buy installs, see what type of organic interest and interactions you can get. If you can get ASO right, and test the stickiness of your game, it amplifies the effectiveness of ads.

User Question from Megalodon Interactive who makes the game, Across The Table - Hockey.

Description: Arcade style hockey action is hitting the iPad! Across the Table – Hockey is a same-screen 2-player game that combines air hockey and table hockey. Imagine playing table hockey, but with the added speed and freedom of air hockey. This is a completely new way to play the world’s coolest sport.

Presskit Link:

Store Link:

How can an indie developer bootstrap ASO?

Appnique has a free version of their tool. It allows you to pick 10 keywords for 1 game, free for life. In exchange we just ask for your data about your install volume, but there’s no charge.

What you want to know before you start, is are there keywords that you think people will be searching for? In addition, picking the right subcategory can assist significantly in your discoverability. Go back and put those into the tool and check for competitiveness.

Where should you put keywords?

Both the Apple App Store and Google Play track keywords you place in the title. With the Apple store ,you have the private keyword list that is 100 characters including commas and spaces, but does not take description keywords into account.  The Google App Store description has weight and you should place keywords high in the post. Some people try to just place a list of keywords at the end of their description but Google will ignore that.

Once your app is out, one thing that’s handy is to look at reviews of people who liked your game. See what descriptive words they use and try testing those as keywords in your ASO.

Leading with a quote from a user is not generally helpful. For a new game you need to tell potential users what the game is about.

How can we improve the game title, “Across the Table-Hockey” ?

I assume that “across the table” is not a phrase that many people search for. One thing that would be handy to do, is find games that are doing similar things and see what keywords they are trying. Verify that “across the table” has any ASO value. Use common sports terms to that sport people may search for.

The most important thing to keep in mind, the most simple and boring ways of describing things are the often the most effective for ASO.

Appnique has a great white paper that you published called, “7 steps to mobile app user acquisition” In it, you mention that a developer should “Select a set of keywords that are likely to be used by the target users to search for their apps.” Can you share what they should be looking for?

Find apps similar to yours, and look for themes that are used frequently. One of the things that Appnique's tool does is it can suggest and uncover other keywords that may be helpful for your game. It provides popularity and difficulty estimates so you can understand traffic and competition. 

You also mention that “App Store SEO performed correctly enables improved effectiveness in paid user acquisition. “ Can you share why that is the case?

At some point after the user clicks the ad, they’re going to land at the app store. Once there, they’re going to look at the description, images, screenshots, (which is all ASO) so better ASO means a higher conversion of visits to downloads. Therefore your paid visits to the app store will result in more downloads.

What are the first few steps a game dev should take?

Using Appnique, you can learn within 5 minutes ways you can improve your keywords. Start by signing up for a free trial, look up your game, search competitors, enter keywords, and you immediately gain great insight into what might be working. 

If you haven’t started already, don’t start on monetization, but focus ASO on acquiring users and making them stick. Measure smart KPI’s and you’ll be in good space to start!

Last question! What’s your game recommendations?

QuizUp and Trivia Crack Addict. Words with Friends played obsessively. Zynga username “DoctorJai”!
We hope you enjoyed it!
Drew Giovannoli
Co-Founder of Red Fox Clan

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