Boosting organic downloads: ASO in 4 simple steps

Do you have an Invisible app? With over 1.5 million apps in each app store, it’s easy for apps to disappear and never be seen. But it doesn’t have to be that way. App Store Optimization (ASO) can bring your app out of hiding.

Invisible app syndrome? With over 1.5 million apps in each app store, it’s easy for apps to disappear and never be seen. But it doesn’t have to be that way. App Store Optimization (ASO) can bring your app out of hiding, placing it squarely in front of the customers who need or want it, and keep them clicking through.

It takes effort and insight to implement the kind of ASO that makes a measurable difference, but the experts at NativeX have broken that process down to just four steps in their new white paper, “Breaking the Discovery Code: How to Achieve Top Search Rankings.”

Check out some of the key takeaways.

Step 1: Measure your installs

As Peter Drucker once famously noted, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” At every stage, every single tweak you make should be measured against the benchmark you’ve established. Start by measuring both your organic and paid installs. The equation is simple:

Organic Installs = Total Installs – Paid Installs

The app store reports the total number of installs, while you’ll find paid installs reported in your mobile measurement platform. Both Google and Apple are now helping publishers by providing app engagement analytics as well as app store search data. As you implement your ASO strategy, check back to identify your progress and impact.

Step 2: Choose the right keywords

The right keywords — the singular and multi-word phrases searched for by users to find exactly the app they’re looking for — are critical for app discovery. That’s because two-thirds of users (67 percent) found the last app they downloaded by using search.

So if your app isn’t turning up high in the keyword rankings when your ideal customer searches for it, you’re not using the right keywords.

Develop an initial list by:

  • Brainstorming a list based on the keywords your customers might use to find apps like yours
  • Searching for a seed keyword on, Google Play, or the Apple App store and using autofill results
  • Working with free tools like Google Keyword Planner tool, Google Trends Tool, and Keyword Tool
  • Exploring keyword research and analytics that identify potential keywords based on analysis of your app, competitor’s keywords, and more

Edit and prioritize your list

You’ve now got your master list. Next, there are three factors to consider when paring it down to determine the most effective keywords:

  1. Relevance: Turning up at the top of a list doesn’t matter if your app has nothing to do with the keyword. A user will ignore your app, delete it immediately, or might even leave a negative review.
  2. Difficulty: The more popular a keyword is, the more apps are competing for it and the more difficult it is to rank. Start with less competitive keywords. (A thesaurus can help find keyword synonyms for similar but less difficult words)
  3. Popularity: How often are users searching for the keyword?


Keywords in the language of your target country is an underutilized silver bullet. One developer found that updating their final list of keywords to the local language in key countries led to a 700+ percent increase in downloads.

Step 3: Optimize your rank

According to Flurry Analytics, 82 percent of users never browse past the top 25 search results. In addition, the number-one app usually takes 30 percent of organic installs, with 17 percent in position 2, and 12 percent in position 3.



Two factors directly impact your app’s keyword rankings:

  • On-Page factors: information the app store associates with your app, including app name, developer name, title, description, icon, screenshots, etc.
  • Off-Page factors: how your users interact with the app, including click-through rate, downloads, usage, social media ranking, speed/reliability of servers, etc.




Improving Off-Page factors

Ignoring Off-Page factors, in particular, means you’ll never get into the critical top three positions, where over 50 percent of keyword traffic goes. Off-Page factors tend to be much more difficult to influence than On-Page factors, but can be boosted through effective paid advertising with ad networks like NativeX, that optimize campaigns for strong ASO impact.

The actual ranking algorithms are guarded secrets, but there are factors you can influence to effectively improve your rank in both stores — so improving these will impact your visibility.

  1. Total downloads
  2. Download velocity
  3. Click-through rate
  4. Usage and discard rates
  5. App updates
  6. Average user rating
  7. Ratings count

Improving On-Page factors

On-Page factors improve both click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates (CVR), which directly improve ranking. To do that, focus on optimizing the following areas:

  • App Name (Title): Only 25 characters appear in search results. Consider using relevant keywords to boost CTR.
  • App File Size: You want an app that’s quickly downloaded. The larger your app file, the lower your CVR.
  • Description: Only the first three lines are displayed as a preview, so make them count.
  • Icon: The icon impacts both ongoing use of your app as well as the initial CTR and CVR. Use A/B testing tools to determine which icons stand out and perform best.
  • Screenshots and video previews: Well done, A/B-tested visual promotional assets convince visitors that your app is worth downloading.

The relative importance of each factor to your search keyword rank for Google and Apple is covered in detail in the white paper. 

Step 4: Repeat

ASO is a continuous process—you need to stay on top of your optimization efforts to keep your rankings high. Continue to measure for all of the above, keep an eye on under-performing keywords, never let up on A/B testing to keep improving your visual marketing elements, and keep boosting your rank with strategic paid advertising.


Dig deeper: For an in-depth look at using ASO to boost your organic downloads, download the free  whitepaper I've co-authored, “App Store Optimization (ASO): Breaking the Discovery Code – How to Achieve Top Search Rankings.


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