Top 5 Tips for App Store Optimisation

With the ever growing number of apps available, its essential that yours can be found by people looking for it as well as those who don't know they are! Whilst App Store Optimisation (ASO) – the process of improving the visibility of an app in App Store searches – is a whole discipline in itself, these 5 essential tips will ensure you’re getting the basics right:

1. App Name

Your app name is the highest weighted element of your search terms (app name and ‘keywords), so it’s essential that you include the words most relevant for you – most likely your magazine name! If your title is known by an acronym, for example ‘TGO’, it’s always recommended to include the full version as well, as then those words will be included in your heaviest weighted set and ensure you’re not beaten by competitors to your own name e.g. ‘TGO – The Great Outdoors Magazine’.

Apple reduced the app name character limit to 50 as many developers were ‘keyword-loading’- creating incredibly lengthy app names which were full of keywords to gain a search benefit. If you can still fit a tagline in to the 50 character limit that contains a keyword or two, great, but be aware that an app can’t be submitted with more than 50 characters now so it’s essential that you come in under that. We’d also recommend including ‘magazine’, if applicable, so that you don’t need to use it in your 100 characters of keywords.

2. Keywords

Combined with your app name, keywords are your search terms in the App Store and you have 100 characters to play with. You need to consider words related to your brand but also the type of words which people would search an App Store for (that are relevant to your brand).

A common mistake is to repeatedly use the same words in your keywords as part of different phrases. Each keyword can be used in combination with any other so there’s no need for this duplication. For the same reason, you don’t need to include anything from your app name in your keywords. This simple tip will generally free up some characters from your existing keywords.

Once you’ve decided on your keywords you can use the free tool, Sensor Tower, to check them and highlight duplications and any highly competitive words (though naturally there will be certain words which you can’t exclude for your brand regardless of competition e.g. car for a car magazine). This is done in App Store Optimization > Keyword Optimization.

If you’re struggling to fill up your 100 characters you can also try the ‘Related words’ search on OneLook. You can also go to App Store Optimization > Keyword Research and input your most common term, e.g. ‘car magazine’, sort by rank and then click the ‘spy’ icon to get insight into terms used by large titles in your sector.

3. Screenshots

It’s not unusual for people to focus on being found, getting the name and keywords right, and then forget about the landing page/ presence. This is where your screenshots and description are vital (along with an eye-catching icon). The screenshots need to look interesting and appealing enough to get the user to tap on your listing (to read the description, see reviews etc) and/ or to hit the download button.

By default we will show your most recent issue’s first 5 preview pages (selected in the back office). However this doesn’t tell potential customers a great deal about what the app does or why they should download it, so if you have special features, such as a mobile edition or interactive features we’d highly recommend shouting about them! One tip often recommended for game apps is to use the AIDA formula for screenshots and elements of this can be applied to magazines:

  • Attention – grab the attention of the customer e.g. ‘the world’s number one <> magazine’
  • Interest – Raise interest by demonstrating advantages and benefits, rather than features
  • Desire – convince customers that they want and desire the product and that it will satisfy their needs
  • Action – lead customers towards taking an action/ purchasing e.g. subscribe and save

Have a look around some of the big name publications on the App Store to see examples of visually compelling and appealing screenshots. SFX and The Times are a couple of examples. If you can update your styled screenshots (or atleast the latest cover) when a new issue comes out, even better.

4. Description

As above, the description needs to help convert people once they’ve encountered your app in an App Store search. Many magazine app descriptions simply contain the print magazine boiler-plate. Typically these won’t include anything specific to the digital version/ why you should download the digital version so please take a moment to tweak descriptions to be relevant.

Only the first few lines of the description (upto 255 characters on the Apple App Store) are shown prior to the user needing to press ‘read more’ to expand the description, so lead with what you feel is the most important and compelling line of the description. Again, SFX from Future Publishing is a good example.

If your print edition includes any cover-mounts or additional products which won’t be included in the digital issue please also highlight this in your description to reduce occasional customer service complaints.

5. Reviews

‘Social proof’- such as reviews and ratings - is a key tool in e-commerce, reassuring potential customers that other people value and vouch for a particular product. Accordingly it’s always worth encouraging loyal users to review your product, in the App Store it’s also thought to contribute to search rankings. Built in to Jellyfish Connect apps is a review prompt to encourage loyal users to leave ratings on the App Store. It’s also worth giving people you know a nudge to review your products.

By following the tips above (and the wealth of information on ASO available on the web if you’d like to take a deeper dive!) you should be able to maximise your organic app downloads in this competitive app store.

If you have any questions or would like to apply learnings from the above please contact us: