It takes more than a great app to be a hit in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store these days. The competition is fierce, and knowing the best SEO practices will help your app get the wide exposure it deserves. In fact, the practice has become so important that it now has its own buzzword: “app search optimization (ASO).

App Search Optimization Tips

Keep updated on the latest SEO changes to the major App Stores. Get updates from your favorite SEO website or run a web search on a monthly basis to see what tweaks have been made. If you have an app that suddenly takes a nosedive in Apple or Google’s app stores, make sure to research any SEO updates that may have impacted your app’s visibility.

App title: Don’t overthink your app title. Keep it simple and specific. Research the most relevant keywords that most closely match what your app represents. Remember to make your title unique, especially for highly competitive keywords, so it doesn’t get buried in search results.

Take SEO beyond the app title. Yes, the title of your app is very important, but keywords can be equally as important when it comes to search results performance. Keyword SEO is impacted by many factors, including character length and how competitive the term is in the market. Keep your keywords relevant, and avoid padding with popular terms as that can actually hurt your search ranking.

App description: Most readers don’t read the complete description of an app. That means the preliminary text that appears when users initially check out an app is prime real estate. Make sure you make those few lines of text pop. The app description should explain clearly what the app is about and why the user should download it. What sets your app apart from the competition? Don’t be afraid to mention any awards or other positive feedback that the app has received.

Go beyond the words: The icon for your app is often how potential buyers are introduced to your app. Most experts recommend nixing any words in the design of your app icon. Keep it simple, clean and in the same design scheme as the app itself. Take a look at your direct competition and try to set yourself apart.

Publisher name: Don’t overlook the optimization opportunities in the app publisher name. If you plan on publishing multiple apps in the same genre, you may want to include the same keywords found in your app title in your publisher name. For example, if your app name is Animal Slide Puzzle, and you plan on releasing a series of slide puzzle apps, then a good publisher name might be Slide Puzzle Apps.

Apple App Store vs. Google Play Store

Most app search optimization tips apply to both Apple and Google’s respective app stores. Here is one important difference to keep in mind:

Keywords are searchable in the app description on the Google Play Store. They are not searchable in the Apple App Store. So, higher keyword density in your app description could help your ranking for Google’s app store. Most ASO experts recommend including the keyword up to five times in the app description for apps submitted to Google Play.

Be Prepared to Update

Just like with SEO, app search optimization is constantly evolving. The rules that apply today may be obsolete six months down the road. This means your app description is not set in stone. You should be prepared to update it, especially if you are able to cite new examples of positive feedback that your app receives over time. Another aspect that can help you gain respect (and downloads) from users is to respond to feedback and criticism promptly. Don’t be afraid to point out that your app had a major bug fixed or new features added. Most users are forgiving if a new app doesn’t work perfectly out of the gate as long as the app developer responds to their concerns promptly. This is especially true for free apps. For paid apps, a more polished product is expected, and you should be prepared to update your app search optimization to keep your paid customers abreast of any updates.