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ASO: how you should work with it to get more installs

Julia Suliagina
Julia Suliagina
Julia Suliagina
Julia Suliagina
Asodesk Content Manager. She writes newsletters and articles in blog. Make all complex topics in ASO easy and interesting.
All articles by author
Published: 28.09.2020
Updated: 23.10.2020
12 min read

According to Apple, 65% installs of applications come from search. But your app needs to be optimized, if you want to get search traffic.

Why ASO is necessary and how it can help in promotion — ASOdesk can explain. Today, we will look at the results that can be achieved by applying ASO, talk about who needs optimization, consider several cases, and list the major mistakes of newcomers in ASO. 

Why you should do ASO

Proper ASO performance allows:

1. Increase search traffic and bring the app to the top on App Store and Google Play. The correct use of keywords in the title and description helps to bring the app to the top and get more traffic. ASO improves in-store mobile app visibility and optimizes conversions from viewing to installs. 

2. Increase the user retention rate. According to Appsflyer, the retention rate of inorganic users dropped by more than 60% in 2019. Whereas organic users compared to inorganic users show 32% higher retention rate in week 8. Those who install the app from the search longer and more often use it.

3. Increase the competitiveness of the application. If you study the store, you will find that there are a huge number of apps and new apps are constantly coming into the competition race. Unfortunately, there is a lot of garbage as well. Some release apps without taking care of them at all. App store optimization is one way for your application to separate itself from mediocre products and start competing with only the best.

4. Lower the cost of installation. The more users install the app, the higher it rises in the rankings, and the more often it is seen by other users. Reducing overall CPI allows for more low-cost installs from organics.

Sergey Sharov, Founder of ASOdesk and Angle Connect

It’s silly not to engage in App Store Optimization if your app is already popular and has a large number of installs. Compared to how much advertising you buy, ASO costs a penny, but unequivocally brings a good level of traffic that pays off quickly.

5. ASO helps develop the product. By analyzing search queries in different countries, you can learn more about user preferences and understand their needs.

Andrei Moroz, CEO of Aloha Mobile

When we did ASO for some specific markets, like Korea or Iran, we found competitors not represented in other markets. Users showed quite a good variety of needs as well. For example, in some countries, one category of keywords won by traffic and another category was more popular in others. 

If we weren’t doing optimizations, we would hardly be able to see these particularities. It turns out that ASO helped us not only in terms of growth of organic traffic, but also in product development. It influenced further development strategy. This allowed us to take a leading position in some geolocations with quite serious competition, such as Germany and Japan.

What applications need and what do not need App Store Optimization

Almost all applications need at least the basic optimization

Application publishers are all doing optimization. However, some of them just fill out the description and choose the visual content without thinking about ASO principles. Others analyze competitors, change visualizations depending on the season, insert keywords into the title and description. 

Changing the icon and adding keywords to the title can increase the number of installs. On the December to January chart, we see an increase in the number of Impressions of 25%, a 9.3% increase in new installs (App Units) and a 32.3% growth in conversion (CVR).

Increased number of impressions, installations, conversions after ASO

Find more on this topic in Anna Benkis’ article.

Vsevolod Novozhenov, SEO/ASO manager Libertex

Almost all applications need ASO. Tags and titles optimization, cool previews, quality screenshots and video are the base for promoting every application.

Sergey Sharov, Founder of ASOdesk and Angle Connect

If you do not do App Store Optimization at all, you will not have the amount of traffic that you can get from the search. Especially from long-tail and low-competitive queries. Users will not find your app on relevant queries, but will find and install your competitors’ app.

How deeply it is worth doing App Store Optimization depends on the specifics of your application.

ASO is less needed for internal applications

If you are developing an application for existing customers and do not plan to put it in the App Store and Google Play, you can go without ASO.

Alexander Alekseev, Indie developer

I have one app that doesn’t need ASO. People download the app via a direct link, as it has access by login and password and without registration. Access is assigned through the site by the administrator. Such applications for internal use do not require ASO.

Niches that need ASO

To understand whether you need to do ASO now or not, please, use a short instruction: 

1. Check if users are looking for an app from your category on the App Store and Google Play. You need to make sure that the application will be useful to someone who has not yet become your customer. If your application is only suitable for service customers, then ASO is not necessary.

2. Estimate the amount of brand traffic. For example, in the field of navigation, the leading places in Russia are occupied by Yandex.Maps, Google Maps and 2Gis. To fight for installations with such giants, App Store Optimization won’t be enough. Most often, people look for navigator typing queries like “Google Maps”, “2Gis”, etc.

So you need to create a navigator that will differ profitably from the rest and push it as a brand. ASO in this case will bring in additional traffic. But as long as your brand is weaker than other navigators, you won’t be able to best competitors. 

3. Check the ratio of organic to inorganic traffic in your niche. Through doing this you will be able to understand how often users install the app from search and from ads.

We analyzed App Store apps from around the world to look at the ratio of inorganic and organic traffic in different categories. You can see the results in the table.

The ratio of organic and inorganic traffic for apps

“Search” means search traffic, “browse” means organic traffic not from search (applications from categories, featuring and selections). Inorganic traffic includes installs coming from contextual advertising and advertising in applications. 

Green marked categories are those in which the percentage of organic traffic is very large. Applications from these niches clearly need ASO. For example, 81.8% of traffic in the “music” category comes from search.  

ASO is a must-have for applications of the following categories: books, business, catalogs, eating & drinking, education, finance, music, news, productivity, reference, social networking, utilities, weather.

Other applications also can benefit from search traffic, it just has a slightly lower specific weight, relative to inorganic installations. 

It is important to tell about mobile games, as it is one of the most popular niches in app stores. In 2019, they accounted for 33% of all app downloads, according to Tech Crunch. More than 50% of mobile app users play games. According to Adjust, in March 2020, the number of installations of hyper-casual games increased by 103% compared to December. 

However, the number of paid installations of such games to the contrary fell by 26% in March compared to October. Consequently, those applications that emphasized ASO won. We analyzed mobile games from all over the world.

The ratio of organic and inorganic traffic for apps

In green, we marked the categories of games that need ASO: action, arcade, casual, educational, racing, sports, trivia. The “casino” and “puzzles” categories are special. The percentage of search traffic is lower here, as in these categories pay traffic is much more active. However, that doesn’t mean there is little organic traffic, just there is less of it in percentage ratio. Therefore, applications of the categories “casino” and “puzzles” also need search promotion.

What ASO includes

ASO can be divided into 8 blocks:

  1. Building the semantic core.
  2. Regular iterations of text and visual optimization.
  3. Measurement of the effectiveness of iterations.
  4. Localization in new languages.
  5. Preparation of metadata.
  6. Work with search query management.
  7. Monitoring search queries.
  8. Analysis of competitors’ ASO strategies.

Sergey Sharov, Founder of ASOdesk and Angle Connect

We always say that ASO is not rocket science. If you want, you can learn ASO as most specialists do. All App Store Optimization processes can be documented, described, and later you move smoothly to achieve the result according to clear instructions and rules.

How installs increased after ASO

To show how ASO has affected traffic, installs and profits, let’s consider the cases of our customers and students.

Yulia Baranova, Love Planet, Head of ASO department

I do ASO of Love Planet app and other dating apps: Siren, WOW, Chance. The mobile dating market is very saturated. All the time you need to be alert and watch how the query structure and position layout change. 

On average, we do metadata updates every couple of months, during this time we see tangible changes in the query structure that require adjustments to ASO. 

Organic downloads of Siren iOS app in the US has increased more than 4 times after doing ASO.

Vitaly Ivanchikov, Indie developer

My team and I develop apps and collect good organic traffic. Initially, we did ASO only by analyzing clues in Play Market, analyzing competitors, knowledge from SEO, and relying on intuition.

After training at the Academy and the application of ASOdesk tools, the installations increased markedly. We had already had some successes, but when we started doing ASO seriously, the revenue grew by 3-4 times.

Particularly impressive results are noticeable in one of the children’s games. During the search promotion, we rewrote text metadata based on keyword traffic analysis in ASOdesk. Used low-frequency, mid-frequency and high-frequency keys, including brand ones: from famous series and books.  

Before ASO we had 200 installations a week, now it’s about 8000 a day. The number of installations has increased by about 285 times.

The growth of installs by 285 times after ASO

Alexander Alekseev, Indie developer

Since February, I’ve started studying ASO in more detail and thinking how to promote my new app. I read articles and searched for suitable services, ended up on ASOdesk. I like its UI and the way it showed traffic, helped do keywords research.

I started optimizing the application: expand localizations, search for new keys that bring traffic. Now the main traffic comes from Russia and Vietnam. If you do a good job, then traffic can be obtained from any country. 

The number of installs has increased significantly since the spring. And now revenue from the app is growing. I’m constantly adding new localizations to attract new audiences. I collect a new core and improve my position as a percentage.

At the beginning of summer 2020, there were 1,400 installs a week, and at the end of summer there were already 3,800 installs.

Dynamics of installs from June 1 to August 30

Andrei Moroz, CEO Aloha Mobile

We promote Aloha — a mobile browser focusing on privacy and security. Free and unlimited VPN is built into the browser, which helps to bypass the locks.

Since we started to do ASO, organic traffic has increased 4 times on the App Store and 2.5 to 3 times on Google Play. This is far from the limit; we plan to double it further.

Growth of installs in course of ASO

What mistakes are important to avoid at the start of optimization

Mistake 1: Do ASO without changes in the application

ASO only works on the condition of constant work on the product. At least your application should be of high-quality and useful for users. Otherwise, the rating will creep down, and the number of negative reviews will increase. Then any promotion effort would be powerless. 

Therefore, the product team must understand the need for changes according to the ASO strategy. For example, don’t prevent the addition of keywords to the application title, don’t cling to the old creative. The icons and screenshots can and should be changed depending on the season and trends. And negative feedback needs to be taken into account; always try to solve the problem. 

Mistake 2: Expect a quick result 

ASO is a long-term process that will not yield stunning results after the first optimization. It is necessary to test hypotheses, to analyze competitors, to monitor the positions of the application on certain queries. From the first time you won’t even be able to find all the search queries, it requires a minimum of 3 iterations. Read more about iterations in ASO in our article. 

We conducted a survey in the Telegram channel ASO & ASA Channel and found out that most of ASO specialists have optimization results only in 2-3 months. However, 17% of specialists see the result in a month of work. Don’t wait for instant ramp-up anyway. Be patient, study competitors, track positions, test hypotheses. Only regular work will bring significant change. 

Mistake 3: Don’t learn ASO

Even ASO-specialists can have quite superficial knowledge. Many experts believe that it is enough to know the base and perform actions automatically, without deep analysis of the situation. In fact, ASO is a whole set of knowledge and skills. You need not only understand tools, but also have strategic thinking, constantly track changes and trends, propose new ideas, test hypotheses. Without comprehensive knowledge, you run the risk of making banal mistakes and losing traffic. 

Mistake 4: Do not study Store Suggestions

Users are lazy and prefer not to type in the query entirely, but to click on automatic App Store and Google Play Suggestions. If suggestions appear automatically, it means there is already traffic on such queries. It’s important to include these queries into the semantic core. Otherwise, you risk losing most of the traffic. 

Store suggestions in App Store from iPhone in USA for the “cheap flights” query in ASOdesk’s Keyword Explorer

Mistake 5: Not to analyze competitors

In 2020, ASO is no longer a new field. Almost in every niche there will be strong competitors who have competently built up ASO processes. A competitive analysis allows you to find search queries on which our competitors are already advancing, track your positions in comparison to competitors and see on what queries you can get more traffic.  

Mistake 6: Not to use additional localizations in the App Store

Each country has basic and additional localizations. In Russia the basic localization is Russian, additional localization is English and Ukrainian. It is important to use not only basic but also additional localizations; it will allow you to fit more queries from semantics. 

For example, if you use only the main localization in Russia, you will only have 160 characters: Name (30) + Subtitle (30) + Keywords (100). If you use 3 localizations, you will have 480 characters available. 

Data from App Store Connect

Mistake 7: Not to localize the application in foreign languages

The application’s entry into foreign markets can increase the number of installs and revenue of apps by hundreds of times. Modern tools will make up a semantic core in any language unknown to you. For example, the Keyword Manager tool in ASOdesk offers automatic prompts in the local language. You can read more about the semantic core in foreign languages in the article

Keyword Manager in Japanese


1. ASO allows you to increase search traffic and user retention rates, reduce installation costs, increase competitiveness, and understand the needs of your target audience.

2. To understand if your application needs ASO: 

  • Check if users are looking for an app from your category on the App Store and Google Play.
  • Estimate the amount of brand traffic. Look at the number of strong brands in your niche.
  • Check the ratio of organic to inorganic traffic in your niche.

3. An analysis of the experience of our students and customers showed that ASO increases the number of installs and revenue of the application by 3-4 times. Sometimes ASO can bring even more significant results and increase the number of installs by 285 times. ASO not only promotes the growth of organic traffic, but also helps in product development and influences development strategy.

4. Corny mistakes in ASO will result in loss of traffic and revenue. The better you know ASO tools and understand optimization principles, the more application installs you will get. 

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Julia Suliagina
Julia Suliagina
Julia Suliagina
Julia Suliagina
Asodesk Content Manager. She writes newsletters and articles in blog. Make all complex topics in ASO easy and interesting.
All articles by author
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