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The Complete App Store Optimization (ASO) Checklist: 2016 Edition

Ensure you're getting the maximum App Store Optimization benefits from day one with the help of our interactive guide to 2016's best ASO practices.

The Complete App Store Optimization Checklist 2016 Edition

There is a process every mobile marketer goes through when launching a new app. The actions that are needed to lay the framework for successful App Store Optimization are much the same at each app launch. Sensor Tower has assembled a playbook for making sure an app is set up for success on the app stores. Here are the top 30 things you should be thinking about when implementing your ASO strategy.

It's important to remember that App Store Optimization is an ongoing process, not something you "set and forget". With that in mind, the items in the ASO guide below are the initial steps that will set your app up for continued success. Remember that each of the measures below will ​incrementally improve​ the visibility of your app.

Check off items as you go along. (Not all of these may apply to your situation.)

Note: $ = Requires a paid Sensor Tower account, $$ = Requires a Sensor Tower Enterprise account

General App Store Optimization

Have you already chosen a publisher name? If so, there's nothing you can really do here. But if not, keep in mind that it will be indexed into search, so choose it wisely. Have you added your new app to Sensor Tower? If you haven't launched yet, you can add a competitor and track keywords as if it were your own app. Have you looked up what your competitors are using for keywords? You can use Keyword Spy in Sensor Tower to easily do this. Have you tracked your competitors in Sensor Tower to follow their keyword and category performance? Have you used Review Analysis in Sensor Tower to look for keyword ideas? $$ (Pro Tip: Sort by positive reviews.) Have you used Update Timeline to research the ASO changes your competitors are making at each update? $$ Have you added a tagline to your title to bring your most important keywords into the title field? As of September 2016, you have only have 50 characters to work with on the App Store, but that number remains 255 on Google Play. Use them wisely and don't be spammy. (Good example for both stores: NBC - Watch Now and Stream Full TV Episodes) Have you considered using generic keywords ("best", "top", "free") to rank for phrase combinations? (NOTE: You can do this on Google Play as well. When writing copy, mention "best rpg game" in the description to target that phrase combination.) Have you tracked phrases in Sensor Tower to analyze the performance of long-tail initiatives? Have you used "search suggestions" in Sensor Tower's Keyword Research when considering new keywords? $ Have you localized your keywords/description in each market? Have you localized your title while keeping the branded terms in the native language? Example: "部落冲突 (Clash of Clans)" Have you made sure your screenshots are current? Have you localized the copy in your screenshots? Have you produced a video for your store page? Have you reviewed all of the free ASO resources at your disposal before completing this round of optimization?

Google Play Specific Optimization

Have you repeated your Tier 1 keywords two to three times when writing your description? (Sensor Tower data shows that repeating keywords in the description two to three times can increase your ability to rank for them.) Have you considered reducing the length of your description to reduce the noise and make your keywords more dense? Have you started backlink campaigns from high traffic sites (website, Google+, press releases, etc.)? Have you A/B tested your assets (icon, screenshots, etc.) to optimize your conversion rates?

App Store Specific Optimization

Have you done research on whether to include the plural form of a keyword? In general, choose the one with less competition. (Note: plurals ending in "s" are typically indexed automatically when the singular form is used. Do your research to be sure.) Have you done research on whether to include an article ("of", "the", "a") as a keyword? (Pro Tip: Use Keyword Research to test whether you need to include an article as a keyword) Have you optimized your keywords to take advantage of the full 100 characters? (i.e., be sure to not repeat keywords from your app's title) Have you ordered your title's keywords in order of importance? Have you considered using CamelCase when naming your app? (For instance, using FarmVille allows Zynga to rank for "farmville", "farm", and "ville" with one keyword—this frees up space in the keyword field for new keywords.) Have you used Sensor Tower's Predictive Rank for individual words and keyword phrases? (Pro Tip: Aim for a score above 50 percent) $$ Do you have in-app purchases (IAPs)? IAP phrases are indexed for search. Have you done keyword research to help name your IAPs? Have you considered that your English keywords are also searchable in all English-language stores? (Pro Tip: There's no need to include them again in, say, the French localization—stick to just French keywords. Apple will index the English set across all stores that support English.) Have you used Internationalization within Sensor Tower to double-check that everything is localized once you are live with your update? (Pro Tip: You can use Internationalization to see where your competitors are focusing their localization efforts.) $$ Have you started tracking "App Store Views" in iTunes Connect App Analytics? (This is a crucial KPI for ASO.) Have you calculated your conversion rate (Views/Installs) in App Analytics?

By employing these measures, you'll be ensuring the best possible start for your app's organic discoverability right out of the gate. Remember, ASO is an iterative process, so many of these steps will be performed multiple times during the life of your apps. Check back with this guide when launching new apps or planning your next update, as we'll be keeping it up-to-date with the latest best practices.

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Wes McCabe

Written by: Wes McCabe, Product Marketing Manager

Date: May 2016