The rise of ASO and how it’s affecting the mobile marketplace

App store optimisation makes a huge difference to your app's chances of discovery

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Anyone who has worked with online sales, online marketing or even just building their own website will understand just how valuable SEO is. If you can’t get your product seen by your target audience, you’re going to lag way behind your competition. App Store Optimisation, or ASO, is basically SEO for the various app stores which are running the mobile market in the modern age.

The concept of using mobile apps is something that is less than 10 years old, and yet it is something which completely and utterly dominates not only the way we live our lives, but the way we run everything from retail to marketing. The old Apple catchphrase “there’s an App for that” is truer now than it was in 2009 – the number of apps that now make up the App Store, Google Play and the like has now reached the 2 million mark, and the chances of developers slowing down any time soon is slim to none. Apps are here to stay, and this means that getting your app seen by the people you want to use it isn’t going to be getting any easier any time soon.

A 2012 study from the European Technographics Consumer Technology Online Survey has shown that as many as 63% of users discover new apps simply by browsing the store – this is higher than any of the other new app discovery methods surveyed, including word of mouth, editor’s picks or anything else. By comparison, searching for an app via Google or a similar search engine only accounted for up to 16% of app discoveries.

Image: iStock/TraceyMedia

The flip side to this is, of course, negative ASO. Back in 2014, EA released a game called Dungeon Keeper. The app was slammed by critics for several reasons, including the fact that their constant demand for reviews would only route you through to the app store page if you promised to give them a shining review – anything less and you were simply not redirected. EA told the press that this high app store rating showed how popular the game was; the community responded with the fact that it had a 0.3/10 rating on Metacritic. The backlash over this was such that it even made the front page of BBC News.

For as long as we’ve had SEO, people have been trying to game the system – the same can be said for ASO. While we’re always going to have outliers like this trying to get around the system, it’s worth noting that they exist because of how much of an impact ASO makes on the mobile marketplace. If you want to get your app seen, you need to work on your ASO – just be aware that this is something that takes time. Likewise be aware that if you try something underhanded with your ASO, the community will find out and that probably isn’t how you want your app getting its 5 minutes of fame.

Main image: iStock/samxmeg

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