"Learn from other people's mistakes – you will never live long enough to make them all yourself" – at RadASO, we always stay faithful to this rule, and we recommend you start using it as well.
In line with this philosophy, in today’s article, we've compiled the TOP common mistakes in ASO optimization that you should avoid.
Common mistakes that apply to both Apple App Store and Google Play
Mistake #1. Using the same strategy to promote an application in the App Store and Google Play
The stores have completely different algorithms, starting from different fields that are indexed – therefore, the strategies for promotion in the stores will differ significantly. For example, the various indexed elements are different for each store:
Google Play indexes Title, Short description, and Full description. In the App Store, it is Title, Subtitle, and the Keywords field.
Google Play also indexes reviews and responses to them.
The App Store has screenshots in the search, unlike Google Play (except for branded queries). These are just some examples of the differences between them that are worth paying attention to.
Mistake #2. Not checking the competition and demand in the niche
This is something that should be done at the very beginning of the app creation process. After a detailed analysis of the competitors and the key search terms their app listings rank for, you will understand how difficult it can be to promote your application.
A detailed analysis of the niche will help you understand these crucial aspects:
- The target audience for your application: average user age, gender, location, etc.;
- What exactly your target audience is looking for in similar applications? To determine this, it is also important to study the reviews the users have left on the competitors' app listings;
- Who your main competitors are: what tactics they use, what search phrases they are targeting, what their icons and screenshots look like, what they focus on to attract users' attention, what their advantages and disadvantages are, which regions they are promoting to, as well as which countries they get the most number of installs and revenue from:
By analyzing the volume of a niche, you can see how many installations and revenue in which country mobile apps in this niche receive. Based on this, you will be able to prioritize the promotion of your mobile app in certain countries.
Mistake #3. Using SEO strategies for promoting a mobile application
SEO is a very different landscape compared to ASO, so you cannot use the same approach. Promoting a mobile application is not the same as promoting a website.
While in some cases, purchasing high–authority backlinks may work for mobile applications, this only applies to Google Play, and it is not a common practice.
In addition, ASO is not just about optimizing textual metadata. It also involves continuous work with graphics and additional components, such as ratings and reviews, positioning the application in other sections of the app stores (top categories, app of the day, editor's choice, etc.).
Mistake #4. Not localizing for specific regions
Users from different regions have their own cultural peculiarities and mentality, so it is not worth saving on ensuring that the application meets the needs and preferences of each.
At the same time, localization should include not only specific textual metadata but also a full adaptation of the graphics and content so that the cultural peculiarities of the region are taken into account.
Mistake #5. Expecting quick and unbeatable results from ASO
ASO is a strategic process that is long–term and regular in nature. It is not advisable to expect fast and impressive results after the first iteration of metadata. An application needs to gain a certain number of installs to occupy the top positions in the app stores.
The main goal of ASO is to increase the visibility and improve the conversion rate of the application, making it attractive in the eyes of the users and understandable to the app store search algorithms.
Mistake #6. Making a one–time ASO effort and stopping there
It is necessary to constantly monitor the positions, the popularity of search terms, seasonality, competitors, trends in the niche, changes in user behavior, etc., and regularly update metadata and graphics.
Even if you manage to enter the top positions after the first iteration, do not stop – there is always something to improve.
Mistake #7. Not using suggestions (search prompts) when providing keyword research
When collecting the semantic core, you should utilize the suggestions that appear in the dropdown menu after you start typing the search term in the app store. You should optimize your app listings to target these keyword phrases:
Often users do not enter the entire search term but instead click on the search suggestions offered by the platform. To rank for these suggestions, they must be added to the metadata.
Mistake #8. Not using additional marketing sources
To achieve good results with ASO, it is important to work with additional sources of traffic to increase brand recognition and popularity, such as Search Ads, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and advertising within other applications. In some niches, there is no demand among users initially, so we must generate interest. It is crucial to communicate with the target audience through social media, articles, newsletters, and more. Additionally, the overall volume of traffic from other sources will positively impact indexing.
Mistake #9. Not analyzing reviews and not responding to them
Reviews are an important factor for app ranking and conversion. We previously described their significant impact on ASO in this article. By analyzing reviews, you can identify shortcomings in the application and promptly correct them to gain loyalty from users.
Mistake #10: Not paying attention to flagged reviews
Flagged reviews are immediately visible on the app listing page and therefore have the greatest impact on the user's choice of whether to download an app or not. It is highly recommended to respond to these reviews first, even if they are negative because by seeing your response, other users will understand that you are working to address the issue.
Mistake #11. Not working to improve the app's rating
The application's rating is calculated based on reviews, and the rating is one of the most important factors that influences ranking and conversion. The optimal rating on both platforms should not be lower than 4*, and ideally, it should be 4.5*. Moreover, in Google Play, there is a filter that, when applied, users will only see applications with a corresponding rating indicator in the search results. It is essential to work on improving the application's rating to ensure its visibility and success.
The recommended strategy is to configure a pop–up form in the application and ask the users to give your app a rating. The best timing is to request this at a point where the user is fully satisfied with the application.
It is always important to pay attention to the quality of the application you are working on. When the application itself is not ironed out and many bugs still occur, users will give it low ratings. As a result, it will have a low overall rating, poor retention, and consequently, poor app listing positions in the search (especially in Google Play).
Mistake #12. Ignoring data from analytics and MMP
Analyzing application analytics allows you to identify many nuances. For example, it helps you understand at which stage users most often stop using the application, exit the game, or, conversely, make purchases. By conducting the appropriate analysis, you will be able to take measures to improve the product.
In addition, analytics can help you understand where your traffic is coming from, thus helping you identify the traffic channels that bring the most users.
Mistake #13. Not conducting ASO analysis and not adjusting plans
After each metadata iteration, an analysis should be conducted – what worked, what didn't, and, if necessary, plans for processing certain locales should be changed. In addition, it is worth considering adjusting the strategy for all promotion channels: Search, App Referrer, Web Referrer, and Search Ads in the App Store.
As well as Search, Explore, and Third–party Referrals in Google Play:
Mistake #14. Failure to Monitor Story Updates
Periodically, app stores change their algorithms and rules, so it is essential to keep track of updates in order to adapt to them in a timely manner and not fall behind your competitors.
Mistakes in App Store Text Optimization
Mistake #15. Not Using the Most Popular Relevant Keywords in the "Title" Field
The Title is the most significant field in the App Store, so it is essential to try to add the most popular relevant search terms to it in order to rank high.
Mistake #16. Not filling in the "Subtitle" field
Having analyzed a large number of applications, we have noticed a pattern that the subtitle field is often left blank. This means that you are missing out on an additional 30 characters for keywords.
Mistake #17. Incorrectly entering keywords in the Keywords field
You should enter individual words, not phrases, and separate them with commas without any spaces (keyword1,keyword2,keyword3).
Mistake #18. Using exact matches for keywords
It is important to use the chosen keyword search term without modifying its ending, case, etc. In some cases, a search engine may index a certain inflectional form of a keyword (usually in English), but this can only be determined through experimentation.
Mistake #19. Not using all available characters in indexable fields
The available number of characters in indexable fields is as follows:
- Title – 30,
- Subtitle – 30,
- Keywords – 100.
Mistake #20. Duplicating keywords in different fields
Avoid using the same keywords in different fields. First, repeating keywords does not increase their significance. Second, if you place a keyword in both the title and subtitle or in the keyword field, it is unknown which field the search engine will index it from.
Mistake #21. Using the competitors' brands in the visible part of the metadata
Using other brands in the title and subtitle is prohibited. However, certain words can be used if they are generic. For example, if there is a highly popular search term "Sysco delivery," you can use "delivery" in the title and "Sysco" in the keywords field. This way, you can rank for a specific search term without violating the rules.
Mistake #22. Giving preference to branded keywords of competitors instead of generic keywords
Yes, you can use competitors' brands in the keywords field to rank for them. But the question is, how much traffic will it bring you? Therefore, it is better to use all popular generic keywords first, and then move on to competitors' brands.
Mistake #23. Using irrelevant keywords in metadata
Before using a particular keyword in metadata, review the search results. If you don't see any of your competitors in the top 10, it is unlikely that you will be able to secure a high ranking.
Even if you manage to secure a high position for an irrelevant search term, you still won't get any conversions from it.
Mistake #24. Using free stop words
We’ve compiled a complete list of stop words that should not be used in metadata, as search engines will index the page without them. However, this applies only to the English language.
Mistake #25. Using the same search term in both singular and plural forms
In most cases, this is considered a mistake, but there are exceptions, and in some cases, it can improve rankings. In each individual case, it is worth testing different options. However, it is still better to use singular and plural forms separately, except in the case of the English language.
Mistake #26. Not using cross–localization
In some countries, there are 2–3 active locales, with the United States having as many as 10. It is worth spending your time optimizing descriptions for all of these. This way, you will get several times more space for keywords. More details on local coverage can be found here.
Mistake #27. Using category names, subcategory names, and developer names in metadata
Apple automatically indexes applications by category name, subcategory name, and developer name. Also, the word "free" is automatically assigned to all applications in the free category.
Mistake #28. Putting the name of an unknown brand at the beginning of the Title
At the beginning of the title, you can use the brand if it is well–known and popular. If no one knows it, place it at the end and start with general popular keywords you want to promote.
Mistake #29. Making the Title and Subtitle unreadable without spaces and punctuation
The title and subtitle should be written with the end–user in mind, not just a collection of keywords. To make the headline and subheading look attractive, use punctuation marks ("–", "&", ":", and others), as well as spaces between words.
Mistake #30. Using word entries from one keyword in different locales
Placing Viettel in one locale and Post in another will not affect the ranking for the search term "Viettel Post" in either of the locales.
Mistake #31. Assuming that the Subtitle field has a stronger impact on ranking than the Keywords field
Only the Title field has a stronger impact, while Subtitle and Keywords are equally important.
Mistake #32. Including only the exact keyword phrase in the Title field without additional words
An exact match in the Title field does not provide an advantage in search ranking. Therefore, for example, if you need to use the keyword phrase "Merge stories," it is better to add additional keywords to cover more search terms.
Mistake #33. Using automated translation (or machine translation) – applies to both sides
The fact is that machine translation can translate the same word differently, and in each case, the popularity of queries may vary.
SAP* – Search Ads Popularity, displays the popularity of a search term
Mistakes in Google Play Text Optimization
Mistake #34. Not using search terms in the Title, Short Description, or Full Description fields
These fields are indexed by Google Play, so it is worth entering relevant popular search terms in them.
Mistake #35. Overusing keywords in the Full Description field
The general recommendation is to use a keyword once per 250 characters in the full description.
Mistake #36. Incorrect keyword density in the full description
Optimal indicators for the main search terms:
- count: not less than 3;
- density: not lower than 2%.
Mistake #37. Not structuring the text in the full description
Users rarely read the full description, so it is necessary to structure the information correctly, emphasizing important details.
Also, such description structure and formatting are better understood by the Google Play algorithm.
Mistake #38. Not checking the description in Google Natural Language
The check is necessary to understand how algorithms perceive your description and to which category it belongs. The optimal Confidence indicator is not less than 0.9.
Mistakes when working with graphics in the App Store and Google Play
Mistake #39. Not conducting competitor analysis
First of all, when working with graphics, conduct niche research: what common color accents are used in most applications, what colors prevail, what is shown in the first screenshots, and what the attention–grabbing elements are. We further discussed other useful visual ASO recommendations in this article.
Mistake #40. Creating an irrelevant icon
The icon should either be associated with the brand or reflect the essence of the application. For example, the first three icons make it immediately clear that the application is intended for voice–over, while the last one does not.
Mistake #41. Placing many small elements in the icon
It’s recommended to choose the minimalist style for the icon because small elements tend to create unnecessary "noise" and distract the user’s attention. An icon example where this is clearly visible:
Mistake #42. Writing an unknown brand on the icon
If your brand is unknown to anyone, it is not worth using it on the icon. It is better to place a thematic image that represents the essence of the application at a glance.
Mistake #43. Paying more attention to the "beauty" of screenshots and not doing what can have a greater impact on conversion
In the screenshots of this application, the emphasis was placed on the visual design, that is, they tried to make it "beautiful".
But at the same time, they effectively missed out on the opportunity to capitalize on the user’s attention in the first two screenshots which are the most important in this regard, and they need to show the most notable benefits of using the app. It is important that the user can understand what the application is about within the first few seconds and wants to install it.
Mistake #44. Making captions too long
This makes them unreadable and takes up a lot of free space.
Mistake #45. Not using captions at all
With properly formulated captions, you can draw the users' attention to the app’s benefits and functions of interest.
Mistake #46. Choosing the wrong background and not highlighting the mockups
The right choice of background and highlighting mockups will affect the visual perception of the application.
Mistake #47. Alternation of horizontal and vertical screenshots
Mistake #48. Creation of uninformative and incomprehensible screenshots
Mistake #49. Not highlighting the main elements with zooming, the ones you’d like to direct the user’s direction to:
Mistake #50. Not displaying the main functionality and benefits of the application in the first screenshots
The first 2–3 screenshots are crucial. It is on them whether they manage to catch the users’ attention or not, and your task is to convey the key takeaways in a few seconds and convince them that your application is worth installing.
Mistake #51. Not conducting regular A/B testing of graphics
There are no limits to perfection – no matter how flawless your graphics may seem to you, you can always find new ideas for improving it. Consider using built–in tools in Google Play Console and App Store Connect for A/B testing.
Mistake #52. Not changing the graphics during seasonal holidays or events
This is especially true in certain niches, where changing graphics for seasonal events can significantly affect conversion rates.
Mistake #53. Ending graphic testing prematurely
It is not recommended to stop A/B testing your app’s graphics or release the app until you’ve collected enough data based on which you can draw a solid conclusion. You should keep the tests running for at least 7 days and wait for the opportune moment when you can make a decision with a high level of confidence.
Example of a test result in Google Play:
Example of a test result in the App Store:
Mistake #54. Changing several graphic elements at the same time
It is important to make the changes gradually and track the results. For example, it is not recommended to change the icon and screenshots at the same time. If you do this, you will not be able to accurately understand what influenced the conversion rate and in what manner.
It is better to change the icon, wait at least a week, see whether the conversion rate has changed, and only then upload new screenshots and analyze further changes.
This mistake also applies to testing multiple radical changes in screenshots at once. Combining several hypotheses that cannot have a significant impact on conversion is possible. For example, you can simultaneously test the highlighting of mockups and zoom in on individual important elements. However, if you want to change the background, an initial couple of screenshots, and captions all at once, you will not be able to pinpoint for sure what exactly influenced the conversion rate. Therefore, all changes in screenshots should be gradual, justified, and planned.
Mistake #55. Failure to formulate specific hypotheses when improving screenshots
When you think about how to improve screenshots, first formulate clear hypotheses: what you want to achieve, how you want to go about it, and what result it can bring. After that, gradually test each of the formulated hypotheses:
Mistake #56. Not testing videos
Videos are displayed before screenshots, and in many cases, they have a very good impact on conversion. Of course, you should test whether including them has a positive effect, but underestimating and forgetting about them is a mistake you cannot afford to make.
Other mistakes. App Store
Mistake #57. Not using Apple boost when launching the application
The term 'boost' means that the application's title appears in suggestions (search prompts) when someone enters its first word in the search box.
Therefore, the first word in the title should be a popular and relevant keyword. Structure–wise, the correct title format for the first release should look like this:
<keywords> – <brandname>.
Boost works only during the first week after the application's initial release in a given country.
Mistake #58. Not launching In–App Events and not using keywords in indexed fields
In–App Events are temporary events in applications and games, such as competitions, challenges, movie or TV show premieres, live broadcasts, seasonal offers, and much more. These events can be found directly in the App Store, so this is another way to attract users.
The following fields are indexed:
- Event title (30 characters)
- Short event description (50 characters)
Mistake #59: Not using promoted in–app purchases and targeted keywords in the title
Users can find built–in purchases directly in the App Store and subscribe before downloading the application. Promotional purchases, like events, are displayed on the application page, and can appear in search results, and also in sections such as "Today", "Games", or "Applications".
For promoted in–app purchases, only the title is indexed, with a maximum of 30 characters. Here, it is worth adding popular keywords for which you are already ranking high.
Mistake #60. Not running ASA (Apple Search Ads)
ASA can help improve ASO results. With Apple Search Ads, you can:
- Protect your brand and display ads for competitor searches;
- Get installs for search terms where you cannot achieve top positions through ASO;
- Find new search terms through Discovery Campaigns and expand the semantic core;
- Track conversion rates for search terms.
Other mistakes. Google Play
Mistake #61. Not using keywords in responses to reviews
In Google Play, reviews are indexed, and so are your responses to them, making it a good approach to promote your app for relevant search terms.
Mistake #62. Not using captions with keywords in screenshots
There is a theory that in some cases, captions on screenshots in Google Play are indexed. Therefore, this can also be an additional way to promote the application for the keywords you are targeting.
Mistake #63. Not running Google UAC
Running Google UAC (Universal App Campaigns) is an additional way to promote your application. This type of advertising is shown everywhere in the Play Store, as well as in search, Google Play, YouTube, Discover in Google search, and the Google contextual media network to introduce the application to a wider audience. ASO is necessary for advertising campaigns because by analyzing metadata and screenshots, Google understands what your application is about and where and how to promote it. Advertising is necessary for ASO to support and strengthen organic user acquisition and increase application visibility. Only a combination of ASO and UAC can bring maximum benefit and profit to the developer.
Mistake #64. Not using Promotional Content
Promotional Content (LiveOps) in Google Play is content, major updates, or time–limited events in the application that you can show users in Google Play for the purpose of increasing user engagement, stimulating sales, and reducing user churn. Advertised content can be displayed in the "Games" tab, in the "Events" tab, on the store listing page, or in search results.
This feature allows developers to promote various events in the application, insert a deep link into the event, and increase visibility in the Play Store for new and existing users. Launching Promotional Content is important because it has an effect on Explore traffic, as the application will appear in collections.
ASO Specialist Mistakes in Analyzing Results
Mistake #65. Incorrectly choosing the period after release to monitor changes in application positions
In the App Store, changes in positions should be tracked for 1–2 days after release. In Google Play, on the contrary, results should be tracked no earlier than 2 weeks after updating metadata.
Mistake #66. Analyzing only positive changes in positions
It is important to monitor all changes, not only improvements in positions but also their deterioration.
*Search Ads Popularity (SAP) – demonstrates the popularity of the request from 5 to 99
In the App Store, in case you lose your position for a relevant search term after the release due to its removal from metadata, it is necessary to iterate it again within two weeks to restore the lost positions:
Mistake #67. Taking all the credit as an ASO specialist when the app visibility improves
When an ASO specialist sees changes in organic metrics, such as their growth, it is worth investigating in detail first to determine what this growth is to be attributed to.
As the first step, you need to check which search terms contributed to the growth, and then – for what reasons.
There are several options:
- It is the merit of the ASO specialist, that is, the improvement of visibility has occurred as a result of the inclusion of the search term in metadata;
- It may be related to a change in the popularity of this search term, which means it is definitely not the merit of the ASO specialist.
For example, let's consider the increase in the visibility of the application for 2 queries based on the EDI (Estimated Daily Impressions) graph with a high–temperature rating.
Looking at the first search term, the visibility changed immediately after the release, because it was possible to occupy a high position as a result of the search term being included in the metadata:
As for the second, we see an increase in popularity:
Mistake #68. Analyzing only the quantity, not the quality of new positions
New positions are good to improve the app’s visibility in the search, but it is also important to consider their quality.
Of course, ranking in the TOP–1 is bound to yield great profit, but for positions in the TOP 2–3 or 4–5, the results may be quite different:
Furthermore, it is worth judging the relevance of the keyword search term to your application. For example, if you occupy a high position for the search search term "Delta Airlines" for a cryptocurrency purchase app – will it bring you installs, let alone purchases?
Mistake #69. Analyzing only the number of impressions and ignoring the number of installs
ASO specialists should analyze KPI in all the nuances of complexity because it is important not only to increase the visibility of the application but also to increase the number of installs. After all, it is one thing when the application occupies a few high positions for search terms that bring the most traffic and another when it is able to secure countless high positions for irrelevant search terms, or queries of competitors with a very low conversion rate.
Mistake #70. Assuming that the increase in visibility of the application through the Browse source or the increase in position in the category directly affects organic search results
App Store Browse is the traffic coming from categories, features, and collections. Many experts believe that this source indirectly affects App Store Search, as users frequently encounter the application in different collections, and they may begin to search for it more often through search. However, there is no direct correlation here.
The position in the category and the Browse source increases due to the increase in the number of application installs from different sources:
Units (Web Referrer, App Referrer, Browse, Search, Search Ads)
The position of the application in the category:
Mistake #71. Not paying attention to other traffic sources when analyzing changes in the number of impressions through the Search source
Marketing activity that results in traffic from Search Ads, Web Referrers, and App Referrer sources, leads to an increase in brand popularity. This, in turn, is also reflected in Search:
In the graph below, we can see how changes in marketing activity affect brand popularity:
Mistake #72. Not paying attention to other traffic sources when analyzing the changes in conversion rate
For example, in one of the applications, we updated the screenshots on 13.09, now let's try to analyze how this affected the conversion rate:
On the chart, we see a decrease in conversion rates from the established standards, but starting from 12.09, we see an increase in ASA impressions:
The ASA impressions are duplicated in organic traffic, but installs are not. Since the increase in advertising impressions began around the time of the release of the updated screenshots, the decrease in conversion rates after that may be related to this.
Mistake #73. Not paying attention to seasonal or temporary events
External factors or seasonal events often affect application traffic and should be taken into account when analyzing it. For example, let's compare application traffic in the Shopping category on the eve of Black Friday.
This was the graph from the last year in 2021 (Black Friday was on November 26th):
We see that even several days after Black Friday, the traffic in the niche was still at a high level.
Now let's look at this year's traffic. Black Friday was on November 25th, 2022:
The chart clearly shows that the growth abruptly stops on November 24th, which is related to the mass rocket attacks on Ukraine by russia.
Therefore, when analyzing traffic, it is always important to understand that certain seasonal or temporary events may be present, which significantly affect changes in metrics.
Mistake #74. Ignoring cyclicality
In some applications, there is a clearly expressed cyclicality, that is, an increase and decrease in traffic can be observed on certain days of the week:
Therefore, for objectivity, it is worth comparing changes not just before/after, but specifically analogous periods, taking into account the days of the week or month.
Mistake #75. Binding to a specific time frame only
To reliably evaluate the results after the release, sometimes it is necessary to look much wider – for example, not only compare the data for 2 weeks before and after the release, but also take into account the closest month, and sometimes even more.
For example, in this application, the release was scheduled on December 22, and we wanted to see the changes. At the time of analysis, about 3 weeks had passed. The logical approach would be to choose a period of 3 weeks BEFORE and 3 weeks AFTER. Here's what we see in this case:
Judging from the graph above, you may be tempted to conclude that the application's performance has increased. But if we look at a longer time frame, the picture is completely different:
In this case, we see that, in fact, the number of impressions simply returned to approximately the same level as before their decline. And the conclusion is, it’s necessary to analyze not only why impressions increased, but also why they decreased before that.
So, as we can see, in ASO, as well as in the analysis of its results, there are a lot of mistakes that can affect the process of promoting the application in the app stores. It is our hope that our in–depth article will help you avoid these mistakes.
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