ASO App Checklist – Step-by-Step Guide to Launch

An app or mobile game development is a time-consuming and crucial ASO process that can determine its success or failure. The RadASO team prepared checklists to assist you at any stage, including pre- and post-release steps. Read below to ensure you are ready for a successful mobile app launch on the market.

Pre-Release ASO Checklist

App Description

Before planning the app launch, you should answer the following questions:

  • What is the application about?
  • What is the main feature and unique selling proposition (USP)?
  • Who is the app for, and who is the target audience?
  • What search terms can the app be searched for?

Answers to these questions are helpful during the marketing promotion strategy development. Moreover, determine the app's purpose and what specific requirements and issues it can solve.

Develop an ASO Strategy

When you start ASO, you should know this is a strategy that forms a clear vision and step-by-step algorithm for the app to achieve its goals.

ASO strategy components include the following:

  • text optimizations – metadata, in-app events, and in-app purchases (if the app monetize model includes in-app purchases);
  • conversion optimization – graphics optimization, testing of paywall screens;
  • featuring – the application gets into the App Store and Google Play selections for free in one or several categories at once if the editors choose the app among others or receive a corresponding application (when the app meets the technical requirements);
  • app localization for native speakers;
  • rating improvement tasks;
  • analytics and reporting.

Due to a well-thought-out ASO strategy, a mobile app has a chance to become visible among competitors and attract its users.

Identify and research the main competitors, and analyze their reviews

This important research stage helps identify the market where you plan to launch the app. 

Key questions for competitor analysis:

  • What similar applications already exist on the market?
  • What features are most in demand among users?
  • From which countries do competitors receive the most traffic?
  • Where do competitors make the most profit in this niche?
  • What exactly do competitors sell and what is the cost?

Major topics for analyzing competitors’ feedback:

  • What do users like about competitors’ apps?
  • What features and functions are valued the most?
  • What problems do they highlight and what are they dissatisfied with?

Answers will help not only enter the market successfully but also provide more profitable offers to the target audience and attract more users in the early stages.

Examples of competitor analysis are provided below:

competitor analys graphics

competitors marketing research 

The app store optimization strategy process forms an understanding of how competitive the market is before the launch, what features to focus on for competitiveness, what to pay attention to, and which countries to prioritize for the application promotion.

Develop textual metadata for target countries

Textual metadata (title, subtitle, description, and keywords) is an essential step when launching an app. It helps the user get introduced to the app content, and search engines “analyze” what the app is about and display it to the target audience.

Well–formulated metadata includes relevant keywords that users apply on search pages. This makes the app more visible in search results, which leads to more traffic and income.

The RadASO team applies such rules to successful app indexing at the very first stages:

Common criteria for the App Store and Google Play are the following:

  • use all available characters in the metadata (title, subtitle, keywords in the App Store, and title, short & full description in Google Play);
  • select the most popular and relevant keywords in the title;
  • do not change the ending of the keyword, only the direct entry;
  • do not use competitors’ brands in the meta's visible part;
  • if the brand is unknown and there is no marketing activity to increase brand visibility, do not mention it at the beginning of the title;
  • create a convincing and readable title and description that accurately represent the app’s features and benefits.

There are also criteria for the Google Play:

  • check the description for Google Play in Google Natural Language (Category Match Confidence should be at least 0.7);
  • to avoid spamming, do not use the same keyword more than 3–5 times in the fully indexed description, as Google monitors this;
  • use interesting information in the first paragraph (the length of the full description is 4,000 characters, but only a small percentage of users read it to the end);
  • insert important keywords in the Package name;
  • organically implement relevant keywords or competitors' brands in the response to users, because Google Play indexes reviews.

Criteria for the App Store mention the next aspects:

  • do not repeat keywords in different sections
  • do not use the category, subcategory, and developer name in the metadata, as Apple automatically indexes the app by them;
  • do not repeat keywords in the singular and plural in English (however, in other languages, you need to add both singular and plural keywords);
  • give preference to general search terms in Keywords instead of branded competitors, and search terms in the local language as well;
  • do not use stop-words, as search engines will index the app anyway.

The list of “free” words consists of:

A, about, above, after, again, against, all, am, an, and, any, app, are, aren’t, as, at, be, because, been, before, being, below, between, both, but, by, can’t, cannot, could, couldn’t, did, didn’t, do, does, doesn’t, doing, don’t, down, during, each, few, for, from, further, had, hadn’t, has, hasn’t, have, haven’t, having.

He, he’d, he’ll, he’s, her, here, here’s, hers, herself, him, himself, his, how, how’s, I, I’d, I’ll, I’m, I’ve, if, in, into, is, isn’t, it, it’s, its, itself, let’s, me, more, most, mustn’t, my, myself, no, nor, not, of, off, on, once, only, or, other, ought, our, ours, ourselves, out, over, own, same, shan’t, she, she’d, she’ll, she’s.

Should, shouldn’t, so, some, such, than, that, that’s, the, their, theirs, them, themselves, then, there, there’s, these, they, they’d, they’ll, they’re, they’ve, this, those, through, to, too, under, until, up, very, was, wasn’t, we, we’d, we’ll.

We’re, we’ve, were, weren’t, what, what’s, when, when’s, where, where’s, which, while, who, who’s, whom, why, why’s, with, won’t, would, wouldn’t, you, you’d, you’ll, you’re, you’ve, your, yours, yourself, yourselves.

  • in the keywords section, type comma-separated words without spaces;
  • thoroughly analyze ASO before the first release, using the maximum number of localizations.
Note: During the first release on Apple within 5 days, the store automatically adds suggestions from the title for each keyword in it. This boost is displayed for any keywords from the title in the App Store.

Read more on how to boost an app at the first app store release: life hacks from RadASO.

Prepare high-quality screenshots and icon

Icons and screenshots are the first elements users see when they search for an app or get to know it. Attractive visuals grab users’ attention, show them what the app is about, highlight the app among competitors, create a first positive impression, and increase the probability of downloads. Therefore, it is important to make high-quality graphics.

The main guidelines for creating icons and screenshots:

  • use short, catchy captions (textual information on screenshots);
  • demonstrate the main functionality and benefits of the app in the first screenshots;
  • add a video to attract users’ attention and demonstrate the app’s features;
  • use zooming, font, or graphic elements to draw the user’s attention to the most important features;
  • create a relevant icon without small details but with graphic elements appropriate to the niche; determine the design concept for the niche (overall app style, popular elements, and colors).
Note: Don’t forget to add unique details to stand out from competitors. 

The following steps in visual development will also help to increase performance:

  • the niche and current trends analyzing on the mobile market;
  • generating hypotheses for screenshots, icons, and videos that would encourage the user to conversion;
  • creating a clear technical task for the designer; screenshots drawing control.

 The screenshot examples, created following the tips above, are mentioned below:

Loom screen recording

Cuvva screenshot

Copilot screenshot

Read more about the visual component in Netpeak Journal articles:

  1. Visual ASO: How Images Affect the Number of Installs on the App Store and Google Play
  2. How to Make Your App Icon Stand Out: 11 Expert Design Tips for 2024
  3. Why You Need Mockups to Promote Mobile Apps on the App Store and Google Play

ASO checklist after the first app release

Analyze the results and adjust plans

ASO is an ongoing process that requires careful analysis of the results and their adaptation after each iteration. 

The following factors are important to consider for correct conclusions:

  • statistics for different post-release periods and track the impression dynamics;
  • the total number of impressions, and by specific keywords;
  • data segmentation by regions to determine where the app is getting the most impressions (countries with market potential should be worked on first, so take into account conversion rates, visual metadata optimization, and app localization);
  • external factors that happened at the time of release: app marketing activity, seasonality, app updates, or changes in page algorithms;
  • tracking the first downloads: number, sources, countries, dynamics;
  • app rating dynamics: number of ratings, ratings themselves (3/4/5), average rating level.

The following analytics tools will help you track changes after the first release: ASOLytics, Sensor Tower, App Store Connect, and Google Play Console.

total impressions

total impressions all sources

Regularly update metadata and graphics.

The App Store and Google Play algorithms are constantly updated, and people’s interests vary. It is important to regularly adapt metadata and graphics to meet new requirements and stand out from competitors.

Managing metadata (title, description, and keywords) makes your app more relevant to users’ search terms, which leads to better rankings and increased conversion and profit as a result.

The application page localization in the priority country language, considering cultural peculiarities

This makes the app more user-friendly and accessible. Localization increases user trust, while descriptions and screenshots provided in their language motivate them to download the app.

It is also necessary to consider the cultural characteristics of certain countries and regions. For example, specific colors may have negative meanings in particular cultures, and the use of inappropriate images may lead to criticism and rejection of the product.

Read more about the impact of cultural and national peculiarities on metadata localization.

Nike, United Kingdom:

Nike UK

Nike, Korea:

Nike Korea

Uber, United States:

Uber US

Uber, Japan:

Uber Japan

Note: Involve native speakers to adapt the content and do not skimp on quality translation.

In-app events launch in the App Store

In-app events — are specific activities in apps or games that last for a limited time. For example, they can be game competitions, movie previews, and live broadcasts.

Users can find these in-app events in the following areas:

  • on the product page, where users can see all the app events;
  • in search results (several users can see them instead of screenshots);
  • in editorial selections and personalized recommendations on the “Today”, “Games”, and “Apps” sections.

Google developer

Source: Apple Developer

In-app events encourage new users to try your app, existing users to get even more excited about it, and ex-users to download it back. It’s a chance to increase your app’s visibility, get more downloads, and collect reviews.

Applying Promotional Content in the Google Play

Promotional Content (LiveOps advertising content) is a type of content that informs about events, new products, promotions, special offers, and significant program updates. This is possible within the Google Market in the Games Home, Store Listing Page, Event Tab, and Search Results sections.

Three main types of advertising content can be used to spread the news:

  • special offers (discounts, benefits, rewards, subscriptions) – these include both digital products (paid and free) and real goods and services;
  • time-limited events – live broadcasts and competitions, but without promotions, for example, sports broadcasts, award ceremonies, contests, and limited products;
  • major updates – expanding the app’s functionality, important announcements, newly released series or movies, etc. 

big update

Promoted in-app purchase optimization in the App Store

Promoted In-App Purchases are the buying of virtual goods that appear on the app page, in search results, and on the Today, Apps, and Games tabs.

They provide additional visibility for the app and can potentially affect conversions since they have a larger space in search results due to their location below the app. It is possible to promote up to 20 different purchases at the same time. 

Note: Each promoted in-app purchase contains its own metadata:
  • the title (up to 30 characters) is indexed, description (up to 45 characters) is not indexed;
  • the title and description can be optimized for 39 localizations (just like the regular metadata of the app page);
  • the icon is the same for all localizations.


A/B Tests Launch

The purpose of A/B testing is to identify the most effective visual elements of the store page (screenshots, icons, videos, and metadata for Google Play) to increase conversion from views to downloads.

Find out more about A/B Testing in ASO. What Is It and How to Conduct It in Apple’s App Store or Google Play?

To perform an A/B test, it is important to do the following tasks:

  • develop a clear hypothesis for each test;
  • test one element at a time to identify its impact;
  • take the time to collect data (at least a week) to ensure that it is cyclical and that there is enough traffic (it is impossible to get a reliable result with insufficient data).
Note: It is important to continue testing until you identify a group of people with the best conversion rates.

In the App Store, you can test icons, screenshots, and videos, and perform only one test at a time (for all localizations or specific ones). 

On Google Play, you can test short and long descriptions, icons, feature graphics, screenshots, and videos, and perform five tests at once. There are also two types of tests on Google Play:

  • default graphics test is launched for all countries where there are no localized graphics or text materials;
  • localized for specific locales is applied to specific countries where the language of graphics or text materials corresponds to the selected area. 

In both cases, the current element variant is compared with a maximum of three new variants.


Variant А:

Carta A

Variant В:

Carta B


Variant А:

LinkedIn A

Variant В:

LinkedIn B

Follow the stores’ updates

Stores strive to protect users from harmful, fraudulent, or inappropriate apps. Policy compliance ensures that the app meets these standards.

Here are a few more reasons why this is important:

  • algorithm updates can affect the app’s ranking and visibility in the Apple Store and Google Play;
  • failure to comply with the rules may result in the app being removed from the store;
  • new store features can help improve UX and attract more users.

Follow the official Apple Store and Google Play for updates.

Advertising and marketing activities launch 

To attract the first users, launching advertising and marketing campaigns is important.

Key platforms that are worth using:

  • Google Ads – search advertising, contextual display network (CDN), YouTube;
  • Facebook Ads – using interest-based and target audience demographics targetings, audience’s Lookalike;
  • Apple Search Ads – App Store search results and product page advertisings.

Submission for featuring

ASO featuring is the posting of a mobile application in special App Store and Google Play sections, such as “New and Interesting”, “Recommended”, “Editor's Choice”, etc. 

This tool can significantly increase the app's visibility, attract users, and increase the downloads number from other sources in the stores.

To get featured, follow the next steps:

  1. Make sure that the app meets the requirements and rules for the App Store and Google Play featuring.
  2. Create a high-quality app page: it is important to make it useful and interesting. Optimize the title, description, screenshots, icon, and other page elements to make them as attractive as possible.
  3. Prepare a clear request: describe the benefits and features of your app to stand out from the competitors.


Work on increasing the app's rating

The mobile app rating is a numerical mark that is generated based on reviews and ratings from users. 

Work on increasing the app’s rating has several benefits for the app:

  • increased downloads – users are more likely to download apps with high ratings;
  • enhanced visibility – apps with high ratings are more likely to be at the top of search results and categories;
  • a competitive advantage among similar apps with lower rankings;
  • trust and credibility – a high rating shows the app is high quality and reliable.

To increase the app rating, do the following: 

☑️Enable App Rating Prompts – a pop-up window for requesting a rating within the app, also called Rate Us windows.

It can be either standard (provided by the store) or custom (a window in the application created by the developer). It allows users to rate the app and write a review. This window should appear after a positive experience (after completing a game level, a win, or a successful activity) in the app.

Find out more about how to boost mobile app rankings using App Rating Prompts.

☑️Respond to negative reviews when there are any. If you can solve the user’s problem, he or she is more likely to change the rating to a positive one.

Find out more about reviews and ratings in App Store Optimization (ASO) and App Promotion Strategies.

Review analyzing and response to negative feedback

User reviews are a valuable source of information about an app. 

Due to reviews, you can get answers to the following questions for free:

  • What does the user like about the app?
  • Why do they use it? What characteristics attract them?
  • What aspects need to be improved?
Note: Always respond to user reviews and show interest in his/her opinion. 

You should use keywords in your answers on Google Play, as the store takes them into account when indexing.

Analyzing reviews and making improvements based on them leads to a high level of user satisfaction. This is usually automatically reflected in downloads and income. 

Track changes in the niche, user behavior, and the overall market

 It helps the app to stay up-to-date, increase ASO efficiency, and adapt to changes and user behavior.

You should take into account the following aspects:

  • competitors – ratings, number of downloads, metadata, visual changes, reviews, promotion strategies;
  • trends in the niche – popular keywords and brands, new features, changes in design, colors, and style of the niche;
  • user-behavior – changes in interests, needs, priorities, new expectations, changes in user browsing the app.

Ensure stability, security, and compliance with the technical requirements of the stores

This is a basic requirement for any mobile application to function. You can find the requirements in the App Store and Google Play

The aspects below describe why it is important and how it affects the application:

  • stores’ algorithms are more "trustworthy" – apps that do not meet the requirements of the App Store and Google Play may be rejected for release or removed from the store;
  • if an app has a lot of bugs, users will write a negative review and warn others about it;
  • users are unwilling to download unstable and low-quality apps, and low ratings and negative reviews due to constant malfunctions will discourage them from installing;
  • an unstable app on Google Play may receive a corresponding error message on the app's page, which negatively impacts the conversion to download;
  • users who have had a negative experience with an app are more likely to uninstall it, which reduces in-app purchase conversions and user engagement;
  • oogle Play algorithms can significantly reduce the visibility of an app in the store if the technical indicators do not meet the requirements.

So, ASO is a long-term strategy that includes app pre launch and post-release activities described in this article. Use the checklist to ensure that your app optimization not only maintains a successful launch and improved visibility in the future but also increases organic traffic and downloads as well.

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