Mobile App Store Optimization: A Guide to Better Ranking

Mobile apps are changing the way UAE does business online. More users continue to gravitate towards mobile devices for shopping, reading, and searching the web. Most marketing people know the ins and outs of search engine optimization, but mobile apps also change the way optimization works for success. According to GulfNews.com, the UAE controls 60% of mobile application development.

This brief guide will get you started with effective app store optimization (ASO).

App Title

Titles are important for SEO, and it’s no different for ASO. The app title is the same as the page title on a web page. This title affects search for your apps, which means you should consider the terms used by searchers to find relevant apps. It’s also the first thing users see when they are searching for an app.

Just like SEO, you can overuse keywords in an attempt to rank higher, but it only hurts your app’s ranking. If users are searching on a mobile device, they can only see about 30 characters in the title. Most mobile app developers combat this issue by using the main keyword phrase at the beginning of the title.

Icon Design

Statistically, users first look at an app’s title and then move to the icon. Marketers debate whether icon or title is the most important, but both are still the main attraction for searchers.

Don’t go cheap with icon design. The right icon design improves your click-through rate (CTR). CTR importance in the main app store search is similar to importance in search engines. With a search engine, you understand that your link competes with thousands of competitor links. With ASO, your CTR determines your success against other app store creators. Icons must follow the app store’s guidelines, so read Google Play or Apple’s terms before designing the icon.

Ratings and Reviews

Just like local businesses, apps are subject to ratings and reviews. Ratings show up as stars in the general app search, but the actual reviews show up in the app’s description. Better rankings mean better search placement in the app stores. You can rely on users to give you a review, or you can ask for them.

For instance, some app designers use a popup after a customer has used the app for a specific amount of time. You should have some way to disable it, though. Popups that display each time the user opens the app is annoying to your customers. Ask for reviews, but give the user the option to decline.

Supported Language

Localization benefits your users and your sales. Who are your target users? What countries do you support? The quick answer is “all of them,” but that means you need to support more languages than English. While most app owners go straight with English, it’s best to localize your app for your target users.

Don’t forget your buttons and images. Most developers just think of the text within the app, but your form buttons, images, and other components also need to support your target languages. This might require some effort on your designer who needs to create images based on localized content.

Localization also requires some intuition on your part. For instance, if you have a magazine that targets Germany and UAE, you want to display images and front-page content related to users and their country of origin.


Take a look at the app store, and you see all the successful developers display sample screenshots. Screenshots are your app store shelf packaging. It shows the most important screens and interfaces for the app.

Some app designers create high quality images and add marketing text to each image. Choose the best two images from your collection and list them first. These two images are shown by default when the user views your app store description.


Backlinking for apps isn’t too much different than regular website backlink strategies. The only difference is the target market. Search engine users are typically searching for information. App store customers are looking for an application to solve a problem. For instance, a shopper might want an app that lists prices for favorite stores. If your app displays a list of discounts for popular retail stores, you might have a potential customer.

Most app developers create a blog or website that then links to their app store downloads. You can also include a link in comments, signatures, and articles. Think of any type of online venture as an opportunity to include your app link.

When you link to your app, make sure you link directly to the app store description where users can download the app. Don’t link directly to an installer or a page that automatically launches the app. Always give users a choice to install the app, or you run the risk of turning away users who would otherwise use your app.

Conclusion: Channel Your Marketing Innovation

There are millions of apps available, so you’re fighting for attention among plenty of other competitors. App store optimization is about taking standard steps and using them to create an innovative marketing plan.

You can perform all the steps from above, but you’ll still need a great app that keeps users interest. The goal of an app creator isn’t much different than a website owner. The goal is to grab user attention and then keep it until they become a paying customer.

About Omar Kattan
Omar is MD & Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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