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Boost Downloads With These 5 App Store Optimization Hacks

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Even the best designed apps need positive store rankings and plenty of users. Like search engine optimization (SEO) helps a target audience find a webpage, the approach to marketing apps needs to be just as strategic.

App store optimization, or ASO, hacks are needed to help great apps rise to the top of the pack. In 2012, according to Portico Research, there were 1.2 billion app users, and this number is expected to balloon to 4.4 billion by 2017. The same research expected 82 billion apps to be downloaded in 2013, with the number swelling to 200 billion by 2017.

To make a splash, attract users and make some money, here are five ASO hacks to consider:

1. Name the app very carefully. The name of an app is the first gateway, or barrier, to success. The app name should tell potential users something concrete and important about the app they might be about to download. Don’t choose a name so quirky and esoteric that users will never be able to figure out what the app is all about. On the flip side, make sure the name is unique enough to stand out from the crowd.

Related: 5 Clever Ways to Increase Mobile App Reviews

There is a 255 character limit for app names, but only about 25 characters show up in search. So stack the most important app information toward the front.

2. Incorporate competitive keywords into the app title and description. According to research by Forrester, 63 percent of apps are discovered through app-store searches. Even if the app has low market penetration, a user can still stumble upon an app and choose to download. This means it’s extremely important to incorporate common keywords into the title and description, making an app more searchable and easier to discover.

Spend some time doing research by asking what keywords the app’s target user base will be searching. Once you have a list of keywords, look for ways to include these words in the app’s title and description.

Remember, an app description isn’t written in stone and can be tweaked depending on further keyword research and how the app is performing. The more downloads, the better ranking the app is likely to get, which is why including the right keywords can make the difference between a superstar app and a dud.

3. Perform market research to pick the best price. Keywords aren’t the only tools for building a huge app -- market research on pricing is also essential. If the app is priced far and away above the competition, potential users will likely go for a lower priced option. The best way to adequately price an app is to know both the competition and the ideal user inside and out.

Related: Gadgets, Apps, Video Games and Social Media: All Things Tech With Veronica Belmont

4. A/B test the screenshots and overall user interface. While the Apple store doesn’t allow for A/B testing, a little extra effort can help determine which app screenshot will drive the most traffic. Create a landing page and insert testing code using Google Content Experiments, Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer or another A/B testing code generator. Then use social media, email lists or even paid traffic to test which screenshots get the best response. The highest ranking one will be the image likely to drive the most traffic and create the most conversions.

5. Consider localization. Bringing an app to the biggest possible market is always the goal, which often means going international. The iTunes app store distributes in more than 150 countries and in 40 languages, so it’s time to expand beyond the company backyard. Localization makes it easier for a foreign audience to connect with and use an app.

Translating all the language elements in an app to the local language and changing certain cultural elements can help a foreign audience find and connect with an app. For example, when the game Plants vs. Zombies was translated into Chinese, it quickly became the number-one paid app on the China app store. It’s important to speak to potential customers in their language if the app is going to expand internationally.

App store optimization isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly important to take an app to the next level and allow it to be found by the target audience. Using these hacks can help developers and companies make their apps a success.

What do you think? What are some app store optimization hacks you use? Share in the comments!

Related: How to Use App Store Optimization to Get Attention

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