Why App Store SEO Should Be Part Of Every iPhone Marketing Plan

Posted on Dec 12 2013 - 10:27am by Hugh Kimura


It is common knowledge that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be part of the marketing plan of any commercial website. But why is that that so many commercial mobile app publishers completely ignore iOS App Store SEO?

There are mobile app managers at some fairly large companies that do not know anything about App Store SEO, otherwise known as App Store Optimization or ASO. So let’s explore if ASO is actually worth paying attention to, and if it is, how you can take advantage of this opportunity by being one of the first people to have a good understanding of the field.

Is ASO Worth Doing?

A European Technographics Consumer Technology Online Survey showed that more than 60% of all iOS apps are discovered through app store search. So the short answer is yes, a significant number of people can potentially discover an app through proper search optimization.

Why ASO Is Ignored

If that is the case, then why do so many app publishers ignore it? The reason is simple, apps are a fairly new phenomenon and not many people understand how app marketing works yet. Most publishers barely know how to develop an app, much less how to promote it.

The Advantages

Just like with SEO, when done properly, ASO provides free organic search traffic for as long as the keywords are effective. This requires some periodic maintenance, but does not require a lot of money, just some time and knowledge.

The Alternatives

Of course, there are many app development companies that do very well without doing any App Store Optimization. How do they do it?

One reason that an app might do so well is because a company already has a lot of brand recognition. For example a company like Domino’s Pizza doesn’t have to do much additional promotion for people to download their app. People like to eat Domino’s Pizza and the app makes ordering pizza easier…it’s a no brainer.

Some companies also spend a ton of money on advertising. There is nothing wrong with this and any company that has a decent marketing budget should allocate some of those funds to paid advertising. The only trouble is that when a company stops paying for ads, the leads also dry up.

Finally, some apps have become successful by either going viral through word of mouth or by becoming an Editor’s Choice app. Both of these events are great when they happen, but cannot be counted upon as a reliable marketing strategy.

How ASO Is Different From SEO

The short answer is that ASO is simpler. There are so many factors that contribute to a Google SERP ranking, but only a few that go into an App Store search ranking. Basically, you just have to tune your App Store keywords, your app title a few other factors, but that is about it.

So What’s The Catch?

If ASO is simpler than SEO, then why isn’t everyone who does it successful? The “catch” is that to be successful at ASO takes some good old fashioned hard work.
Even if you have the right App Store Optimization tools, you still need to do a lot of testing. Certain keywords that worked for you in the past may become too competitive, while new opportunities can open up. It takes time, patience and some creative thinking.


We are still at a formative point in the development of the mobile app ecosystem and of app marketing, so if you learn about ASO now, it can pay dividends for years to come. There are two ways that you can take advantage of this opportunity right now.

First, you can develop apps yourself and use your ASO knowledge to optimize the search visibility of your apps to get more downloads. This hands on experience will be invaluable as the world moves towards mobile devices and applications.

Second, you can become a consultant who advises companies on their ASO strategy. If you do not want to go through the trouble of developing your own apps, you can work with companies who need help. Even if you are just getting started, get as educated as you can and find a company that needs your expertise. Do it for free to get started, if you have to. Remember, you don’t have to know everything about ASO, you just have to be more knowledgable than the person you are helping.

So if this interests you, take some time to learn about App Store Optimization. There is a lot of free information available on the internet, so take action now…before it is too late.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Andy Farnsworth

About the Author

Hugh Kimura is a marketer, photographer and surfer. He is the Content Strategist for Sensor Tower, a San Francisco startup that provides online App Store Optimization Tools.