What comes to your mind when you see the term “ASO“? Where do you focus all your energy when you’re trying to improve your app store search rankings?
Most people I know focus a large proportion of their time on “keywords” and not much else.
However, if you’ve been working diligently on keyword research but are still not getting the results that you really want, you may need to consider other factors that affect ASO ranking.
App Store algorithms not only rate the relevance of your keywords, and in your app’s metadata, in relation to a user’s search terms, but they also evaluate information such as the duration users use your app, bounce rate, bugs or errors, pages viewed, and so on…
Getting users to stick with your app and interact with it more can boost your app’s ranking, and you can do so by improving the user experience and usability of your app.
Using keywords to get users to download your app is only half the story. If you approach ASO as “optimizing your app for people who use app store search engines,” the notion of user-friendliness becomes an important factor.
In this article, I’ll look at the various aspects of app usability that impact its ranking, how to improve the usability to boost ASO ranking and what to do when there seems to be a conflict between usability and ASO “best practice.”
What is app usability?
App usability encompasses so many elements of app design, most of which are also tied to conversion.
Here are a few that can affect your app ranking:
Effectiveness: can your users achieve their objectives when they land on your app page? e.g. Can they find the information that they need, they desire, or contact your company for customer service?
Efficiency: Besides being able to achieve your objectives, how quickly can your user complete a task? If they cannot find what they need effectively and efficiently in your app, they’re more likely to try other apps. The shorter time they spend using your app may have a negative impact on the ASO ranking.
Learnability: can your users learn to navigate and use your app quickly? Are the calls-to-action consistent so they know how to interact? When they spend too much time trying to figure out how to use your app, they’re spending less time consuming your information or looking at your products. Moreover, when they can’t find what they need, it’s likely that they will get frustrated, turn their backs and never come back.
Memorability: can your users re-find your app next time they go to an app store search engine? Repeat traffic can help you get a ranking boost. Users may find your app and then navigate away for a number of reasons. They may remember it later and try to search for it again. Is the keyword associated with that particular search memorable enough so they can find your app again?
Error Prevention: certain errors on an app can affect not only user experience but also your ASO ranking.
Why is app usability important to ASO ranking?
App stores reward apps that are user-friendly, which means they have high usability. They favor apps that are not only rich in keywords, but also demonstrate user engagement.
ASO ranking improves when users stay on your app or use it longer, buy IAPs, and repeat their visits. The more user-friendly your app is, the more likely this is going to happen.
Let’s have a look at some elements that not only increase usability on your app but also help improve ASO ranking:
- High quality and relevant content
“Dwell time” is the amount of time your users spend on your app and this can affect ASO ranking.
When you provide useful content in your app, users tend to stay longer on your app to consume the information and therefore increase the dwell time.
Another reason to create a highly useful app is that more users will download it, and it will boost your ASO ranking.
An app that gets thousands of downloads gets the most Google or Apple juice.
- App load speed
Both Google and Apple take loading speed into account in their app ranking algorithm.
Users may leave your app if they have to wait even just an extra few seconds for it to load. That would hurt your dwell time, increase your bounce rate and reduce the number of downloads – all of which could hurt your ASO ranking.
There are many ways to increase load speed, some of which include is making sure the code is clean and streamlined, optimizing image sizes and videos.
Properly optimizing images and videos can help reduce file size and improve load speed.
- Different multimedia
Images, videos, slideshows and audio can help enrich the user experience and allow you to deliver more information in a way that is most suited to your ideal users.
They serve as a signal of quality content to app stores… after all, you have put in the work to make your app look good and interactive!
Who wants to get an error after clicking on the app’s menu? Errors or bugs make for bad usability.
Not only that, app stores consider a large number of bugs or errors as a signal of an old, neglected app and this can impact your ASO ranking.
Even if you have a well-educated audience, they probably don’t want to be deciphering a Ph.D. dissertation every time they use your app and read its content. You don’t want them to give up reading your content and click away because it’s too difficult to read or digest.
Making your app easy to read and understand helps make it useful to your readers. Some experts also believe that App stores take readability into account when ranking apps.
- Contact us
Apps that have sufficient contact information are considered to be more trustworthy and therefore may rank higher in app store search engines.
Including a Contact Us section on your app not only makes for good user experience but can also potentially earn you some Google or Apple juice.
It’s found that this increases user participation in a company’s online presence. This also helps generate new business opportunities, capture new leads, improve customer service, and much more.
- App architecture and navigation
When users can’t find what they need on an app right away, they most likely leave and this contributes to high bounce rate and low dwell time.
A well-thought-out app architecture reflected in clear navigation is critical in helping users find what they want on your app, accomplish their goals and come back repeatedly (repeated visits/uses can improve ASO ranking.)
- Social sharing
The number of Facebook likes/shares, Tweets, Pinterest pins and other social media mentions can influence ASO rank.
Integrating social buttons on your app not only makes it easy for users to share your content, and thereby improve user experience, it can also help you rank higher in app store searches.
Resolving the conflict between usability and ASO “best practice”
In most cases, elements that contribute to good usability also increase ASO ranking. However, there are instances when conflict may occur:
Many ASO experts “stuff” keywords in their App’s description to get ASO juice, but this could undermine the readability, branding, and user experience.
The attempt to get more keywords into the app description can affect the vocabulary choice of your writer, sometimes making the app description hard to comprehend.
Sometimes, particularly in the short term, you may have to make a trade-off between more traffic from ASO and optimal user experience.
Don’t just get lured into just comparing numbers – such as visitor numbers and app views. Traffic from ASO may give you higher numbers in the short term, but better user experience can often result in higher conversions.
In the long run, with an eye on conversion and ultimately ROI, it’s a smart move to prioritize user experience instead of milking every last ASO trick.