Incipia blog

5 App Store Optimization Topics That You Should Care About

Gabe Kwakyi | August 27, 2023

If you are managing an ASO strategy, then you probably have a lot on your plate between trying to figure out the latest algorithm changes, discussing the need for your product, UA or retention partners to address the various Google Play ranking signals, pursuing feature opportunities, researching keywords, directing A/B testing backlogs... Or one of a thousand other activities. We get it! We're all in the same boat :) 

But it's important not to get buried in work to keep up with the latest trends. So set the work down for a moment and take a quick break to skim these five App Store Optimization topics that you should be well-versed in. There are certainly more topics to be discussed, but here are five that we at Incipia feel are among the most important to consider, for both their impact on your ASO results and your ability to know where to look to troubleshoot waning ASO results.

#1 App Store Browse/Google Play Store (Organic) Explore

Have you taken a look at your Browse/Explore traffic lately?

Leading the way, Google has been ramping up the volume from recommended app lists, leaving you likely to find that a large percentage (perhaps even the majority) of your organic traffic is now sourced from Explore.

This means that you, as an ASO must be aware of how the factors that influence explore viability are influencing this key chunk of your downloads; and these factors are largely based on offline app usage data maps, not keywords (but keep an eye out for how Google's tags pan out as an optimizable ASO lever), as well as other performance-related factors.

For Apple, as clearly underscored in iOS 11, Apple wants to control app discovery via features. But have you noticed that Apple has progressively placed more editorial and story results into the search results and siphoning search downloads into browse? Not content with 3 feature tabs, Apple has ratcheted up its pursuit like Google for reducing keyword-based app discovery, and this naturally means that to continue achieving success in ASO on iOS, featuring has become even more important.

To learn more about the different factors which influence browse/explore, check out this Incipia post describing the world of modern ASO, which debunks the old phrase of "ASO is like SEO for the App Store." And if you're attending the ASO Conference NYC, be sure to join the panel covering ASO Beyond Keywords.

What will each platform do next??

PS - have you given up on trying to pull the search vs explore data from your Google Play Console? Email to inquire about our automated reporting which makes tracking Explore/Search traffic in Google Play Console a breeze!

#2 Organic Uplift

This one shouldn't be a surprise for anyone engaged in ASO marketing at-scale, but across the industry this one still does not seem as commonly studied as it should be, given how much of a proven impact on ASO performance organic uplift has.

In short for those not well-versed, organic uplift describes the relationship between organic and inorganic (most commonly paid activity) download velocities, wherein an app earns more organic downloads from significant increases in inorganic download velocity. In the early days of ASO, bursting strategies were commonly used by apps looking to cash in on the boost in organic downloads that came from being listed at the top of the top charts. These days, top chart bursting still exists as a component of organic uplift, but organic uplift is also be powered by improvements in recommended app or keyword rankings, as well as "delayed paid attribution," or increases in searches/downloads on an app's name by people who saw but did not click on ads, and later searched the app name to download the app.

While organic uplift refers to the paid~organic correlation and is the most commonly studied uplift factor, there are correlations between other factors as called out in the ASO Stack 2019 coefficients section, such as ratings volume (an uplift factor) or uninstall rates (a drag factor).

Bone up on your organic uplift knowledge by checking out this recent post on Organic Uplift AppsFlyer by industry thought leaders including Thomas Petit. We've also got this one covered at the ASO Conference NYC in a session offering insight into the caveats and stumbling blocks to measuring organic uplift for your app. The output of organic uplift may be a single number, yet the path to interpreting this number is not as simple as it looks!

#3 Localization

Localization is nothing new. But fierce competition, rising competitor budgets, the organic squeeze, and the expansion of which keywords an app can rank on beyond the directly submitted keyword metadata (e.g. competitor names) have rendered a diminishing curve on the return that ASO marketers can achieve by maximizing their efforts in a single country. It's high past time to go international to pursue growth.

For those attending the ASO Conference in New York City, be sure to check out the session on localization and adapting your app for the global market by Peter Yoon (Former Senior Marketer & Global ASO Lead, Uber).

#4 Store Personalization

While Apple began customizing the view that each user sees in the App Store in iOS 12 Apple, the topic of personalization is much trickier and impactful in Google as it relates to the first topic of Explore traffic.

Determined based on your previous installed apps, search trends, and other factors unique to your digital footprint, Google's recommended app lists are highly personalized and therefore highly challenging to track. In fact, there is currently no ASO tool that can track your recommended app lists. While it was outstanding that Google began offering search term data, this doesn't help with tracking which recommended app lists your app is ranking for, in which positions, and moreover what star rating, download velocity, conversion rate, etc, is needed to improve your recommended app rankings and drive more Explore downloads. Being able to see downloads from featuring split from top charts and explore would be a nice first step.

This topic of personalization was covered in depth by Aude Boscher of team Phiture in the ASO Conference Berlin (get Aude's slides here).

#5 Exponential Visibility

Q: What's the difference between rank #1 and #3 for a keyword? 
A: Quite a large change in visibility in the people who will see your app, especially if the keyword is branded - and especially on iOS where there are only 2 app results on-screen at once (only 1 if one result is an editorial/story placement).

Q: What's the difference between rank #50 and #75 for top chart category rankings?

A: Not much. While it may be nice bragging rights, don't forget that most people don't scroll that far to see which apps to download, so don't expect many more downloads if your app's top chart rank shaves off 30 spots from #100 to #70.

Q: What's the difference between rank #1 and rank #6 from a Google recommended app list?

A: Well - we're not sure yet, but it likely follows the exponential distribution true to keyword and top chart ranks, which would mean that the difference in visibility is very large!

Q: What's the difference between a Today tab feature and a collection feature in the games/apps tab?
A: Hopefully you guessed it! There is an exponentially larger share of visibility for the key placements in the stores, and this applies to features, too.

Another important topic in exponential visibility is to consider the "real" rank of keywords, especially for Apple keyword ranks, where organic results have been pushed down in the search results page by Search Ads, Promoted In-App Purchases, editorial results, developer pages, and stories. In some cases, rank #3 may actually be rank #6 or even 8th! Survey the SERP scene for your most important keywords to ensure you have a grasp on what level of visibility your ranks on those keywords really contribute.

Join Incipia at the ASO Conference NYC to discuss how to factor for exponential inputs to your ASO reporting in our session on Modern ASO Reporting.


To discuss the above key topics in ASO and more, be sure to get your tickets to the ASO Conference NYC today and we'll see you on October 3rd. And for the growth managers out there looking to learn about programmatic, be sure to attend the App Growth Summit Programmatic the day before, on October 2nd!


That’s all for today! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts breaking down mobile marketing concepts.

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Incipia is a mobile marketing consultancy that markets apps for companies, with a specialty in mobile advertising, business intelligence, creative, and ASO. For post topics, feedback or business inquiries please contact us, or send an inquiry