Growth 8 min read  - April 16, 2021

ASO in 2021: Trends to Grow your Apps & Games

Let's start by setting the foundations of what ASO is, why it is so important in 2021, and how it can help you grow your apps and games. Also, let’s see what changes you can expect this 2021 in the App Stores and how they will affect you.

This article aims to throw some light on App Store Optimization (ASO) in 2021, and how it becomes more relevant as a trend to grow your Apps & Games more.

At Appodeal, we usually focus on how to grow your mobile apps and games through advertisement. Still, App Store Optimization is a topic that you should not ignore as an indie developer. ASO in 2021 is becoming more relevant to turn your apps into top earning hits.

Let’s start by setting the foundations of what ASO is, why it is so important in 2021, and how it can help you grow your apps and games. Also, let’s see what changes you can expect this 2021 in the App Stores and how they will affect you.

Summary of this article

What is ASO (App Store Optimization)?

Let’s keep things simple: ASO (App Store Optimization) in 2021 is to use the presentation of your mobile apps and games in the Apple App Store & Google Play Store as a tool to acquire users.

Installs through ASO are considered organic because you’re not directly paying for each install. The higher the volume of organic installs, the better. But depending on your product’s stage of the life cycle, you may want to attract one kind of user or another.

Apps optimize their pages on the app stores by using specific keywords and phrases and displaying catchy yet relevant graphic assets. Using highly relevant keywords in the content of your app store pages will likely increase your chances to rank higher in search results. Then, the search algorithm will identify your app as relevant for those particular search queries. The higher your app ranks, the higher the chances store visitors install it.

If you’re not new in the digital industry, this may ring some bells.

Now, you may think that in terms of keywords and metadata optimization, ASO is like SEO for mobile apps. Yes, and No. The idea is the same. The things you need to tweak are entirely different.

Keep reading, and you’ll see the differences.

Why is ASO in 2021 still important?

ASO (App Store Optimization) tweaks the app pages in the App Stores. It is the last stage of all your acquisition funnels, whether those funnels are organic or paid.

All the users from web searches, social media campaigns, ads on the search engines, in-app ads, or even referrals end up on your apps or games Page Store.

In 2021, you must improve your product page by making it organically positioned for specific keywords and turning it as attractive as possible. This way, when users reach this point of all your conversion funnels, you can turn those visits to your product page into installs.

Keeping a good balance between these two fronts may create some confusion to developers not specialized in ASO. We have a dedicated section about “discoverability” vs. “conversion” optimization later on in this same article.

ASO: Still a challenge for Indie Developers

ASO is still considered one of the top challenges for indie developers when promoting their apps & games.

As more and more apps go live each day and the app stores are more saturated, standing out gets more challenging. The emerging of dedicated ASO departments in big companies and ASO agencies make the market even less accessible.

On the bright side, though, there’s plenty of ASO tools in 2021. These tools can ease the task of optimizing your app store pages. Also, the knowledge of the hidden arts of ASO is becoming more accessible too.

One way or another, for 2021, ASO is not an area you should ignore since it still has a substantial impact on the growth of your mobile apps and games.

The App Stores’ official statistics stated that over 50% to 60% of all the apps are discovered through App Store & Google Play searches.

Our friends in the industry state that ASO, when done correctly, can boost the organic downloads up to 40% over time across all markets. That directly impacts your Life Time Value (LTV), your retention metrics, and your ARPU, ARPPU & other revenue metrics.

Changes in ASO in 2021

Before we start speaking about what may come in the following years, we should revisit what changes have been happening in the ASO recently.

So far, at Appodeal, we have identified four shifts in the ASO ecosystem.

4 ASO Trends that we have seen so far

Keyword strategies have become more complex.

Not only in mature markets but also emerging countries, apps have been tweaking their marketing strategies.

In the past, app developers were all competing for high ranks on the most popular keywords in each category. The main goal: to boost installs in the short term.

Now, developers are nurturing their ASO & App Store Pages to see results on a mid & long-term basis. Thorough keyword research is fundamental in this process. Indie developers are more focused on finding quality keywords that open up new ranking opportunities and increase app relevancy.

App Store Pages anticipates the client needs.

As more App Marketing Agencies emerge in the industry, the focus shifts and becomes more client-oriented. In the past, product developers showcased their apps.

For 2021, that will not be enough, and you will have to research, understand and fulfill your customers’ inner wishes. The best example is that, during the pandemic, most games started promoting their social features.

ASO data gets aligned with Attribution data.

It all started when Google Play Console merged their organic and paid store search traffic. Along with Apple’s IDFA deprecation, ASO emerges as an alternative to counterbalance its potential impact.

Video content is replacing Static Screenshots.

Google has set the terrain to make videos more accessible in their play store, with autopay features and Youtube integration. However, since video production costs are high, many app & game developers still haven’t dared to make this step. Video content usage is also a reason for some controversy as to its impact on conversion rates. Promo videos are a prominent element on any app page. That alone will make it a deal-breaker if not approached and executed correctly.

With the significant shifts in the app industry this 2021, all these turns make us believe that App Store Optimization will get boosted in the years to come.

What you can expect of ASO in 2021

As Albert Einstein said, in every crisis lies great opportunity.

Now that IDFA deprecation is practically here, we’re already watching swifts in the UA departments. When you can’t rely 100% on your attribution, you must refocus your User Acquisition efforts in other directions. There, ASO emerges as an alternative to keep a steady growth of mobile apps and games.

At Appodeal, we support all industry changes that make the app ecosystem a better place for its users. However, IDFA deprecation has some downsides for app and game developers to keep growing their games the way they were used to do it.

App developers who allocate more budget to Apple Search Ads in 2021 will need to focus more on ASO as well. Apple already said that ASO could benefit Search ads to improve exposure and install costs (by increasing relevance of app store pages).

High competition and less than precise attribution will likely make ads less effective. ASO efforts can improve the overall ROAS of the marketing campaigns. For those app developers that want to reallocate part of their UA budget, ASO may become more enticing.

Changes in Google & Apple that will affect your ASO

This App Store Optimization trend in 2021 is even more obvious when you check the new tools that Apple and Google are releasing to help developers move to their ecosystem.

Subscriptions and IAPs will have more exposure on the App Stores in 2021. Moreover, some App Categories have been revamped, creating more opportunities for growth in ASO. Those are facts that also change how ASO can affect your growth rates.

Along with that, Google has claimed that they will add more quality signals that will be used in the newer versions of the Play Store search algorithms.

By Quality Signals, Google refers to all those elements (text, keywords, comments, score, etc.) that influence the search rank algorithm, but even more to the Android Vitals that show how stable and well -performing your app is..

With the consolidation of 5G and new devices, such as smartwatches, we may believe that, during 2021, there will be some tweaks in the App Stores that will make ASO even more relevant than it already was.

With all these changes in mind, we may think that ASO may become an area that mobile app and game developers will have to consider more seriously this 2021 and the years to come.

Keyword Optimization vs. Conversion Optimization

Let’s dive deeper into Keyword Optimization & Conversion Optimization and dissipate all the doubts.

Keyword Optimization

Keyword Optimization focuses on tweaking those elements that make your app more relevant for the user’s specific search in the Store Search Engine. These elements are:

  • Contextual (number of downloads, ratings, reviews of your app)
  • Textual (how keyword searches relate to your app’s title, description, keywords, and other information)

Visual elements, such as icon, screenshots, videos, do not have any impact on keyword optimization.

The higher the relevance of your app for specific keywords, the higher the rank on the results page/screen. Higher rank translates to increased visibility, which translates to higher chances to get an install.

Conversion Optimization

After all the efforts you’ve made to bring users to your App Store Page, you don’t want them to leave before installing your app.

Conversion Optimization aims to convince all these users to install, update, purchase, or take any action you want them to do on your App Store Page.

It is necessary to adjust certain ASO elements such as videos, pictures, and even comment replies to make them as compelling as possible. Simultaneously, you’ll have to balance other elements, such as text description or app title. Your metadata still have to bring you that discoverability to keep landing more visitors to your App Store Page.

Two ASO Goals that must work together

Keyword Optimization & Conversion Optimization must work together to achieve great results.

They both need each other and boost each other.

A game with good discoverability will have higher chances to get more installs. The more installs your app or game has, the greater the number of contextual elements (downloads, comments, ratings, etc.), the higher the chances to increase its discoverability.

ASO in 2021: trends to grow your Apps & Games.

In this article, we have established the ASO bases and, if you are looking to grow your apps and games, we have shown you why ASO is not an area you should ignore in 2021.

Again, industry experts say that 60% of downloads come from ASO. That is a significant market. Also, the shifts in the in-app advertising ecosystem make ASO more attractive for indie developers.

Some skeptics think that IDFA deprecation is an apocalypse. They believe that “when the river becomes a swamp with quicksands, crossing the foggy forest becomes more of an option” ASO in 2021, becomes a more enticing opportunity for growth.

If you are a mobile developer, you may see yourself in the situation to: improve your ASO strategies, balance your Keyword Optimization & Conversion Optimization goals, and align the UA efforts with your App Store Page.

For more trends to grow your apps & games, check our Mobile eCPM Report udpated this 2021.

In the near future, we will release other articles on how to boost your ASO in 2021. This way, you can skyrocket your growth and align it with the latest trends in the mobile industry.

Stay tuned!

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Marc Llobet
Product Marketing & Growth @ Appodeal