Tag Archives: ASO

iOS App Submission Screenshots Help

What are App Store Screenshots Best Practices?

Adding screenshots of your app when submitting to iTunes Connect seems simple enough, right? Take screenshots, upload the files, done.  However, the screenshot area is a very important part of how users perceive your app and you should be sure to know the answers to these technical and strategic questions.

Why are there different sizes?

One of the benefits of past-gen iPhones was their single screen size.  This made it easier for developers to make an app without having to worry about a consistent user experience across multiple devices; everyone had the same sized device.

Now that there are different iPhones with different screen sizes, developers must keep them each in mind when creating and submitting apps.

Do I really need all of them?

If your screenshots are not available in the newer iOS dimensions, it’s a red flag to users that the app hasn’t been updated in a long time.  Some users may not give your app a second thought if it looks out of date.

Even if your app was designed with only the smaller iPhone screen in mind, you can still show users how it will look on multiple devices.  Having this option shows that you still care about maintaining your app in the modern App Store- even if the app itself is a bit outdated.  Updating your screenshots can be very beneficial- and it’s a lot less difficult than redesigning your entire app!

What sizes do I need?

iTunes Connect now asks for 4 different iPhone sizes when you’re preparing your app.  If your app works on iPad, it’s important to include that as well.

Remember, dimensions are displayed “width” by “height.” These are portrait dimensions; if your app is shown in landscape, just switch the numbers around.

  • * 4.7 Inch:
    • 750 x 1334
    • Used for iPhone 6
  • * 5.5 Inch:
    • 1242 x 2208 (scales down to 1080 x 1920)
    • Used for iPhone 6 Plus
  • * 4 Inch:
    • 640 x 1136
    • Used for iPhone 4 & iPhone 5
  • 3.5 Inch
    • 640 x 920
    • Used for iPhone 3
  • iPad:
    • 1536 x 2048
    • Used for all iPads

* What’s great about the 4, 4.7 and 5.5 inch screenshots is that they are all about the same aspect ratio.  Just make the largest one first and scale it down to make the other two!

What file type should I use?

When you’re exporting your images, remember to keep them high quality. Use PNG-24 or JPEG format.  When using JPEG format, don’t compress the file too much or your users will see unsightly JPEG artifacting.

Now that you’re a technical expert, what should you do with these images?

What should my screenshots say?

Calling these images “screenshots” is something of a misnomer.  Many successful apps use the screenshot area to display a mixture of in-app screenshots, text overlays and other artwork to create images that are both informative and engaging.

Have a look at what the widely popular Heads Up uses for screenshots:

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Imagine if these were in-app screenshots, rather than people using the game with instructional text.  Doesn’t sound very appealing, or informative for that matter. These screenshots tell a story about the app and engage the user.

The point of the screenshot area is not to copy and paste pictures from the app; rather, it is to grab a user’s attention, let them know what they are in for and get them excited enough to tap “GET.”

What order should they go in?

Always put your best screenshot first.  In app store search and on iTunes pages, users will only see the first screenshot- this screenshot should be able to tell a story and engage a user on its own.

phones-optimal-screenshots

The first screenshot on the left communicates how a user will use the app right away; the one on the right simply shows an out of context screengrab from the app, which doesn’t communicate much.

Make sure your first screenshot says it all.  Once a user is interested in your app and scrolling through the other four screenshots, they will have a context to go off of and you can show technical details about how the app looks.

Anything else I should know?

Along with the technical and communicative ideas to keep in mind, remember these:

Use a high resolution source image. Your source should be much higher than the final sizes you are exporting to.

Make sure the text is legible. Keep in mind users will be reading this on phones, not a computer monitor. Look out for jaggles- watch the anti-aliasing!

Have a healthy mix of art, instructions and real screenshots. You want to make your images interesting and informative, but users still want to see some in-app images so they know what they are downloading.

Hope that helps!  Remember, on mobile App Store search results, the 1st screenshot takes up 50% of the screen.  Your first screenshot is going to be your best shot at getting a user interested in your app.

If you want insight into what your screenshots are communicating to end users and how they may be improved, try running them through a mobile app focus group. Sometimes the end users respond in unexpected ways!

Keyword Competition in App Store Optimization

There are many opinions in terms of how to determine the “competition” on a keyword in the App Store. Unfortunately, many of these are derived from concepts from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the way mobile search works is very different from web search. We’re here to help debunk all of the myths and assumptions coming from the vast corners of the web and tell you what the facts really are, from people who actually conduct optimizations all day long.

1. The number of apps listed in results for a keyword determines competition = FALSE

Many ASO tools (and bloggers) will tell you that the number of apps that are listed when you search for a keyword determines competition. The theory here is that the more apps “competing” for a keyword, the harder it will be to rank for that keyword. We understand that optically this is an easy concept for developers to understand (and an easy data concept to sell) however it is completely inaccurate.

Just like web SEO your ability to rank for a keyword is determined foremost by the relevance of your app v.s. the keyword that you are targeting. Avoiding “competitive” keywords purely based on the number of apps listed is the worst thing that you can do for your app. You’ll be cutting yourself off from traffic that you may easily obtain if your app is determined to be highly relevant.

It is possible for any app to rank in competitive keywords with proper ASO
Beating out Home Depot for “Home Improvement” keyword

 

2. Your Description doesn’t matter for App Store search = FALSE

The content of your description is a key indicator regarding the context of your application for the purpose of App Store Optimization. When Apple and Google are trying to determine whether your app is stronger than any other for a particular keyword and phrase, the description matters. Don’t discount the importance of a concise first paragraph and a detailed feature listing to justify why you deserve to be ranked for important keywords.

Reviews are also an important indicator of which keywords your app might be most important to rank for. Be sure to collect as many reviews and ratings as possible from end users, because this user feedback is weighed highest when determining context for your application v.s the keywords that you choose.

There are some great resources to increase reviews for your app organically including:

Appirater: https://github.com/arashpayan/appirater (organic, from your traffic)

Be careful not to incentivize reviews with cash or be taken advantage of by dubious services online that “guarantee 5-star reviews” because frequently Apple and Google track activity of these services and you could land in hot water. Reviews are best when they are organic and not incentivized with cash.

3.   Go broad and stuff with as many diverse keywords as possible = FALSE

Indeed, it is true that you want to maximize your keyword/phrase reach in the App Store, but stuffing your title and keyword list with random words that are perceived to have high volume is the wrong approach. When you are choosing keywords, be sure to select ones that complement each other and will clearly communicate what your top two or three priorities are for the app. Don’t forget that almost 80% of searches in the App Store are 2-3 word phrases, so build in complimentary “connecting” words.

This strategy is relevant to competition, because the way that you structure your metadata and select your keywords helps you overcome competition on quality keywords and phrases. Just like the web, where Google makes it “easier” for more relevant websites to rank – the algorithm only understands that you are relevant if you feed it appropriate data. When it is linked together, this data must make sense to the computer that is trying to understand what your app is all about.

4.   Avoid “competitive” keywords and target “lower volume” or “long tail” keywords = FALSE

This advice has no logic whatsoever. While you may get some degree of satisfaction typing a phrase and seeing your app listed near the top, if nobody else is searching for that phrase it is effectively worthless to you. Developers need to focus on making their app relevant where it counts, not ranking for sub-par keywords that won’t really matter in the long run. The sooner you get started targeting the higher volume keywords more aggressively the better you will be in the long run – as long as you know how to maintain your ASO every month.

When you take advice for App Store Optimization, it is important to keep in mind where that advice comes from. Often advice will be flavored by what a particular technology or tool can or cannot do, instead of focusing on how the App Store really works. While Gummicube is a technology company (with our own stellar ASO tools!) because we actually conduct optimizations on behalf of partners we don’t have to curb our opinions based on available features of any particular tool.

Following this methodology has helped Gummicube make 1000’s of apps successful in App Store search. Give it a try yourself or contact Gummicube today for help with your App Store Optimization!

 

Gummicube wins back-to-back awards as top emerging Silicon Valley startup

In the last two years the team at Gummicube has had the privilege of helping hundreds of amazing developers and cutting edge startups with App Store Optimization for their apps.  In fact, nearly 2,000 campaigns later we have more experience navigating App Store Search than any other company in the world.

We’re happy helping our partners shine, building great businesses with mobile technology – but in the past month the attention turned on Gummicube, which received some serious recognition among top startup communities in Silicon Valley.

On January 25th, 2014, Gummicube won Startup of the Month at the SVEntrepreneur Demo Day.  For readers who may not have heard of SVEntrepreneur, it is the second largest Meetup group in the world  (next to the founder of Meetup.com) and one of the largest startup communities in North America.

Winning this kind of event against a crowded field of innovative Silicon Valley startups is a great honor – and validation of App Store Optimization becoming an essential marketing component for every application.  If you have a website you know how important it is to be on page one of search results and the same is true for mobile apps.  ASO is the bedrock, the foundation of  marketing for any application to be successful.

The house was packed with developers watching Gummicube present

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Gummicube was then invited to pitch at the Launchpad: Idea to IPO event at startup acceleratornestGSV. The Launchpad event was attended by hundreds of developers, entrepreneurs, investors and other contributors to the Silicon Valley startup community.  The event judges were also great – partners and representatives from Wasabi Ventures, Blumberg Capital, Harvard Angels and Kiretsu Forum all attended.

After many great startups presented and some deliberation among the judges, Gummicube won the event.

Gummicube wins Launchpad event at nestGSV

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Successfully optimizing an app for App Store Search requires leveraging mobile data from inside the App Store.  While some view Google search trends as an analog to what is happening in the App Store, this information is often anecdotal at best.  Gummicube  is focused on a mobile centric approach to App Store Optimization – leveraging exclusive mobile data and technologies.

The web and mobile are fundamentally different platforms – the biggest startup tech communities in Silicon Valley agree.

App Store Optimization and Search Engine Optimization – They Go Hand in Hand

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We’re all about helping developers discover new ways to drive adoption of their apps organically – because organic users are the best, most valuable users.  One of the best ways to do this is to optimize your keywords and drive high quality, honest reviews about your app from real end users. The reviews and ratings will be tied directly to the keywords associated with your app – as you have more reviews with relevent keywords, your rank will increase!  This is of course what Gummicube is all about.

Another method of promoting your apps organically is SEO (search engine optimization).  The reason that SEO is important in a mobile world is two-fold:

1.  Just like users search for apps in the App Store, many will “Google” for apps and you want to be at the top of the stack on the first page.

2.  We believe that in the future, App Store Search is going to incorporate some degree of “score” for back links and web-based metadata.

There have been suggestions that search in Google Play is already incorporating some of this web-based metadata into their app store search algorithm.  To be prepared for this important new “factor” in search based app discovery there are a few things that you can do:

– Have a great “squeeze page” online that is filled with great content and metadata.  If you are serious about app store success, you will need to throw up a WordPress site at a very minimum that is loaded with great, useful content for your end users.  Don’t forget to make the content keyword rich.

– Focus on the same keywords for both your SEO and your ASO efforts.  They will work together to make your app stand out and target the right audience.  For SEO, try to focus on 10 keywords or less that have meaningful traffic but low competition (if possible).  You can use the Google Keyword Planner to research keywords that will make a difference for your app.

Hint:  This is the same tool that many of the companies who provide keyword analysis for ASO use to determine traffic volume and relevance (they aren’t actually scraping search data from the App Store) and you’ll get it for free by getting to know how to use Google Keyword Planner.

– Write great press releases and distribute them everywhere.  There are a ton of websites and news organizations that cover apps as well as directories where you can submit your press releases.  Many have great “PR” (page rank) with Google, which can help boost up your own site rank.

This can seem like a lot of work for an independent developer – but not to worry – there are plenty of services that can help you optimize for SEO and submit your press releases to plenty of websites and news organizations.  One partner that we can recommend for this type of App Marketing is yourappreport. YourAppReport has a great track record of delivering results for a reasonable price and can help get your app the web coverage that you are looking for.

They also have a great free keyword analysis report that can give you tons of great high level data about your app/keyword/strategy.

User recommendation is the most powerful sales tool

It has been established by numerous independent studies that App Store Search is the most powerful sales channel for apps of all kinds.  Nearly 70% of all downloads across both iOS and Android ecosystems are driven by keyword search queries.  This behavior is easy to understand – most people don’t know what specific app they want to download, only the problem that they are looking to solve.  Indeed, whenever I observe friends or family downloading apps they turn to search first – terms like “Finance Apps” “Movie Times” “Shooter Games” are how end users define app discovery.

The point above also illustrates why charts are largely irrelevant for most apps.  Charts are an un-targeted, expensive way to get a great deal of visibility – but not necessarily the right visibility.  Most users who want an app to perform a specific task aren’t going to scroll through 100’s of tiles in a category listing to find what they are looking for.  Buying your way to the top of the charts has been reported to cost as much as $100,000 in today’s market, making this kind of “bulk marketing” extremely risky gambling for most developers and publishers.

Success in App Store search requires picking the right keywords, optimizing your app description and taking steps similar to traditional SEO for the web.  Unlike the web, there is a tool that apps have to enhance their positioning within App Store search and increase the traffic from this powerful channel.  In all digital marketplaces, more than 85% of users base their purchase decisions on recommendations from other users.  This is also true in the App Store (and other digital stores like Google Play).

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If your app doesn’t have user validation and feedback, mobile user reviews, you won’t fully maximize your opportunity to reach users in App Store search.  This is very much like being in the middle of a foreign city and searching for a nearby restaurant.  You are far more likely to dine where others (locals, not necessarily those just in your own social network) recommend you will have the best experience.  When a potential customer searches for a term closely related to your app, they are making a decision to click and view more almost exclusively based on the recommendations of other users.

Think of your own app download behavior – doesn’t this process ring true based on how you discover and download most apps?

In addition to these benefits, user reviews and ratings impact how App Store search engines relate your app to the keywords that you have chosen.  If you are focused on building a travel app that gives a guided tour of Iceland, you will probably select keywords like “Travel” “Iceland” “Iceland Tours”, etc.  Having user reviews that mention this focus will help the App Store know that your app is related to those keywords.   Think of this like having strong back links to your website which help Google determine what your website is all about.

Consider these factors when designing and marketing your next app.  The choices you make and tools that are used can greatly increase the effectiveness of your marketing and increase organic uptake.