ASO vs. SEO

Is ASO (App Store Optimization) the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) equivalent for apps? Are these digital marketing disciplines competing? Can you take a SEO strategy and apply it as it is to your ASO? Let’s revise all you need to know about ASO & SEO, their similarities and differences.

ASO vs. SEO

It is usually said that ASO is the SEO for apps, but that is not 100% true. Indeed, they do have similarities and some common characteristics, but, although they are somehow connected, they are different things with different goals and there are quite a lot of differences between them. Both ASO and SEO have their own specificities and it is important for you to know how to differentiate them.

💡 Did you know that your mobile app has a public URL hosted on apple.com / google.com that is indexed and ranked by Google in the mobile web search? Did you know that doing ASO for your app you are indirectly doing SEO for it?

ASO vs. SEO: Differences & Similarities

Let’s compare ASO and SEO in terms of differences and similarities.

Definition

ASO

✅ App Store Optimization is the process of optimizing a game or application in order to maximize its visibility in the app stores in Search (when users search) and Explore (when users browse), increase traffic to listing and improve conversion rate to generate the maximum volume of organic downloads.

ASO is about Visibility (Search + Explore) and Conversion Rate to download on the stores.

Users are looking for apps when searching and browsing the app stores.

Learn more

SEO

✅ It is also is an optimizing process. Its objective is to get a better website positioning. It stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results (definition from Moz.

SEO is about Visibility (Search) and CTR (Click Through Rate) on the web search.

Users are looking for information or content when searching on the web.

Learn more

This is why ASO is often described as the “SEO for apps“, a simple way to present things to people who know about SEO (web marketing) but don’t know about ASO (app marketing).

Goal

ASO
✅ Get more organic downloads and reduce UA (User Acquisition) costs of a mobile app.
SEO
✅ Get more organic traffic (visitors) and grow digital businesses.
The main goal of both ASO and SEO is acquiring organic (free) traffic. App traffic in the case of ASO, web traffic in the case of SEO. So, the goal of both disciplines is almost the same.

Digital space

ASO
✅ The app stores for iOS and Android devices: Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Huawei AppGallery, etc.

SEO

✅ The web search (both desktop and mobile). SEO can be done for Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. search engines.

Both disciplines are focused on the digital space, but ASO focuses on the app stores and SEO focuses on the web.

Factors

ASO

When talking about ASO, two different types of factors can be identified: the on-metadata factors and the off-metadata ones. These also differ a bit between Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Let’s review them to have a general idea of what has an impact on visibility and conversion rate to download.

On-metadata factors:

  • App Name / Title
  • Subtitle / Short Description
  • Promotional Text (App Store)
  • Description
  • Keywords field (App Store)
  • Visual assets: icons, screenshots, and videos
  • App Listing localization
  • Developer name (Google Play)
  • URL (Google Play)
  • In-App Purchases names (App Store)

✅ Off-metadata factors:

  • Downloads
  • Ratings & Reviews
  • Backlinks (Google Play)

As you can see, the factors sometimes differ between both stores, as well as their importance and relevance.

ASO Factors Study

SEO

When talking about SEO (normally, for websites), two different types of factors can be identified: the on-page factors and the off-page ones. Let’s review them to have a general idea of what has an impact on websites visibility and Click Through Rate on Google Search results pages (SERPs).

On-page factors:

  • Site architecture
  • UX
  • Page load speed
  • Meta Title
  • Meta Description
  • H1, H2, H3… tags
  • Content optimization (text, images, video…)
  • Quality of content
  • User Engagement
  • Responsive / mobile design (Mobile first)

✅ Off-page factors:

  • Backlinks (quantity, quality, speed, topic relevance…)
  • Traffic

SEO Factors Study (by Backlinko)

Factors are those elements that have an impact on visibility and Conversion Rate / CTR for both ASO and SEO. As we have mentioned before, there are 2 types of factors.

You surely have noticed that the SEO factors are indeed mainly similar from the ASO factors. And it’s more: when they are similar, their degree of influence might differ.

As for the visual assets, they have quite a big impact when it comes to ASO (icon, screenshots and videos). Indeed, their importance cannot be underestimated as they have a great impact on Conversion Rate. They usually have a very important role in the user’s decision to download an app or not, which means that they need to be fully optimized and monitored. The impact of visuals is less important in SEO, as they don’t appear on all the search engines results pages (SERPs) and thus have less impact on the user’s decision to visit a given website or not. Meta Title, Meta Description and Rich Snippets (and images on News and Mobile) make the difference in SEO CTR.

Tracking (KPIs)

ASO

In order to measure the success of ASO, you have to take into account the following KPIs or metrics:

  • Keywords rankings
  • Top Charts rankings
  • Featured tracking
  • Conversion Rate to visit
  • Conversion Rate to download
  • User ratings & reviews
  • Organic downloads (Search)
  • Organic downloads (Explore / Browse)
  • Organic uplift
  • Revenue

How do you track all this stuff? Easy, you can use TheTool ASO tool.

Ah! Don’t forget to track competition…

SEO

In order to measure the success of ASO, you have to take into account the following KPIs or metrics:

  • Link profile
  • Keywords rankings (desktop and mobile)
  • CTR
  • Organic traffic
  • Bounce rate, time per session, etc.
  • Revenue
  • Google PageSpeed

How do you track all this stuff? Easy, you can use any SEO tool available in the market like SEMrush or Ahrefs.

Like for ASO, in SEO you also have to track competitors.

What is clear is that ASO and SEO strategies MUST BE TRACKED. Because, you know… What is not measured cannot be improved.

Start TheTool FREE Trial

Visibility

ASO
✅ ASO visibility mainly comes from:
  • Search
  • Explore
    • Top Charts
    • Similar / Related apps
    • Featured
SEO
✅ SEO visibility mainly comes from:
  • Search
  • Google Discover (only on Android devices)
ASO is not only about search… And SEO is following the same path.

Investment (budget)

ASO
✅ The more you invest in paid marketing (Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, Snapchat Ads…), the more the benefit that you get as non-organic downloads have an impact on visibility and organic downloads.
SEO
✅ Unlike ASO, SEO is independent from advertising investment. This means that paying promotion does not have any impact on a website’s visibility. Apart from that, if you want to boost your SEO you have to invest in Inbound Marketing, PR, backlinks…
Some years ago, when there were not much competitors on the stores, ASO specialists didn’t have to invest in paid marketing. Nowadays it is very difficult to rank a mobile app without getting non-organic downloads. Do you want to improve SEO? Invest in content and backlinks.

Time to see results

ASO
✅ Depending on the budget, the industry, the country… The results of ASO can be seen, more or less, quickly (it’s a matter of days). But it depends on a lot of stuff. So, we can’t say the results of ASO can be seen in a given number of days.
SEO
✅ SEO is a much older discipline (more competitors) and more complex than ASO as you have to build a website, generate contents (URLs), get backlinks and so on… So the results of SEO take more time. SEO is a mid / long-term strategy, so don’t expect to see results in the first weeks / months.

Do you want to boost your mobile app ASO or your website SEO? Don’t get nervous, you will need time…

ASO + SEO

We’ve now established that ASO and SEO are different for various reasons and mainly because they have different goals and are made for different situations. This means that ASO and SEO are not competing. We can even go a bit further by saying that they can be complementary. Indeed, it is absolutely possible to combine SEO to an ASO strategy: users sometimes discover apps while searching on the mobile web. This means that part of the discovered apps are found by users on the web and not on app stores.

This is quite a big proportion, which is why combining SEO and ASO is a great way to fully optimize your app visibility everywhere. By doing so, you can make sure that you are thoroughly revising and improving your app’s presence both on app stores and the web.

To conclude...

It is important to remember that neither ASO nor SEO can be used as a magic wand and that they both require time, effort and strategy to end up being effective.

In the end, what you need to remember is that ASO and SEO are not the same, even if both of them are optimizing processes with the goal of increasing organic traffic. Each of the two needs its own strategy for it to be efficient.

ASO vs. SEO? no… ASO ❤️ SEO!

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