App store optimization (ASO) is the process of improving an app’s rank in an app store for search results related to the app. It’s the app store equivalent of SEO for Web pages. Just like SEO, ASO involves working to build up a great search ranking to drive downloads.
One of the best app store features to help app marketers with ASO is the reviews section. Never before have marketers had the ability to see exactly what their users are saying about their product in a single place, nicely sorted by their level of satisfaction.
Reviews have clear use cases for app publishers in product development, but they also have countless other uses for app marketers, including app store optimization. Let’s look at five of the best ways to use reviews for better ASO.
1. Extract Common Messaging For Keywords
You should be constantly monitoring your reviews and searching for common messaging. Common messaging includes words or phrases which are repeated over and over and convey the same idea or message.
Organizing your reviews by rating and common messaging is invaluable to learning how users are talking about your app. What words are they using, and what are their reasons for using those words? Finding common messaging leads directly to finding ideas for new keywords.
If you notice there is a certain word or phrase that keeps popping up in your reviews, you should consider using that term in your keywords. Users are telling you, “This is how I talk about your app.” If users are talking that way in your reviews, other people are likely talking that way in search.
2. Find & Fix Bugs For Better Ratings
Once you have sorted your reviews, one of the most important things you can use them for is to find bugs. Sadly, anger and frustration will often inspire users to leave a review… a 1-star review. And while you can test your app over and over again, you’re bound to miss a few bugs that will impact users.
In addition to your in-app analytics, a quick and efficient way to find and fix these is by looking through your reviews. Fixing bugs quickly will reduce the damage as well as convert unhappy users into happy ones who can re-rate the app highly. High ratings are directly related to high rankings in both Top Charts and search within the app store.
Make sure that you reference which bug you are fixing when you release an update so users know that you have heard their complaints and responded accordingly.
Your “What’s New” space is at least as important as your “Description” (they’re given the same screen real estate in the Apple app store), so make the most of it by pleasing current users and enticing new ones to download your app.
Pro Tip: “Bug fixes” is not an appropriate update note.
3. Find Ideas For Product Features
While bugs are found in negative reviews, ideas for new product features can pop up in any review. A user could post a 5-star review raving about your app, but also throw in one sentence on something they wished your app did. Or, someone could be ranting about features they want your app to have in a 2-star review. In fact, many 3-star reviews are of the format, “Love this app, but wish it also…”
Either way, your reviews provide great insight into new features your app needs, features that need to be improved, or features you should highlight. Getting your features right ultimately leads to the best user experience, which leads to the more downloads and higher rankings.
Although every review might not give you game-changing ideas, they can highlight features in your app you did not know people liked. One review asking for a feature might be a fluke, two might be a coincidence, but many reviews asking for the same thing is the equivalent of app store customers banging down the door of Toys “R” Us looking for a Tickle Me Elmo.
4. It’s Not Just You In The App Store — Your Competitors Are There, Too
Spend as much time in your competitors’ app reviews as you do in your own reviews. Apply the first three tips toward your competitors’ reviews: find common messaging to see what keywords you might (or might not) want to be using; see what bugs are occurring in their app and make sure that doesn’t happen to you; and find features that people like or wish their app had to get inspiration for your own product!
5. Finding Screenshot Ideas From Reviews
Screenshots are something I believe a majority of apps do poorly. It’s the only way to talk to your customers in an on-brand way via the app store. If you don’t have good screenshots, users will usually skip right over your app without even reading the description. So how do you know which screenshots to use? Take your reviews, extract the most talked about features, and highlight those in your screenshots.
If you’re going to use a static screenshot in your app store presence, provide a short narrative in the screenshot about what the feature is. Without having used an app, it’s almost impossible to know what a screenshot is showing without any context.
Other Uses For Reviews & ASO?
This is just the tip of the iceberg on how you can use reviews to improve your ASO. These are five of our favorites, but get creative and apply them to other aspects of your app as well. What other ways do you use reviews in your app?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.