ASO: App Store Optimization

I have heard ASO before, and I never believed it. This story is our experience in SmartStory and how little things can make huge differences.

For a while, we only had downloads from France and Germany. Part of that was because we had strong localization and listed Germany and French as our supported languages, but how come we did not have any downloads from Asia Pacific? or the United States?

Desperately, I looked up ASO again, and the old school ways of optimizing keywords. Unfortunately, all the websites I knew for that manner are commercial and for a cheap entrepreneur that was out of reach. With little more search, I found iTunes API. Great tool. This API would let you search the app store and find out where you’re at.

My gutt feeling was people are searching for “Slide show” to find out about apps like SmartStory. I was very wrong, but even with that assumption, I wrote a python script to search US, Canada, French, Germany, Japnese, Korean and Chinese app stores to see where is SmartStory. I uploaded my tool to github as a public too. I still need to write a fancy README, but I figured I might better share it now.

The tool response was mind blowing. App rank in different app stores:

  • US: 200+ (iTunes API only returns 200 results, so 200+ basically means unlisted)
  • FR: 89
  • DE: 119
  • KR: 152
  • CN: 200+
  • ES: 181
  • MX: 200+
  • CA: 200+


No wonder all downloads are coming from France and Germany. Basically, people in everywhere else can not see the app at all.

What we should do?

With more searching and more reading, it turned out we should have used Google Keyword Research Tool. I entered “slide show”, and I got this:


I was dead wrong. People are not searching for “slide show”, people are searching for “video maker”, “slideshow maker” and “slideshow with music”. Granted this is a web tool, but the same dillema works on App Store as well.

Apple app store has a pretty simple logic (according to here). If you have “slide, show” in your keywords, it means you are going to miss “slideshow”. They are not as smart as Google to figure these things out.


I have also wrote another python script that parsed all 200 apps in app store and count the words in them (using a simple MySQL database). One day, I will make a nice web tool around it, but right now it is a hackish command line script. Contributions are welcome 🙂

I used Google tool and my script results to reengineer and re-enter all of the keywords and I have also renamed the app (because I ran out of space). The results was great.

Checking app store for slideshow+with+music in us: 67
Checking app store for slideshow+with+music in fr: 33
Checking app store for slideshow+maker in fr: 59
Checking app store for slideshow+with+music in de: 36
Checking app store for slideshow+with+music in kr: 41
Checking app store for slideshow+with+music in cn: 38
Checking app store for slideshow+with+music in ca: 42

Of course, there is still a lot to be done, but how hard is updating keywords, right? And did I mention it is free?

Now that the app is visible, there is a higher chance that people could download it and possibly love it. I have a lot of work to do, I need to reduce those numbers to single digits . . .

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