The Difference Between ASO and SEO, and Why You Need SEO for App Marketing

The Difference Between ASO and SEO, and Why You Need SEO for App Marketing

Melissa Mauro
March 31, 2021

As the use of mobile continues its rapid growth, the importance of app marketing for businesses also grows. Search engine optimization, or SEO, has proven to be an effective tool for increasing organic traffic to the website. If you want to do the same with your app, you also need to put some effort into optimization. In this case, you should work on app store optimization, or ASO.

ASO is very important for app developers because people look for apps in app stores. Does it mean that there’s no room for SEO? Do you even need to choose between SEO and ASO? The truth is, no matter what sources or channels you focus on, search plays a vital role. Therefore, your main goal is to consider different types of search and have appropriate strategies for any particular case.

Both ASO and SEO are effective and popular marketing techniques that help businesses boost their organic traffic for apps and websites. Marketers who have at least a basic understanding of these concepts know that ASO and SEO have a lot in common. They are not the same, however. ASO is more than SEO for apps. At the same time, SEO is quite similar to search optimization that ASO marketers do.

It’s easy to confuse these two techniques but you should clearly understand the difference between these processes to use them effectively. The reason is that if you build your expectations based on your understanding of the other technique, you may ignore some important factors and end up disappointed in the whole strategy. Effective marketing requires you to set clear goals so that you can measure your success.

In this article, we will consider ASO and SEO in more detail and focus on the differences between these two tactics from the strategic viewpoint.


  • ASO (App Store Optimization) is a process aimed to improve a certain app’s visibility in app stores, which in turn can boost organic app downloads. The visibility of apps depends on their positions in search results for various search terms. Apps become more visible when they have higher rankings in charts and when they get featured by app stores.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a technique of increasing rankings of a web page in search engine results. The ultimate goal of SEO is to drive more organic traffic to a website.

ASO and SEO have a lot in common. For example, both of these practices are aimed to increase search visibility, and both of them focus on boosting inbound traffic. If you want to increase app installs, you should make sure that more people will discover this app, and SEO is based on the same principle.

Users who discover and visit your web pages or app through search results are called organic because they have a natural intention to satisfy their needs. Both ASO and SEO are different from outbound marketing because they don’t involve paid advertising. Organic growth helps you not only attract more views but also build trust. Therefore, people who come to you as a result of organic search are easier to convert and potentially more profitable.

Another thing SEO and ASO have in common is the use of keywords. Keyword research and their strategic placement help search algorithms find your app or website and place it in search results. We recommend that you always do extensive keyword research. Build relevant phrases, check keywords used by your competitors, and combine short-tail and long-tail keywords.

Although the basic principles of keyword research are similar in SEO and ASO, you may need to use different tools to find the best keywords. Besides, you should build your ASO and SEO strategies based on different metrics. You should also understand that Google search algorithms and app store algorithms offer different opportunities and introduce different limitations. Now let’s consider the differences between SEO and ASO in more detail.

The Key Differences Between ASO and SEO

1. Search intent

When dealing with app stores, search queries are shorter than those on the web. When people search for apps, they need something specific. For example, they may search for a specific brand name or at least look for an app that performs a specific function. Therefore, search queries in app stores are focused on specific features and more functional than those in web search engines.
On the web, search queries tend to be longer, and they can be more or less specific. The reason is that search engines are used for different purposes, and there is too much information on the internet. Search engine users can make purely transactional queries to buy a certain product or service, and they may also look for answers to specific questions. 

When using an app store, people don’t ask questions. In contrast, Google is the most common source of answers. Search queries in the form of questions became especially popular because of voice search. According to statistics, voice search accounts for about 50% of all search queries.

Google also has the “People also ask for” section for quick navigation among relevant questions. As a result, “how-to” articles and numbered lists rank high because they deliver accessible and easy-to-read content. In app stores, users look not for articles and answers but for software products so you should adjust your keyword targeting accordingly.

2. Visibility factors

Neither SEO nor ASO can be successful without relying on the quality of the product. For example, if your app has a high uninstall rate, the algorithm will understand that its quality is far from perfect and your visibility will decrease. In the same way, if your website doesn’t satisfy users’ search intent, they will bounce. The algorithm takes into account the bounce rate so your rankings will also drop.
Therefore, quality is the main visibility factor for both apps and web pages, but there are also other important factors. For example, in ASO, you can get more traffic if your apps are featured in editorial lists, recommendations, and category rankings. Every app also has user ratings and reviews. Unlike in SEO, in ASO, organic visibility is also influenced by paid traffic. Besides, app stores tend to rank new apps higher.

3. KPIs

Both ASO and SEO are continuous processes. There are no one-time tricks that would quickly deliver great results. A good ASO strategy should be based on ongoing monitoring and gradual improvements. The same applies to an effective SEO strategy, as well. However, to measure your success, you should use different key performance indicators.
The main KPIs for ASO are organic downloads and installs, keyword rankings, the conversion rate, and an average reviews and ratings score. The conversion rate and keyword rankings are also important KPIs for SEO, as well as the bounce rate, organic sessions and their duration, pages per session, the number of backlinks, and page load time.

4. Evaluation time

Both ASO and SEO are rather slow processes compared to paid acquisition. However, ASO enables you to get a basic understanding of your results a few weeks after making changes to keywords or launching the app. In contrast, it’s impossible to quickly measure results after launching a website. You will need at least a few months of observation to evaluate your SEO efforts and figure out the necessary adjustments.

5. SEO offers limitless opportunities

When dealing with a website, you can create as much content as you want. As a result, you get much more opportunities for optimization. You get complete creative control over the type and format of your content, including its design, text, and visuals. ASO is limited to the store listing page of your app. Therefore, every optimization opportunity becomes crucial.

Why You Need SEO for App Marketing

Search in app stores drives about 40% of app discovery. Therefore, it’s not enough to have a good ASO strategy if you want to get more downloads. 60% of your users discover your app in different ways, and not all of them do it by using search engines. People can learn about your app from their friends, colleagues, family, advertisements, and your company website. About 27% of users also discover apps from search results, and if you don’t use SEO, you will lose more than a quarter of your users.

Your app can appear in mobile search results as an app preview or within app packs. If someone searches for your app name or a relevant long-tail keyphrase, Google can display a preview of your app. The app will be featured as a snippet with the app name, average rating, number of reviews, a brief description, and a download button. The download button will redirect users to an app store.

Most often, apps appear on search results in app packs. These are groups of apps offered as suggestions. For example, if you search for “video editing apps,” you will see three to six apps, and you can also click on “more apps” to see the entire app pack. Every result shows an app name, its icon, the number of reviews along with the average rating, and the cost. According to statistics, mobile search already accounts for 61% of Google search traffic, and its share will continue to increase in the future. Therefore, if you want to withstand competition, you should make sure that your app appears in mobile searches.

Wrapping Up

Although ASO and SEO have a lot in common, these are two different techniques with different goals. If you’re practicing ASO and SEO, you should understand the difference between these two concepts. This way, you’ll be able to come up with effective strategies and evaluate their success.

Melissa Mauro is a freelance writer who creates quality and original content. She is working for the company Top Writing Reviews writing services review. She believes that creativity and improvement are things, which distinguish a good writer. 

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