Should We Continue with App Store Optimization After Search Ads Went Online?

Continue with App Store OptimizationEver since Apple’s Search Ads went online in United States, lot of developers asked whether they should continue with App Store Optimization. We believe many CP are also in doubt, and in fact, the answer to the question is very clear, just like webmaster will not give up SEO because of SEM, ASM and ASO can be combined together to leverage 1+1>2.

ASO can make up disadvantages of Search Ads

1. Ads logo affects conversion

As shown in pictures above, Apple’s Search Ads blue background and Ad logo are obvious. It is foreseeable that when Search Ads goes online in China, that advertisement logo is not just a simple “Ad”, it will be a striking Chinese word.
As you can see, ranking positions are similar for top list of Search Ads and keywords but the conversion for former is much lower. Therefore, ASO has more advantages in term of conversion (and brand image) without the of Ad logo that affecting users’ desire to download.

2. Only one display position for Search Ads

Continue with App Store OptimizationThere is only a single result at top position of the advertisement (top left ads position at iPad), so when the market is saturated. If a particular keyword has more than ten thousand search per day, the displaying opportunity will be based on auction price, and the biding price will be getting higher and higher – thus advertising cost increases. ASO can provides app with more flexible display position, that is if a particular keyword is costly, then there is always a second best display position.

3. Limits of Search Ads traffic

First, Search Ads is only available for iOS 10 or above, and no display for devices below iOS 10. While iOS 10 coverage is increasing (Apple announced iOS 10 installation reached 60% on Oct 28th), yet there are a number of devices that is running on older version.
Secondly, Search Ads will not be shown to users under age 13 (based on age information from Apple ID), this will highly affecting app in Education and Children categories.

4. No impact to download count

Normally when an app’s download count increases, its ranking and related keywords will be higher as a result. However, download from Search Ads will have no such effect, in another words, high download count from Search Ads will not help our app and keywords ranking.

Use Search Ads to support data for ASO

Continue with App Store OptimizationThe good thing about Search Ads is that it can provide detailed data, including search quantity of every keyword, even the subsequent actions of the users from any particular keywords (like save, payment). However, as discussed in the first part of this article, Search Ads is less flexible, so we have to rely on those data to decide different strategies for each keywords.

1. Use Search Ads to conduct experiments

Use search ads to conduct experiments (recommended using Search Match and broad Match that could suggest us more keywords), then select “main keywords” and “long tail keywords” based on the results.

2. Main keywords

If our app ranked beyond top 10 list under current keywords and there is a difficulty to decide SEO strategies, use Search Ads to attract traffic. Using Search Ads will be a waste if ranking is already in top 10 list, so suggestion is to continue with ASO to maintain or improve ranking.

3. Long tail keywords

We can see that there are search quantity for lots of long tail keywords from Search Ads admin panel, some of which are potential keywords that are unnoticed to us. Many of them generated from Match/Broad Match. Normally, cost for long tail keyword is low (with some exceptions), so naturally can continue to use Search Ads.
Similarly, these keywords were not discovered (by us or competitors) earlier, therefore cost is low for ASO optimization (to the top of list). If we want to consider higher conversion rate for natural ranking, ASO is more advantage than Search Ads.

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