updated icon July 21 2016

Smartphones have ushered in the second coming of mobile gaming, with nearly a quarter of all apps created falling into the ‘Games’ category. And with more than 130 billion app downloads from the App Store – not counting Android phones – that’s a huge market for game developers. Mobile may seem like a great place to drop your latest game, but consider just how many other developers have had the same idea. You’ll need something to stand out and separate your game from the pack.

Even if your game has a great hook, it’s entirely feasible that nobody will discover it on the App Store or Google Play if you don’t take the proper steps. That’s because Apple and Google are dealing with tens of thousands of app submissions each month, and the volume is just too great to personalize recommendations on the scale of a service like Steam.

Instead of relying on the storefront to promote you, it’s imperative that you optimize your app to be discovered organically by users as they search. In the app stores, search accounts for the vast majority of downloads, and organically drawing more relevant users to your app is the best bet for increasing visibility.

When creating your game, stick to the following tips to ensure that you’re discoverable by the most users possible.

1. Create your title and keyword bank

Making your title and keywords may seem easy – Just come up with a name, throw in some related keywords and call it a day, right? In fact, the process of choosing your title and keywords is much more complex, and sits at the heart of the success your find in search.

See, Apple and Google determine which search terms your app ranks for by taking into account your title, your keywords and your short description (on Google), and then determining how relevant your app is for those keywords. But not all keywords are the same, and some are actually searched more heavily by users than others. Thus, it is in your best interest to target the keywords and phrases that are searched for more frequently than others.

If you’re creating a turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy universe, some broad, widely-searched terms you might use would be “RTS”, “strategy”, “game”, “fantasy” or “dragons”. Terms like “turn-based” or “strategic”, on the other hand, might not have as wide of a reach. You can opt to include less popular search terms in order to target more specific searches, but it’s very important to utilize any popular, related search terms to get a solid foundation on which you can build.

The final thing to consider when creating your title and keyword bank is how well your chosen words play off of one another. Think about how you search when you’re browsing the app store. Do you type in single-word queries, or do you search with phrases more often? Typically, users tend to enter short phrases such as “strategy game” or “fantasy RTS”. By utilizing all of these words in your keyword bank or title, you can build phrases which will help you rank for even more in the app stores! Think of the words themselves as building blocks, and the phrases as the structures that are built from those blocks. Words from your title and your keyword bank can be interchanged, so feel free to make as many phrases between the two as possible.

This strategy is at the heart of ASO, and as such is incredibly important for the rankings of your game.

2. Create an optimized description

Once you have your title and keywords, you can use this as a basis to create a more optimized description. You will want to show reviewers at Apple and Google – as well as your end users – that you are relevant for the search terms which you have targeted. This will result in higher keyword rankings for you, as well as increased conversion once users do reach your app page.

Creating an optimized description is very different in Google Play than in Apple. Your keyword placement and description structure will have to differ greatly, so be sure to create separate descriptions that are optimized for each of your target platforms. This will help you elevate your rankings and find more users organically.

3. Optimize your icon and screenshots

As a game developer, you’ll have plenty of examples to look out for as you launch. The first step to putting together a great icon and screenshot combo is to see what similar apps are doing, and what is connecting with users. What types of characters, colors and language are used in their icon and screenshots?

What you’ll probably notice is that many developers use their screenshots as advertising posters of sort, showing off exciting features of their game and telling users what makes them different and unique. See what users respond to here, and try to implement your own spin when you launch. phonesearch1ASOArticle.jpg

4. Update, update, update

Once you’ve gotten your app’s metadata and creative ready, it’s time to launch and keep and eagle eye on your rankings. As time goes on and more apps release, you’ll naturally find that rankings shift and change, and you may want to begin targeting new or modified keywords. Optimizing your app is a never-ending process, and you’ll want to stay on top of it at all times to ensure that your game remains successful.

And there you have it – a beginner’s guide to optimizing your app for increased discover on the App Store! Take these tips to heart, and your game might just be the next big hit on the App Store.

This is a guest blog post by Dave Bell, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games.