Some people think that ASO and SEO are the same. There are certainly a few similarities, but when you dig a little deeper, they are actually very different.

In this post, I’ll show you the similarities and differences between them, and answer some frequently asked questions. Let’s start with the definitions of each…

ASO and SEO, what are the differences?

App Store Optimization (ASO) Definition

ASO is the process of optimizing your app’s page for an app store like the Google Play App Store, the Apple App Store or the Amazon Appstore. Optimizations are primarily done inside the app store and need to be done for each app store individually.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Definition

SEO is the process of optimizing web pages to rank well in search engine results. Many factors are taken into account and both on-site and off-site optimizations need to be done to make pages rank well in multiple search engines.

The Primary Differences Between ASO and SEO

So we can already see some major differences. ASO is primarily done inside each app store, while SEO needs to be done on and off the website.

But there are more differences, so let’s examine them closer…

SEO is More Complex

Since ASO only deals with optimizing for the app stores, it is not as complex as SEO.

In ASO, you only have to be concerned with the following:

  • Choosing the right keywords
  • Optimizing the app name and description
  • Testing icons, screenshots and videos
  • Optimizing the keyword field (App Store)
  • Localization
  • Backlinks (Google Play)
  • Optimizing ratings and reviews

But in SEO, you have to master things like:

  • Keyword selection
  • Optimizing page speed
  • Multiple search engine optimization
  • On-page backlinks
  • Off-page backlinks
  • High quality content
  • Website credibility
  • Page title optimization
  • Google penalties
  • Link relevance
  • Social Sharing
  • Content freshness
  • Nofollow links
  • And more!

As you can see, SEO factors are much more complex and can take a lot of time to optimize. In addition, if your website is hit with a Google penalty, it can take months, or even years to get out of the penalty.

If your mobile app is not up to the standards of the app store, usually the worst that happens is that your app is rejected from being published. You can get banned forever, but that’s if you do something really bad…multiple times.

Visual Optimization is more important in ASO

The app icon, screenshots and video play a big part in ASO, while text is usually more important in SEO. This is because of how the search results are displayed.

In ASO search results, the icon and screenshots are prominently displayed. It’s still important to target the right keywords, but you cannot ignore the graphics.

ASO search example

In SEO, people only see text, so it’s much more important optimize the text elements of a web page. Graphics are important too, but not important for converting search results into clicks.

SEO search results

Relevance Matters In SEO…a Lot!

The app stores are getting better at detecting what an app is about and what it does, but they still rely heavily on the category your app is in and your app store profile.

On the other hand, SEO is much more advanced. The search engines will rank your content depending on what your site is about and the quality of the links that are pointed to your site.

How SEO and ASO are Alike

ASO and SEO are often seen as similar because they both optimize for keywords. As we have seen above, the similarity pretty much stops there.

But let’s take a minute to also explore how they are alike and how SEO skills can be applied ASO.

Keyword Optimization

Both of these disciplines require ranking for the right keywords. In both areas, the key to success is ranking for highly relevant, low competition keywords that your page/app can rank for…also known as long-tail keywords.

On the app stores, you are primarily looking for keywords that have great metrics. These metrics include a high Chance Score and high download relevancy. For more tips on how to choose the right ASO keywords, read this blog post.

Keyword metrics

You also need to examine the strength of the competition for each keyword. This can be done by looking at the ASO Report of every app that ranks for a keyword.

You will be able to see exactly how many keywords an app is ranking well for. With this information, you can see if the competition is strong and if you have a good chance of getting in the top 10.

ASO Report

In the SEO world, you need too look at estimated keyword search volume on a platform like Google Adwords. The Keyword Planner will give you average monthly searches.

Keyword Planner

Then you can look at things like Alexa Rank and backlink profile to uncover the strength of the competition for a keyword.


Links from other sites don’t factor into the rankings of apps in the Apple App Store, but they do help on the Google Play Store. But they cannot just be any ol’ links, they must come from reputable and highly related web pages.

If you need a guide on how to implement a backlinking strategy for Google Play ASO, reference the “SEO Guides” section below.

ASO Tools

In order to do ASO properly, you need to have the right tools. Here are a few tutorials that will give you the information you need to optimize your app store page and start getting more downloads.

SEO Tools

If you are interested in learning more about SEO, here are a few great tools that you can use.

ASO Guides

Now that you understand the similarities and differences, here are a couple of Mobile Action ASO guides that will help you do ASO for specific app stores.

SEO Guides

These are a few of our favorite SEO guides, if you need more details on how to utilize specific SEO strategies.


So that is how App Store Optimization is similar, and different, from Search Engine Optimization. We hope that this post cleared up any confusion and also provided you with some valuable resources.