Article: How to Optimize Your App: 7 Tips to Get Featured on the Apple App Store

man exploring mobile app at coffee shop

The Apple App Store is not the biggest app marketplace in the world. Google Play Store has more than twice the apps it has.

However, Apple has a 24.1% global smartphone market share. Apple iOS also generated 77% of the total $17.1 billion app subscription revenues in 2022.

Apple is more than just a major app store. It’s a key market player, and if you want downloads and paying subscribers, you must mind your Apple app store optimization or ASO ranking factors.

Mobile app optimization is vital to ensuring your app listing ranks high in the Apple App Store search results. The higher you rank in app search results, the greater your exposure to your target market, the more downloads you’re likely to get, and the higher your revenues will likely become.

What is mobile app optimization?

In the context of search results optimization, it pertains to optimizing an app listing for target keywords. In the Apple App Store, this means including your primary keyword in the app title, app description, and keyword field.

There is, however, something way better than ranking high in app store search results. It’s getting featured on the Apple App Store.

What Being Featured on the Apple App Store Means

Apple has featured more than 130,000 apps on the App store and other Apple channels. Getting featured can take many forms.

Among other things, this entails being tagged as one of the following: 

  • Game of the Day
  • App of the Day
  • Featured App
  • Featured Game

It can also means being featured in story categories or roundups, such as the following:

  • Get Started
  • Explained
  • App Culture
  • Try Something New
  • Apple Arcade
  • Essentials (e.g., Our top 10 entertainment apps)
  • Updated Weekly (e.g., New games we love)
  • Watch It Live (e.g., Off to the races)
  • Gaming Life (e.g., Replay your ‘80s gaming favorites)

A feature on the Apple App Store can become a defining moment for any app startup. It can get your app in front of the Apple App Store’s 500 million visitors a week and the billions of Apple device users worldwide.

Distill this to its essence, and it means driving thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of app downloads.

With such a high payoff, you must want to learn how to get your app featured on the App Store.

How to Get Featured on the App Store

Apple says you cannot pay to get featured on the Apple App Store. There are no checklists of requirements, either. Even so, Apple does provide some guidance on how to get an app on the featured list of the app store.

Apple says it has a global pool of editors, and they decide which apps to feature and promote in the Apple App Store. Therefore, to the question “how to get featured on the App Store,” the primary strategy is to appeal to Apple editors. To accomplish this, Apple says you must create an app that Apple users will love.

Practically speaking, you must perform mobile app store optimization

Below is a list of things you can do to optimize your mobile app and help bring it to the attention of the Apple App Store featured app curators.

1. User Interface

The app UI must be high quality, highly usable, and appealing, with beautiful visuals and intuitive controls.

Evaluate your app’s appearance on your target Apple device screen. Are all your UI elements working as expected, and do they look good on the screen? Are your UI text elements concise and readable?

2. User Experience

Your app must be a pleasure to use. It shouldn’t take two clicks to do something when it can take just one. The user journey from app loading to app exit must be smooth throughout.

Mobile app performance optimization is critical to improving user experience. For instance, how quickly screens load and how snappy the buttons are can make people love using your app.

3. Innovation and Uniqueness 

Does your app use new and exciting technology to solve a problem? This will win you points on innovation.

Is your app offering something other apps in its category are not providing? Is your app the first of its kind to do something? In this instance, your app wins points for standing out and being original.

4. Accessibility

Your app must be enjoyable to use (i.e., offer superior user experience) not only to a particular segment of your target market. It must be usable and provide a similarly great experience to users regardless of their accessibility needs.

You should conduct a mobile accessibility audit to ensure your mobile app is accessible to a full spectrum of potential users. It must be usable for those with color contrast problems, small mobile screens, hearing problems, vision problems, screen control issues, etc.

5. Localization

Apple values localized content, so why not create content in the local language? If your app is for Apple users in the Arabian Peninsula, why not provide support for Arabic? Naturally, your app content, including the graphics and text, must also be culturally appropriate.

Localizing your content is a great way to stand out, too. You’re much more likely to be featured in the United Arab Emirates Apple App Store if your content is obviously meant for (i.e., has been localized for) people in the UAE.

6. App Store Product Pages

Your App Store product page and custom product pages (i.e., the additional pages you can create aside from your default product page on the Apple Store) matter. This is where ranking on the Apple App Store search results (the domain of App Store Optimization) and getting featured on the App Store homepage primarily overlap.

Your Apple App Store pages should have a beautiful-looking icon and screenshots, informative descriptions, app previews, and user ratings and reviews. To get featured, you must create an attractive and compelling product page and custom product pages.

7. Story

Does your app have an interesting backstory? Is it newly updated and significantly improved? Perhaps you have a special or exclusive event, or your app might have particular relevance to a trending issue or the season.

Tell Apple editors about whatever makes your app interesting. Submit your app or developer story to the Apple developer portal.

How to Get a Game Featured on the App Store

Games can also follow the above guidelines to improve their chances of getting featured. Additionally, according to Apple, games must also offer great overall value and have excellent:

  • Gameplay design
  • Art and animation
  • Game controls
  • Music and sound effects
  • Technical specifications and actual performance
  • Story and characters, if applicable
  • Replayability, if applicable

Get Featured on the Apple App Store

Getting featured on the Apple App Store home page can accelerate your mobile app user base and business growth. Optimize your app using the above guidelines to improve your chances of being promoted by Apple to its billions of app users.

Mobera Academy is the leading mobile app marketing education provider in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Register for our mobile marketing masterclass to learn practical and useful strategies on app store optimization, getting featured on the Apple App Store, and mobile app marketing best practices.

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