How to Pre-optimize Your Mobile App Before Launch

May 8, 2019 - 8 minutes read

This guest-post is courtesy of our partners at Gummicube.

While preparing for an app’s launch, it’s key to consider how it’s going to be marketed.

Pre-optimization is one way to do just that. Pre-optimization is an App Store Optimization practice where you research and build out the app’s metadata and creative sets in an effort to maximize indexation, impressions and conversion upon launch. With 70% of app discovery happening in search, pre-optimization can help lay the foundation to your app’s marketing as you start to scale. 

Pre-Optimization Research

Pre-optimization research helps you discover what features are popular in an app’s space, what terms users are searching for, and what creative elements best convert those users. Basically, it means you do your market research homework before launching an app.

For instance, a receipt scanning app might want to know if users are searching more for “receipt scanning,” “tax calculation” or “expense tracker” apps. Determining this can help them plan out the product roadmap and identify terms they can target to help it rank better in the stores.

This is not a quick process; ASO takes time. Mobile App Developers should start using ASO software to research metadata and creative trends at least a month before launching. In this time, you can start to really understand what themes and features are popular in your app’s space. Note what keywords appear relevant to your app, so you can include them in the metadata and listings on the App Store and Play Store.

Along with keywords, you’ll want to look at the top-ranking apps in your category. This can help you see what creative elements they’re using in their icons, screenshots and videos to identify what appeals to users. What visual designs catch the eye the best? Competitor analysis can help determine what they’re doing that works, so you can utilize what works.

App store algorithms rank apps based on their click-through-rates, which creatives play a large role in. Creative elements that engage and appeal to users draw in clicks, thus helping the app’s rankings. It logically follows that apps in the top spots across multiple keywords may be using creative elements that help. Researching this can help you understand what elements they’re using that you can utilize too.

Building Metadata and Creative Sets

Once you understand the trending keywords and creative elements in your app’s space, you’ll want to start preparing your metadata and creatives for launch. The metadata includes the title, subtitle (on iOS), short description (on Google Play) and long description, while the creatives include screenshots, icon and preview video.

Your metadata will be structured differently depending on the platform your app is on. For iOS, Apple uses the keywords declared in the title, subtitle and keyword bank to determine what terms to rank you for. Google Play, on the other hand, has no keyword bank; instead, keywords need to be included throughout the app’s metadata and description to be considered.

For screenshots, you’ll want to include the elements you found users responded well to during your research. Some apps may work better with splash screens, while others might use stock imagery or iconography related to its theme. Utilizing best practices, such as screenshot callout text and an emphasis on popular features, can also help conversion.

A/B Testing & Soft Launching

Along with preparing your metadata and creatives, you can use A/B testing and soft launches for the app to acquire early learnings.

A/B testing helps you see how the metadata and creatives you’ve prepared convert users, adjusting for future iterations where necessary. Using an A/B platform like Splitcube can help you run tests without the app being live, so you can learn what converts prior to launch.

Soft launching can provide early insights into your app’s performance before its main launch. By launching in a smaller territory first, you can let users try the app out and smoke out any bugs, while gaining information on its performance that you can integrate into the full launch. During this time, your app will be indexed for keywords, helping you see which ones you’re relevant for and whether or not your creatives are converting well. 

Post Launch Iteration

The app’s launch day is a big deal, not just for you, but for the app’s indexation. Once the metadata goes live, the App Store algorithms will begin indexing it as they determine where it will rank in search results.

While no two apps index the same, it can take Apple an average of 3-4 weeks to fully index one. Google Play takes 4-6 weeks as it continuously crawls the description for keywords. Even then, indexation as a whole is an ongoing process.

It is highly recommended that app development companies constantly update and iterate their app to improve discoverability. Each time new metadata is deployed, the app has another chance at getting re-crawled and indexed. If done properly, this can help your app rank better for terms and for more terms overall. Once your app has finished indexing, you’ll want to look into releasing regular metadata updates.


Developing an app is only half the battle. The next challenge is getting users to discover and install it. To put yourself in a good launch position, you’ll want to start researching metadata and creatives at least a month before launch. With those findings, you can build metadata and creative sets that give your app a strong ASO foundation from its launch.

Once your app is live, you’ll want to give it time to index. When rankings stabilize, evaluate what worked and build on it from there. With continual updates, you can help your app perform better in the stores and improve discoverability.

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