App Store Optimization (ASO) is complicated by the differences and inconsistencies between platforms or app stores. What usually works in the Apple App Store is usually very limited in the Play Store and vice versa. This especially applies to search or keyword strategies, where 65% of installs are affected.
However, when it comes to keyword optimization, marketers tend to focus more on what the stores have in common, such as search volume, download intent, ranking position, and text or metadata, rather than their differences. Most of them end up falling into the trap of one-size-fits-all. If keyword strategies are not customized or tailored to fit different app stores, they will not reach their full potential. As a result, performance will never be what it should be-the opposite of everything ASO stands for.
If you're a mobile marketing enthusiast, don't make the same mistake. Understand the differences between the App Store and Play stores, be aware of their unique challenges and opportunities, and adjust your keyword strategy accordingly.
New keyword ranking algorithm
Like any other platform that offers search capabilities, Apple and Google rely on their algorithms to crawl and index keywords from the app's metadata. The stronger the match between those keywords and the search terms or queries given by users, the higher the app ranks for them. This is where it gets complicated: different stores' algorithms behave differently for the same keywords and the same apps.
Keywords play an important role in both stores, but they read differently. Both consider the app developer's name and app title when displaying search results for a specific user. Other elements are weighted differently or specific to one of the stores.
The algorithms of both stores are also influenced by the total number of downloads and the number of short-term downloads. To categorize apps, the algorithms combine and disrupt keywords in the app list.
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Google Play search algorithm updated
Google Play Store has decided to set stricter rules for users and developers when it comes to app store optimization. The new updates include:
- App titles shortened from 50 characters to 30 characters, which now corresponds to App Store length
- Restrictions on the use of keywords in icons, titles and developer names that suggest store performance and promotions
- Removal of graphic elements from app icons that may mislead users, including featured images, screenshots, videos, and short descriptions
- Emoticons and special characters are disabled and no longer allowed
Before launching an ASO for your Android app, it's important to understand that Google Play's algorithm takes almost all text elements into account for keyword indexing. The most relevant keywords come from the app title (50 characters), the short (80 characters) and the full app description (4000 characters). For the full description, use your target keywords several times, especially at the top and bottom. Other elements such as developer name, URL and package name will also affect your keyword ranking. Developer history is also starting to count, which means developers with an active history and ranking high in search will have an advantage over others. ASO Tip: In order for a keyword to be indexed, it needs to be included 2 to 5 times in the Google Play description, or once in the App Title or Short Description.
The latest changes include the impact of app engagement on app games. This means that it's no longer just about installs, but how often the app is used. In addition to that, ratings are also taken into account, so please answer your reviews and ask users.
The latest iOS ASO search algorithm
The App Store has introduced a number of new and exciting features that can now be used for better app store optimization strategies. Here are the latest changes.
● Introduction of in-app events to further enhance app visibility and discoverability
● Screenshots of installed app features
● Introduction of widgets
● Custom product pages allow you to create multiple versions of your app pages
● A/B testing allows you to create different types of visual representations of your app to see which version is more appropriate for your customers (app icons/screenshots)
App Store ranking algorithm - Google Play vs. iOS App Store
ASO for iOS is very different from Google Play. While Google is relatively flexible when it comes to finding keywords, Apple provides a specific field to write your keywords. Sometimes, the Apple App Store ranking algorithm takes keywords from your competitors and category names. In addition, Apple's algorithm is believed to take into account apps that generate higher revenue.
Make the most out of keywords coverage when optimizing your on-matadata
We covered the ins and outs of app store on-matedata optimization and how to place your valuable keywords in the app store in previous articles. The difference that needs our attention here is to choose the unique keywords.
Focusing on the unique keywords in the App Store becomes a best practice because it prevents wasted space, so your creative freedom to use the same keywords for copy varies from store to store.
Pay attention to the metadata optimization on iOS app store
Apple allows apps to rank higher in the long tail of apps when the metadata is an exact match to the app. This means that each exact phrase is treated as a unique keyword that behaves separately from its component in the App Store. As a result, the way you combine keywords in your metadata can have a huge ranking impact and should be managed carefully.
Keywords algorithm on Google Play VS. iOS app store
In contrast to Google Play, in the Apple App Store, it is recommended that keywords not be repeated in the title and keyword sections due to field limitations. In addition, misspelling words and repeating words in singular and plural forms is not a good strategy. ASO Tip: When considering long-tail keywords, use individual words in the keyword field to save valuable space and keep the option to combine keywords.
Keywords localization optimization
Another unique ranking signal in the App Store comes from certain foreign storefront keywords. For example, as a rule of thumb, English (UK) keywords can get your app ranked almost globally. This means that if your app is published in Sweden, it will still rank for most of the keywords you add in the English (UK) localization. This makes the additional metadata a huge boost to your app ranking, with a 100% (and sometimes 200%) increase in keyword capacity.
In-app purchases can appear in app searches, which means you have to deal with keywords because obviously they are also indexing your product. You can track your app's performance in the search results for your selected keywords. It provides you with keyword suggestions and displays keyword search traffic based on Apple Search Ads.
Search page optimization
In the Google Play Store search, only the title and icon are displayed, so you must select your personas purposefully and include the keywords in the title as well.
In the App Store, the search displays additional elements such as icons, titles, and sub-titles to show users a wider range of app content in a given search.
Keep in mind that in terms of search results, the Google Play Store displays only the icon and title, making the icon the only visual object the user sees. the Google Play Store prefers app icons in a rectangular frame, while the Apple App Store prefers a square icon design with rounded corners. Different devices require different size and shape adjustments of the app icons.
In addition, the Google Play Store no longer allows explicit or implicit prompts that can influence a user's decision to download an app. The use of words such as "top" or "best" and the use of words such as "download", "update", or "sale" are now prohibited. "sale" to call for action. This represents all areas (icons, titles, screenshots, short descriptions). Emoticons are also banned, so you can no longer add them to any of the mentioned sections.
App product page layout updated
Changes of Screenshot
In the App Store, you can add up to 10 screenshots; in Google Play, the number of screenshots is limited to 8. But that's not the only difference.
Typically, the first three screenshots will show up in the App Store search results (although starting with iOS 15, if you download the app, the screenshots will no longer show up in the App Store). On the other hand, for most regular searches in Google Play, the screenshots are hidden in the app listings. For certain branded searches only, screenshots are displayed in the app icon, title, and short description in Google Play. Still, the screenshots displayed in Google Play search results are smaller than those in App Store search results - keep this in mind when you consider adding a copy to your screenshots.
As a result, screenshots play an important role in conversion rate optimization in both the App Store and Google Play. While in both stores, screenshots should explain the main features of the app to the user, for the App Store it is more important that you design screenshots that will make your app stand out from the competition and grab the user's attention.
Preview videos updated
App preview videos play an important role in conversion optimization in the App Store. The first video you add to an app page appears in the search results along with the first two screenshots and is automatically muted as the user scrolls through.
Apple maintains strict guidelines for preview videos. They should be concise and show the user's journey as they use the app. You can add up to three preview videos in portrait or landscape mode. Only the first one will show up in the search results; the other two videos will be displayed on the app page before the screenshot.
What Google calls "promotional videos" are YouTube videos that can be added to your app listing. Promotional videos appear in your app listing before the screenshot. Recently, however, promotional videos are also automatically played in the search results of branded searches. The video may also be displayed when Google shows your app or game in other parts of the store.
You can only add one video, and it is recommended to take it in landscape mode (YouTube format). Google also allows more creative freedom when it comes to videos. You can show your in-app experience or highlight how users benefit from downloading your app. The profit-making feature must be turned off.