The mobile game space is a competitive one, with new games released each day. In order to break through the noise of older titles, publishers, and reskinned games, developers should ensure they are optimizing their game's keywords and creatives. This can help it rise through the rankings and get installs.
If you are a mobile marketing professional and work on App Store Optimization, you already know how difficult it is to find original ASO articles. We tend to read the same information over and over again. You may also know how frustrating it is to be doing the "right" thing for your game to grow organically and yet you are not getting any results.
Why ASO is important for your mobile games
In the mobile game business, ASO is something you should plan for long before the launch. We all know this, yet many game developers continue to fall short when crafting an ASO strategy. They rely on luck and simply wait and see which keywords the app stores will use to position their game.
ASO for games is not very different from regular App Store Optimization. However, ASO for games is considered to be one of the most challenging tasks since there are so many new games coming up everyday taking the competition to a whole new level.
According to Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through app store searches. If you look at the image below, it is clear that app store search is the most preferred method of finding new apps. Hence, if your game is not optimized for ASO, you are missing out on the largest app discovery channel.
With millions of games in each app store competing to rank above one another, most of the publishers are not investing in App Store Optimization. Nevertheless, ASO can be your key to success.
Source: Forrester Research
ASO focuses on keywords but it is way more
Now whenever someone mentions the word App Store Optimization, the first thing to pop up in our minds is keywords. The more keywords in your app's title and description, the higher its ranking.
However, ASO is much more than just stuffing keywords. It is about user experience on the whole. It's affected by app icon, ratings & reviews and localization to name a few. We'll be discussing these in detail in the next section.
How to find the perfect title and keywords for your game
Before concluding your game's title, you must understand it's significance in both the stores, the restrictions as well as the impact.
For the App Store, an app name is the most important field coming together with a separate subtitle field.
An app's title is not only crucial for indexing your app in Apple App Store and Google Play Store but is the first source of information for the potential user. Since the app description is not shown above the fold in any store, the app name should already give visitors an idea of what your game is about.
Not many visitors spend a long time on app store pages informing themselves about the offered products. Hence, the app's usability and relevance are mainly judged only from its title, app icon, and screen-shots. You are provided only a few characters to describe your game. So the words included in the title needs to be super relevant and very impactful.
Another point to consider is that the App Store provides a keyword field where you can put in the keywords relevant to your game. Now to use this strategically, you must not repeat the keywords you have already put in the title field. Instead, target new keywords to get the maximum results.
Talking about Play Store, Google analyses your overall app page to find keywords that you should rank for. But the topmost keywords found in the title, are considered most important. The title of your game should be unique, descriptive and clear. It shouldn't be copied or influenced by competitors but have its own brand value.
Especially in Google Play Store, the app description needs to include relevant keywords. How well your keywords match what people are searching for? To an extent, this is more about discovery than ranking but if you pick popular keywords, you'll have more competition and struggle to rank well.
Localizing your mobile games for the app stores
The whole idea of ASO is about making your app (in this case Game) more findable and searchable.
Initially, when a game is created, the language by default is English. However, not even half of the world's population speaks English. Isn't it the right idea to make your game available in other languages too in order to reach a wider audience base? It is important to watch out when localizing an app. It is not only about translating but communicating with people.
When changing the language, you are also talking to another audience who will be reacting to your game or app. So more important than translating, it is crucial to adapt the text for people who speak the target language. Be careful with automatic translators. Another important point is to put the screen-shots in the correct language.
As complicated as it sounds, it's pretty easy to do localization. ASO Tool allows keyword tracking in multiple languages and localized countries. International keyword localization is offered for both, Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
App optimization visually
Many app publishers use repetitive screen-shots, barely edit them, and add fewer videos and screen-shots than the app stores allow. Therefore, you can test options for screen-shots with a color background and graphic elements, and add as many screen-shots as possible. This will help you become more noticeable in search.
Visual optimization trends of 2021
Good design of the app page in the App Store and Google Play increases the install conversion by 17-24%. Therefore, it is important for app publishers to test different design options and choose the most effective ones. You should pay attention to the visual optimization trends that publishers of popular applications follow.
In this article, we analyzed the icons, screen-shots, and videos of the top 100 free apps of the App Store and Google Play in the US, and noted the visual ASO trends of 2021. We looked at color, graphics, and composition used by popular publishers.
In the top apps of the App Store and Google Play, you can mainly find big market players. They place a logo or brand name on the icon, which often does not show the main features of the application, but is associated with a well-known company.
The image on the icon
We analyzed the images on the icons and found that text is used by only a quarter of the developers. It is much more common to use a minimalistic logo, which, at first glance, makes the user recognize a well-known brand.
However, users are more likely to know the brand name than its logo. The logo is best used only if the app belongs to a strong brand and is known by the majority of users. Such applications, for example, include Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
If your application is not yet such a strong brand and you need keyword optimization, we recommend placing the brand name on the icon. This way you can also save characters in the title of the application. Let us remind you that the title is the most important ranking factor, so the remaining characters can be used to add important keywords.
Best-Practise for your Game screen-shots
Developing screen-shots of mobile apps often takes more time than game screen-shots. To attract users, app publishers focus not on a bright or attractive interface, but on useful features of the application.
It is important that the text in the screen-shots can be easily read, not only when going to the application page, but also in the search. The font should be large and contrast with the background. Images should contain as little text as possible.
To make sure you have the correct text for your app screen-shots, check if you can read text on a device with a small screen.
Screenshot orientation and composition
Developers prefer to use vertical orientation, which allows them to show three screen-shots in search results at the same time and share more information about the app with the user. Horizontal screen-shots are more commonly used for games that have videos on their pages.
In order not to mislead the user, the format of the screen-shots must correspond to the orientation of the game itself. Only 20% of app publishers on the App Store and Google Play use horizontal orientation. Game publishers rarely use panoramic composition. Many developers only add a panoramic composition in the first two screen-shots. In the study of visual trends in 2019, we wrote that panoramic composition can motivate users to scroll through the application page further. But to check if this format affects the conversion of apps in your category, you need to do A/B testing.
Presence of the device
As a rule, screen-shots depict a device with an application interface. The device is on 82% of application pages in the App Store and Google Play.
Placing a device image complicates the process of creating screen-shots. For example, in the App Store, you need to put a device that fits the screen size 5.5" or 6.5" on the screenshot. On Google Play, it's important to remember to swap out old devices with large bezel for new, almost bezel-less ones.
Creating an comprehensive app preview video
Unlike regular app publishers, game developers are using video more. After all, vivid and dynamic gameplay cannot be demonstrated in screen-shots. Videos, on the contrary, can show the gameplay really well. The main goal of the publishers is not to show all the useful functions of the application but to interest the user with the setting, quality of graphics, action, and good game physics.
Sound, text, and video format
Almost all videos are accompanied by audio. Most of the time, you can hear dynamic music or sounds that are present in the gameplay. App Store developers add text to the video in 60% of cases. The text describes the main actions that the user performs in the game and encourages them to install the application.
At the same time, on Google Play, text is used only in 10% of gaming applications. As a rule, developers simply show the gameplay without any textual comments.
Optimize your app store metadata for games
You can do a direct translation of the name and description, but should keep in mind that it may not improve conversion in the foreign territory. As direct translations are mostly inaccurate in expressing the real feeling of the sentence.
When it comes to localizing the app name, you need to be careful and make sure to use important keywords that express the app's core features toward the beginning of their title tags. The process of localizing an app listing for another country looks a lot like your ASO process in English.