Lesson 2 - Apple App Store and Google Play Optimization Differences

In this lesson, we will be covering the differences between the Apple App Store and the Google Play App Store to understand the ASO strategies for each store.

Many ASO concepts are similar in both app stores, but keyword identification in the Apple App Store and the Google Play App Store is remarkably different. We will explain the key differences in each store individually so you understand where to spend your time. 

We want to clarify our usage of the terms "the Apple App Store" and "iTunes", we will use the terms interchangeably and they both refer to Apple’s App Store. Apple decided to extend the iTunes name to the App Store and you will use iTunes Connect to update your iOS app and get access to your app stats.

Apple App Store

Updates and Ratings

One difference between the Apple App Store and Google Play is that in order to update your app’s keywords on the App Store, you will have to submit a new app update. When submitting an update, an app developer has the option to keep app reviews and the rating for the current version when they release an update or the developer can reset the app's ratings to zero.

If you choose to reset your ratings, the existing ratings will still be available in the overall ratings average, but the average rating that displays in search results will be reset.

Title

The iTunes title field has a maximum of 30 characters. We have found that an app will usually rank higher for keywords that are included in your app’s title. For instance, YouTube will rank higher for the keywords Watch, Listen, and Stream because these words are included in its title.

However, this does not mean that you should just dump all your keywords into your title, that is keyword stuffing and your app can be rejected by Apple if you do this.

You should create a simple phrase that contains your best keywords, but it should also form a logical phrase or sentence. You want to strike a balance between ASO and branding.

A long name looks spammy and a really short name doesn’t provide much keyword optimization. Find the happy medium that is right for your app.

The Youtube example pictured above is a good example of keeping the title concise, while still including important keywords. If you need to get more ideas, take a look at what successful apps in your category are doing.

Subtitle Field

The iTunes subtitle field has a maximum of 30 characters as well. The subtitle appears everywhere on the App Store under the app's Title. The subtitle field is weighed more than your keyword field when determining keywords, but less than your title field. Don't repeat words in your subtitle that are included in your title, these keywords are already taken into account by iTunes.

Keyword Field

The other place that Apple references when determining your keywords is your keyword field in iTunes. This field is 100 characters long and there are certain rules that you should follow when adding keywords to this field.

  • Exclude keywords that are in your company or app title
  • Use as many of the 100 characters as possible
  • Separate each individual word with a comma
  • Remove all spaces
  • Only use each word once, more mentions will not help you
  • Use only the singular or plural version of a word
  • Favor shorter words over longer words so you can use more keywords in your list

We will get into how to choose the right keywords in later lessons, but remember these rules because they will help you maximize your success.

Before we move on to how Google Play looks for keywords, there is one last thing to clarify. Even though each individual word is separated by a comma, the iTunes algorithm will automatically group the individual words into keyword phrases, so there is no need to worry about order or grouping. For example, if you want to include "shopping list" in your keyword string, you should enter it as "shopping,list".

Google Play

Title

The keywords in the title of a Google Play app will also generally rank higher than keywords from any other source. Unlike the Apple App Store, Google limits the number of characters in the title to 50 characters. 

Description

Unlike the Apple App Store, Google pulls keywords from the short description and long description of your app, not a keyword string. There is a 80 character limit for your short description and a 4,000 character limit for your long description on the Google Play Store. The short description has more of an effect on your keywords for Google Play than your long description. You have a lot more room to add keywords in the Google Play Store. 

We recommend that you include your keywords 4-5 times in the long description, more than 5 mentions will not improve your rankings. Including a keyword too many times may be seen as keyword spamming, so try not to go over 5 mentions.

Your description should be grammatically correct and readable.

Again, we will get into how to choose the right keywords in later lessons, but remember these rules because they will give you the best chance at maximizing your ASO potential.

Conclusion

Those are the key differences between how keywords are detected in the Apple App Store and Google Play. The other parts of ASO are pretty similar between the two stores, but we devoted an entire lesson to keyword identification because that is an area with distinct differences.

As a side note, there are also differences in how Google and Apple allow you to update your apps. You need to submit an app update in iTunes when you want to change anything about your app. This includes simple keyword changes. It means that you will have to wait for Apple to approve your changes before the changes will be published. For Google Play, you just have to log into your account and update your keywords and screenshots. Once you save your changes, they are available immediately.

In our next lesson, we will get into how to weight your own keywords by determining Relevance, Traffic, and Difficulty and we will define how these terms are related to keyword optimization. 

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