Lesson 2 - Apple App Store and Google Play Optimization Differences

Welcome back! 

Before you can actually start choosing keywords, you have to understand the key differences between how Google Play and the Apple App Store identify search keywords.

Many optimization concepts are the same in both app stores, but keyword identification is very different. We will explain each store individually so you understand where to spend your time.

Before we get started, we want to clarify the difference between 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 while it might not be ideal branding, it is what it is. You will use iTunes Connect to update your iOS app and get access to your app stats.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s begin…

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. Even if you haven’t changed your app’s code, you will still need to submit an update and go through the review process.

The only downside to this is that your app’s current ratings will reset to zero. The existing ratings will still be available in the overall ratings average, but the average rating that displays in search results will be reset.

Therefore, be sure to put together a well researched set of new keywords before you submit an update. Keep in mind that ASO of keywords is all about trial and error, since App Store conditions change quickly.

So don’t be afraid to submit updates as frequently as necessary to improve your keyword. But keep in mind that your ratings do reset every time you do that. Therefore, try to maintain a balance between update frequency and  keyword optimization.


The iTunes title field has a maximum of 255 characters. We have found that you will usually rank higher for keywords that are included in your app’s title.

However, this does not mean that you should just dump all your keywords into your title. If you do this, Apple will reject your app because you are keyword stuffing.

You should create a simple phrase that contains your best keywords, but it should also form a logical phrase or sentence. What you decide do is entirely up to you, but we generally recommend against using all 255 available characters. This is because 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 Kayak example pictured above is a good example of keeping the title short, while still including important keywords. If you need to get more ideas, take a look at what successful apps in your category are doing.

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.

Google Play


The keywords in the title of a Google Play app will also generally rank higher than keywords from any other source. However, Google limits the number of characters in the title to only 30 characters. Therefore, you have to be much more selective when choosing your keywords.


The good news is that the keywords for your Google Play Android app are pulled from the description of your app, which has a 4,000 character limit. So you have a lot of room to add keywords.

But just don’t stuff your description with keywords. It must be readable to humans and grammatically correct.

It is recommended that you include your keywords 4-5 times in the description. More mentions will not improve your rankings. In fact, including a keyword too many times may actually be seen as keyword spamming at some point, so don’t go over 5 mentions, if possible.

Again, we will get into how to choose the right keywords in later lessons, but remember these rules because you will have to follow them to have the best chance of succeeding.


So those are the 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 where there is a distinct difference.

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.

Updates are easier in 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 actually choose keywords and give you some examples of what you have learned today. Many people make the mistake of looking for keywords with the most traffic, but we will show you why that is usually the worst thing you can do.

If you found this lesson useful, feel free to share it with a friend who would benefit from this information.

Still need help? Contact Us Contact Us