You worked hard to make your app compatible on both Android and iOS, but does your listing on each app store require the same amount of attention?
The good news for busy developers is that, from a high-level perspective, the strategies for app store optimization (ASO) between iOS and Google Play are not dramatically different. If you represent your app accurately in the store listing then you have already done the bulk of the work.
But to get the most visibility possible, it’s important to understand how each app store will classify your app. We’ve simplified some of the key differences here to help you get your app into the hands of your ideal and most valuable users.
The title is the clearest signal you can send the stores about the nature of your app and who it would appeal to.
Your title on the iOS App Store can have up to 255 characters, but in this case more isn’t necessarily better. In general, restrict your text to the title itself, and one or two words/phrases that capture the essence of your app. Skype, for example, also includes “free IM and video messaging” in its title. If you didn’t know what Skype was about before, you do now. For more information, Hugh Kimura has an excellent guide on this topic.
Although the best practices for titling in the Play Store are essentially the same as for iOS, they put a strict limit on developers to just 30 characters. So trim the fat off your title, but stay true to the goals of your app.
2. Description text
It’s vital to provide users a clear idea of your app’s value proposition. A good, succinct description of your app will go far in both stores.
The iOS store does not factor app description text into its ranking algorithms. But this does not mean you should ignore this space. Use the description to give an honest appraisal of your app and the utility it provides. A clear description will help users understand what they’re downloading, and will ultimately create a better relationship with your audience.
Apple does, however, provide developers a ‘Keyword’ section to help classify apps for users and crawlers. Include keywords that classify your app correctly both in the ‘mind’ of the algorithms and the mind of the user. Figure out the best keywords for your app here.
As opposed to iOS, Google Play does index the description section. Google’s content analysis is superb at capturing the ‘main point’ of your app. That being said, make it easy on the crawlers to categorize your app by including relevant keywords. Don’t overstep and stuff your description with popular keywords - they will penalize spam.
3. Social elements
These are the outside factors that can impact the success of your app. For both stores, more external attention is always better. But we’ll see that each store incorporates these signals into its ranking algorithms very differently.
The iOS app store algorithms don’t factor any social signals into their rankings, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore external elements of app marketing. Good reviews and links from outside publications and social media channels will increase the traffic to your app’s iOS listing, and increase downloads. With increased downloads, your app will move further up in the rankings.
The first social signal that stands out in the Google Play store is the “+1”. As in other Google platforms, users can give their stamp of approval for an app either on the Play Store listing, or within the app itself. Naturally, Google takes this input seriously and adds it to a long list of signals that determine your app’s ranking. Think of the +1 as a tiny, but significant review.
As with Google’s web search algorithms, app listings in Play can also receive links to boost their ranking. The more links from reputable sources referencing your app, the higher your app moves.
The mobile app ecosystem is still relatively new, and we are likely to see large-scale changes in the next few years. App store optimization is also a nascent field, subject to the frequent changes and updates from the stores themselves. Just recently, iOS updated its App Store to include more curated lists, delivering a blow to copycat apps and ASO manipulators.
But what all these algorithms and ranking factors are really trying to understand is the quality of your app. Former Google Play executive Ankit Jain explained it best; concentrate on developing your app first, and the rest will follow. Whether on Google Play or iOS, happy users will effect your ranking more than any keyword.