Google Play vs iOS

Have you been struggling to figure out the different ASO strategies between Google Play and Apple’s App Store?

Are you confused by one or the other app store? Need some help determining the best way to leverage ASO for both Android and iOS?

This article unravels the different ASO strategies required for Google Play and Apple’s App Store. It will help you understand how different the two are, allowing you to optimize your strategy for both.

Two different worlds of ASO strategies

The mobile platform wars are over. Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) are the winners. Meanwhile, Microsoft, Blackberry, and others are left to find less meaningful ways to participate in the post-PC era.

In the US, the share of iOS and Android users equals 95% of total mobile operating systems, split roughly with 55% Android to iOS’s 45%. Globally, iOS leads in revenue generated, while Android leads in devices shipped and app installs.

These mobile operating systems and related devices tend to address and support different markets. In spite of this apparent lack of overlap (or perhaps because of it), app publishers are publishing more apps to both platforms via the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

Here’s where it gets interesting for app marketers: there are a few big differences in how Google and Apple allow publishers to list their apps on their stores. These differences include the actual app listing requirements, fields and the length of fields, but also how they’re indexed in the stores.

When beginning to construct an app store optimization strategy for your apps, consider all the factors that differ between the Apple App Store and Google Play store.

Differences in App Store Listing

Available Fields

Google Play app listings look and behave much more like how Google would index a Web page. The app listing in Google Play includes a Title, Short Description and Full Description. For those familiar with Web SEO, these fields align closely with Page Title, Page Meta Description and Page Content.

All of these fields are publically viewable, and all have a significant impact on how an app is indexed.

Apple includes an App Name and a Description field. Instead of using the public description for indexing an app, Apple uses the private Keywords field of 100 characters that, along with the app name, is used for and significantly impacts how an app is indexed.

Field Lengths

The difference in available fields and how they are used is a significant enough variation that app publishers need an optimized app listing for each store.

The differences tend to have a larger impact on an ASO strategy because the stores also have unique limits for each field, from length to restrictions on specific characters.

Character Length Comparison between Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store

 Apple App StoreGoogle Play Store
App Name/Title25530
Keywords Field100N/A
Short DescriptionN/A80
Full Description40004000

Both Apple and Google give significant weight to words and phrases used in the app name when indexing an app. With Apple’s App Name field allowing for a whopping 255 characters, publishers quickly realized they could jam every possible keyword and phrase they were targeting into the app name.

Apple combatted this in a few ways, both by manually removing words from the App Name during the review process and by outright rejecting the app.

It’s rare to see a top app with an app name with more than 80 characters, as users started to recognize keyword-stuffed titles were often synonymous with poorly made apps.

That said, 255 characters for Apple’s App Name and 30 characters for Google App Title are still pretty different.

For both SEO and ASO, there is general consensus that the more limited the field, the greater the weight on the words used on indexation and ranking.

Google Play’s App Title and its 30 characters would then have a greater weighting than words used in the 80 character short description, which in turn is more significant than words used in the 4,000 word full description.

How can I leverage these differences?

We recommend using the following formats based on how these specific differences play out in practice:

Apple

App Name: “App Name – Feature #1, Feature #2”, or “App Name – keyword rich tagline”.

Keywords: 100 characters. Combined with the App Name, name and keywords field should build a sort of “keyword matrix” that provides comprehensive coverage of extremely relevant search terms used by your target market in the App Store.

Description: Use the first several sentences to focus on reinforcing the primary features and benefits, aiming for app store conversion from the store listing view. Be sure to reinforce and build relevancy for the target keywords and phrases used in the App Name and Keywords field.

Google Play

App Title: “App Name – Core App Feature #1”.

Short Description: “Feature #2, Feature #3”. An app’s Short Description is a good place to use branding or marketing text.

Full Description: Focus on building your keyword matrix here by explicitly declaring core and supporting features and benefits in the words your target market uses to search the app stores.

Categories

The category your app is listed in has an impact on rankings and visibility.

Apple allows an app to be listed in two categories. This increases to three if one of the categories is “games,” as the games category allows for two sub-categories.

Google Play allows for one category, no matter what type of app or which parent categories are selected.

The moral of the story for both app stores is that you need to choose your categories wisely. On the Google Play Store, your choices are more restricted, therefore requiring even more thought behind your selection.

Graphical Elements

The graphic elements of a mobile app listing arguably have the largest impact on an extremely important part of ASO: conversion from search results and app store listing views to installs and users.

Minor differences between the stores include the number of screenshots. Apple only accepts five screenshots per device supported, while Google Play accepts eight.

The bigger difference is in the use and restrictions related to promo videos.

Google is pretty straightforward. Publish a 30-second to 2-minute app promo video on YouTube and reference the location in your app listing. Want to support multiple localizations? No problem! Upload a localized/translated transcription and Google will automatically show the correct transcription for a viewer based on the location of the visit.

Apple is much more strict. App preview videos must:

  • Be limited to 30 seconds
  • Be correctly formatted for each supported device
  • Be predominantly made of device-captured images
  • Not be overtly selling
  • Not show features that require an in-app purchase without clearly stating so

Like many parts of the app listing submission process at Apple, app preview videos are open to manual review and rejection. The use of voiceovers and text/image overlays is allowed, but too many highlights or circles to help explain your app could result in rejection. However, app previews are the first thing that users see in the search result, so the video may be the hook for potential users.

Conclusion

The differences between Google Play and Apple’s App Store require crafting an ASO strategy specific for each store.

The strengths, weaknesses, restrictions and requirements of each store affect how each handles app indexing and rankings, as well as how an app publisher or marketer can track and adjust the ASO strategy.

Each year, we see increased investment and improvements in the app stores, more app store traffic and more time spent on mobile devices and in mobile apps.

While optimizing an app store listing is very different than SEO for the web, ASO has become a foundation of app marketing and provides a proven way to tap into massive amounts of organic traffic despite the differences in ASO for each store.

Dave Bell

Dave Bell

Cofounder and CEO at Gummicube
Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.
Dave Bell

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