App Store Optimization Basics

What is App Localization?

app localization

App localization is the process of adapting your app and its app store listing to appeal to different geographic target markets. It’s absolutely necessary if you want to take your mobile app or game global.   

In this lesson we’re going to discuss exactly why app localization is pertinent to growth and how to localize not only your app but also its app store listing.


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App Localization is Pertinent to App Growth

Localization goes hand in hand with growth. It allows you to increase your reach by not only making your app available to but also more appealing to people in different countries. 

It may be easier to grasp when you think about it in terms of internalization of books and movies. Many books and movies change their titles and even cover art to appeal to different geo-markets. 

For example, the Netflix sensation, La Casa de Papel, is called Money Heist for the english speaking markets and Haus des Geldes for the German speaking markets. All three titles name the exact same show but directly translated they would all mean something a bit different. Money Heist is Money Heist. La Casa de Papel would be The House of Paper. Haus des Geldes means House of Money.

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Netflix’s La Casa de Papel (original) is called Money Heist for English speaking countries and Haus des Geldes for German speaking countries

Another example would be the Harry Potter books. The first book was named Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. In the UK, the book was distributed with this title. But, publishers thought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone would appeal better to American children. So they ran the first book with this adapted title in the US. Note how the artwork is also quite different between the 2 versions. 

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The first Harry Potter book was named differently for the UK and the US markets

As you can see, localizations go beyond mere translation. In order to truly localize your mobile app or game, you have to understand not only lingual differences but cultural ones as well. 

Adding App Localizations or Locales

When you’re ready for international expansion, you can add locales in App Store Connect and Google Play Console. 

Adding App Locales for App Store

The App Store is available in 175 countries and 40 languages, giving you the power to reach a global audience. 

Internationalization with Xcode

Developer tools such as Xcode, Apple APIs, Auto Layout, and Unicode support allow app developers to easily internationalize their UX/UI. They can change the UI text language while keeping functionalities the same. 

With iOS 13, users can even choose their preferred language within your app. This is such an important feature to have in today’s world. People now travel and live in places where they may not speak the country’s native language. Giving ex-pats, digital nomads, and international travelers, the option to change your app’s language is key to winning them over.

You can learn more about internationalization with Apple. We’re going to move onto the localization of your app store listing. 

Localizing App Store Listings

Keep in mind that you are always going to be localizing for the 40 different languages the App Store is available in. You’re now probably wondering about the 175 countries I mentioned earlier. Let me clear this up. 

Countries or territories are not the same as locales for the App Store. That’s because some countries share a locale, meaning they use the same language settings. 

To add a locale in App Store Connect go to My App and click the dropdown languages menu. Here you can add new locales. 

Whenever you add a new locale, you should completely localize it. That means adapting your App Name, Subtitle, Description, Screenshots, and Preview Video to match the locale’s lingual and cultural preferences. 

In addition, total localization will help your App Store Optimization and app store ranking immensely. Why? Well, people will search using their native language. If your app store listing does not have keywords in their native language, your app will not rank and will not be found. Also, people are much more likely to download an app that’s presented in their native language. Not localizing your app store listing would be detrimental to your global expansion. 

Adding App Locales for Google Play

Google Play is available in 50 different languages. Luckily if you have your app on iOS and Android, localization works similarly for Google Play as it does for App Store. 

To add a new locale in Google Play Console: 

  1. On the left menu, click Store presence > Store listing.
  2. Under "Product Details," click Manage translations > Add your own translation text.
  3. Choose a language.
  4. Add your translations

Make sure you’re adapting every single part of your Google Play listing. That includes App Title, Short Description, Long Description, Screenshots, and Promo Video. Your keywords are especially important. Once you’ve found keywords in the target geo-market’s native language, repeat them among the text fields at least 3-5 times. 

Again, like iOS users, Android users will also search using their native language and be more likely to download apps presented in their native language.  

Managing App Locales in App Radar

Managing your app locales in App Store Connect and Google Play Console actually takes up a lot of time. And I don’t mean minutes, I’m referring to hours. It can take 10+ hours to manually update 10 locales in App Store Connect or Google Play Console. Good thing there’s an easier and more efficient solution. 

App Radar’s Store Listing Editor and Bulk Editor features are going to save you a lot of time and frustration. In the Store Listing Editor, you can quickly add new locales and edit each store listing field. You’ll also get optimization suggestions, so you can increase app store ranking with better keywords. Any changes you make can be published directly to App Store and Google Play. 

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Easily add and edit locales with the Store Listing Editor
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

The Bulk Editor is unique to App Radar. It allows you to edit all of your locales in a single page. Yes that’s right. You can edit every language in one place. All you have to do is select the store listing field you want to edit and then make your changes. You’ll also get the character count for each field.

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Edit every app locale’s metadata in one page
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

Furthermore, App Radar lets you reply to user reviews for every locale. You can filter by country and translate any review into English before answering.

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Reply to user reviews in App Radar
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

App Localization Goes Beyond Translation

We already discussed a little bit about how localization goes beyond translation. For it to be successful, it has to be done in cultural context. What does this mean? 

As an app developer, marketer, or publisher, you have to consider not only the text elements of your app and store listing, but also the visual elements. Different countries have different preferences when it comes to imagery. In a worst case scenario, you could be using a color or graphic that is offensive to a population without knowing it. So it’s vital that you do your research before entering the new geo-markets. Let’s look at an example of how this can apply. 

Facetune 2 as an Example of App Localization

Facetune 2 is a photo editing and face retouching app. It’s gained popularity over the years and grew side-by-side with the Instagram culture. The appeal of the app lies in beauty. The goal of the app is to provide people with an easy way to enhance their photos, specifically ones of their face. Have you caught the snag? 

Beauty standards vary among countries and varies even more on an individual level. The challenge Facetune has to hurdle over is how to make an app that’s about making yourself “more beautiful” appealing to people all over the world. Well, they decided to let their own branding take a backseat and cater 100% to their target geo-markets. 

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Facetune 2 app screenshots for the China-Chinese Locale
Source: Facetune 2 on App Radar
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Facetune 2 app screenshots for the Russia-Russian Locale
Source: Facetune 2 on App Radar
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Facetune 2’s app screenshots for the US-English Locale
Source: Facetune 2 on App Radar
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Facetune 2 app screenshots for the Japan-Japanese Locale
Source: Facetune 2 on App Radar

Notice how they emphasize not only different models in their screenshots but also different features. The screenshots for Russia don’t show the feature navigation bar at all. 

Bumble as an Example of App Localization

Not every mobile app can pull off as much variation among locales as Facetune 2 does. Other apps, such as Bumble, a dating app, rely heavily on maintaining and strengthening their brand image. So the colors and even the overall feel of the app screenshots cannot be changed too wildly. 

Bumble keeps their app screenshots the same for English speaking countries. Then in other locales, they shift to a more dynamic color theme but are still consistent with the overall feel. 

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Bumble app screenshots for US-English locale 
Source: Bumble on App Radar
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Bumble app screenshots for France-French locale 
Source: Bumble on App Radar
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Bumble app screenshots for Germany-German locale 
Source: Bumble on App Radar

You’ll have to decide, depending on the type of mobile app and game you’re publishing, how far you want to take localization. But there is one rule you can follow.

One Rule to Follow for App Localization

I said it before and I’ll repeat here again. Completely localize your app store listing. Your App Name/Title, Subtitle for iOS apps, Short Description for Android apps, and Long Description have to be completely translated and include good keywords in the respective language. Don’t forget about cultural differences and colloquialism in language. And remember to also localize the text that is in your app screenshots and preview or promo video.

Publish Updates to App Store and Google Play

Make changes to your app store listing in App Radar and publish changes directly to App Store and Google Play

Make changes to your app store listing and localizations. Publish the changes from App Radar directly to App Store Connect and Google Play Console.

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