App Store Optimization 2017: Google Play vs. App Store

Posted in August 2017 by Silke Glauninger

App Store Optimization

Many developers decide to have their apps in both, Apple App Stores and Google Play. This is a great idea! However, to optimize your app perfectly in both stores, it is crucial to understand that there are differences. Many things that are really important for Google Play, are not even considered by Apple App Store. That being said, you need to know about these differences in order to optimize the best way in each app store.

Keywords and the App Store Algorithm

To do App Store Optimization effectively, it is crucial to understand the algorithm used by each app store. Even though, the algorithm, classifying and ranking apps is not public, you will see that some trick in the Google Play Store won’t work in the Apple App Store. Let’s have a look on the most relevant difference: The App Store Algorithm.

Keywords play an important role in both stores, but the way they are read is different. Both take into consideration the app developer’s name and the app title when showing the search results for specific users. Other elements vary either in weighting or are specific for one of the stores.

The algorithm of both the stores, is also influenced by the total number of downloads and the number of downloads in a short period. To classify the app, the algorithms combine and scramble keywords present in your app listing. Find out more about ASO Ranking Factors for Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

App Store Optimization Ranking Factors 2017 App Store & Google Play

Tweaking Google Play’s search ranking algorithm

Google Play Store’s algorithm takes almost every textual element into consideration for keyword indexing. The most relevant keywords come from the app title, short and full descriptions of your app. However, other elements like the developer name, URL and package name might also influence your keyword rankings.

ASO Tip: In order to get a keyword indexed, it needs to be included between two to five times in the Google Play description or once in the App Title or Short Description.

Looking behind Apple App Store’s search algorithm

While Google is relatively flexible in finding keywords, Apple provides a specific field to write your keywords. Sometimes Apple App Store’s ranking algorithm gets keywords from your competitors and the category name. Apart from that, it is believed that Apple’s algorithm takes into consideration apps that produce higher revenues.

In contrast to Google Play, at Apple App Store, it is not advisable to repeat keywords in the title and in the keyword section due to field limitations. Also misspelling words and repeating the word in the singular and in the plural forms, is not a good strategy.

ASO Tip: When thinking of long tail keywords, use the separate words in the keyword field to save valuable space and to keep the option to combine keywords.

App Radar helps you to track the performance of your app in the chosen keywords, giving you suggestions of keywords and also the traffic related to the chosen ones. By doing this, you can also list some of your competitors, and in addition, you can track their performance in these keywords. Click here to check it out.

How your app is displayed to the user

Both mobile app stores, the Apple App Store and Google Play Store show different layouts, effecting, how users make app install decisions. However, both of them are currently working on some app store redesigns.

Search Results

In search results, both stores display title, app icon, developer’s name and rating. Apple also adds the current rating, a video preview, and the first two screenshots. This however will change with the release of iOS 11. There will be three instead of two vertical screenshots in search results then. Also app preview videos are about to be displayed to the users immediately within the search results.

ASO Tip: Make your first three screenshots show the most important features and get sure one can identify this features even on a small screen.

Apple App Store Search Layout iOS 11 vs iOS 10

While everyone is waiting for the all new App Store, Google Play made some layout changes too. In the end of 2016 and early 2017, they have been experimenting with different search result layouts. It looks like these experiments now result in three different layout options.

Google Play Store Search Layouts 2017

In concrete, that means, if the search term matches the brand name of a specific app, Google Play gives you a more detailed preview of the best match. Thus, not only app title, icon, developer name and the average rating are shown in this listing, but the number of reviews and downloads, content rating as well as screenshots and the preview video (if available).

ASO Tip: Make sure you have your brand name clearly included in the app title to ensure, your app is shown in this layout. Also, make your screenshots appealing and recognizable even when they are displayed in a very small size.

Moreover, if Google Play thinks, you are searching for a very specific app, it shows the app icon and full title even directly within the search suggestions while you are typing. (Layout Option 3 will most likely influence the number of app page visits since clicking the search option with the icon will bring the user directly onto the specific app page.)

App Page / Store Listings

While Google shows the average of your rating, Apple shows the recent reviews and ratings - every time you update your app, the old reviews and rates are gone. At least it will be like this till iOS 11. Afterwards, Apple will provide users with a total average rating and all-time stars count (instead of current app version rating only).

ASO Tip: This is good and bad news for all iOS devs. If your app already shows a positive rating, this is fine and you finally won’t have to start all over again after an update. If you still lack of ratings and reviews, you should get active by now since the rating will become an essential selling point with the new layout.

Let’s come to the possibilities of customizing an app page with visuals. Google allows up to 8 screenshots per localization and one preview video. Plus, it asks for a feature graphic banner, which is shown above the app title and icon or at any featuring spot in the Play Store, if the app is featured. So far, Apple allows a custom background, up to 5 screenshots and one video, however with the new update, some chosen apps will get a promo banner, placed above the app name and app icon. (we will keep you updated on this)

App Store Page & App Store Listing in Apple App Store and Google Play Store

Find out more about app pages and app listings in our App Store Optimization Guide.

App Updates

Unfortunately, to make changes in everything, apart from your description, what’s new text and URLs, you will need to be approved by Apple. However, at Google you can submit changes immediately. To make the process of publishing in both stores easier, App Radar launched the App Radar Publisher. It helps you to go over the publishing process in both stores faster, easier and more organized. You can check it out here.

Different app platforms – different audience

Both mobile stores seek for bringing high-quality mobile apps and games to the right users. But in the end, both serve two - in some points very different - audiences.

What fits for both user bases, visual elements attract the most. Google Play’s users, however, decide more quickly than Apple’s users do. Android phone owners take their download decisions based on feature graphics, icon, rating and the short description, which means they interact less with the page than iOS users, who even scroll to check all your screenshots. In general, it can be said, that users in the Apple App Store are more likely to catch up on the app with the help of various app page elements.

ASO Tip: It is important to know where you to put your efforts to attract your potential user. Thus, A/B testing your app page is recommendable. Here you can find out more about how app A/B testing works.

Due to the huge offer of free apps, users of Android users are less likely to download a paid app. This fact makes it even harder to profit with an app offered for Android. It is easier to achieve direct sales via Apple App Store, even though, both stores get 30% of sales.

Conclusion

Both stores have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to offering your app. Together, they count the largest number of apps just as well as the largest user base. Within this article, you now have all the necessary information you should know to succeed in the ASO of each store.

Author
Silke Glauninger
Silke is Marketing Manager at App Radar. When not writing about app marketing, you can find her looking for new places to explore or watching series with a cup of tea and chocolate.

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