App Store Spotlight: Snapchat

Snapchat App Store Spotlight

Snapchat is one of the top apps for taking and sharing photos, known for its many filters and effects. Yet for all its success, is it optimized for the App Stores, or could it do better with a proper ASO strategy? For this week’s App Store Spotlight, we look at Snapchat and all the things it does right or wrong.

iOS

Snapchat’s creatives on iOS are eye-catching and effective. The screenshots show off the various features, including the popular dog-ears filter, maps and stories. Each one is accompanied by callout text explaining the features and their benefits.

Yet they only use four screenshots. The Apple App Store allows up to ten screenshots and each one is an opportunity to show off more features and benefits of the app. With only four screenshots, Snapchat is essentially saying there’s no more than four things worth using.

As for Snapchat’s description, what it has can barely be classified as one at all. It is simply one line stating “Life’s more fun when you live in the moment” and a smiley. It doesn’t utilize any keywords, nor does it talk about the app’s features. The callout text on the four screenshots it has include more information about what the app does than the actual description.

Looking at Snapchat’s search rankings, it’s clear that most of its highest-ranked searches come from “Snapchat” and variations thereof. It’s the top ranked app in searches for “chatsnap,” “snap,” “snap inc” and “snap photos,” but its ranking beings to drop once we stop looking at “snap” terms.

If someone were to search for “photo app,” Snapchat ranks at #103. For “picture video,” another high-volume search term, it’s the 105th ranked app. It’s the 78th app for “Message pics,” which is very relevant to its functions. Considering that Snapchat is a photo app that lets users message pictures to each other, these are terms that it could target and rank much more highly for.

Suffice to say, Snapchat’s ASO needs improvement on the Apple App Store. It’s not much better on Google Play either.

Google Play

Snapchat on Google Play is nearly identical to the Apple App Store, with one significant difference: it has a video on Google Play. The video uses cheery music and shows people having fun taking pictures and applying filters on Snapchat, demonstrating the appeal of the app. It’s short, running at only 22 seconds, so it doesn’t bore viewers and gets right to the point.

This is the sort of video that the Google Play Store allows but could not be used on the Apple App Store. Apple’s videos are required to only show the app and its features, so Snapchat wouldn’t be able to show groups of smiling people using the app there. While it could make a video showing pictures on the app, it would be far less effective than the Google Play video, and a poor video can hurt conversion rates as much as a good video can help them.

That, however, is the only difference. The other creatives are the same four screenshots and the description is exactly the same.

The poor description hurts Snapchat on Google Play even more than it does on the Apple App Store. Google crawls the description to determine keywords, so using a short description consisting of no keywords at all is a missed opportunity for the app’s rankings.

As a result, we see Snapchat’s better search rankings appear primarily in search terms directly related to its title. “Chatsnap,” “safe snapchat” and “free snap chat” are all terms it ranks highly for. Yet it even falls to the #2 spot for terms like “snapchat send” or “snapchat face.”

For “photo” terms, Snapchat ranks poorly as well. It’s the 155th ranked app for “photo caption,” and even comes in sixth for “snap photo.” It’s the 14th ranked app for “picture,” and 108th for “send pictures.” These are all terms it could rank highly for if it integrated the keywords into its description.

Conclusion

Although Snapchat remains a very popular app, its ASO is lacking in every regard. While its creatives are good on both App Stores, it has far too few of them, and its description is beyond sparse.

To be fair to Snapchat, it did remarkably well to find a niche within the photo messenger app market and went viral as a result. It continues to add new features and filters that maintain a dedicated userbase, while growing to the point of becoming a household name.

Yet the vast majority of its search rankings come from people searching for “Snapchat.” It is an app that survives of its brand and name recognition. Its poor ASO makes it rank poorly for many other relevant terms, but if it set a solid strategy it could improve its rankings for all of them.

App Store Optimization helps apps get discovered organically through searches for relevant terms. While Snapchat is an app that hit the one-in-a-million chance to go viral, imagine how better its success could be with ASO.

Podcast Best Practices

Podcast Best Practices for iTunes

Podcasts have become increasingly popular among listeners of all ages since Apple added podcasts to iTunes 4.9 in 2005. In fact, in 2018, 44% of Americans ages 12+ have listened to a podcast at some point, and roughly 26% have listened to one in the past month.

Podcasts can reach a large audience of listeners and can be created by just about anyone. However, if you’re thinking about creating a podcast, there are some best practices to keep in mind to help get you started:

1. Know Where to Post Your Podcast

While there are several streaming services that have loads of podcasts readily available, it’s important to note which service would help you gain the most subscribers. Currently, iTunes has cornered the market for podcast consumption with over 63.2% combined market share, split among the podcast app, iTunes desktop and third-parties.

Despite the number of Android devices and users increasing year-over-year, there’s no denying that Apple has the podcast market covered. It’s important that podcasters still take the step in evaluating which streaming service will be best to host their podcast, but ultimately, iTunes is where they’ll get the most exposure.

2. Pay Attention to the Podcast Title

The iTunes ranking algorithm for podcasts puts heavy emphasis on the title. Having too-short of a title or one that is too vague won’t attract subscribers. A common practice for podcast titles is:

  • The podcast’s title
  • A colon
  • Roughly three relevant keywords to the podcast

Keywords are important because they describe what the podcast is addressing and also helps it appear in user searches. For example, an optimized title would look like: Jane’s Fantastic Adventures: Travels | Blogging | Cooking. From this title, listeners can clearly determine what types of topics the publisher will cover just from a basic search. By following the above format, it also helps to separate the main title from descriptive pieces and keywords that are relevant to the podcast itself.

3. Publisher Name Should be Formatted Like the Title

Similar to the podcast’s title, the publisher’s name should follow the same format. For example, Jane Doe: Traveler and Blogging Expert, would be the best way to format the publisher name. By incorporating keywords such as “traveler” or “blogging,” it helps to reiterate what experience you have to offer along with the various topics covered by the blog.

It also helps the podcast become relevant for more keywords than just those incorporated in the podcast title, which increases the number of opportunities for it to appear in a user search. These keywords should be used to improve your podcast’s visibility in various searches, help listeners identify that you’re an expert on the topic, and encourage them to listen to your podcast.

4. Optimize Podcast Descriptions

For each podcast, there’s a description to give listeners a brief overview of potential topics, possible guests (if there are any), and more. Within this space, it’s vital that publishers utilize this area with detailed text that is one or more sentences, almost a paragraph in length. The description is incredibly important for both iTunes and SEO and should include keywords similar to those used in the podcast title and publisher name.

5. Podcast Episode Title & Description

The title of the podcast episode should include the primary keyword that is relevant to the podcast. Publishers can also add secondary keywords within the description, which will help specific episodes show up in iTunes search.

Optimize Podcasts for iOS 11

With the number of listeners increasing year-over-year, it’s important that anyone thinking about starting a podcast follows the above points to start gaining subscribers. For instance, if one chooses to start a podcast and thinks that iTunes will be the best streaming service, they’ll need to factor in these best practices and take into consideration the additions that came with the release of iOS 11.

This OS has helped transform how the podcast directory lists podcasts by providing publishers with features and tags. Thanks to these tags, it has made it much easier to create rich content that determines how the podcast will show up in the app.

Ultimately, if you’re thinking about starting a starting a podcast, you’ll have to think about much more than just the content. Keep in mind:

  • Where your podcast is available matters
  • The podcast title is a huge factor for iTunes’ ranking algorithm
  • The publisher name should follow the same format as the title
  • The description is important for both iTunes and SEO and needs to include relevant keywords
  • Don’t forget about the podcast episode title and description to help it appear in iTunes searches
  • Make sure the podcast is optimized for iOS 11 and takes advantage of the features and tags
Apple VS Google Revenue

Apple App Store vs Google Play: Whose Revenue is Higher?

We’re over half-way through 2018 and revenues are on the rise for the app economy. Between the two app stores, though, which one is seeing higher profits? More importantly, why?

In the first half of the year, Apple’s App Store brought in nearly double the revenue of the Google Play Store, in spite of seeing fewer downloads overall. However, this is not bad news for Google Play by any extent (its own profits remain at a comfortable $11.8 billion), and there are several factors behind this gap.

First and foremost, Android users can get apps from more than just the Google Play Store. While it is the most common storefront, the Samsung Store or Amazon Appstore also sell apps for Android devices, whereas iOS devices can only get their apps off of the Apple App Store.

This discrepancy is particularly noteworthy in certain overseas markets. For instance, there are multiple stores selling Android apps, including Myapp, Huawei App Market and Xiaomi App Store. While Android users there outnumber iOS users significantly, this is not reflected in the Google Play Store’s sales numbers.

Additionally, we need to look at the growth of each store. The app market continues to grow at a steady rate, although Google Play is seeing slightly more, at a 29% growth compared to Apple’s 26%.

Apple’s lead over Google Play has been consistent. In 2017, Apple’s App Store brought in $38.5 billion, compared to Google Play’s $20.1 billion. The factors driving this division have remained mostly unchanged, although both stores are on track to surpass those earnings by the end of 2018.

App profits are in part being driven by subscription-based services, such as Netflix and Pandora. However, mobile games remain responsible for the largest portion of revenue for both app stores, representing 78% of the total spent across the two.

So, what does this mean for developers? Simply put, it’s a good sign for both stores. Profits are on the rise, and what Google Play lacks compared to Apple’s raw numbers, it makes up for in growth. Consumer spending does tend to be higher among iOS users, so if a developer can only make an app for one store, that may be their best choice.

With that said, there is no need to design an app solely for one store. Both App Stores are successful and growing at a fine rate, so app developers can and should develop apps for both. There are numerous tools for developing apps on both platforms, so developers should try to reach a wider audience by releasing across devices.

When releasing apps on either App Store, it is important to remember best practices for both stores. Each store has different requirements for creatives, different ways of storing keywords and different best practices for descriptions. By using a solid App Store Optimization strategy for both stores, developers can ensure they’re getting as much as they can out of this ever-growing industry.

It’s not a matter of Apple versus Google. Each one is seeing tremendous profits, and although Apple’s may be higher, both are strong indicators that the app economy will only continue to grow.

App Store Connect Regional Filters

App Store Connect Adds a Territory Filter – Here’s What it Means for You

Apple recently launched a new update for App Store Connect, which replaced iTunes Connect earlier this year. This update helps filter ratings by territories and saves filter settings for easier access, which will enable better regional responsiveness and localization.

The App Store Connect update enables a territory filter for Ratings and Reviews, which defaults to “All Territories.” When users apply the filter, it will automatically save their settings, eliminating the need to reapply the filter each time they use it.

The new filter will be useful for app developers looking to localize and address issues in specific territories. Localizing is essential for ASO – keywords, search trends and consumer behavior change from region to region, so being able to identify needs and issues by location will help target each region’s market.

By sorting ratings by region, developers can identify what works and fails where. If an app is performing well in many regions except for one, this update will make it easier to identify what aspects of the app are falling short there.

As the app market continues to go global, app developers must adjust their ASO strategies accordingly. Localizing apps means more than just translating the description and keywords into another language – there are entirely new demographics and consumer habits that must be taken into consideration. This means that each new region requires individual analysis and marketing, which is made easier by filtering reviews by location.

According to our internal data, localizing an app can increase download rates by an average of 130% compared to its performance pre-localization. As such, it’s essential that an international app is not only localized to each region it’s released in, but also provides constant maintenance and updates for every one of them.

On a similar note, being able to filter reviews will be particularly beneficial for reputation management. It’s vital that developers can respond to user queries and issues in a timely manner, so sorting by region can help locate problems that may be causing negative reviews in that location.

This may be a simple matter of changing consumer trends in one region. It could also indicate a bug that only impacts a certain region’s version of the app, due to the language or devices used there. No matter what the cause, being able to identify this negative trend in the areas it impacts will help developers maintain a positive reputation among their users.

It could also serve as a way to pinpoint issues for updates affecting certain territories. If you are noticing negative reviews after an update, the region filter can help you determine if the bug is occurring globally or can be narrowed down to a specific area.

While this may seem like a minor update, the impact it can have on developers is not to be underestimated. Adding a location filter to Ratings and Reviews will be beneficial to both localization and reputation management, two key factors for successful App Store Optimization.

App Store Spotlight: Fire Emblem Heroes

App Store Spotlight: Fire Emblem Heroes

Nintendo’s foray into the mobile space has had some ups and downs, starting with the short-lived Miitomo and progressing through more and more successful apps. One of its bigger hits is Fire Emblem Heroes, a mobile game that made $295 million in its first year alone. It instantly appealed to fans of the Fire Emblem franchise, but while that propelled it to success, is its App Store Optimization strategy helping it reach that height or hindering it from achieving even greater success?

Brand name recognition can only take an app or mobile game so far. While anyone familiar with the Fire Emblem franchise will find and enjoy the app, it can’t and won’t reach players outside the existing fanbase without optimizing its ASO accordingly. Relevant and properly utilized metadata will help it reach potential users outside of current Fire Emblem fans, while creatives that appeal to users whether or not they know the franchise will help increase conversions.

As it is now, Fire Emblem Heroes is an app for Fire Emblem fans and no one else.

iOS

Fire Emblem Heroes immediately starts off with a strong set of creatives. It utilizes two videos, both of which show off the game’s features, graphics and gameplay. The very first image shows an epic animated battle, before switching to the smaller, more cartoonish in-game graphics, and includes artwork showing off the unique character designs.

Fans of Fire Emblem will recognize several of their favorite characters banding together. Those unfamiliar with the franchise will not be able to identify who is who, but they’re still clearly heroes battling foes with unique character designs. Fire Emblem Heroes iOS 1

The following screenshots show various aspects of the game, including summoning heroes, how the combat works in-game and the team formation. Each one includes clearly visible callout text that highlights the features, including a screenshot calling out the latest promotion. They do not rely on knowing the specifics of Fire Emblem, as they choose to highlight designs that are interesting even without knowledge of the game’s lore.

When it shows up in search, the first video automatically plays, featuring the characters in action. Two screenshots appear beside it, advertising the ongoing bonus campaign that lets everyone get a five-star hero and showcasing a popular character. These are good choices as each one demonstrates a different value of the game. While the character is only popular for those familiar with the franchise, she’s also appeared in other Nintendo games such as “Super Smash Bros,” allowing for a better appeal to users who have not played a Fire Emblem game before.

With that said, there are only two videos and five screenshots. Apple allows up to ten creatives, so it could easily fit in three more screenshots highlighting more features or events, such as the current Summer event.

While the creatives are strong, there are other areas where it falls short. For instance, its subtitle is just “Strategy RPG.” While this is accurate, it doesn’t come close to utilizing all the space that Apple allows for an app’s subtitle. This is empty space that could be used for a more keyword-heavy subtitle. As the subtitle plays as big a role in keywords for search ad relevancy and conversion as the title and keyword bank, leaving empty space there fails to utilize every tool at its disposal.

Furthermore, its description is not optimized for iOS. It does include some sections that are formatted well, using a few short sentences to not take up too much space. There are many more, though, that are on the lengthier side and could easily be split into smaller paragraphs or bullets under their headers.

Fire Emblem Heroes iOS 2

While the description does utilize several important keywords, such as “strategy RPG” and “heroes,” it doesn’t use as many as it should. On the plus side, it is still a well-written description; it probably builds hype for the game while describing and selling each of its features.

Google Play 

On Google Play, Fire Emblem Heroes begins with a beautiful video. It uses cell-shaded animation to tell a story of heroes uniting against villains, with fluid action and epic music. While the video doesn’t demonstrate any of the actual gameplay features, that is acceptable on Google Play (unlike the Apple App Store). The creatives serve the same purpose as on iOS, calling out the game’s features with relevant screenshots and calls to action. It also features more screenshots than on iOS, showing off more of the available characters.

Fire Emblem GP

The description is identical to the iOS version, although the formatting works better here. Google Play users can use their computers for app discovery, so the larger paragraphs are easier to read than they would be on an iPhone. The description is divided into appropriate sections for each feature, calling out all the game’s features and benefits.

The sections could stand to be rewritten so as to better place its keywords. While the section headers are acceptable, the way many paragraphs are formatted will make Google’s algorithms pick it up for “the game” and “We hope you’ll try” as keywords before relevant terms like “turn-based battles.”

It’s important that apps tailor their descriptions to each App Store. Without understanding how Google Play indexes apps for keywords, Fire Emblem Heroes will not be able to reach its full ASO potential.

Overall 

Fire Emblem Heroes is another example of a popular app with great creatives but a description that’s not optimized for either store. Its description is neither spaced out properly for the Apple App Store nor utilizing keywords enough for the Google Play Store, which will impact its rankings on both.

No matter how beautiful its opening video is or how effective its creatives are, no one will be able to see them if they can’t find the app in searches.

In spite of the game’s success within its existing fanbase, Fire Emblem Heroes still ranks poorly for several keywords. These are all terms that are relevant and high-volume, so targeting them would improve its visibility significantly.

On the Apple App Store, it’s #20 for “fantasy RPG” in spite of that being its subtitle, #181 for “free RPG” and #67 for “hero games.” On Google Play, it’s ranked 20th for “turn-based games,” in spite of utilizing that keyword. It’s also ranked at #53 for the keyword “gacha,” another popular search term that it fails to properly target. The only way it shows up in the top ten results is when people are specifically searching for it, which severely limits its discoverability outside of the Fire Emblem fanbase.

Clearly there is room to improve Fire Emblem Heroes’ ASO strategy. With the proper optimization, it could very well rise to the top of several relevant keywords and categories. Without ASO, it will only be the top app for its own name.