App Descriptions

No More Reviews in Google Play App Descriptions

Google recently updated their Google Play guidelines with one notable change:  the use of user app reviews in the Google Play app description field is now prohibited.

After a potential user views an app’s title and short description in Google Play, is some cherry-picked testimonial really going to sway them into installing an app?

Does anyone reading an app’s full description really care about what Roto619SD4Life said about the app?

Probably not – but here is what is going on.

Google has clear rules for keyword stuffing and the use of irrelevant keywords, brands or references in the Title, Short and Full Description fields.

For example (from Google) – this is not ok:

 just like Candy this game is sweet and you’ll have a crush on the game in no time

One way mobile app publishers were getting around the “irrelevant” or keyword spamming rules was by adding keyword-stuffed user testimonials.

Google did a pretty good job of both explaining what and why this is unacceptable and adding some humor to show just how over the top some publishers have been with this:

User Reviews in Google Play

Google didn’t list all of the irrelevant and stuffed keywords in this – but here is a start:

Gems with Friends, Candy Crush Saga, Shipwrecked, Cut the Rope: Time Trave, 4 Pics 1 wrong, etc……

So obviously spammy.

Since Google Play does not utilize a hidden keywords field like Apple does for its App Store, more emphasis is placed on the App Title, Short and Full descriptions, all of which are public.

We certainly do not encourage our clients to attempt these or any other short-term hacks.

Our best practices for Google Play include:

  • an App Title formatted as “Brand” + 2-3 words on function,
  • a Short Description focused on converting viewers to users, and
  • a Full Description that is formatted for easy reading and uses features-focused keywords and phrases 3-5x in the 4,00 character allotment.
Google Play Search

Sponsored Search Results in Google Play

Google recently announced that over the next few weeks, Google Play ads will begin to appear in the search results on Google Play.

Google shared a gif on how it would look in practice, which looks a lot like how Google delivers sponsored results in web search.

google play ads

For now, this is being released to a “limited set of users… from a pilot group of advertisers”.

This is big news for mobile app marketers and reaction is mixed.

Is this another avenue for the best monetizing apps (currently games) to buy up inventory and the “rich get richer” – resulting in an even worse discovery experience for mobile users?

Or does this open up a brand new channel for publishers to reach their target audience in a new cost-effective way?

First – from Google’s perspective, some of the ad spend that has flowed through Facebook and mobile ad networks can/will now flow through Google.

Why wouldn’t Google do this?

One potential drawback could be that a promoted app could then impact the organic search results.

When users download a promoted app,  the spike will surely result in a higher ranking in  organic search results.  Resulting in more downloads.

Is the real value of sponsored search results in Google Play in the opportunity to spike an app’s organic search ranking?

What about the impact to publishers not named King and Supercell?

With more than 100 billion monthly searches on Google Play – sponsored search represents a huge opportunity for app publishers.

Overall – Google Play ads and sponsored search appears to be a very positive development for publishers.

The current model for advertising is inventory-based, without any real keyword targeting outside of the category of the app the ad appears in.

The likes of King (Candy Crush) and Super Cell (Clash of Clans) eat up a lot of available mobile ad network inventory.  That means – a messaging app competes for mobile app ad inventory with Candy Crush in unrelated apps.

With keyword targeting on Google Play, a messaging app could target a wide range of feature-based keywords and phrases where it just wouldn’t make sense for an app like Candy Crush to bid at the same rates.

Like web search, and organic results in the Apple App Store and Google Play, relevance matters and will increase in significance.

This will be a space we watch closely and plan to share our findings and experiences.

In fact – now is a good time to sign up for our blog!

Google Play Search

App Store Localization in Mobile App Marketing

App Localization is important because mobile is a global phenomenon – with smartphones surpassing PCs and expected to exceed 2 billion devices in 2015.

Consider for 2014:

  • App revenue grew 70% in the top 3 Countries (US, Japan, South Korea)
  • Japan held the #1 spot globally in Google Play revenues, while US was #1 in downloads
  • China and Japan are #2 and #3 for Apple/iOS downloads ahead of the UK, Canada and Australia

For many apps, localizing a mobile app for new country makes a lot of sense.

Both Apple and Google make “entering” a new country as simple as clicking a button.

You want to create a new app listing for Japan? Just submit a new  app name, keywords etc.. and they handle pricing, currency exchange etc..

Add in the power of Google Translate and it becomes very easy to think that just translating existing metadata for marketing purposes is OK.

Simple right?

You throw in your existing target keywords, app name, description and screenshot text into Google Translate and slap the output into your new country’s app listing and consider it done.

Bam – next.

Let’s call that translation.  And it can be not worth even the small amount of time, but it can lead to embarrassing or worse results.

App Localization

At the other end of the spectrum, a complete localization effort would generally include adapting the in-app content, text, colors, buttons and images to the appropriate meaning in the new country.

Even for “simple” apps, a complete localization can be a large undertaking in both time and expense.

App Marketing Localization

Before an investment in a complete mobile app localization effort, start with localizing the app name, keywords and screenshot fields available for each new targeted country.

So why not just throw current keyword field into Google Translate and call it a day?

The goal is to build a list of target keywords and phrases based on how users search in their country. There are several reasons why just translating English words to another language and assuming “close enough” can be worthless.

Google Translate often translates words and not meanings

If translation is taking the English “I am hungry” and changing it to the Spanish “Estoy hambriento” – fine. But Spanish speakers don’t say “Estoy hambriento”, they say “Tengo Hambre” – or “I have hunger”. Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.25.34 PM This is not to disparage Google’s translation tool, but more to highlight what may not be apparent if you only speak one language (looking at you English speaking Americans)…

Translating English words to Spanish does not convey the meaning in the same way as understanding how Spanish is spoken.

People across languages speak in idioms that are not easy to translate


  • An arm and a leg – it is expensive
  • Cut corners – to take shortcuts, find a cheaper or easier way to do something,


  • Bob’s your uncle – typically following a set of simple instructions – “and there you have it”
  • Hairy at the heel – someone is dangerous or untrustworthy


  • Having pig – getting lucky
  • I understand only train station – it is all Greek to me

Part of the irony here is that the best way to define the idioms of other languages and countries is through another idiom!

English words and brand names can have different meanings in other languages

Electrolux at one time marketed its vacuum cleaners in English with the tagline: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” NOTHINSUCKS Ford blundered when marketing the Pinto in Brazil because the term in Brazilian Portuguese means “tiny male genitals”. app localization See more here.

Kind of a fun post, but the point is clear – just translating the English words from the name, keywords and screenshots is close to worthless.

Instead, treat each country as their own ecosystem of search and see how they search for features related to your app.  Find your local audience using their words with app store intelligence software.