App Title Length

App Title Length and ASO

What is the impact of mobile app name length?

If Apple provides 255 characters for my app name – and indexes each word for search, why not just fill it to the brim with keywords?

Not only does Apple provide 255 characters for app name, but also weighs keywords found in the app title more heavily than those found in the keywords field.

Google Play is a different animal where you have 30 characters to work with for app title and no keywords field – so we’ll focus on Apple’s App Store here.

What is the best approach for creating mobile app titles for Apple’s App Store?

There are several strategies for creating an app title for your mobile app.

A few examples of app title conventions

Brand name only:

IMG_0054 IMG_0055 IMG_0057 IMG_0058


Note:  5 of the top 10 free apps in the US app store, and 10 of the top 25 – have 1-word app titles.

Brand name and descriptive (keyword-rich) tagline:

  • Gmail – email from Google


  • SoundCloud – Music & Audio
  • Chrome – web browser by Google

“Keyword Explosion”:

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.15.28 AM
iHeartRadio: Free Radio & Music. Listen to Streaming FM & AM Radio Stations, Top Songs, NPR, Podcasts, Live News, Sports & Comedy Shows

That’s 23 words and 135 characters of keyword goodness. Even with 23 words, they still missed the words “i” and “heart” as independant keywords for those searching for the brand.

As of this writing, iHeartRadio is ranked in the top 50 US free overall.

If approved by Apple – even apps employing the “Keyword Explosion” title strategy can land in top 200 overall.

Of the top 200 – the longest app title belonged to iHeartRadio.

What are the top apps in the App Store doing?

The average for the top 200 free apps are:

  • 26 characters
  • 4.5 words
Name Characters Words
Facebook Messenger 18 2
Facebook 8 1
小偶 – 我的3D萌偶 11 3
YouTube 7 1
Instagram 9 1
Dubsmash 8 1
Snapchat 8 1
Pandora Radio 13 2
Does not Commute 16 3
iTunes U 8 2
WhatsApp Messenger 18 2
Google Maps 11 2
Spotify Music 13 2
Google 6 1
Gmail – email from Google 25 5
Pinterest 9 1
Kik 3 1
Twitter 7 1
Netflix 7 1
Find My iPhone 14 3
Free Music HQ – MP3 Streamer and Media Player 45 9
Skype for iPhone 16 3
djay 2 for iPhone 17 4


In the top 25 free apps in the US app store – only 1 has a title longer than 25 characters.

What’s special about 25?

That’s where the app title wraps on iPhone 5 search results.

Now – with the iPhone 6 and 6+, around 50 characters are visible.


Of the top 200 free apps, 170 had app titles less than 50 total characters.

But is Apple favoring apps with shorter titles?

…..or are these apps making a decision based on aesthetics?

A lot of the top 200 free apps in the app store do not rely on ASO alone to drive downloads, as they invest heavily in promoting their app in their own channels (email lists, web traffic) or via paid advertising.

Their rankings in the app store may be much more a function of downloads, download velocity, ratings or any # of variables Apple uses in their search algorithm.

The app title length is a net positive from an ASO perspective and a net negative from a presentation perspective – where each apps needs to decide where to find the balance.

Amazon uses 57 characters, and 9 words

Even on the iPhone 6 (shown below), the title is not completely displayed.

With 122k ratings overall, hovering around 3 stars, the Amazon app ranks in the 30s in the US overall free.

Amazon App: shop, browse, scan, compare, and read reviews

Ebay uses a whopping 4 characters

With over 223k ratings and an average of 4.0+, Ebay ranks in the 50’s on the US overall free.

  • IMG_0059

Ebay, a shopping app, with

  • twice as many ratings as Amazon
  • better ratings than Amazon
  • shorter and more aesthetically pleasing title  than Amazon

……ranked lower than the shopping app from Amazon.

App title length – if penalized at all by Apple, is easily offset by increased downloads or other variables weighted by Apple’s app store algorithm.

It is up to the publisher/marketer to determine the best way to balance relevant target phrase coverage with the attractiveness of having  an app title that displays completely on all iOS devices.

Worth mentioning – just because you decide you want to opt for a 255 keyword explosion for your app title does not mean Apple will approve your app title.  Overly spammy, overly broad or irrelevant keywords and titles can and will be rejected by Apple.

A good analysis from last year was done by Stuart Hall and shared here.

Apple Watch Apps

Already sold out, the Apple Watch landed in Apple Stores today.

With the new Watch comes new Apps!

For now, Apple Watch apps only work as companion apps to the iPhone.

Found via the Apple Watch icon on devices running the latest version of iOS, and via the App Store.


While these apps can be built specifically for Watch use, they must be installed and paired with an iPhone.

Currently, there are around 3,000 iPhone apps that have been built exclusively for the Apple Watch.

Search on the Apple Watch version of the App Store looks alot like a the version accessed from an iPhone:

Featured sections

apple watch apps



No Trending or Game Sub-categories yet.

Our early favorites


Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.32.50 AMScreen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.32.48 AM


Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.30.10 AM

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.30.07 AM

Dice with Buddies Free

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.37.21 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.37.24 AM

No one can say for sure where wearables is headed – and how big the opportunity is.

If nothing else, the Apple Watch release challenges mobile app publishers to simplify their UI, create experiences using inputs from the wide range of data inputs available and unique to mobile (phones and wearables) , and be there when a users is likely to need them.

Google Apps

What Google’s Recent Announcements Mean for Your Apps

On February 26th Google announced they would be updating their algorithm for mobile search to penalize websites that were not mobile-friendly.

Since 60% of online traffic is from mobile devices, this represents a significant call-to-action for website managers to ensure mobile visitors to their sites have a good experience.

48% of search is from mobile devices, and Google wants to make sure these users are receiving useful results.  “Useful” now includes content that can be accessed without trying to navigate a site built for a 15″ screen.

google mobile ranking

This isn’t just the little guys

In a recent report from Portent of the top 25,000 websites, 40% are not mobile-friendly.

These changes went live April 21st.

But what about my mobile app?

This update from Google was a bit different in that Google set a date for compliance, and shared tools for web managers to confirm compliance.

It was also two parts – with the 1st part grabbing all the attention. More people and businesses have websites that would be affected by a penalty than have app with un-indexable content.

Part 2 of the update was extremely important for mobile app publishers and marketers:

2. More relevant app content in search results

Starting today, we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search. To find out how to implement App Indexing, which allows us to surface this information in search results, have a look at our step-by-step guide on the developer site.

While Google has a strong mobile OS play with Android, the content and functionality “locked” inside of app silos present a real problem for Google.

They want more data inputs.

Mobile is a data marketers dream

Unless a user is logged into an un-forked Android device, or in a Google app in iOS – Google does not have access to device-related data.

And unless the content “inside” of apps are indexed – Google is also locked out of mobile app content for search.

In the several 100 posts within 24 hours of Google’s algorithm update related to mobile-friendly sites, many encouraged readers to index their apps’ content for a better Google mobile ranking.

On April 16th, Google announced an update to their Feb 26th post related to “relevant app content in search results”:

Starting this week, people searching on Google can also discover your app if they haven’t installed it yet. If you’ve implemented App Indexing, when indexed content from your app is relevant to a search done on Google on Android devices, people may start to see app install buttons for your app in search results. 

Previously, mobile apps would only be displayed in mobile search results if the app was already installed.

Furthermore – Google added:

With the addition of these install links, we are starting to use App Indexing as a ranking signal for all users on Android, regardless of whether they have your app installed or not.

Indexing your Mobile Content

Indexing your mobile app content so it can be indexed, searched, interacted with from search and interact with other apps is becoming the big focus of 2015.

Facebook made a splash at their f8 conference showing how App Indexing and Facebook Messenger could be a huge boon to mobile publishers and users alike.

Google is now ranking mobile content regardless if a user has the device installed.

And there are signs that Apple will be adopting more robust App Indexing into iOS.

Google Apps

Facebook Ads for Mobile Apps – Insights and Retargeting

In part 1 we looked at Audience targeting options, Custom Audiences and Lookalikes.

In part 2 we will review how to create Facebook mobile ads with Facebook Insights and Retargeting and include a few mobile app specific ad examples.

Facebook Insights

If you have a Facebook fan page or a custom audience with 1,000 members – you can start exploring Facebook Insight data for an existing audience or target audience.

If not – Facebook Insights still provides a truly amazing market research tool – for free.

FB Audience Insights

Whether you are using Facebook to run user acquisition or re-engagement ads or not – investing some time in Facebook Insights can help you better understand your target audience, or find new audiences for your app.

To show how powerful Facebook Insights can be – let’s look at it in action.

FB Insights Yoga MomFor this example, we’ll explore a very specific target audience and see if we can’t gather some insights about this group.

We have a product or service that targets women with children who love yoga. Maybe it is a mobile app that has 5 minute yoga routines for busy moms who can’t find 45-90 minutes to escape into Yoga zen, but still want to keep flexible on the go.

Following along on the left – you can see all the audience criteria I added. This is probably too targeted as some of the value of Facebook Insights is to start broad and let the data “come to you” – but wanted to show just how deep you can get.

Our criteria for the group:

  • Female
  • 22+
  • Interested in Yoga
  • Speaks English
  • Married
  • With Child/Children 0-12 years old
  • Owns a Smartphone





Insights tells us that this group fits into a few lifestyle groupings that seem pretty obvious, and show us that occupations such as Nurses and Personal Care (child and senior care) are more than double as likely for this audience than the general Facebook audience.

FB Insights Occupation


FB Insights Lifestyle

Keep exploring across the tabs for Page Likes, Location etc..  to gain further insights into your audience.

Our Yoga Mom audience is more likely to have a household income of $125K+ and spend more on “subscriptions” and “kids products” than on “health and beauty”.

FB Insights Income


FB Insights Purchase

How could this impact your campaigns?

Yoga Mom Nurses in $125k households who spend a lot on kids, and subscriptions but not “themselves” – how about:

You spend all day taking care of others – spend 5 minutes on yourself with “5 Minute Zen – the 2 pose per session Yoga App” – only $4.99 monthly

Lot’s of different things you could do with this data – for Facebook ads, or just general market research and product development.

I kind of want to make the 5 minute yoga app now!


If you use any free or paid analytics in your mobile apps – you are familiar with custom events.

Used to track user actions in your app, from viewing a specific screen/location in your app, to pushing buttons, sharing, purchasing an in-app item etc..

With Facebook Custom Audiences – mobile app publishers can create unique campaigns targeting existing users who have taken specific actions in your app.

For example – if a user was a heavy user (measured by usage or LTV) of your app, you could run a campaign in Facebook targeting all heavy users with advertisements for your newest mobile app.

Or new in-app items, or in-app sale.

Or target heavy users who have not opened app in 3 weeks with a half-off sale.

Again – the possibilities are just about limitless.

Just as with custom audiences based on specific actions in your app, Facebook provides retargeting pixels.

Marketers can create and target a custom audience built of people who visited an app landing page and didn’t sign up (or who did – you are the boss) with news of your app launch/new version/promotion.

Worth noting – Facebook requires at least 100 people per targeted country before they will build Custom Audiences or Lookalike audiences.

Better to start tracking in your next release or add a pixel to your app landing page, even if you don’t have a plan for how to market to visitors or users yet.

With Facebook investing a great deal in tools and infrastructure for mobile app developers and marketers – including app analytics, messaging and app linking (to name 3) – Facebook’s advertising platform and tools are becoming an essential piece of a complete mobile app marketing strategy.


App Analytics

Facebook Ads for Mobile Apps – an Overview

If you have never run an ad campaign on Facebook’s advertising platform – you are in for a treat.

In this Facebook mobile ads overview – we will introduce terms like look-a-like audiences, custom audiences, Power Editor, conversion pixels and Facebook Insights.

We’ll review some of the literally hundreds of demographic, behavioral and interest targeting options.

Tomorrow we’ll cover some best practices including ABT (always be testing), tracking attribution and LTV, and mobile specific examples.

The Facebook ad network lexicon

Lets looks at each and how they impact a user acquisition and retention campaign.

Behavioral, Demographic and Interest Targeting

Not only does Facebook have a wealth of knowledge on their users, but they also partner with several sources of 3rd party data to provide targeting opportunities unique to the Facebook ad platform.

Facebook partners with Epsilon, Acxiom and Datalogix to acquire a more complete profile of the Facebook user base.

Specifically – Facebook collects data from the U.S. Census, warranty cards, registration information, the Department of Motor Vehicles, public record information, survey data and other offline sources.

Facebook also gathers “U.S. consumer data on where consumers shop, how they shop, what products and brands they purchase, the publications they read and their demographic and psychographic attributes.”

DemographicFB Custom Audiences

In addition to more widely available demographic data like gender, relationship status, age and location – Facebook collects data and creates profiles for:

  • Financial – Income, Net Worth
  • Home – Home Type, Home Ownership, Household Composition
  • Parents – Parents of children within a specific age range etc.
  • Politics – Preferred political party etc.
  • Life Events – new job, anniversary coming up, newly engaged, just married etc.

Here are a few examples of the type of targeting Facebook enables:

facebook mobile ads


FB Behavioral

Custom Audiences

A group of Facebook users that you create in one or a combination of the following ways:

  • upload a list – likely an email list.  Could be people who signed up for your beta, or are your current customers and likely users of your mobile app.
  • have completed a specific action on your website
    • visited the home page
    • visited the pricing page
    • registered and viewed the “thankyou page”
  • people who have taken a specific action (or series of actions) in your app
    • installed within last 30 days
    • purchased in app item
    • shared on facebook from within app

FB Custom Audience

You can then target even further based on the targeting options above.


Now that you have your custom audiences – you can try to recreate this audience. Exploring Audience Insights is valuable finding new ways to reach your target users – but not the best route for creating a broader target audience.


The very best way to find an audience that is likely to respond like your Custom Audience did (signed up for email, visited a website, performed an action in your app) is by asking Facebook to find the most similar users across their network based on all the variables they track.

Very cool, insanely useful.

You can create a lookalike by reach or precision.


Part Two will introduce Insights, Retargeting and walk thru a few examples of using Facebook for a mobile app campaign.