App Title Length and ASO

April 29, 2015

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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_0054IMG_0055IMG_0057IMG_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

IMG_0049

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

"Keyword Explosion":

[caption id="attachment_534" align="aligncenter" width="2723"]Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.15.28 AMiHeartRadio: Free Radio & Music. Listen to Streaming FM & AM Radio Stations, Top Songs, NPR, Podcasts, Live News, Sports & Comedy Shows[/caption]


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

MORTAL KOMBAT X

15

3

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

EA SPORTS™ UFC®

15

3

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. IMG_0051Of 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. [caption id="attachment_532" align="aligncenter" width="750"]IMG_0053Amazon App: shop, browse, scan, compare, and read reviews[/caption]

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.

Thanks

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