For the first time since in its eight-year history, the App Store’s title field will be shortened from the previous 255-character limit to a new, concise 50 characters. Apple made the announcement to developers early on September 1st, sending shockwaves through the development community as many apps will be forced to alter their titles.
Starting September 7th, all app titles will be limited to 50 characters maximum. Live apps with titles that exceed 50 characters will be subject to warning from Apple. If within 30 days of receiving a warning the offending title hasn’t been updated, the app will be kicked off of the store. Apps that crash on launch will be removed from the store immediately.
This new initiative by Apple means more than just a cleaner-looking App Store, though. The title field is widely considered one of the most important components of App Store Optimization, as it sends a clear signal to Apple of what your app should be ranking for.
During the process of ASO, both an app’s title and keywords will be optimized to encompass the widest possible array of popular, relevant search terms. Words from an app’s title and keyword bank can combine to create phrases, meaning developers who add complementary words into their title and keyword bank will often have an advantage when it comes to organic discovery via search. This is why many apps use “title tags”, descriptive keywords which serve to inform the user (and Apple’s rankings system) of the functionality of an app.
Take the Google Maps app, for example. The app’s current title is “Google Maps – Real-time navigation, traffic, transit, and nearby places”. Words from their title can contribute heavily towards their app’s rankings. Consider words such as “traffic”, “transit” or “nearby places”. Alone, these are highly trending searches. Combined, they create a strong rankings portfolio for Google Maps, without ever taking up a character in the keyword bank.
The problem? Google Maps, along with thousands of other apps, has a title that comes in at over 50 characters. In the Top 100 Free Apps alone, there are 13 apps with titles longer than 50 characters as of this writing. These apps will have to consider how to shorten their title and re-optimize their keyword bank so as to maintain the highest possible number of words and phrases in their rankings.
While the title field is changing, the concept of ASO itself is not. Combining words from the title and keyword bank will still be a way to gain more rankings for your app for the foreseeable future. The challenge now becomes to determine which words and phrases are most valuable to your app.