Category Archives: App Store Optimization

Apple WWDC 2015 – Proactive Siri and Native Apple Watch Apps

The big news from WWDC 2015 was the release of Apple Music, new Mac OS El Capitan, and the announcement of iOS9.

Our favorites – new OS for Apple watch that allows for native apps, and an expanded Siri.

Similar to Google’s Now on Tap announcement at their recent developer conference,  a more contextually aware and thus useful and proactive Siri was revealed.


The implications to mobile marketing and mobile apps are significant as both Apple and Google (and Facebook) have made it clear they recognize the market loves apps.

Siri is just one end point for a user to access search. Spotlight being another.

Apple wants to be sure users can reach the value in the mobile apps on their device with deeper integrations with content in the “mobile app silo”.

Enabling users to access content in an app from another app.

Enabling users to search (via Siri or Spotlight) with results that include app content.

Federighi said Siri — “has quietly become popular.”

Each week, Apple’s voice recognition software answers more than 1 billion requests.

Proactively suggesting apps based on various inputs and user behavior – weather app in the morning, music app on a run, calorie tracker after run or at cafe.

Having a mobile app means tapping into how users are interacting with their devices, like a website can’t.

Native Apps for the Apple Watch


Apple Watch apps are about to take a big next step.

“Performance will be great. Responsiveness will be great. It’ll be a great new frontier for your Watch,” Apple’s Kevin Lynch

The new OS allows developers to access the watch microphone, speaker, and accelerometer.  Currently, Apple Watch apps run on an iPhone and are displayed to the watch.  

Not only does native watch apps mean much better, creative, faster apps – but more likely than not, we can expect to see an Apple Watch specific app store coming soon.

Since Apple Watch apps are really iPhone apps that are compatible with the watch, the app store has a curated list of Apple Watch compatible apps.

Expect this to change as developers start to release apps built specifically for the Apple Watch.

Another opportunity to collect and optimize app store meta data and tap into what your target market is looking for from the app stores.

A/B Testing for App Store Listing Optimization

Mobile A/B testing can be critical, even though an awful lot of discussion of app store optimization (ASO) is focused on text.

What are the best keywords to target for my app?

How should I name my app?

How do I write a description that converts eyeballs into users?

It is hard to convert potential users who never see your app in search results.

So it follows, optimizing the visibility of your app in Apple’s App Store and Google Play search should be the starting point of any comprehensive ASO effort.

Both Apple and Google create their search results based on (among other things) your app name/title, your keywords field (Apple), or the keywords used in your description (Google).

But how can you increase the conversion from app views to app installs?

Apple’s recent release of their analytics module – while not perfect – provides some insight into how well your design elements are converting from search results.

Design elements like your App’s

  • Icon
  • Screenshots
  • Promo videos

Even the first few lines of your description can have an impact on whether a potential user installs and opens your app, or if they simply scroll to the next app.

If optimizing visibility in search results is 1 big part of ASO – optimizing your design elements to maximize conversion from view to install is the 2nd big part.

Harder to measure but with a huge impact

One explanation for why mobile a/b testing and optimizing design elements often takes a backseat to “keywords” when discussing and even implementing ASO is because it is hard.

Neither Apple or Google allow publishers to create multiple icons, screenshots or videos and see which generates the most or highest LTV users.

There are some workarounds including submitting two similar apps with different icons, or changing creatives on new versions – but neither provides a true multi-variate test.

We will cover this topic in greater detail as in the coming weeks, including our suggestions and how we are helping our clients optimize their creatives and calls to action for maximum relevant conversions.

Updated Google Play Description Guidelines

Over the last several months, Google Play has been making several changes to Google Play app promotion, the requirements for app listings and the approval process.

Working with our clients on writing optimized descriptions, we discovered another restriction for the Google Play description:

Your app description should avoid excessive detail and references to your other apps or products.

For example, you should not list all of the details of content included in the app or its various components, as shown in the example below.

Also, the description should not include any references to other apps that you’ve published. –

Breaking this restriction into two parts:

Do not attempt to keyword stuff your description by detailing all of the content

excessive detail

Do not reference other apps in your portfolio

Listing Apps

The focus of the recent changes in Google Play seems to be combatting “keyword stuffing” in app descriptions.

The back and forth between aggressive mobile app publishers and Google continues.

First, Google Play description guidelines were updated to reject descriptions that referred to other apps.

The idea being, if a publisher wanted to show up in Google Play search results for “Candy Crush” – the publisher would add:

If you liked Candy Crush – you will love this game!

Then publishers started “hiding” the references to other apps in reviews for the description:

“If you liked Candy Crush – you will love this game!” – Sally

Google was quick to address this and continues to find and restrict more of these types of hacky description writing.

The approach at Gummicube has always been to write descriptions that position your app for maximum discovery in the app stores, without being spammy or turning potential users away.

Take a look at how Gummicube can position your app portfolio for long term success or contact us at

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.