Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps.
A few weeks ago, I was monitoring our App Store rankings with SensorTower, a great tool to help you keep on top of your ASO when I noticed something odd. One of our competitors, who we regularly out-performed for a wide range of relevant keywords had jumped hundreds of places in the rankings for relevant keywords such as ‘mom’ and ‘photobook.’ I was surprised. ASO is not very well understood but two important factors are considered to be download numbers and reviews – and in both areas we were stronger. Additionally, we had those keywords in our app keyword list, an important way to drive ASO.
I had the competitor’s app on my phone and I didn’t notice anything usual about it – but when I looked at their listing in the App Store online, I was shocked to see their title was now four lines long, packed with keywords (see the image above). The app on the phone still displayed their old, one-word name, but the official title according to the App Store was packed with more keywords than were even allowed in the keywords section of the app meta data. No wonder they were out performing us!
We had an upcoming release scheduled for 23snaps and in order to compete with the competitor who was now, according to Apple, more relevant for the keywords they had been less relevant for only a week before, I proposed we pull the same trick. We could keep the name on the device the same, so users wouldn’t be stuck with a 50-word app title, but change our App Store listing name to something that could compete with the others in the space. I was even more keen to make this change when I saw another player in our small space add some additional keywords to their own title (clearly we were all keeping an eye on one another).
The new app was submitted with a title that would give our competitor a run for their money. I used every one of those characters with relevant keywords to describe and explain our app. I justified it with the knowledge our competitors were doing the same thing – and besides, 23snaps wasn’t very explanatory… I was actually providing a service to the users who were searching for our app by giving them more context.
However I don’t think I should have been surprised when, a few days after submitting our newest version to the app store, we received the following:
We had been rejected for both inconsistent naming and for keyword stuffing our name. This rejection meant we were sent to the back of the review queue, waiting another week for approval for a release that included a number of important new updates.
So what’s the moral of the story? I hope that the moral is Apple is cracking down on keyword-heavy titles. Perhaps Apple will deprioritize app name keywords in their App Store rankings. Maybe the moral is just don’t have stupidly long app titles. Regardless, it was an experiment we had to undertake to keep up with the competition, but Apple seems to be one step ahead of us (though annoyingly one step behind our competitor). It will be interesting to see if that same competitor is penalised in their next release, and has to revert back to their original, one word name.
My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: Continue to test new ways of boosting your ASO, but don’t do something you’re not comfortable with or you don’t think is within Apple’s terms and conditions just because your competitors are doing it. Also, if you are going to test something new for ASO purposes – make sure it doesn’t affect the timing of an important release.