Kwun-Lok NG
Mar 2, 2016 · 4 min read

App Store title is a vital component of your app’s exposure. Both iTunes App Store and Google Play Store weight title in a critical way (compared to the descriptions and keywords) when it comes to the search results and rankings. It is tricky because there is a character limit for the title. Also, there is a review process you need to go through on iTunes App Store. It can be even more complicated if you need to deal with titles in different languages.

Character Limits

Let’s start with some facts:

  • iTunes App Store: at most 255 characters for the title, with the review process.
  • Google Play Store: at most 30 characters for the title.

Please note that even though iTunes App Store allows for a longer title, it is not as long as you thought. The reviewers only accept the titles that sound natural. It is almost impossible to fill in the 255-character space and sound natural at the same time. Keyword spamming comes with the risk of being rejected by Apple. It is not worth trying.

The realistic character limit of the title on the iTunes App Store is actually about 100 to 150 characters.

Types of Titles

Technically, there are 5 possible types of title. I will use the imaginary photo app InstagramKiller as the example.

  1. Simple: InstagramKiller
  2. Right-to-the-point: I am Instagram, bitch
  3. Keyword-spamming: InstagramKiller — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Airbnb, Uber, Hello, World, Big Data
  4. I-am-your-competitor: InstagramKiller — The Best Alternative to Instagram
  5. Features: InstagramKiller — Awesome Photo Editing App with Cool Filters

#1 Simple: InstagramKiller

Many apps that don’t care about the keyword optimization adopt this title style. Usually, they grow much faster in other ways so that their names are already some high-traffic keywords. You can check out Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Uber.

But most of the apps are not one of them. Your app may drop some potential audience because of applying this simple style.

P.S. The Editor Team of Google Play only accepts the Simple title. If you want to be blessed and featured on Google Play Store, this is the only way.

#2 Right-to-the-point: I am Instagram, bitch

This title only works if the reviewer is out of his/her mind. Let me know if Apple approves your app with a similar title.

#3 Keyword-spamming

This title should technically be the best-performing one, with a lot of high traffic keywords. But the reviewers from Apple will 99.999999% reject your submission, because this does not sound natural to the users.

They hate people trying to mess up with their system, including FBI.

#4 I-am-your-competitor

InstagramKiller — The Best Alternative to Instagram

Apple would probably approve this kind of title (disclaimer, not 100% guaranteed) because it sounds natural. However, there’re almost no relevant keywords included. Only 1 competitor name with some general words (best, alternative).

Not recommended.

#5 Features

InstagramKiller — Awesome Photo Editing App with Cool Filters

This title is the best among the options, since Apple updated the search algorithm in Nov 2015. Title weights significantly more than keywords. So it makes more sense to put relevant keywords in the Title (without being rejected).

You can even make it better without being rejected: InstagramKiller — Awesome Photo Editing App with Cool Filters to Share on Instagram

This structure would be like this:

[Name] — [Adjective] [Feature] app [Conjunction / Connective Words] [Adjective] [Feature] [Conjunction / Connective Words] [Competitor / Target audience / Benefits]

Examples:

  • iTunes App Store (61 characters): CallTaxi — Easy Car Calling App with Carpool Better Than Taxi
  • Google Play Store (27 characters): CallTaxi — Easy Car Calling

Instead of asking the translators to “translate” the app title directly and sound weird after for other languages, you can provide the structure above to the translators so they can come up with a “localized” title with keywords inside. That performs much better than a directly translated title.

Since Nov 2015, Apple automatically ranks your app in the search results of some brand names. But you never know which ones they are going to rank you with and which ones not. Just keep trying to save the spaces in a 100-character limit for other keywords.

ASO is a process to track and improve. Sometimes your app just cannot rank anywhere in high traffic keywords like Instagram. Forget about it and try another one.

P.S.S. I am building an auto-curation Robot for the best articles on different topics. Here’s the one about App Marketing. Subscribe if you like the article.

Product Growth Learnings

My startup journeys

Kwun-Lok NG

Written by

Co-founder at @Kipwise_com — Great knowledge comes from where great minds meet.

Product Growth Learnings

My startup journeys

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade