Mobile games make up a majority of the nearly 6 million apps on both the Apple App Stores and Google Play Store, and it’s clear that game and app developers are taking advantage of this ever-popular app category, leading to an overpopulated app ecosystem.
Developing a cool app is no longer sufficient in today’s app reality. It takes months of research and planning to ensure that an app gets noticed by users. It’s for that reason that App Store Optimization (ASO) plays a pivotal role for driving visibility across app stores.
What Goes into an ASO Strategy
Anyone that browses the app stores will notice that there are different categories for mobile games. These categories include arcade, RPG, adventure, kids’ games and more.
For a mobile game to become discoverable and relevant within the app stores and its respective category, developers need to take the time to develop a well-thought ASO strategy that comprises of optimizing their app’s metadata, including:
- App name
Each piece of the metadata helps target and convert the intended audience. Being optimized means that developers will need to incorporate high-volume keywords that are relevant to their audience and app. Additionally, they’ll need to develop engaging creatives that emphasize their game’s core features and gameplay.
Many will argue that the app name is the most important part of ASO in terms of creating visibility – and it is. The app name is key because it builds a brand name and tells the user the game’s most important feature.
Developers should make sure that they have a solid mix of the app’s name and the keyword they want to focus on most as a starting point. The developer should first state the app’s name then incorporate a high-volume keyword that’s relevant to their app as a title tag. If it’s an RPG game, the developer can focus on RPG, which is high-volume but difficult to rank for immediately, or can focus on a core feature such as “simulator.” They’ll need to work on integrating this information to meet the maximum character requirements, which are 30 characters for Apple and 50 characters for Google Play.
Understanding first and foremost what will be used as a title tag will help developers determine what other keywords to target and integrate throughout the other pieces of metadata.
Keywords are necessary to a successful ASO strategy because they are terms that determine what searches the app shows up in. Before developers can go choosing random keywords, they should first take the time to understand how their users will be searching.
Users tend to search in 2-3-word phrases, which gives developers a starting point in their keyword selection. Think about an arcade game – some of the keywords that would be relevant to target would be, not just “arcade,” but also other terms such as:
- Arcade games
- Arcade games for free
- Arcade classics
- Arcade city
If users search the term “arcade” in the App Store, they’ll find apps that incorporate the keyword in their app name along with the description.
While the app name quickly tells users the game’s core features, the description is where users can see a full explanation of the game. It is the largest area that developers have to highlight core features or gameplay using high-volume keywords.
Developers should integrate their keywords to increase their game’s overall ranking while promoting current features, in-app purchases and more. However, shouldn’t stuff keywords wherever they see fit. Keywords need to be used naturally to emphasize the game’s core features and entice users to download it.
The creatives are where a game truly comes alive for users, as the screenshots and preview video are most important for converting users. Developers can follow some simple tips for screenshots and preview videos listed below.
- Screenshots should be thought of as advertising posters and shouldn’t be cluttered or confusing
- They need to clearly show features and gameplay to convert
- iOS search will display the first three portrait screenshots, so developers should focus on optimizing these
- Google Play – Preview video doesn’t have to feature gameplay and can be similar to a promotional video. Can be between 30 seconds and 2 minutes long.
- App Store – Developers can submit up to three preview videos and should focus on app’s core features and gameplay similar to a demo video. Can be 30 seconds max.
Integrate high-volume keywords in the poster frame to convert users.
In order to survive and become discoverable among the sea of millions of mobile games, app developers need to create an ASO strategy that helps their game become more visible in the app stores and stand out against the competition.
If developers want to make sure that they’re a contributing factor of the overall global revenue that mobile games see, then it’s essential that they take the time to optimize each piece of their metadata. They can’t rely on their app having a cool concept anymore – they need to have a bulletproof ASO strategy to stand out against big-name game companies and make their games known.
About the Author
Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.