One month of indie game marketing – ASO (part two)

In my last post I went over some of the basics about ASO and keyword search. You can go read ASO – part one here.

Part two is a simple checklist of ASO elements to consider. My own game listing optimization is far from perfect, but I’m constantly revisiting and improving the points of this list. Check the ASO websites from the ASO – part one post for a more detailed analysis of the fundamentals listed here. I will only refer to the Apple App store and the Google Play store.

First, choosing a name for your game. A very important element of your marketing, you want your name to be catchy yet simple, original yet searchable. Make good use of the keyword list (from ASO – part one) for your game to find a unique, descriptive and accessible name. Also there are guideline differences between the Apple and Google stores:

Game Name – Apple

Apple will permit up to 255 characters for the full name of your game. This is what Apple calls your “App name” and the words will be used for search results. You might be tempted to cram in as many keywords as you need, but it might look not very polished and your game submission might get rejected by Apple for overuse of keywords. So just use a few and keep the complete name readable. Around 25 to 30 characters will be displayed in the iTunes App store search results, so check for readability. There is also the final name displayed with the icon on the device screen, the “Bundle name” as Apple calls it, about 11 or 12 characters long. This has no impact with store search.

Game Name – Google

For the Google Play store, the game name can have up to 30 characters, but I find around 24 or 25 can be displayed under the icon on most devices, over two lines, 12-13 characters per line.

Already you have to consider keyword search, readability, originality and display length. With different variations on just two platforms!

Keywords list – Apple

Only on Apple, this list of 100 characters is important for search results, so use the best keywords you have found in the ASO sites. They are not displayed to users. This is where you want to cram as much info as possible. Try to use shorter keywords to save characters. Do not waste precious space by repeating keywords from your app name. Apparently the game description is not used for search results on Apple iTunes.

Game descriptions – Google

Here the Google descriptions (short and long) will be used in search results. You need to incorporate your list of keywords, so you will have to be creative with your writing to keep your descriptions looking professional.

Game icon

This small image is your first impression, make it count! I am not an experienced graphic designer; you will better off doing your research yourself 😉

Screenshots

Include as many screenshots as you can, fill up the space provided. Add descriptive text to your screens. Check out the popular games for references, you might not be able to get that level of quality but you can certainly be inspired by their composition.

Videos

Depending on your type of game, you can make a great game trailer with storyline, as polished as possible: this video will be THE visual representation of your game. If you need to spend time and money, this is it. A great trailer works best, but it is crucial to at least have accessible gameplay videos. I like to have a longer version to demonstrate how you play and a short teaser version with quick cuts to show as much material as possible. I use the teaser in my contacts but I also offer the longer gameplay.

Ratings and reviews

Simply put, get as many reviews as possible! Nothing beats ratings.

App price and In-App Purchases

Obviously; you’ll see different strategies for different games. This is a big topic on its own.

Game category

Not necessarily decisive information, but the largest game genre on Apple iTunes is “Puzzle”. The largest game category on Google is “Casual” followed closely by “Puzzle”.  Next you have “Arcade” and “Action”, depending on the store localisation. You can check out a full Apple iTunes chart here.  and a full Android chart here.

Game Center (Apple) Play services (Google)

Leaderboards and achievements implementation is a great way to sustain player interest. Some hardcore gamers will be looking for these features. Sharing game stats and results between friends is a must for gamers in some countries in Asia. Also the data you get from your gamers is quite useful.

App permissions

I regularly get concerned comments from players regarding my games’ app permissions, so be sure to keep it a minimal as possible. It gets bigger as soon as you add some form of advertisement and third-party SDKs, so be careful when adding features.

App updates

Try to control the frequency of your updates, while making sure you keep your game “up to date” from time to time.

Localization

More languages mean access to more search results and bigger markets; you never know if your game could be very popular in some regions of the world if it was more accessible. You can manage the translation of your store listings with freelance translators, and if your game is not too heavy on text you can translate all your game as well for a reasonable fee. In my latest game, since I incorporated translation functions right from the start I easily translated everything in 11 languages! The added downloads are great for your overall results.

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