Apple’s latest platform update (iOS 11) is bringing some major changes to the iTunes App Store, and they are bound to have a significant impact on how publishers optimize app store metadata for better discoverability and conversion rates.
As the update rolls out, publishers should take a proactive approach, and adjust their app search optimization (ASO) strategy to incorporate the new features and changes to the app listing on iTunes.
Apple will completely re-arrange the app store tabs, separating games into a their own tab and adding a ‘today’ tab to feature apps, how-tos and other curated content.
Both the games and apps tabs give plenty of room for featured and curated apps, while pushing the free-paid category listings far below the fold (while showing only three apps at a time). The “Top grossing apps” tab was removed, as it was probably used mostly as a research tool for developers, rather than a place people go to discover apps.
App Title and Subtitle
With iOS 11, Apple will be shortening the app title field in iTunes Connect from 50 characters tojust 30. To make up for it, the new field added – the app subtitle, will give publishers another 30 characters of indexable content, also visible to users on the app page.
Contrary to what you might initially think, this is actually a good thing for app publishers. Instead of the 50 characters we previously had in the app name field, we now have a total of 60 in the title and subtitle combined.
App Description and Promotional Text
Although keywords in the descriptions are currently not being indexed by the Appstore engine, there’s indication they soon might be. Perhaps preparing for description indexing in an upcoming update, Apple now clearly states: “Don’t add unnecessary keywords to your description in an attempt to improve search results.”
Another new field added is the Promotional Text, 170 characters long and not indexed for keywords. What makes this field unique, aside from it being displayed at the top of your app description, is the ability to make changes to it anytime, without having to submit a new build of your app. This is especially useful with time-limited promotions, but the best thing about the promotional text is that A/B testing it for higher conversion rates is a breeze.
App Video Previews
With iOS 11, app video previews become more prominent on the app page. Previews appear in the search listing, and autoplay (muted, with the option to unmute). This will definitely be an eye-catcher to lure users to click further to the app page. In addition, you can now add up to 3 videos and also upload localized versions.
This significant change to the app page layout demands that publishers invest in preview videos that can attract attention and increase the chances of conversion right off the bat.
From the examples already live in the beta, it appears publishers opt to create a short giphy-like preview that showcases the app’s flow with some overlay of text and effects. This is a quick and cost-effective solution, and a great alternative to a high-quality app preview video that most users will not watch through anyway.
In-app Purchases Outside The App
Since Apple profits from in-app and subscription sales, it’s no wonder they choose to promote these for publishers, and encourage users to make a purchase as early as possible. With the upcoming update, users will see up to 20 IAPs on the app page and will be able to buy them before they even download the app.
IAP names are 30 characters long, and are indexed by the iTunes app store engine, so it’s important to include relevant keywords in them for higher app discoverability.
What’s New to Encourage Updates
Users who already have an app installed will see the What’s New field below the screenshots, as well as in the dedicated app store tab. We expect this will encourage users who do not auto-update their apps, to download a new version.
Apple is trying to reinvent its app store yet again. iOS 11 brings a lot of visible adjustments, and probably even more invisible ones in the app store engine backend. All of these are drastically changing the ASO game. To stay competitive and relevant in Apple’s app store today, iOS poses an opportunity for increased visibility and conversion rates, for the publishers who’ll be prepared.
As evident by this upcoming update and the ones before it, the key to a successful ASO strategy is quick response to changes in appstore algorithms, combined with ongoing A/B testing of ASO effectiveness in between updates.
If you’ve gotten this far, check out this deck we created with all the information we know:
We’ll share further insights as we learn more about the expected changes, so tune in for further updates!