The importance of the app store description

Hi everybody!

This is the first article for the new “Indie Dev Insights” blog section we decided to start to give some insights to indie developers out there, to help you solve issues we already faced or to have a “in production” point of view on some topics.

In this first post we just want to give you some insights you might find useful if you decide to approach the mobile market, in particular we’ll talk about ASO (App Store Optimization, more on Wikipedia: ).
Our thoughts could sound trivial to somebody with more marketing experience than us, but you surely know that for a developer this is quite a new territory and some knowledge in this field can really make the difference.

When we first released Dealer’s Life one month ago, we put a lot of effort to write an exhaustive description of the game that explained as clearly as possible all major features and mechanics, having in mind just the reader (which is of course a potential player) and focusing on concepts rather than on words.

That’s a big mistake.
We later found out that choosing the right words makes the real difference between being visible or not. You should not consider the description of your game just as an explanatory text (which is, of course, what “description” means, isn’t it?), but instead as a group of keywords that the Play Store utilizes to place you in the right spot, especially if we talk about textual researches made by users (the so called “organic searches“).

For your game to be discovered by people looking for that kind of content, you’ll have to use specific keywords in your description (and in your title, if you manage to do so).
Run a brainstorming session, try to imagine what words a potential player would use, find valid synonyms and separate them in terms of their difficulty score by answering simple questions like “How common is this word?” or “How many Apps is this search returning right now?”. Remember that synonyms are very important as it’s almost always better to be higher on an easier search (the so called “long tail“).
After you have your ideas then look at your competitors, analyze their game descriptions, find other inspirations and broaden your point of view.

Now that you have a list of keywords, look for the specific app store guidelines.
We currently are only on Google Play Store so we looked for every information about it; let’s recap what we found out:

  • The “short description” (which is less than 80 characters) is of course very important.
  • The first 160 characters from the description are the most important.
  • A specific keyword should not be repeated more than 5 times otherwise it is not taken into account.

With all this information you can now begin to rewrite your app description!
Of course be honest and don’t overuse keywords (remember that players, not just search engine algorithms, are reading this too) and you’ll see that every “search” you’ve refined this way will return an higher ranking.

There are also some tools out there that could help you decide which specific keyword fits best for your game and monitor your game’s ranking in keywords searches.
Most of those tools are quite expensive but there are some free alternatives that can help you out. We used the basic free tier of App Annie: we are not, in any way, affiliated with them, but it was very useful during this process and we’d like to suggest it.

And if you do this job right and if your game stands out from similar apps, you’ll surely see some results!
Here you can see a graph that displays daily downloads for Dealer’s Life Lite, with the blue arrow pointing to the day when we introduced some ASO concepts in the game’s description.

And that’s all for our first “Indie Dev Insights” article!
If you have any question or feedback, be sure to tell us in the comment section and if you like it, feel free to share it!