Google’s New ASO Guidelines May Impact 385k+ Android Apps

Last year, Google announced a revision to Google Play’s guidance. Crafted with an eye towards improving app quality and discovery, it includes a policy change for app metadata intended to encourage the use of recognizable and unique app titles by limiting their length to 30 characters. If an app does not adhere to this limit, Google will automatically shorten its title.

Why does this matter? Well, app titles are sort of a big deal for app developers. A well crafted title, complete with carefully selected keywords, can drastically improve an app’s organic search traffic. In turn, this helps developers bolster their userbases by generating more conversions (i.e. downloads).

So, with this in mind, we used our app intelligence solutions to investigate how many apps may be impacted by Google’s new guidance. Here’s what we found…


385,956 Android apps on Google Play are at risk of having their titles shortened by Google…

In other words, 365,956 Android apps have titles longer than 30 characters. This means that approximately 11% of the 3,492,774 apps currently available on Google Play may be impacted.

Moreover…

  • 16,608 paid apps, out of a total of 113,126 paid apps, are at risk of having their titles shortened.
  • 369,348 free apps, out of a total of 3,379,509 free apps, are at risk of having their titles shortened.


Non-gaming apps will likely be impacted at a higher rate than mobile games

Out of 3,011,264 non-gaming apps, 337,094 (11.19%) are at risk of having their titles shortened by Google. Likewise, out of 471,340 mobile games, 48,981 (10.39%) may have their titles shortened.


In nominal terms, the ‘Education’ app category and ‘Puzzle’ game category will likely be the hardest hit…

Hardest Hit App Categories (Nominal)

  1. Education – Out of 367,220 ‘Education’ apps, 52,511 will likely have their titles condensed.
  2. Music and Audio – Out of 196,712 ‘Music and Audio’ apps, 31,485 will likely have their titles condensed.
  3. Books and Reference – Out of 142,947 ‘Books and Reference’ apps, 30,687 will likely have their titles condensed.
  4. Tools – Out of 219,876 ‘Tools’ apps, 25,066 will likely have their titles condensed.
  5. Entertainment – Out of 198,607 ‘Entertainment’ apps, 24,346 will likely have their titles condensed.


Hardest Hit Game Categories (Nominal)

  1. Puzzle – Out of 70,740 ‘Puzzle’ games, 7,969 will likely have their titles condensed.
  2. Casual – Out of 76,841 ‘Casual’ games, 5,757 will likely have their titles condensed.
  3. Simulation – Out of 31,925 ‘Simulation’ games, 5,044 will likely have their titles condensed.
  4. Arcade – Out of 70,730 ‘Arcade’ games, 4,770 will likely have their titles condensed.
  5. Educational – Out of 30,396 ‘Educational’ games, 4,349 will likely have their titles condensed.


However, by percentage, the ‘Books and Reference’ app category and ‘Simulation’ game category will be hardest hit…

Hardest Hit App Categories (by Percentage)

  1. Books and Reference21.47% of apps in the ‘Books and Reference’ category will likely have their titles condensed.
  2. Photography20.40% of apps in the ‘Photography’ category will likely have their titles condensed.
  3. Comics20.22% of apps in the ‘Comics’ category will likely have their titles condensed.
  4. Video Players19.20% of apps in the ‘Video Players’ category will likely have their titles condensed.
  5. Music and Audio16.01% of apps in the ‘Music and Audio’ category will likely have their titles condensed.


Hardest Hit Game Categories (by Percentage)

  1. Simulation15.80% of games in the ‘Simulation’ category will likely have their titles condensed.
  2. Music15.17% of games in the ‘Music’ category will likely have their titles condensed.
  3. Educational14.31% of games in the ‘Educational’ category will likely have their titles condensed.
  4. Trivia12.58% of games in the ‘Trivia’ category will likely have their titles condensed.
  5. Role Playing12.42% of games in the ‘Role Playing’ category will likely have their titles condensed.


Final Thoughts

There’s a good chance that apps with titles longer than 30 characters are optimizing them with carefully chosen keywords. That is to say, their publishers are likely aware of Google’s coming changes and will adjust accordingly once they’re enforced in earnest.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to monitor the impact of the guidance once it does go live. Keyword usage is a huge piece of the ASO puzzle, and limiting the ability of publishers to engage in “keyword stuffing” may, as a consequence, dull an important competitive edge for pluckier mobile app and game start-ups.


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