Optimizing Google Play games. Best ASO practices
According to Statista, 346,000 games are hosted on Google Play. There are 265,793 more in App Store. Compared with the total number of apps, it turns out that about one-seventh of all apps found in the stores are games. However, Android gamers represent 78% of the total mobile games market. In this post, we’ll take a look at the best Google Play ASO practices for games. Most of the advice will apply for App Store as well. Well, let’s get started.
What makes ASO for games different?
About 70% of app store visitors use search to find new apps. Unfortunately, we don’t know what share of it the games have. Apps are usually searched by function and necessity. So far, so clear. With games, things are a little different as a keyword is a bit more difficult to formulate. If you don’t know the exact name of a game or publisher, what would you look for? It could be a genre or something like «new game» or «popular game». The problem is that there are not a lot of options when it comes to game keywords. This doesn’t mean you don’t need any text optimization. We’ll analyze its nuances below. It is about the fact that the focus is slightly shifted here.
«Typically, apps focus on text optimization, especially when it comes to an unpopular brand. On the contrary, in ASO, for games, a greater emphasis is on graphics since games are less searched for by general keywords. Users search by brand, or among similar apps, top apps, and recommendations. Therefore, games usually focus more on graphics and getting featured».
Text ASO for games
It’s clear that crowds will hardly come to you through search queries, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore this channel. Especially if you are a beginner. A major publisher can afford it, but if you aren’t playing in the big leagues yet, don’t neglect it. Take every chance you can.
- 1. Google translates all text elements into English for further analysis by AI (artificial intelligence). If your app isn’t originally in English, check all texts (title, short description, full description, headings on screenshots) for spam and abusive language in Google Translate. For example, it can translate synonyms identically, and then it will be spam.
- 2. Check the full description of content classification using the Natural Language API. In the Categories tab, you can see which categories Google has assigned the content and its confidence factor. It’s important to get into the relevant category with a high coefficient. This can affect your app’s keyword rankings and the number of impressions in collections and similar ones.
Put keywords in the title. The classical approach is putting the name of the game, and then, separated by a colon or dash, using keywords to decipher its genre and features. You have 50 characters.
- Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle
- Cooking Diary: Best Tasty Restaurant & Cafe Game
- Ramboat 2 – Run and Gun Offline games
- Asphalt 8: Airborne – Fun Real Car Racing Game
- Ultimate Car Driving Simulator
- Soccer Cup 2020: Free Real League of Sports Games
The keywords in the summary are important in the ranking as well. Since we’re talking about games, emotions are the bargaining chip. That’s why descriptions should not only be functional (with keywords) but also as engaging as possible. You have 80 characters.
- The new shooting action adventure game! Survival at all costs soldier of metal!
- A gravity-defying arcade racing experience full of real dream cars and bikes.
- Ultra-fast multiplayer free-kick action: this is Football Strike!
- Best Offline Shooter and Sniper Game on mobile. Warning it’s addictive
- New brain training pic guessing game. Adults, teens play games without wifi.
👉🏻 Text ASO lifehack. Explore how the games featured in Editors’ Choice are described. There are three capacious points – often you can use them to find some interesting turns, designs, and keywords. You can check their relevance and Search Volume at Checkaso.
According to statistics, less than 1% of users expands the app description. Gamers are more engaged, with 5% clicking on Read More. Of course, in each specific case, they can be few or many. It depends on the general traffic flow. What users need is a cool story. Show them why your game is interesting. To do that, use some intrigue, drama, and emoji. Use HTML markup too. Some text will look better in bold or colored. And, of course, keep in mind that Google Play is watching. It is often tempting to use a lot of branded keywords so that the store would index your app by well-known keywords of famous games. Don’t do this. Below is an example from a real case (the app was blocked).
«If you like to play games like Brawl Stars 2020 (someone says just Brawl Stars) or Gravity Fallz (isn’t Gravity Falls the right name?), then our block puzzle will appeal to you as much as Blockman GO. Gravity Falls and even Brawl Stars won’t help you get rid of stress and anxiety, and even more so, Blockman GO».
It is worth writing less selling and spammy texts. And if you want to be featured, even more so. You should focus not only on algorithms but also on people.
You can follow this pattern:
- A couple of sentences about the game: describe the plot, atmosphere, and goal.
- Emphasize the experience. Tell what the player is in for. Highlight some features and describe in more detail what the game will give. An example: «🤖 CHOOSE YOUR FIGHTER. Over 50 robots with unique designs and powers let you find a style to call your own».
- If you have any awards, name them. Below is an example of such a game.
🏆 Winner of the WEBBY PEOPLE’S VOICE AWARD 2020 for Strategy/Simulation Game
🏆 International Mobile Gaming Awards 2019 People’s Choice Award winner
- Make sure to add your social media at the end. A game community is a guarantee of success.
Off-topic: community building
Braindom: Tricky Brain Puzzle, Mind Games, IQ Test is quite good at using social networks. This is a new app, it came out in May. Apparently, it’s the first brainchild of Matchingham Games. In addition to having a good ASO, they are very effective in building a community around the game. Just look at how cool they are on Instagram. They involve users thanks to UGC (User Generated Content) as well.
Very often, game websites are just pages with links to app stores, minimal information about the game, and a couple of contacts. This is not enough. Make the website a full-fledged ecosystem – with a blog or news, media reviews about you, information about the studio, history of the game’s creation, links to social media and app stores, a press kit.
Below is an example of the Chronic XIX press kit page. Look at how the information is structured – everything is very clear and accessible. Facts, description, features, all graphic materials necessary for publication – from videos and screenshots to logo. Very convenient and intuitive. All this is necessary for listings and reviews of your game. This is an essential part of the promotion. Plus, backlinks affect SEO – they elevate you in web searches.
Graphic ASO for games
As we discussed it earlier, this is an extremely important point. In the case of games, graphics are crucial.
Mobile games are easier to promote when they have icons than regular apps. Usually, the icon contains a character or some kind of gameplay (overcoming an obstacle) or the main idea/difference of the app. The main thing in choosing graphics is to conduct A/B tests. By the way, different icons may do well in different stores. You can also make a different icon for each country on Google Play. Again, test them all.
Explore the games in your category. Analyze your competitors’ icons to see how you can stand out.
When it comes to gaming, a good video is essential. It can be used to show the game in special collections. Also, autoplay has appeared on Google Play, which can significantly increase the TTR (Tap Through Rate).
«It’s important not to forget about the optimization of the Featured Graphic. If a promo video is available on Google Play, it becomes its cover. It also appears in featured game groups and other Google Play pages. It is also an image in the snippet of an app link and is used as an advertising image when automatically creating ads in Google Ads».
Usually a video shows the gameplay, it is dynamic and maximally engaging. But you can go beyond that. If you examine the featured apps, you will notice an interesting trend. Many videos are very cinematic and resemble movie trailers.
If your game is not very dynamic, for example, a a card game, then you can get by with screenshots. On the other hand, it is a challenge. Perhaps you will be able to make an exciting video and this is what will set you apart from the competition and attract users.
A recipe for a good screenshot is simple:
- Gameplay in the background;
- A character (test different ones);
- A text with a key function or a call to action;
- Correct page orientation (test it as well).
4 screenshots is a minimum. If you add at least 3 screenshots with an aspect ratio of 16:9, then the app will be able to display in additional collections. You can also include keywords in the text of the screenshots, as they are indexed by the Google search. All graphic elements must be tested to confirm the success of your theories with real numbers.
We know how painful work on graphic ASO could be. So we’ve created an ASO kit with templates to help you. Easily adapt your graphics to different devices. Just pick the right mockup, open it in Adobe Photoshop, customize and upload to the App Store Connect or Google Play Console. It’s here.
Featuring for mobile games
Featuring for mobile games is similar to that for regular apps. Study Editors’ Choice and pay attention to how they present the games. Use the techniques. And most importantly, put yourself in the user’s shoes. Talking about your game when applying for Featured Apps is worth it from the user’s point of view. Why would they like to play? What special experience will they get? Read more on how to get ready for Featured Apps in our guide.
Rating and reviews
Google recently introduced the ability to leave reviews right inside the app. It lets developers choose when to request user feedback. Also, it has filters for apps in search results, including by average rating, it’s important to keep track of ratings and reviews so as not to lose users.
Feedback is super important. Games work with human emotions. They are designed to entertain and occupy. The users are more involved in the process, and they have expectations.
Users read game reviews more often than those of other apps before installing an app. Therefore, there are two points to consider.
- Make sure you add support contacts to the game so that it’s possible to send feedback. Doing so, you can prevent some negative reviews from appearing on the game page.
- Respond to reviews, fix bugs, and ask to change the rating. This will show other users that you care – and that you value every one of them. Avoid automatic replies like the example below.
- Don’t ignore text ASO for games. Take every chance.
- If your app isn’t originally in English, check all texts in Google Translate to avoid spam.
- Use the Natural Language APICheck to check the full description of content classification. Try HTML markup for descriptions as well.
- Avoid spam and branded keywords of the famous games in the full description. It should not only be functional but also as engaging as possible. Emphasize the experience.
- Add your social media at the end of the description. Build your community.
- Make the website a full-fledged ecosystem, don’t forget about press kit page.
- The main thing in choosing graphics is to conduct A/B tests.
- Different icons may do well in different stores and locales.
- Explore the games in your category to get insights on how to stand out.
- A good video is essential. Many videos of mobile games are very cinematic and resemble movie trailers.
- 4 screenshots is a minimum. if you add at least 3 screenshots with an aspect ratio of 16:9, then the app will be able to display in additional collections.
- You can use this pattern for screenshots: gameplay in the background + a character + a text with a key function or a call to action + correct page orientation.
- Try to get featured. Study Editors’ Choice and pay attention to how they present the games.
- Make sure you add support contacts to the game to prevent some negative ones on the game page.
- Respond to reviews, avoid automatic replies like the example below.
Hope it was helpful! Do your best and get ahead. Good luck. 💪