Updated in December 2021
The goal of keyword optimization is to improve organic search in the Chinese Android app stores and Apple App Store.
Your need for search optimization also depends on your goals and the nature of your app or game. If your app or game does not generate revenue and/or is a companion app to a device or service, organic search is less important because you will presumably direct users to your app directly through a link, QR code, or direct search.
Like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), ASO is all about making sure appropriate keywords are associated with your app in the right way so your app or game will rise to the top of the search results when those keywords are searched by a user. The app store or game store will capture most of these keywords automatically from the app name, subtitle, description, comments, and other elements in your listing. The store’s algorithm will then assign a weight to each keyword, prioritizing certain words over others.
No store will tell you exactly how its algorithm decides which keywords are appropriate for your app or game and how they are weighted, but they do give us some general advice. We have a document that breaks down how each Chinese Android app store generally approaches capturing and weighing keywords, based on what they have shared with us, and this comprises the main difference between the different app stores from an ASO perspective.
Also, be aware that your users are primarily going to use Chinese characters to search. So you need to take the standard English keywords you know work for your app and have them translated into their Chinese equivalents. Though it’s possible to use both English and Chinese words in your app store listing, you need to decide if it’s necessary or desirable, based on your needs and goals.
The first step is to gather a list of at least 20 Chinese (and possibly English) keywords you think are important for promoting your app or game. Then order the list by level of importance, as our goal is to have the most important keywords in the places where they will be assigned the most weight. This list will be your reference for writing the different components of your app store listing:
The app name field has the highest weight and usually also has character limits. Most stores do not allow special symbols such as asterisks or dashes. Your title also cannot contain the names of other products or brands. Most stores read the title automatically from the metadata in your APK, although some will allow you to make minor variations or input the title manually.
We generally advise keeping your title consistent from store-to-store to eliminate confusion and increase confidence that yours is the official version of the app or game.
Your app name must match the title that is registered on your Software Copyright Certificate. If you were ever to change the name of your app, you would need to register a new Software Copyright Certificate.
The app or game title can increase coverage of keywords through derivation. For example, “rent” may derive keywords like “office rent”, “house rent”, etc.
The total number of downloads has a big effect on your app’s ranking and ASO. More downloads leads to a better rating.
Upon a successful app or game launch, you can expect a higher amount of traffic during the first three months, as the app store will give you an initial boost in exposure. So be sure to use this period to focus your efforts on increasing the number of downloads. You can do this through effective organic ASO optimization, CPD campaigns, and other marketing efforts.
There is no right or wrong way to write a description, as it largely depends on the app. Most Chinese stores allow between 500 to 1500 characters. Although you may choose to keep it consistent by using the same wording across all stores, you may also decide to take full advantage of ASO for each store by creating different versions for each.
Some stores allow different language versions. If your APK on the Chinese Android app stores is the same as in your non-Chinese markets and your strategy is to appeal to an international audience in China, it would make sense to craft a multi-lingual description.
However, if your APK on the Chinese app or game stores is specific to China, it makes more sense to just have a Chinese-only description.
Some Android app stores and game stores allow you to input additional keywords yourself. Take advantage of this field to input the keywords that you would like the system to recognize.
We advise you put your most important keywords inside the one sentence description. Pay attention to different character limits for each of the Chinese app stores.
Both the number of reviews and content of your reviews will affect your ranking. The more reviews you have, and the better quality reviews you have, the higher your app will rank. It’s better when your target keywords appear in the user reviews, but of course you have little control over this.
On some stores, you can actually reply to the user reviews, and you can ask stores to remove reviews on a case-by-case basis if you have a valid reason to do so.
All app stores categorize their apps under various categories and subcategories. To increase the chances a user will find your app, be sure you choose the right category for it when you submit it to the app store. Some app stores allow you to choose more than one category. Once your app is live, double-check that it has been categorized correctly.
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