App store optimization (ASO) starts with your app’s name. It’s the equivalent to a page title in website SEO land.
Unless your app is still in development, or you’re only just launching your app, app names are tricky. You probably named your app a while ago, and that means you’re probably quite attached by now.
But your app name isn’t just your shot at making a first impression. It’s your shot at making ANY impression. So it’s really important to get this part right. Here are a few tips for naming your app:
1. Make your app name unique
It’s possible to make the display name of your app identical to other apps. But this isn’t a good idea — you want your app to stand out from your competition, and avoid people getting confused and downloading the wrong app!
For example, there are a LOT of flashlight apps. What makes each of these unique? Hard to tell… the only difference in the name is the symbol they use after the word “Flashlight.”
Perhaps if one of them were the “original” flashlight app, or the flashlight app “with strobe lights” or some other unique feature, it would stand out from the pack.
2. Start with your brand name
Make it easy for existing fans to find you by starting with your brand name or company name. If you don’t begin with this name, at least include it in the first 25 characters of your app name. When users do a search, they can only see the first 25 characters of an app name on the search results page.
3. Include keywords
Including keywords is one of the most overlooked methods to get more downloads, but it’s really important. If you want to expand your reach, you’ll need to be findable to folks who’ve never heard of your brand name before. And that means if they’re searching the app store for a specific type of app, rather than a specific brand, you want them to find you.
Do your research when deciding which keywords to use:
- Make a list of apps in your niche
- Look at what keywords these apps use in their app name
- Figure out relevant keywords people often search for, but other apps in your niche aren’t using
- Select three keywords you’d like to focus on
4. Keep your app name short
You have 255 characters to work with, but that doesn’t mean you should use all 255 characters or stuff it full of keywords. In fact, characters using the full 255 characters usually look spammy, and Apple has been known to penalize apps whose name takes up the full character count limit.
At Localytics, we pulled the average app name length by character from the top 10 and the top 100 apps in each app category. Your ideal app name length depends on the category itself.
App Name Length by Category (In Characters)
As you can see, the top 10 apps in the Games category have a shorter title length than the top 100 or top 200 game apps, which could correlate with their success. However, with apps in the Weather or Catalogue categories, the opposite is true. Your ideal app name length will depend on your category. There is no one right answer, but this can give you an idea of what to aim for.
5. Prioritize the first 25 characters
While there’s a 255 character limit for your app name, only ~25 characters appear in an app store search listing page. Because of this, you should frontload your most descriptive words at the beginning of your name.
Also, you may want to make sure your app name doesn’t wrap at the 25th character and cut off an important word. Many top apps do cut off mid-word, so this is more a stylistic choice than something that will affect rankings.
RunKeeper is a great example of an app using keywords. By adding the keyword “running” in addition to their brand name “RunKeeper,” anyone searching for a “running” app will easily be able to find them.
6. Test, test, test
Once you’ve chosen the keywords you want to target, create several variations of your app name before trying to submit your app to Apple for approval. Testing a new name in the app store itself is risky because it takes an average of nine days to get your app re-approved. So if you see a sudden drop upon updating your app name, it could take about nine days to revert to your previous app name if the new one fails. Instead, use a tool like UsabilityHub’s Five Second Test or Pickfu to garner user reactions ahead of time.