ASO in Other Languages

“We need more gold (strikethrough) users!” Sound familiar? We’ll tell you how to solve the problem using ASO optimization in other languages.

Many games and apps look to foreign markets for audience expansion. And this is an excellent growth hack, but in addition to the game itself you have to translate the game’s page — in other words, localize your ASO. Otherwise, picture this: you’ve localized your game into 10 languages, but then a German comes across it in the store and sees the screenshots and description in English. Naturally, he assumes there is no German version.

Metadata localization is needed so that users can easily find your app in their own language. Take a look at how RetouchMe (a professional photo retouching app) jumped in the rankings after metadata localization into 10 languages. After this success RetouchMe was localized into 35 languages.

What is included in ASO optimization?

When people think of ASO, the first that comes to mind is keywords. But keywords aren’t the only thing that raises your app’s search rankings and boosts installs.

Let’s see what page elements are included in ASO optimization:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Description
  • Keywords
  • Icon
  • Screenshots
  • Promo video/App preview

Let’s take a closer look at each of these and see whether all this really needs to be localized.

Localization of page text

Title and subtitle. There is usually one English name that is preserved for all languages. Sometimes the name may be transliterated. For instance, Blocky Cars — Bloklu Arabalar (in Turkish), and Tinder — 틴더 (pronounced “Tindeo” in Korean).

The ideal situation is when the name includes universal words known throughout the world — for example, War Robots. Pixonic related that originally the game was called Walking War Robots, but ultimately they abbreviated this to the more concise and understandable War Robots.

Look how the name of the game Blocky Cars changes depending on locale. For China and Turkey the name was translated, while retaining the original (Blocky Cars) in parentheses.

In this picture you can see that for each locale different keywords are used. For Italy the keyword “online game” was used in the name, while for Great Britain it was “online shooting game,” and for Turkey — “tank game,” while for China and France the name simply includes the English keywords. All these words are the product of analytics: the top keywords for each locale must be determined and employed in the title.

The subtitle is found only in the App Store; it can be thought of as compensating for the short name (which in the App Store comprises only 30 characters, as opposed to 50 on Google Play). In the subtitle you can add the keywords that didn’t fit into the title.

Description. Google Play includes a short description — the first 80 characters of the description. These are those 1–2 lines that can be clicked in order to read the full description. We recommend regular A/B testing of the short description.

Some developers translate only these few lines in order to attract new users. But if your description contains important information on gaming modes, conditions of usage, etc., the full description should be translated.

Remember that the App Store and Google Play index different metadata: the App Store indexes the title, subtitle, and keywords, while Google Play indexes the entire text on the app page, including the name of the developer. Here is a helpful chart from ASOdesk that clearly outlines which store indexes what:

​From the article 6 Useful ASO Principles You Can Use When Working With Metadata

As you see, for Google Play you will need to carefully sprinkle your keywords throughout the description to make them organically blend into the text. Some hold that the first 160 characters carry the greatest weight for indexing, meaning that the most relevant keywords should be used at the beginning of the description.

Keywords. There’s an excellent article from ASOdesk about how to select keywords for your title and description.

We will add that although ASO is often called “SEO for mobile apps,” a keyword must not be judged by how often it turns up in a web search (Google, Wordstat). App stores have their own top keywords!

Bear in mind that sometimes it’s better to take two keywords of average popularity instead of one high score keyword, since there’s practically no chance of getting ahead with keywords like “game,” “taxi,” etc. There are various tools for testing a keyword’s score and the chances of boosting your ranking with specific keywords — like Mobile Action, Apple Search Ads, etc.

How to choose keywords in languages you don’t speak? ASOdesk offers a number of tools for this particular task. Keyword Manager suggests keywords relevant to your app. These are accompanied by automatic translation into English, simplifying the selection of keywords in other languages.

Keyword Manager also includes the Missing Ranked Keywords tool, which shows queries that are not yet being tracked, but which are used to rank an app in a particular country. This tool also offers automatic translation into English. You can test these tools for ASO in other languages with a free trial of ASOdesk.

Important: suppose your ASO works in the USA, and you decide to try the same set of keywords in Great Britain, Canada, and Australia. It’s not going to work. The thing is, although these countries share the same language, there are differences from one country to the next. For example, American English uses the term “vacation,” while in British English “holiday” is used.

Consequently, search queries will also differ. The same is true of Portugese in Brazil vs. Portugal, French of France vs. Canadian French, and also Spanish-speaking countries: what works in Spain may not work in Mexico, Argentina, and others.

In some countries several languages are spoken, meaning that you can add 2–3 languages for that country and increase your audience reach. For example, the USA has English (US) and Mexican Spanish, and Switzerland has German, Italian, French, and English (UK). Click here for a full chart of additional languages in the App Store.

Localization of page graphics

In addition to text, ASO optimization also pertains to graphic images, particularly icons and screenshots.

The icon is typically left unchanged for various locales, but sometimes it can be embellished with eye-catching elements to let users know that new content has been added to the app. If this kind of game content coincides with the holidays of a given locale, you would naturally alter the icon only for that locale.

Pixonic has developed an interesting approach to icons. For most countries only the background elements are slightly altered, but for Turkish users the Turkish flag was included in the icon.

Screenshots. Many optimize screenshots for a particular locale. This matters less for games, but for apps it frequently makes sense, especially if people are depicted in the screenshots. Most often one type of screenshot is used for Europe and the Americas, and another for Asia (namely Japan, Korea, and China; other Asian countries are shown the Western-style screenshots). Depending on the type of app, screenshots may be specially created for Brazilian and Arab audiences.

At PicsArt, various screenshots variations are offered for nearly every page for which an app has been localized! Here are a few of them:

Today many game pages include a promo video, which also helps to boost the install conversion rate. If the video contains text bubbles, these must also be translated.

Important! ASO optimization is different for Google Play and the App Store — sometimes very different. Not only do the stores have different requirements for screenshots and text limits, their keywords must also be selected separately. This is precisely why the same apps in the App Store and on Google Play frequently have different titles.

To recap: you cannot take your text, keywords, and screenshots and use the exact same content for both Google Play and the App Store. If you do, your ASO in one of these stores — possibly both — is going to be ineffective.

Real-world effects of ASO localization

Let’s examine the effects of ASO based on an actual Full HP case study. We translate two popular games for them: the free-to-play action games Blocky Cars and Mad GunZ. These games are available in 12 languages, with downloads totalling 50 million. They have been featured on Google Play, and all thanks in no small part to ASO optimization.

In the screenshots below you can see the conversion indicators for Blocky Cars in Germany:

At left are the conversion indicators before the game page was localized into German (i.e., the description and keywords were in English). The red rectangle shows that conversion was below average, meaning the game was seeing far fewer users than it might have.

At right is how conversion changed once the page was translated and German keywords were selected. The rectangle in the screenshot is now green, because the page began seeing more visitors, and conversion rose by 25%.

Localizing your app page on the App Store or Google Play is a quick, inexpensive undertaking: the text on screenshots is minimal, and if the description is lengthy it can be partially translated. This is especially true for children’s games, where the audience is interested more in the screenshots than the text.

Translating the description, screenshot texts, and text bubbles is a good task for the native-speaking translators at Nitro professional translation service. The great thing is that you won’t have to run around looking for 10–20 translators to handle these mini-texts: all you have to do is copy and paste the text, select the required languages, and receive all your translations within 24 hours.

How soon can you expect to see results from ASO optimization? You have to remember that ASO takes a while to ramp up. To see improved conversion rates you have to watch and wait, constantly tweaking your keywords and screenshots, and within 2–3 months you’ll begin to see the first significant results.

Remember, ASO isn’t a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it affair. You have to keep your finger on the pulse of your base and constantly check which new game trends are happening at various points around the globe, staying on the lookout for new effective keywords. Full HP says that ASO has to be rewritten with the greatest frequency in Japan and Korea, while in the USA not much changes, since there ASO routinely produces reliable results.

How do you know whether to change something? Conduct A/B testing with Google. This helps to understand what direction to take in the description, which icon has drawn more users to the page, etc. Use marketing tools that will help you see how a game ranks for a given keyword query. These can also be used to check your game’s chances for a keyword under consideration.

Perspective markets for ASO and app localization

Perhaps your app is already available in several popular languages, and you want to know where to go next. Here is a classic selection of languages that we at Alconost recommend to our clients:

These are languages into which we recommend localizing your game. You may wish to test these markets before ordering game localization. Translating a game page — that is, localizing ASO — is a great way to test the potential of various specific markets for your game. This is what is called Minimum Viable Localization.

Choose several languages into which your app page has not yet been localized — for example, Korean, Turkish, and Brazilian Portuguese. Try translating the description, screenshot text, and game title keywords, and watch the download numbers and page visitors from Korea, Turkey, and Brazil.

There are countries that do not expect full localization. These include India, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Translating the App Store page alone is sufficient to see an increase in conversion; users have no complaints about there not being a localized version of the game itself. These and 60 other languages are available at Nitro, a professional translation service that was created specifically to handle short texts.

It is worth noting that breaking into the Japanese, Korean, and especially the Chinese markets differs drastically from what we are used to in the West. We’ve written an article on promoting apps in Asia to help prepare you for the nuances of the East.

The world is full of quickly expanding markets, and it’s best to stake your claim sooner rather than later. If you’ve been inspired by the possibilities for expansion through multilingual localization and ASO, here at Alconost we’ll be glad to help you with any of our 70+ languages.

Want to see more examples of the effectiveness of ASO and localization? Read our case studies:

Full HP Case study: How to Get Featured on Google Play And Adapt ASO to Different Countries

Wachanga Case study: App Localization As a Growth Hack

We localize apps, games, websites, & software and provide video production, multilingual marketing, & instant translation services. Visit us at alconost.com