App Name Guidelines and Best Practices

Emily Sugrueby 
App Growth Consultant at AppTweak

7 min read

Dive into this series for straightforward, actionable ASO tips & strategies to boost your app’s visibility and downloads in the app stores.

  1. What is App Store Optimization: Your Essential Guide to ASO
  2. 10 Key Differences in ASO Between App Store & Google Play
  3. App Name Guidelines and Best Practices
  4. How to Optimize Your App Store Product Page?
  5. How to Optimize Your App Screenshots to Boost App Downloads
  6. 6 Best Practices to Optimize Your App’s Long Description

Choosing an app name (or title) isn’t as easy as it sounds. The app title is one of the first things users see when looking at your app store page. You want an app title that’s unique but not difficult to remember – a name that clearly communicates the functionality of your app but also what sets it apart from your competitors. To make this task a bit more manageable, here are some tips and best practices to help you choose the best possible name for your app on both Google Play and the App Store.

Tip #1: Brainstorm a potential list of app names

If you are yet to come up with a name for your app, you should start with brainstorming a potential list of names. In order to generate ideas for your app title, consider the following questions:

  • What does my app do? 
  • What is the best thing about my app?
  • Does it have any special features? 
  • How does my app help users?

Write down any descriptive words that come to your mind while answering these questions, as well as any other term that relates to your app. This preliminary list can be narrowed down by identifying the strongest combinations. Make sure that these are combinations that your target audience will relate to, and which highlight the main features of your app.

Infuse has added the combination keyword video player after its brand name to reflect the app functionality
Infuse has added the combination keyword “video player” after its brand name to reflect the app functionality.

Tip #2: Keep your app title concise

Keywords in an app name in both the stores carry the most weight when it comes to ranking. Although it might be tempting to stuff as many keywords as possible into your app title, both the App Store and Google Play carry a limit of 30 characters

Though Apple allows titles of up to 30 characters, in the search results, the title is usually cut off at 26 characters. Similarly, for Google, depending on the device, the title may be cut off in the search results. Therefore, it is important to place your highest priority keywords in the title first

Bumper uses its full character capacity for its title while RAID only uses 20 characters
Character counts on popular app titles. Bumper uses its full character capacity for its title, including some generic keywords, while RAID only uses 20 characters.

Tip #3: Keep your app title simple but unique

When choosing an app name, remember that it’s not just for the store. This name will also have to be on social media, in URLs, and go on all branding. 

  • Don’t choose an overly complicated name as that may lead to poor customer recall and messy branding. It’s important to choose a name that is simple to pronounce, pleasant to hear, and easy to remember
  • Don’t go for an app title that has already been taken. To avoid facing any legal troubles, do a quick search to check trademarks before going ahead and naming your app. Neither Apple nor Google approve of this practice and can take strict measures if they notice that your app is using a trademarked name. Google Play specifically mentions that an app title cannot begin with the name of another app. For example, you could name your app Photo Editor for Instagram but not Instagram Photo Editor.
  • Also, try to avoid app titles that are too common or widely used. Choose an app name that is unique and describes what your app does. For example, HBO Max makes its title descriptive by adding “Stream TV & Movies” after its brand name.
HBO has added combination keywords after its brand name to reflect the app functionality
HBO has added the combination keywords “Stream TV & Movies” after its brand name to reflect the app functionality.

Tip #4: Optimize your app title with generic keywords

Typically, branded keywords don’t take up the full 30 characters of the title space. Best practices suggest your app title to be 10-15 characters. This leaves room for one or two generic keywords to give your potential users a little bit more information about what to expect from your app. Branded keywords refer to keywords used in an app’s metadata relating to branding (e.g. “Walmart”), while generic keywords are any keyword not affiliated with a brand (e.g. “Shopping” or “Grocery”).

Walmart uses its brand name and generic keywords to drive extra organic traffic to their app page
Walmart uses its brand name and generic keywords to drive extra organic traffic to their app page.

Tip #5: Add high-volume relevant keywords to your app name

When adding generic keywords to your app title, it is always recommended to add high-volume, relevant keywords from an ASO point of view. This can help increase your search traffic and reach, particularly because the title holds the most weight for the indexing algorithm on both the stores.

Add high-volume relevant keywords in your app title
“Adventure” and “adventure games” have quite a high search volume, while the keyword “adventure game” has very few searches.

Alternatively, you can research which generic keywords your competitors are targeting in their app title. If there are numerous competitors targeting the same keywords, it may be worth investigating. 

A keyword-rich title not only boosts your app visibility, but also quickly and effectively conveys your app’s value proposition. But make sure not to stuff all your keywords in the title as it may decrease your conversion rate, which might hurt your keyword rankings.  

Top 5 Food and Drink apps on iOS in the USA
Top 5 Food & Drink apps on iOS in the USA, most of which are targeting “delivery” and “food”.

Learn how to optimize your app title with brand and generic keywords

Tip #6: Don’t waste character space or add misleading text

You only have 30 characters to make as big an impression as possible in your app title. So you should really optimize this space with relevant and high-volume keywords. 

Avoid using keywords like “free,” “app,” or “best” or category keywords like “health” or “casual” in your app name. These are “free” keywords awarded by Apple, so adding these terms to your app title is just a waste of space. Also, avoid adding special characters in your app name since Apple does not account for these characters when indexing your app.

Similar to the App Store, adding terms like “free”, “top”, “best”, and “#1” are no longer accepted by Google Play. Moreover, apps and games are forbidden to use keywords or graphics that indicate store performance, ranking, awards, or calls-to-action in app titles. 

Check out the Google Play metadata policy changes announced in 2021

Tip #7: Localize your app title

If your app is going to be available globally, you should consider translating the app title into the languages of those users. Remember that localization goes beyond just translating your app’s metadata and graphic assets. People in other countries might search differently, which means that to be effective, you need to properly research which keywords people are using in your target country and optimize your app title accordingly. When doing this, you should ensure that your translations aren’t considered rude, inappropriate, or have a negative connotation in those languages.

Find out how to successfully localize your app/game on Google Play

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To choose an eye-catching and converting title for your app/game on the app stores, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Brainstorm a list of potential names for your app
  2. Keep your app name concise
  3. Choose a simple yet unique name for your app
  4. Optimize your app name with one or two generic keywords to describe what your app does
  5. Add high-volume, relevant keywords to your app name
  6. Avoid adding special characters or misleading text or graphics in your app name
  7. Localize your app title for your target market

To get an even more in-depth look at how your title choice is impacting your app’s visibility and installs, make sure you integrate your console with AppTweak!

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Emily Sugrue
by , App Growth Consultant at AppTweak
Emily is an App Growth Consultant at AppTweak and is based in Brussels, Belgium. She's passionate about technology, mobile gaming, and cooking.