How Often Should You Update Your App Store Metadata?
ASO specialists all agree that keyword optimization is an iterative process and requires frequent updates. But how often should you update your metadata? In this blog post, we will tell you what we think are the best practices when updating your metadata for the iOS App Store and for Google Play.
Regularly updating your app’s metadata on the App Store and Google Play is one of the most efficient ways to ensure sustainable app visibility and to drive downloads every day.
However, there is no single update frequency that will ensure your app’s visibility keeps increasing (or even remains stable) over time.
App Store metadata update
The challenge with knowing when to update your metadata is determining how long it might take for each store’s algorithm to account for the changes you have made.
For iOS, this can be almost instantaneous, demonstrated in an example from Spotify who went from ‘unranked’ to ranking at around the 11th position for “podcast” in just one day back in January 2019, following an app title change from “Spotify Music” to “Spotify: Music and Podcasts”.
Spotify started ranking on “podcasts” in the US (iOS) just one day after adding the keyword to its title.
Nevertheless, this is not always the case; metadata fields are not the only factors that influence keyword rankings. The amount of daily downloads is another factor that can play a significant role in how several apps rank for the same keywords, which is why it is important to monitor over time where your app ranks for the latest keywords that you have targeted. Ironically, Plague Inc. has become the #1 ranking app for the keyword “virus” in the US since the end of January. This was without any changes to its metadata, but simply due to a major increase in its downloads as a side effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
Plague Inc. rose to the 1st position in the US App Store due to the coronavirus pandemic despite not using the keyword “virus” in its title.
As a consequence of the different factors that can play in keyword rankings, the general consensus among ASO Experts is to consider that keyword rankings should be stable enough to review the impact of a metadata change 4 weeks after the new build uploads to the App Store.
Google Play metadata update
With some of the same causes to account for, keyword indexation and ranking on Android have proven to take more time than on iOS. Using the earlier example of Spotify’s app title, we see that, despite changing the title to “Spotify: Music and Podcast” back on December 20, 2018, the app only started ranking for the keyword “podcasts” on December 24 and reached a stable rank for the keyword around January 13.
Spotify rankings for “podcasts” in the US (Google Play) only stabilized 3 weeks after the addition of the keyword to the app’s title.
One of the possible explanations for why rankings on Google Play take longer to stabilize is the long-standing suspicion that Android measures apps’ conversion rates per keyword to determine in which order to rank them. While this would not be the only ranking factor, it would be consistent with Google Play adjusting app ranks per keyword over a longer period of time.
As a consequence, ASO specialists tend to consider it best to wait from 6 to 8 weeks to update metadata on Android. Doing so will ensure you have a stabilized dataset to use and it will be easier to determine which keywords to target next.
Optimize metadata right after an app launch
While it is usually preferable to wait for keyword rankings to stabilize before deciding how to update your metadata, certain circumstances might dictate that you make changes more often. One of the most common examples of this is during a new app launch.
On iOS, new apps tend to be favored in keyword rankings in the first 7 days following their release in the App Store.
Although the App Store does not provide data on how many downloads per keyword an app receives, this provides an incentive for you to be bold in the keywords targeted when launching your app. As a result, you should try to adjust your metadata according to what seems to have caught the eyes of your first-week users in the following weeks after a launch.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Google Play algorithms tend to “wait and observe” how apps convert for various keywords. This can have a negative effect on apps trying to immediately maximize their metadata; many apps on Google Play can only be found by an exact title-match search on the day they are published. As a consequence, if your app relies on a combination of brand and keywords, your first potential users might not find it immediately as they will usually search only for your brand or for generic keywords.
When launching a branded app on Android, do not necessarily use all 50 characters of the app title in your first few weeks. Instead, add relevant and not-too-competitive keywords as you secure your first stream of regular downloads, then expand on this progressively.
Optimize metadata according to external factors
While keyword optimization is a never-ending task, most ASO specialists will need only a few iterations to find most of the relevant keywords that will build the core of your app’s semantic dictionary. Further optimizations are then likely to provide marginal gains but also follow a law of diminishing returns, with much of the keyword research only finding room to gain just a few more downloads.
Upon hitting this plateau, frequent updates become less necessary and can be replaced by timely updates planned after you detect external factors in your keyword monitoring. The two main external factors that can impact your keyword rankings are search algorithm updates and competitor launches and/or metadata updates.
- Algorithm updates usually occur a few times a year and can shuffle many keyword ranks. As a consequence, they tend to shift how keywords are associated with certain groups of apps. Therefore, being among the first apps to react not only limits the number of downloads you might lose because you’ve lost rankings for your core keywords, but also gives you an opportunity to get a temporary edge against your competitors by regaining lost ranks while they remain several ranks below.
- New competitor launches and metadata updates leave you with less room for action but should be at the heart of your store monitoring. They can force you to react by defending or abandoning some of your targeted keywords, or leave you with an opportunity to add others that have been left aside by competitors.
Keyword optimization for non-search performances
Last but not least, some marketers have chosen to follow a keyword optimization strategy that is not based on search results, but instead aims to improve browse traffic performance and/or store conversion.
- Optimizing for browse traffic relies on targeting keywords that are most likely to bring you featuring opportunities and/or improve the traffic an app receives from ‘similar apps’. The most common example of this practice is the “road blocking” strategy in which you target the same keywords across different apps. Not only does this strategy aim to push other competitors further down the fold when people look for your main app, but it can also create a visibility loop in the ‘Similar Apps’ section to promote several of your apps.
- Keyword optimization focused on conversion is likely to be used by apps that have a very high seasonality and/or brand power. In this case, keywords are updated to match the content of marketing campaigns or the latest topic that target users are searching for.
To conclude, the frequency at which you should update your app’s metadata depends on the resources at your disposal and your overall ASO strategy. There is no singular update frequency that will guarantee you optimal visibility, but regularly monitoring keyword rankings and store changes is key to ensure you can adapt and find new opportunities to stay visible.