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How to Benefit from Cross-Localization on the App Store

by ,  ASO Expert at AppTweak Advanced ASO

In this blog, we describe and highlight the benefits of cross-localization, a method of increasing your app metadata character space on the App Store. We provide an overview of some important ASO/localization terms to know before describing the phenomenon with a practical example.

Below, you’ll also find a list of countries in which different languages can be indexed (shown in keyword search results) and everything you need to keep in mind concerning cross-localization on the App Store.

Scroll down to discover our new interactive Cross-Localization World Map, which should help you identify which locale an app can be indexed for!

Read on to discover:

  • What is cross-localization on the App Store?
  • Important ASO/localization terms to know
  • Interactive cross-localization world map
  • Practical example: How cross-localization can help increase app keyword character space

What is cross-localization on the App Store?

If you are reading this blog, you probably already know the basics of keyword optimization in ASO:

  • use commas to separate keywords in the keyword field instead of spaces
  • use singular keywords over plurals (this does not always apply, so testing is key!)
  • don’t repeat keywords
  • avoid special characters
  • don’t add competitors’ brand terms to your metadata

Discover our expert tips to optimize your product page on the App Store & Google Play

However, with limited characters allowed in each metadata space, we often wish we could add just one more keyword to our app store listing.

Did you know that the keywords on your app’s product page can be indexed in more than one market? This means you can actually increase your character space by utilizing your app metadata space in different languages (we call this cross-localization). In each App Store territory, keywords from at least two locales can be indexed.

What is a “locale”? App Store localization jargon explained

Before we move on to more detailed examples of how you can benefit from cross-localization, let’s start with some important term definitions:

App Store territory: The country in which your app is available. Sometimes called a “region.” Today, the App Store is available in 175 territories/regions. Examples: United States, Brazil, Sweden.

Language: The language spoken in a specific country. Examples: English, French, German.

Locale: The unique combination of language and App Store territory. Some countries have multiple languages, and some languages are spoken differently in several countries. For example, Canada has two official languages, English and French. Both of these languages, however, have multiple dialects: Apple considers French and French (Canada) as two variations of the same language, so we call each one a locale. The locales for the English language are English (Canada), English (Australia), English (U.K.), and English (U.S.).

Today, the App Store supports 40 different locales, meaning you can localize your app for 40 different regions.

Expert Tip

Be careful! Although we know that the dialects of certain languages vary from country to country, Apple does not always consider them as different locales. One example is Arabic, which is considered as only one locale, without any country-specific variations (so there is no “Arabic (Morocco)” and no “Arabic (Lebanon)”, for example—only “Arabic”).

Interactive Cross-Localization World Map

So now you’re probably wondering which locales are indexed in which country, right? Don’t worry, we got you! Below, we have created both an interactive map and a list of all App Store territories and the cross-localization benefits we currently know of.

Just hover over the country you want to improve your metadata for, and discover other locales your app can be indexed for (scroll down for the printable table view!).

How to use cross-localization to increase app keyword space

We have seen that many app developers choose to publish their app in the U.S. first, before localizing it for different markets. As an example, let’s imagine we do just that for a public transit app in the United States. Via this imaginary app, users can book bus/train tickets and track their transport in real-time.

Let’s imagine that the app only offers this service in the U.S. right now; thus, the app is in English and its core market is the United States. Having a long list of keywords we want to target in the U.S. makes it difficult to incorporate all relevant terms (e.g., each city/state the app is available in) in our 30-character title, 30-character subtitle, and 100-character keyword field. This is where we could benefit from cross-localization and the use of another country’s keyword field to add some more keywords. But first, let’s add the most relevant high-volume keywords to our metadata:

Want to learn more about app localization? There’s a whole chapter dedicated to Localization & Seasonality in the 2022 edition of Advanced App Store Optimization, co-authored by Phiture and AppTweak. Get your copy here!

English (US)

Title: MyTransit - Bus and Train - 25 characters

Subtitle: Book tickets & track arrivals - 29 characters

Keyword Field (97 characters):

transit,subway,times,route,public,transport,interstate,nyc,new,york,la,los,angeles,boston,seattle
      

We now can add other relevant keywords to our Spanish (Mexico) app localization. Today, Spanish (Mexico) metadata is also indexed in the U.S., meaning the app will rank in the U.S. territory for keywords added in both the English (U.S) and Spanish (Mexico) metadata.

Although our public transit app does not offer its services in Mexico, we’d suggest the app to add a Spanish (Mexico) localization. We’d recommend localizing the visible metadata (title and subtitle) in Spanish (Mexico) and using the keyword field to add English keywords. This would help the app better appeal to Spanish speakers (and increase brand awareness), but also rank for Spanish keywords that the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. may use to search for this app.

Spanish (Mexico)

Title: MyTransit - Autobús y tren - 26 characters

Subtitle: Reserva de pasajes - 18 characters

Keyword Field (93 characters):

metro,alabama,colorado,florida,nevada,california,washington,massachusetts,virginia,new,jersey
      

Now, if someone were to search for a “metro” app on the U.S. App Store, this app could show up in search results because the keyword “metro” has been targeted in the Spanish (Mexico) metadata.

Expert Tip

Keep in mind that keywords are not combined across localizations. This means that in this case, our app would most probably not rank for the combination “LA metro,” since “LA” has only been targeted in English (US), and “metro” only in Spanish (Mexico). The app would rank for the single terms “LA” and “metro,” but not for the combination. To rank for combinations, all individual terms of the desired combination must be repeated within metadata in the same locale.


Conclusion

To benefit from cross-localization and increase your metadata’s character space on the App Store, you have to keep the following things in mind:

  • Other than in Canada and the U.S., apps globally rank for keywords included in the English (UK) or English (US) metadata, depending on which one is set as the primary locale.
  • Except in Canada and the U.S., apps also seem to rank globally for English (Australia).
  • Earlier this year, we also saw apps in the U.S. rank for Russian keywords. However, this might have been a bug.
  • Keyword combinations are restricted to singular locales.
  • Localize your app’s visible metadata (title and subtitle) to appeal to local users. Only mix languages in the keyword field.

⚠️ This method of cross-localization may be disfavored by Apple and should be approached with caution, as Apple may reverse the phenomenon at any time. However, so far no App Store rejections have been made public.

List of App Store territories & locales

APP STORE TERRITORYLOCALE 1LOCALE 2LOCALE 3LOCALE 4LOCALE 5
🇺🇸 United StatesEnglish (U.S.)Spanish (Mexico)ArabicChinese (simplified) 
🇬🇧 United KingdomEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇦🇪 United Arab EmiratesArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇦🇫 AfghanistanEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇦🇹 AustriaGermanEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇦🇺 AustraliaEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)   
🇧🇦 Bosnia and HerzegovinaCroatianEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇧🇪 BelgiumEnglish (U.K)FrenchDutchEnglish (Australia) 
🇧🇭 BahrainArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇧🇷 BrazilPortuguese (Brazil)English (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇨🇦 CanadaEnglish (Canada)French (Canada)   
🇨🇭 SwitzerlandGermanFrenchItalianEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)
🇨🇮 Côte d'IvoireFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇨🇲 CameroonFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇨🇳 China mainlandChinese (Simplified)English (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇨🇾 CyprusEnglish (U.K.)GreekTurkishEnglish (Australia) 
🇨🇿 Czech RepublicCzechEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇩🇪 GermanyGermanEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇩🇰 DenmarkEnglish (U.K.)DanishEnglish (Australia)  
🇩🇿 AlgeriaArabicFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia) 
🇪🇬 EgyptArabicFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia) 
🇪🇸 SpainSpanish (Spain)English (Australia)English (U.K.)Catalan 
🇫🇮 FinlandEnglish (U.K.)FinnishEnglish (Australia)  
🇫🇷 FranceFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇬🇦 GabonFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇬🇪 GeorgiaEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇬🇷 GreeceGreekEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇭🇰 Hong KongChinese (Traditional)English (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇭🇷 CroatiaCroatianEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇭🇺 HungaryHungarianEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇮🇩 IndonesiaIndonesianEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇮🇱 IsraelHebrewEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇮🇳 IndiaHindiEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇮🇶 IraqEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇮🇹 ItalyItalianEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇯🇴 JordanArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Canada)English (Australia) 
🇯🇵 JapanJapaneseEnglish (U.S.)English (Australia)  
🇰🇷 Republic of KoreaKoreanEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇰🇼 KuwaitArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇱🇧 LebanonArabicFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia) 
🇱🇺 LuxembourgFrenchGermanEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.) 
🇱🇾 LibyaEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇲🇦 MoroccoFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇲🇪 MontenegroCroatianEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇲🇲 MyanmarEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇲🇴 MacauChinese (Traditional)English (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇲🇷 MauritaniaArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇲🇻 MaldivesEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇲🇾 MalaysiaMalayEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇳🇱 NetherlandsDutchEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇳🇴 NorwayNorwegianEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇳🇷 NauruEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇳🇿 New ZealandEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)   
🇴🇲 OmanArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇵🇱 PolandPolishEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇵🇹 PortugalPortuguese (Portugal)English (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇶🇦 QatarArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇷🇴 RomaniaRomanianEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇷🇸 SerbiaCroatianEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇷🇺 RussiaRussianEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇷🇼 RwandaFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇸🇪 SwedenSwedishEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇸🇬 SingaporeChinese (Simplified)English (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇸🇰 SlovakiaSlovakEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇸🇷 SurinameDutchEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇹🇭 ThailandThaiEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇹🇳 TunisiaArabicFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia) 
🇹🇴 TongaEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇹🇷 TurkeyTurkishFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia) 
🇹🇼 TaiwanChinese (Traditional)English (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇺🇦 UkraineRussianEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇻🇳 VietnamVietnameseEnglish (Australia)English (U.K.)  
🇻🇺 VanuatuFrenchEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇽🇰 KosovoEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
🇾🇪 YemenArabicEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)  
🇿🇲 ZambiaEnglish (U.K.)English (Australia)   
Spanish-speaking LATAM 
🇦🇷 Argentina, 🇧🇴 Bolivia, 🇧🇿 Belize, 🇨🇱 Chile, 🇨🇴 Colombia, 🇨🇷 Costa Rica, 🇩🇴 Dominican Republic, 🇪🇨 Ecuador, 🇸🇻 El Salvador, 🇲🇽 Mexico, 🇳🇮 Nicaragua, 🇵🇾 Paraguay, 🇵🇦 Panama, 🇺🇾 Uruguay, 🇵🇪 Peru, 🇻🇪 Venezuela,🇭🇳 Honduras,🇬🇹 Guatemala
Spanish (Mexico)English (U.K.)English (Australia)
Rest of world 
🇦🇱 Albania,🇦🇴 Angola,🇦🇮 Anguilla,🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda,🇦🇲 Armenia,🇦🇿 Azerbaijan,🇧🇸 Bahamas,🇧🇧 Barbados,🇧🇾 Belarus,🇧🇯 Benin,🇧🇲 Bermuda,🇧🇹 Bhutan,🇧🇼 Botswana,🇧🇳 Brunei,🇧🇬 Bulgaria,🇧🇫 Burkina Faso,🇰🇭 Cambodia,🇨🇻 Cape Verde,🇰🇾 Cayman Islands,🇹🇩 Chad,🇨🇬 Republic of the Congo,🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo,🇩🇲 Dominica,🇪🇪 Estonia,🇫🇯 Fiji,🇬🇲 Gambia,🇬🇭 Ghana,🇬🇩 Grenada,🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau,🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea,🇬🇾 Guyana,🇮🇸 Iceland,🇮🇪 Ireland,🇯🇲 Jamaica,🇰🇿 Kazakhstan,🇰🇪 Kenya,🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan,🇱🇦 Laos,🇱🇻 Latvia,🇱🇷 Liberia,🇱🇹 Lithuania,🇲🇰 North Macedonia,🇲🇬 Madagascar,🇲🇼 Malawi,🇲🇱 Mali,🇲🇹 Malta,🇲🇺 Mauritius,🇫🇲 Micronesia,🇲🇩 Moldova,🇲🇳 Mongolia,🇲🇸 Montserrat,🇲🇿 Mozambique,🇳🇦 Namibia,🇳🇵 Nepal,🇳🇪 Niger,🇳🇬 Nigeria,🇵🇰 Pakistan,🇵🇼 Palau,🇵🇭 Philippines,🇱🇨 Saint Lucia,🇸🇹 São Tomé and Príncipe,🇸🇳 Senegal,🇸🇨 Seychelles,🇸🇱 Sierra Leone,🇸🇮 Slovenia,🇸🇧 Solomon Islands,🇿🇦 South Africa,🇱🇰 Sri Lanka,🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis,🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and The Grenadines,🇸🇿 Eswatini,🇹🇯 Tajikistan,🇹🇿 Tanzania,🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago,🇹🇲 Turkmenistan,🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos Islands,🇺🇬 Uganda,🇺🇿 Uzbekistan,🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands,🇿🇼 Zimbabwe
English (U.K.)English (Canada) English (Australia)

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by ,  ASO Expert at AppTweak

Yasmin is an ASO Expert at AppTweak, helping to boost your app's visibility. She enjoys exploring different cultures and constantly adds new books to her TBR list.