App description: Your hidden asset to boost app discoverability and downloads

By Einav Mor-Samuels
App description - featured

When users browse in the app store, they take just a few seconds to make a decision. What is this app? How would I use it? What problem would it help me solve?

These are all questions you need to answer in your app store description.  

 They are a factor Apple and Google consider in search and app store rankings along with ratings, reviews, and the number of downloads. And without a good app description, your app may not appear in search results at all. 

What is an app description?

The text on an app store listing that explains what the app does and why people should download it.

Why are app descriptions important?

Writing a good app description is vital to increase an app’s searchability and conversion rate on the app store, also known as app store optimization (ASO).

The Apple App Store and Google Play Store factor app metadata into their rankings and search results. And the app description is part of an app’s metadata along with the app title, subtitle, and keywords.

How do you write a good app description?

The best app descriptions are clear, conversational, and communicate their value upfront. 

Be sure to use keywords that your audience may use to search for apps, 

and ensure your app description reflects your user experience. Also, stay consistent with your brand voice and don’t mislead — give an accurate picture of what’s included in the app.

Here’s Apple’s recommendation for how to structure an app description: “The ideal description is a concise, informative paragraph followed by a short list of main features. Let potential users know what makes your app unique and why they’ll love it.”

If you don’t know where to start, try answering the following questions:

  • How would users describe your app?
  • What do users use it for?
  • What problem are you solving for your users?
  • What are the tangible and intangible benefits? (e.g. tangible for an online dating app = get matches; intangible = meet the love of your life)
  • What are people saying about your app? Your best reviews and awards can lend much-valued credibility.

Use three to five paragraphs to cover the benefits and features that users need to know. You can use subheads, bullets, and special characters to make your text more scannable.  

Apple App Store & Google Play Store app description requirements

Apple app store app description vs. Google play store app description

To get your app listing approved and rank well in the stores, you need to follow Apple and Google’s requirements closely, or risk rejection from the app store. 

Here are a few principles to follow that are true for both stores.

1 – Be careful about pricing

Don’t share specific pricing information in your app descriptions. You can, however, list your pricing tiers and describe what’s included in the free and paid versions.

2 – Avoid brand comparisons

Neither Apple nor Google allow you to list brand comparisons or competitor names in your app description. This is designed to discourage you from manipulating search to get a leg up on a competitor while keeping you out of trademark trouble.

3 – Use age-appropriate content

Even if your app is for mature audiences, your product page content needs to be suitable for all audiences (4+). That means that you can’t include any profanity, sexual content, or references to graphic violence in your description.

Character limitWhat to avoid

Apple app description
4,000 Generic descriptions such as “world’s best app”
·   Inappropriate content
·   Pricing or terms
·   Placeholder text
·   Competitor names
·   Unattributed user testimonials
·   Word blocks
·   Vertical or horizontal word lists
Google Play Store short description80·   Repeated special characters
·   Pricing
·   Vulgar or profane content
·   Unattributed user testimonials
·   Competitor names
·   Placeholder text
Google Play Store long description4,000·   Repeated special characters
·   Pricing
·   Vulgar or profane content
·   Unattributed user testimonials
·   Competitor names
·   Placeholder text

Google app description requirements

The Google Play store has two different app descriptions: long and short.

The short description is like a one- or two-line hook below the app title to describe and drive interest in the app. Examples of this are “Listen to original stories & podcasts. Take your audio book library anywhere” for Audible and “Tackle everyday stress and anxiety. Self-care and sound sleep through meditation” for Calm.

The long description has a character limit of 4,000 characters, which is roughly equivalent to a two- or three-page document — but in most cases, you’ll want to keep it short and sweet.

Apple app description requirements

Apple’s app description is also capped at 4,000 characters. Stay away from generic descriptions like “world’s best app” unless it’s an official accolade.

Apple also has a space for promotional text, a 170-character copy space at the top of a description. Promotional text can be updated at any time and is intended to feature news, limited-time sales, or new features.

Thanks for your download!

App description examples

To get inspiration for your app description, here are some examples from some of the best apps out there.

1 – Evernote

Evernote app description

Evernote, the #9 top-grossing productivity app in the Google Play store, knows how to reach an audience. 

Their app description opens with what you can do with the app and includes important social proof with endorsement quotes from The New York Times and PC Mag. After listing functions, it also lists use cases like Evernote in Business, Evernote in Education, and Evernote in Everyday Life.

Evernote finishes their description with important pricing disclaimers, sister apps, and links to their privacy policy, terms of service, and commercial terms.

Above the fold:

Capture ideas when inspiration strikes. Bring your notes, to-dos, and schedule together to tame life’s distractions and accomplish more — at work, at home, and everywhere in between.

Evernote syncs to all your devices, so you can stay productive on the go. Tackle your to-do list with Tasks, connect your Google Calendar to stay on top of your schedule, and see your most relevant information quickly with a customizable Home dashboard.

2 – Candy Crush Saga

This record-smashing game uses a tried-and-true formula to entice users in. 

First, they start with a strong hook with social proof followed by features and social links. Next, they mention important information about multi-user play, pricing structure, and data privacy. The entire description comes up to 2,233 characters — which is a good example of less is more.

Candy Crush also does a great job of integrating their brand voice into the description with phrases like “tasty puzzle adventure,” “sweet winning feeling,” and “guaranteed to have you craving more.”

Above the fold:

Start playing Candy Crush Saga today – a legendary puzzle game loved by millions of players around the world.

Switch and match Candies in this tasty puzzle adventure to progress to the next level for that sweet winning feeling! Solve puzzles with quick thinking and smart moves, and be rewarded with delicious rainbow-colored cascades and tasty candy combos!

3 – Wikipedia

Wikipedia app description

Right upfront, Wikipedia shares what you can do in one sentence and what sets them apart from the competition (ad-free, free of charge). 

Wikipedia uses a great “Why you’ll love this app” format that anyone could adapt, and also includes links to their privacy policy, support page, and the company’s unique foundation.

Above the fold:

The best Wikipedia experience on your Mobile device. Ad-free and free of charge, forever. With the official Wikipedia app, you can search and explore 40+ million articles in 300+ languages, no matter where you are.

4 – Pocket Yoga

Pocket Yoga uses a clean, bulleted approach to sharing their features and accolades. Their app description starts with one of their biggest differentiators — the lack of a subscription cost.

Above the fold:

One time cost. No subscription!

With Pocket Yoga you can keep up with your practice at your own pace in the comforts of your own home. Simply roll out your mat, place your device in front, and Pocket Yoga will guide you through your entire session.

App description tips and best practices

To write the best app description to boost downloads, follow these best practices:

  1. Keep your best content above the fold. Just 255 characters (one or two sentences) appear in the app listing preview, so make your first lines compelling.
  2. Localize. The Apple and Google Play stores are available in more than 175 countries. Localize your content to get discovered, earn revenue, and build a global business. There are tools to help you localize: Google offers custom store listings and translation services for different markets, and Apple offers custom product pages.
  3. Test, test, and test again. Run A/B tests on your store listing to find the version of your app description that performs best. Apple and Google have product page optimization tools to help you test different page variations, view analytics, and publish the best one.
  4. Don’t try to game the system. While you want to employ ASO strategies and include keywords, don’t attempt to take advantage of the system. Google’s guidelines state: “Avoid spammy store listings, low-quality promotion, and efforts to artificially boost app visibility.” Trying to stuff keywords could result in a lower ranking or even rejection of your listing.

The bottom line

When done well, app descriptions are a hidden asset you can use to boost discoverability and downloads. Just remember:

  • Hook the reader in from the start, putting your most important content first.
  • Use keywords to help users find you, but don’t game the system.
  • Get inspiration from the app descriptions of successful apps, but make it your own.
  • Test, test, and test again to figure out what performs best for your app description.

Einav Mor-Samuels

With extensive experience in digital marketing, Einav is a Content Writer at AppsFlyer. Over the course of the past 15 years, she has gained ample experience in the mobile marketing landscape, researching market trends, and offering tailored solutions to customers' digital problems. Einav fuels her content with data-driven insights, making even the most complex of topics accessible and clear.
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