How to Expand on your iOS Localization Strategy for the USA
Table of Content:
You may have encountered a situation where there are many more relevant queries in search than you can possibly target in your target region. Luckily for you, the possibilities offered by cross-localization in the App Store can help increase the space for keywords by a factor of two or three, and in some cases even four.
In this article, we explore how you can just do this.
What is cross-localization in the App Store?
The App Store has a type of localization, where keywords are indexed in search channel as other countries. This is called cross-localization, which happens if the developer has not added localization of a particular country, the users will still be able to find the app in their store.Using the USA locale as a case study, the Spanish locale (Mexico) is used as an additional locale. This results in English (UK) keywords shown to users in almost all countries. If the developer does not have the French (France) locale open, users in France will see the app page from the UK locale. On the other hand, if the English (UK) locale is not available, users will see the app page in the language selected in the App Store Connect settings.
How do ASO specialists take advantage of this opportunity? They do so by using the list of additional locales in the App Store. This makes it possible to increase the total number of indexed relevant words in individual countries by adding an additional locale to the main locale, and thus attracting new organic installations when the app appears in the top 10 search results for new queries.
Since October 2021, we have seen an increase in indexed words in Arabic and Chinese in the United States. This means that keywords from these regions began to be indexed in the U.S.
We tested this hypothesis and hope to demonstrate how we increased search visibility in the US by 49% just by adding two new localizations - Arabic and Chinese (Chinese-Simplified). We used Amma pregnancy tracker, a Hong Kong-based international pregnancy app, as a test case for this.
How to increase the number of indexed words in the U.S.
Before utilizing a particular language as a cross-localization for the US, i.e., trying to expand the keyword field, you should acknowledge that the regions where that additional language was used originally will be affected negatively. Therefore, you should only use this tactic if the additional language is not used to rank the priority markets for your app. For instance, you’d only use Spanish (Mexico) listing as a cross-localization for the US if the whole Latin American region is not a priority for your app, as you will be sacrificing your app’s performance in those countries to try and improve the visibility of the app in the US. So, in this case, if all the visible text in Spanish (Mexico) localization is in English and being utilized for the US, the users in the Latin American countries will also see the app page in English.
So, the order of the extra locales is as follows.
- Determine which region to use an additional one.
For Amma pregnancy tracker, the Mexican locale was already taken by important keywords in Spanish. Thus, we decided to test two other locales - Arabic and Chinese.
When we started working with these locales, the app was already in the top positions for many relevant queries from the U.S. However, we saw that there were many more relevant queries in search than we could only reach using U.S. metadata. Therefore, our goal was to increase the number of indexed words in the U.S., as well as to test the indexing of words in new locales.
- Open new locales, if they are not already open.
All new locales in the App Store are opened via App Store Connect. We describe in detail how to open new locales in the App Store in another article. With the Amma pregnancy tracker, Arabic and Chinese locales were already opened.
- Prepare a list of relevant words for which you want to improve the position.
By using the Keyword Spy tool with our ASO Tools, we worked through a list of relevant words for which the app was still not indexed or indexed below the top-10 position.
An example of a list of relevant queries, selected by position on the Keyword Tracking page
- Localize the selected locales to the region you're optimizing for.
Next, by using the Popularity and Effectiveness data in the Keyword Tracking section, we added popular and relevant queries with high effectiveness scorings to the headlines, subheadings, and keywords in the Arabic and Chinese locales.
This optimized those queries for the United States, using all keywords in English while removing Arabic and Chinese words. The keywords added to the keyword field of the new additional locales were not previously used in the US localization to ensure the experiment was reliable.
The results of adding new localizations for search queries
on January 29, the new metadata for Arabic and Chinese locales was released. The result for the Amma pregnancy tracker was an increase in overall visibility in U.S. search by 396 queries for the first week after the update. One month later, the number of queries in search went up to 1,221, increasing the total number of indexed queries in the U.S. by 49%.
In all the screenshots of this article, the period up to, and including, March 1 is selected.
Let's look at the movement of search queries for each country and try to highlight some of the similarities and differences in the promotion of the app in these locales.
After the update in the Arabic locale
Arabic queries stopped being indexed on Jan. 28, and since Jan. 29 (the release date) we've witnessed English queries being indexed.
A fantastic indexing of queries followed: in our case - 18 of the 22 added words in the title, sub-title, and keyword field were indexed. The new popular and medium-popular queries in English took lower positions than the popular queries in Arabic.
After the update in the Chinese locale
Similarly, the Chinese queries stopped being indexed on Jan. 28, and since Jan. 29 we've witnessed English queries being indexed.
The indexing of queries was slightly lower: 14 out of 24 added words were indexed, which is very little compared to the Arabic locale. The queries from the title change have improved their positions the most. New popular and medium popular queries in English ranked higher than popular queries in Chinese.
Best practices for adding keywords to additional iOS (App Store) localizations
- The most important thing is to put the popular keywords in the title since the title's indexing in the App Store is prioritized.
- The rest of the words should be well distributed across the subheading and keyword field, as the indexing priority in these spots is similar.
- Do not repeat words in the title, sub-title, and keyword field of the same locale. This is so you don't waste the limited number of characters.
- Repetition of keywords in different locales is appropriate when there are phrases using the same words, and the other word is used in different locales — for example, “track pregnancy” and “pregnancy countdown”. Pregnancy is repeated in both additional locales (in the Arabic title and the Chinese subtitle), while “track” and “countdown” are used across different locales.
The order and rules for working with keywords in additional locales are the same for any country. If there is a fear of "dropping" in position for current queries whose words are already used in an additional locale, the locale may be used partially. For example, the title and subtitle remain the same, but the keyword field is optimized for a different region.
Increasing the number of indexed words does not guarantee an increase in installations. It's important to remember that an app is more likely to get new installs if it's in the top 10 position than if it's below the top 10.