3 Steps for Optimizing Your App Store Keywords

By David Oragui / 10 December 2018

Keywords play a crucial role in App Store Optimization (ASO). This article will teach you how to effectively implement the right keywords in your app store profile, improving your ranking and increasing your installs.

You’ve launched your mobile app, and now you need to ensure that the app is downloaded, installed, and used to achieve your target return on investment (ROI). For any well-crafted app, that should be an easy task, right?

Not necessarily. An app can’t achieve greatness if nobody finds it and downloads it on the app store. That is where App Store Optimization (ASO) comes in—you have the ability to refine your listing to attract users and increase your number of installs. This tactic is effective, as demonstrated by the nearly 20% of companies that currently use ASO.

One key component of ASO is optimizing the keywords associated with your app store profile. This article will review the three steps necessary to optimize your app store keywords:

  1. Compile a hefty list of keywords.
  2. Keep the best, discard the rest.
  3. Implement, test, correct, and repeat.

Adding the most effective keywords to your app store profile can improve your rankings and your organic search traffic, making it easier for users to find and install your app.

Why ASO Is Important

If your small business has an equally small app marketing budget, then ASO is a cost-effective way to acquire new users. 

App store users are continually searching for new apps to download. According to research, the majority of potential users will search directly within the Google Play Store or Apple App Store to find a mobile app. 

New App Discovery Methods
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According to Apple, organic app store search traffic accounts for 65% of all app downloads

If your app’s keywords aren’t putting you at or near the top of those searches, you are missing out on potential installs and reducing your ROI.

So, how can app developers improve their ASO efforts?

Step 1: Make a (Huge) List of Potential Keywords

In order to determine the best keywords for your app store listing, you should avoid the “less is more” approach. In fact, you should plan to include any and all search terms that may be relevant to your mobile app.

That means you will need to do a lot of research to create a hefty list of possible keywords. There are several ways you can accomplish this.

  • Brainstorm internally: As the app creator, you know exactly what you want your users to get out of your mobile app. Use your staff to brainstorm possible search terms related to all of your app’s features and benefits. 

Be mindful of who your users are and what verbiage they would most likely use to search for your app. For example, would those looking for a weather-related app search for “local weather conditions” or “forecast near me?”.

Also, keep in mind that sometimes the most direct keywords aren’t what get users to your app store listing. Contemplate what generic search terms versus long-tail search terms might drive traffic to your app store listing.

  • Keep up with the competition: In today’s digital world, there are very few “new” ideas. Most of the time, the best marketing moves are either copies of, or improvements upon, someone else’s seemingly innovative concept. 

To that end, whether you realize it or not, your competitors are closely monitoring (and copying) every move you make. Why not return the favor? Take a close look at your competitors’ apps and see what keywords are most prevalent in their app store listings. 

You can even use a keyword density tool to assist in your research.

Keyword Density tool screenshot
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According to the developers of The Tool, this type of keyword density analysis allows you to view all the keywords used in the product page of any app on the App Store or Google Play.

  • Get a helping hand: There are a number of other ASO tools available that can assist with keyword research and compilation. The App Radar tool can help find relevant keywords related to a particular search term. For example, people might not search for “exercise app,” but rather search for “fitness tracker” or “calories burned tracker.” 

These keyword optimization tools have been developed to give app marketers and developers the insight needed to boost keyword performance and improve organic search traffic.

  • Look to your users: If you’ve successfully marketed your app, you will have a dedicated user base that may provide you with valuable keyword insights. Simply look to what your users are saying in their app store reviews, social media posts, and other online forums.

You can even use ASO tools to analyze user reviews for popular phrases and keywords. For example, the App Annie tool can pull in several hundred user reviews that can be filtered and aggregated for easier study.

Additionally, the app store interfaces—Google Play Console and iTunes Connect—will allow you to see which reviews were deemed most helpful, allowing you to scan those reviews for potential search terms and key phrases.

Again, there is no such thing as having too many keywords in this initial step of the process. With your mountain of keyword data readily at hand, you can move on to the second step of the ASO keyword optimization process.

Step 2: Find “The Best of The Best”

In the research phase, there is no such thing as having too many keywords. But in the reality of ASO, you need to pick and choose a very select number of keywords to use, as well as figure out exactly where to use them. 

As many experts tout, several fields in your app store listing have more influence on driving search traffic than others. With that in mind, you will need to introduce your keywords in a precise and careful manner. 

The strongest app store fields include the following: 

  • App Name/TitleAccording to Google, your title should be unique and accessible, avoid common terms, and reinforce what your app is about. 

The app name/title should also be laser focused (longer titles are more easily discarded by potential installers) and static (you cannot benefit from word of mouth if the name/title changes). 

Keywords in the title graph
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The Apple App Store also places a lot of keyword weight in the name and subtitle fields since they are considered to have the highest potential for keyword searches.

  • Keywords Field – This is the area that you want to put your very best foot forward and include the search terms that will drive installs and increase your conversion rates. 

You can use various ASO tools to track, measure, and analyze which keywords most affect installs. Also, the Apple App Store allows developers who use Apple Search Ads to find the relationship between search volume and conversions for different keywords.

  • Promotional Text (iOS) or Title and Description (Android) – For this area, it is wise to focus on keywords that strike a delicate balance between traffic and difficulty. 

Higher traffic and lower difficulty (e.g., more generic) keywords are more competitive, which can present a challenge for newer apps. Since search visibility is paramount to an effective ASO strategy, it may be wiser to rank higher with lower volume keywords than to risk getting lost in the app search shuffle. Finally, be sure to deliver a clear, concise, and catchy line of text in order to gain potential user interest.

Once you have whittled down your list of keywords and determined the best places to use those keywords, it is time to put your ASO wheels into motion.

Step 3: Put Your Keywords to Work

It has taken a good amount of effort, but your new App Store listing can now go live. However, the effects aren’t instantaneous. It can take several days to several weeks for everything to properly measure your listing’s ranking and performance.

Within the first month, the app stores should be able to spot the changes in your app listing and provide important data about the number of times you appear in searches and your install conversion rates. This information can be crucial to determining the success of your efforts, or letting you know that you need to provide a course correction.

Additionally, even the best researched keywords will lose relevance as the app stores change their algorithms and competing apps come on the market. Refreshing your app store listing should be a recursive process—take a step back every now and then to review your research, conduct more research, and revise your keyword strategy.

It can be tempting to make frequent, wholesale changes to your app store listing in order to rank higher in organic searches. But making changes too often or too drastically can further decrease your conversion rates and reduce your ROI. 

Be sensible whenever you change your app store listing. Rather than changing everything at once, you can use ASO tools to analyze your changes and determine their impact. Only make changes if you can somewhat confidently predict it will have a positive impact on your listing.

ASO tool screenshot
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As seen above, the Sensor Tower tool can monitor daily category and keyword rankings for your mobile app, as well as your competitors’ apps.

As with any successful marketing strategy, the key is to monitor your efforts, track your progress, and make changes when necessary.

Learn 10 easy steps to app store optimization.

Keep It Fresh

ASO keyword optimization is an effective, and cost effective, way to keep your app listing in view of your target audience. But the process should be ongoing, and your research should be multi-pronged to have the best chances for success.

Using your staff, the various ASO tools available, and the moves your competitors are making will give you a good amount of initial keyword data, from which you can find the most relevant and successful search terms. Those streamlined keywords, when placed properly, can give your listing the boost needed to improve search rankings and conversion rates.

Remember, the goal of ASO keyword optimization is to keep your app listing rank at or near the top of organic searches. The more people who find your app while browsing the app stores, the more chances for installs (and the perks that come with them).

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