How to Analyze your App Store Ranking & Build a Keyword set

Posted in November 2018

App Store Optimization Guide

Analyzing your app store ranking and setting up a keyword set builds the foundation of app management. As with any foundation, it has to be solid and involves preparation.

We can’t emphasize this enough: Understanding your current app ranking is an investment in your app business which can save you time on your app store optimization journey in the long term.

Although the analyzing process may seem overwhelming at first, it is only half that bad once you break it down into sections. This is exactly what we did in this app store optimization guide.

So keep on reading and learn how to build a winning keyword strategy!

Topics you will learn about in this course:


Before diving deeper into this topic, make sure you are familiar with all the ways your app can be found.

If you understand how people search and behave in the app stores, you can minimize your ASO efforts.

So, how do people discover apps?

When it comes to app discovery, we could split people into roughly two groups. Those who know what they are searching for and those who don’t. Some refer to this two types as discovering apps by search or discovering apps by browse.

Those who know what they want, use either brand names or specific keywords. In contrast, the other group tends to simply browse for potential android or apple apps.

There are many ways to browse the stores. People who are interested in a specific types of android or apple apps can discover your app by browsing the categories, top charts or if it is featured. Both stores also give you suggestions of similar apps you already have installed on your phone.

Another way people might discover your app is through app & web referrers. This means users come to your app page through a link in another app or webpage.

When making sure your app is found, you should consider search, browse and referrer discovery channels.

Screenshots of the interface from the apple app store (ex itunes) and Google Play

Let’s start with app store search. By many this is considered as the largest discovery channel for apps. In order to be found by search, your app needs good keyword rankings.

App Store Keyword Rankings Explained

Similarly as with SEO, the keyword ranking refers to the position of your app in the search results for a specific keyword.

Say you have health & lifestyle app and you want users to find your app when they type in “healthy lifestyle coach” in the app stores. If your app appears first in the search results, this means your ranking for this specific keyword is #1. If your app doesn’t appear at all, you are currently not ranking for it.

Although this may seem straightforward, there is more to app store ranking than just the position. But let’s start first look into why app ranking stats are important.

Why is keyword ranking important?

Continuing with our health & lifestyle app example, if you are not ranking for a keyword you want, you are basically not found by the users. And not only that, you are also getting fewer installs. Users usually download the apps that appear on the first page and tend not to scroll through all the search results.

Don’t let your app be unseen. Keep an eye on your keyword rankings.


How does app store keyword ranking work?

  • App store search results vary from country to country
    This means that you get different results for the same keyword if you search from a different country or territory. Imagine two users are searching for a “Running App” − One from the US and one from the UK. Even though both use the same English search phrase, one is looking for an app in the US App Store while the other one is using the UK version. They may see apps in a different order or even completely different apps.

App Icons Illustrating that App Store Ranking by country for the same keyword

Your rankings can differ depending on the country or territory. Make sure you check your rankings for all relevant markets.

  • Search results depend on the store
    On the other hand, the reason behind different results are different app store ranking algorithms (Google Play & Apple App Store). We covered the ranking factors for ios and android apps in our previous chapter, but feel free to refresh your memory: Button More on App Ranking Factors.

  • Your keyword rankings can change quickly
    Even if you are happy with your rankings at the moment, there is a catch. Your app rankings may change faster as you think. Depending on how competitive the market is and how many people are bidding on a specific keyword, you may experience sudden changes. It is recommended to check your rankings daily.

With App Radar, you can receive information on ranking changes for countries worldwide directly into your inbox.


How to check your keyword ranking

For years there was never a reliable way to find out your keyword rankings. Obviously, you could try typing in your relevant keywords manually and scroll through the results until your app or game appears. But knowing that the results differ daily and from country to country, this would be a very tedious task.

Luckily, you can avoid all this by choosing an appropriate ASO tool such as App Radar. Powered by artificial intelligence, App Radar allows you to check your keyword rankings daily. And the best part: you can do that for countries worldwide and for Android & iOS apps.

How to determine google play app ranking and view app ranking history with App Radar ASO tool

Want to determine your keyword rankings right now?


How to analyze your keyword set

Identifying your keyword rankings is just the beginning. The next step is to analyze your keyword set. Besides your current ranking, there are other aspects to consider when analyzing and choosing your keywords. We listed them for you below:

Keyword Relevance

Whether you are a complete beginner or already familiar with ASO, this is a factor that should be in the back of your mind at all times. If you have a finance app, it would make sense to rank for keywords such as “track daily expenses” but not so much if you have an entertaining game.

Make sure that your keywords are relevant and describe the main functions of your app.

Keyword Popularity

Keyword popularity tells you how popular a keyword is within the app stores. This is an indicator of how many searches a keyword gets. Generally speaking, you should opt for the one with a better popularity because it should bring you more traffic, right? Well, this is not always the case. If a keyword is too popular, you might not even stand a chance to rank for it. That is why recommend to start off with longer keywords (mid- or long tail) which are less competitive and more targeted. Afterwards you can gradually work your way up to shorter keywords.

Where to find keyword popularity information?
A good indicator of popularity are search ads. Apple App Store now provides search ads for the following countries:

  • 🇦🇺 Australia
  • 🇨🇦 Canada
  • 🇫🇷 France
  • 🇩🇪 Germany
  • 🇮🇹 Italy
  • 🇯🇵 Japan
  • 🇲🇽 Mexico
  • 🇳🇿 New Zealand
  • 🇰🇷 South Korea
  • 🇪🇸 Spain
  • 🇨🇭 Switzerland
  • 🇬🇧 UK
  • 🇺🇸 US

One way to find popularity data is to set up a campaign and keyword set on the Apple App Store. Alternatively, you can find this data in App Radar. Scores are based on a scale from 5 to 100 and are based on search ad data provided by Apple.

As a rule of thumb: More popularity for a keyword means more traffic for it. However, 10 more popularity points difference may not always bring the same results. An upgrade from 10 to 20 will not increase the downloads for a keyword by a lot, but going from popularity 45 to 55 will bring way more downloads.

Keyword Difficulty

In short, keyword difficulty indicates how difficult is to rank for a specific keyword. Similar to popularity, this is a metric to consider when analyzing keyword. Currently, this data is not provided by the stores. However, there are a few marketing tools, which can help you with that. One indicator would be the number of apps ranking for a specific keyword available in App Radars Keyword Rankings feature. In general, if the number is high you can expect this keyword is difficult to rank for.

Illustration of a keyword popularity data measured by the number of apps found

Keyword tracking

Since keyword rankings can change rapidly, it is good idea to track the ones that are important. This way you don’t miss a ranking change and make sure to take action if your rankings drop.

The most convenient way to track your keywords is to use an aso tool. App Radar offers a neat interface to track your rankings and see how they improve over time. This allows you to reduce your keyword research, check your daily ranking positions in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store or Apple Tv Store.

With App Radar, you can track your keywords for countries worldwide and get informed of ranking changes.


Checklist for keyword analysis

  • Determine your current keyword rankings
  • Make sure your keywords are relevant
  • Add relevant keywords you already rank for to your set
  • Focus on mid- or long tail keyword rankings first

How to set up a keyword set for your app

Now that you know your rankings and have added the relevant keywords to your trackings set, it’s time to move forward. Let’s dive into how to set up a winning keyword set.

There are a few basic steps to follow in the process.

  1. Researching Keywords
  2. Prioritizing Keyword
  3. Targeting Keywords
  4. Measuring and Monitoring


A visual representation of the app store optimization and keyword selection process

First things first: Researching Keywords

Keyword Research is about defining, for which search terms your app should be found and adding them your tracking list. This is a very important step, so make sure you invest enough time into it.

Let’s start with the easiest and obvious task first: Add your brand keywords to your app keyword rankings. This includes your company name and its variations. You should track these across all countries that you are active in.

Your brand keywords are the core of your keyword set.

At this stage, we recommend you build your keyword set for your main language and build up an initial keyword set for that language. We will start optimizing for other languages in another course.

How to find other keywords to track?

  • Brainstorm keywords describing your own app and features.
    Usually an app has a certain goal, as well as a genre. Consider what makes your product unique and make a list of keyword ideas. As we mentioned in the chapter before, remember to stick to keywords that are relevant for your app. If you are running short on ideas, ask your friends or colleagues how they would search for your app and how they would describe its features.

  • Add “sub” genres to your keyword set.
    Those are keywords that people search for, but are officially not a part of the primary or subcategory in the stores. If you have a game, consider including keywords such as idle clicker, shooter, football manager, golf, basketball, crafting game, one touch, two player game or similar keywords that apply to your game. Remember that you can simply start off by going go for the long tail keywords first, if you cannot compete with the big players in the industry yet.

  • Read through reviews and comments
    Look at the review and comment section in your store and note the words your users take to describe your app. Alternatively, you could also check out the user comments of your competitors. Since those are the users you want to reach, try to adapt your keywords to their style of communication.

  • Use AI Keyword Suggestions
    With features like Keyword Suggestions provided by App Radar you can save time on keyword research. It automatically calculates potential keywords you could add to your tracking list according to your current app information and competitors in the app stores.

  • Check out Competitor Keywords
    You can also get new keyword ideas inspirations from your competitors. To check what keywords your competitors are using you can use features like Keyword Explorer. This way you simply add a competitor to your list and let the artificial intelligence do the work for you.

Remember that keyword optimization is an iterative process. Great rankings usually won’t come overnight with a single app update. This means that your initial keyword set may change over time, which is completely normal! So dont worry, will cover further optimization steps of your keyword set in another course.

What is App Store Top Chart Ranking

Now that you know all about app store keyword ranking, it’s time to take a look at another important part of app analysis process: Top chart ranking.

Similarly as with keyword rankings, top chart ranking refers to the position of your app in the top charts. There is a top chart for every primary Category (i.e. Games, Books) and Subcategory (i.e. Strategy for Games or Comics for Books) in the app store.

An example of top charts for apps and games divided by free and paid

When your app is featured in a top chart, it has a greater chance of being found by users who browse the stores. Therefore, categories help users discover new apps that fit their interest. Consider this as another way to get more organic downloads and higher revenue.

How does app store chart ranking work?

Making your way up to the top charts is not an easy process and doesn’t happen overnight.

The most crucial factor when reaching top charts is the number of downloads.

There are a certain benchmarks for every category. This means your app has to reach a certain amount of downloads to make it to the top chart in a certain category. Although this data is not officially provided by the app stores, you can find such marketing insights on marketing platforms such as Reflection.io.

Apart from the number of downloads, many people argue that are further factors affecting your top chart rankings.

We summarized them for you below:

  • Good rating reviews
    Apps featured in top charts tend to have good reviews of about 4 stars.
  • A high number of rating reviews
    Top chart app have usually been rated by a lot of users.
  • Frequent updates
    In general, top chart apps are usually frequently updated.

Similarly as with keyword rankings, the higher your app ranks in a top chart the better. Usually people don’t browse through all the apps in the top charts, but focus only on the ones at the top.

Free, Paid & Grossing Apps

Roughly speaking, the apps in every category or subcategory can further be divided into paid free and grossing.

  • Free: Apps that can be downloaded for free with most downloads
  • Paid: Apps you have to pay for with most downloads
  • Grossing: Apps with highest revenues (including both, free & paid apps)

Analyzing top chart rankings

When analyzing top chart positions, there are certain aspects that you have to consider. In essence, they share many similarities with keyword rankings:

  • Top chart rankings differ from country to country.
  • can change quickly
  • depend on the app store
  • can reflect seasonal trends

Since we already talked about those factors in the chapter keyword rankings, we are not going into detail again. One interesting thing to consider, however, is the seasonality. This means that certain apps are more popular during a certain season. A great example would be travel apps: people tend to download & use such apps more during the high season in late spring and summer.

Since rankings are very dynamic we recommend you check the days in top charts and your average rank for relevant categories regularly.

Obviously, the longer your app is in the top chart, the more downloads it will get. You can find information on which top charts you are ranking for with ASO tools. To get a better overview of the keyword ranking changes, you can monitor your positions in the top charts with tools such as App Radar.

How to gain an edge over app store competitors

Since, around 7500 apps are released into the app stores every day, you can be certain that your app has competition.

When preparing an ASO strategy, you should keep an eye on your competitors. In a nutshell, competitive analysis is about identifying your competitors and finding out how to beat them.

Let’s start off with the obvious question, how do you know who are your competitors?

We suggest you try answering the following questions:

  • Which apps provide similar features and content as your app?
  • Which apps rank for the same keywords as you?
  • Who is competing for the same keywords rankings as you?
  • Who is dominating the top chart rankings in relevant categories?

Luckily, also artificial intelligence can help you answer those questions. You can identify your competitors with no virtually no effort with Competitor Suggestions provided by App Radar. This AI-powered tool searches the app stores for all the apps that share the most similarities with yours, so that you don’t have to. It also allows you to add them to your competitors list, which enables you to keep an eye on them at all times

App Radar ASO Tool Interface for identifying and tracking your app store competitors

Make sure you know your competitors. Features such as Competitor Suggestions by App Apradar can save you time on research.


Best practices in analyzing your competitors

Now that you know who are your competitors, your work is not done yet. In order to gain an edge, you have to perform a competitor analysis.

Make sure you do a quick check of your competitors by trying out the app and looking at the website and social channels of the app. This allows you to gain an overview of what you are up against.

We recommend you start off looking at competitors who are three steps ahead, not those who are ten steps ahead. By doing that, you narrow down the competition. A good idea would be to set up milestones you want to achieve and have a separate set of competitors for each milestone.

Remember that competitor analysis is a broad subject. In this course, we will only focus on the basics when analyzing your competitor store data.

1. Narrow down your competitors
Take a look at the number of downloads & reviews your competitor app have. If your competitor is a game such as Angry Birds you may want to look further. Focus on those apps or games which you can realistically beat with your marketing strategy. The final number of competitors you want to analyze is up to you, but anywhere between 5-10 would be a good starting point.

2. Look at user feedback
Take into account what users say and pay attention to negative feedback an app gets. This way you get a feeling about the points and demands of your potential users. Try to learn from that and avoid the same mistakes. If the users from a competitor complain that the app is hard to navigate, this is a sign that your user base prefers an interface that is neat & clean. Use information like this to your advantage.

An example for app store user feedback & reviews as a good indicator of what your targeted user base looks for in an app.

User reviews can be a good indicator of what your targeted user base looks for in an app.

3. Do a competitor keyword analysis
Find out what keywords your competitors are focusing on and how they rank for them. App Radar is one of the tools which provides this valuable information. Features such as Keyword explorer reveal all the keywords your competitors are ranking for. This is an easy way to find new keyword ideas and can help you decide which keywords you want to include in your set.

You can even identify new growth possibilities by checking out top keyword rankings for a specific country. This especially valuable for your overall marketing strategy: instead of just figuring out where your potential users are via trial and error, you can learn from your competitors.

4. Compare Keyword rankings
At this stage, you is also a good idea to compare your keyword rankings with your competitors. This can easily be done with a Competitor Inspector feature. It allows you to identify your keyword potential and can in often prove to be a quick win. Let’s say you have a healthy diet app and your competitor ranks for “meal calorie counter” #1 and you #8. The next step would be to check where this keyword is used by your competitor: does it appear in the description but not in the title? This is your chance; add it to your title and improve your rankings. We will cover this topic in more detail in the Course: Optimize (link)

App Radar Interface how you can compare your keyword rankings with your competitors.

An example of a Competitor Keyword ranking comparison with App Radar. Under the App’s Icon you see the ranking for a specific keyword. A green cell in the table indicates a better ranking for a specific keyword.

Checklist for app analysis

  • Analyze your app keyword rankings
  • Add relevant keywords you rank for to your tracking list
  • Check your top chart rankings
  • Identify & Analyze your competitors

Author
Thomas Kriebernegg
Thomas Kriebernegg is the CEO and Co-Founder of App Radar. Besides being one of the most followed persons on Quora and helping app businesses around the world grow, he can be found on windy places doing kitesurfing or enjoying the one or other trail with his mountainbike.
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