Keywords for iOS Apps: Optimizing the Keyword Field

ios keywords or itunes connect keyword field

Also known as: Keywords, App Store Keywords, Keywords Field

When uploading app metadata on App Store Connect (iTunes Connect), you will notice that there is a field called “Keywords”. In contrast to Google Developer Console, Apple allows you to indicate what are the most relevant words to your product.

If you are asking yourself what this has to do with App Store Optimization, the answer is simple: everything!

ASO practices are all intended to bring your app to the first rank positions. So one of the most relevant factors for the app stores to rank your app high is to see if your keywords fit within that search. Even though the keyword field isn’t the first place the algorithm searches for keywords, it is still important to utilize it the best way.

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But, what are these keywords? Basically, you are saying to Apple’s algorithm what your app is about and in which type of app search you should be listed.

Keywords as shown in App Store Connect
Keywords as shown in App Store Connect

The Impact of App Store Keywords on iOS ASO

Apple has shown us that 65% of downloads come straight from the app search. Having a good ASO strategy is crucial to be at this rate. Apple has helped developers by creating the keywords field, whose main idea is still to determine in which app search your app should appear. In other words, the idea is to make your app discoverable. However, you must use this field in the best way possible to make the most of it.

When it comes to growing your keyword rankings, the iOS keyword field has less weight than the app name or subtitle. Still, you can use the iOS keywords field to optimize your ASO keyword strategy. Let’s dig deeper.

Dive Deeper:

What is App Store Optimization
How to get your app featured in the App Store
4 ways to boost organic app installs

What Should my Keyword Field include?

When you choose your keywords, you must focus on how they are going to improve the search. To be relevant to Apple, your keywords must describe your app, functionalities, and features, otherwise, the relevance of your product might appear to the wrong users, but conversion and engagement rate is a big factor.

Guidelines for applying keywords to iOS apps
Guidelines for applying keywords to iOS apps

Apple guidelines warn to avoid using special characters as they don’t carry any weight in the search rank.

If you are using numbers, write the digit, Apple will know that “3” and “three” is the same.

Do not leave any of the 100 characters space empty, every character counts for the search rank. Separate your keywords just with commas and no space, this is enough.

Do not leave any of the 100 characters space empty, every character counts for the search rank.

Good to know: Apple has some terms that are a free match for apps, so don’t waste your space on them. There isn’t a list. But our team experienced that searches including the word “app”, the name of the category and misspellings of your brand name are automatically indexed by Apple. So you do not need to use them as your keywords!

How Often Should I Modify my iOS Keywords?

Apple keyword algorithm is constantly changing without us always noticing. At the same time, there might be new competitors or other apps using the same keywords. That means that your keyword rankings aren’t forever, you have to keep regularly optimizing your app information and this includes the iOS keyword field.

The key to success is constant monitoring

Monitoring how your keywords are performing is necessary to know when to update your app information. With the help of App Radar, you’ll get a daily report of how your app is performing in search for chosen keywords. This way, you can decide whether it is time to change or not. It is important to take a closer look at your keyword rankings at least once a week, so you are never left behind.

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How to Find the Best App Store Keywords?

How are you going to choose your most important keywords focusing on ASO? This is not an easy task, but it isn’t impossible.

Think of Keywords You Want Your App to Rank for

Start with thinking about what you would like to rank for. If you are just about to soft-launch your app, brainstorming search phrases and keywords is the best to start with.

Sit with some colleagues of your enterprise and start writing down search phrases related to what you’re offering, then go for a synonym dictionary.

Your reviews are an easy and accessible way to find a bunch of good keywords that the users use to describe your app.

Alternatively, you can use App Radar for more comfort keyword research. The ASO platform gives you AI recommendations, and you can also get keywords inspiration straight from your competitors’ rankings.

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Distribute Search Terms Across Keywords, Subtitle and App Name Field

Anyway, in the end, you have a set of keywords, which you think people could use to search for your app. Then you get to a point when you realize that 100 characters aren’t that much and you need to fill your app information effectively.

At this point, you are writing them down and starting to combine the app information fields available. Considering the app name and subtitle having a greater influence on search rankings than the iOS keyword field, you should make sure to put the most promising keywords in your app name and subtitle field and include further terms into the keyword field. This way you can ensure, your app is indexed for various keyword combinations and search phrases.

Make sure to put the most promising keywords in your app name and subtitle field and include further terms into the keyword field.

For example, you know you want to rank for keywords similar to “online english course” or “english course certificate”. The good news is that the algorithm is smart enough to relate this sentence to your app, even if you don’t have all the terms in the keywords field. Hence, your app information might look something like the following.

Edit and optimize your keywords and app information directly in App Radar
Edit and optimize your keywords and app information directly in App Radar

With App Radar, you can not only track your keyword rankings but define your app information. Additionally, you will receive useful keyword optimization tips even before you publish your metadata on the App Store.

Quick-Tips for Optimizing Your Keyword Field

Leave out Plurals

In addition to combining the strengths of app name, subtitle and keywords, it isn’t necessary to write the same word in the plural and singular. Remember that we are dealing with a sophisticated robot, so, if you want to rank for course and courses, “course” will be enough to rank in both.

Separate Keywords by Comma

If you are familiar with ASO tips, you might have read this one already. However, we think this couldn’t be stressed enough. Remove unnecessary blank spaces in your keywords. It’s enough to separate terms by a comma. The space for keywords in your app information is limited – make sure to make the most of it.

Avoid Duplicates in Your Keywords

This is another pitfall, marketers and developers commonly face. The App Store handles both, spaces and commas as keyword separators.

When adding long-term keywords, many app developers often put the whole phrase into the keyword field. Doing so, chances are high, there will be duplicates in your keyword field wasting valuable space form the 100-character field.

Avoid this by placing a comma between every singular word.

Correct way to input app keywords for iOS apps
Correct way to input app keywords for iOS apps

Regularly Change Keywords

The most confident way to find out, what works for your app and what doesn’t is testing. Thus you should be quick and agile in optimizing your app information.

Regularly check your keyword rankings. When there are keywords in your keyword field, for which your ranking didn’t improve for quite some time, exchange it with another term or synonym.

See how popular keywords are in App Radar App Store Optimization tool
See how popular keywords are in App Radar App Store Optimization tool

At this moment you may be asking: how am I going to know the search score and the current rank?

Well, you will need help to make things easier. With App Radar, you can check keyword rankings while you’re optimizing your app information. Create a free account here.

Don’t Focus on Popularity

You’ve decided to go for the most popular keywords in order to have a bunch of downloads, right? We know you are hungry for downloads, but this might not be the best strategy.

Remember that there are more than 2.6 million apps in Google Play and 2.2 million in the App Store (source: Business of Apps). Your app must stand out from the crowd, and focusing only on popularity won’t do the job, you also have to analyze the keyword difficulty.

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High popularity often comes with strong competition, in other words, high difficulty to rank for popular keywords. Thus, you should rather go for keywords, that you can achieve a ranking for. Summarized, it’s better to rank for a less popular keyword at #1 position than to rank #20 for a highly-searched one.

Stick with the words that you rank high for and those that bring relevant traffic. Usually, long-tail keywords are more effective. It is easier to rank for “English course” than for “course”, right? Less competition and you are going to reach the right users.

it’s better to rank for a less popular keyword at #1 position than to rank #20 for a highly-searched one.

Are there any rules for keywords?

Well, yes. There are some improper words that could lead Apple to reject your app. With that being said, avoid:

  • unauthorized trademarked terms
  • celebrity names
  • protected words/phrases
  • irrelevant terms for your app
  • name of competitors
  • inappropriate and offensive terms

Find Keywords that Get Your Apps Found

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