App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of optimizing your app to appear high in relevant search results. There’s huge competition in the app stores making it quite difficult to get the attention of potential customers. Thus, a high ranking in app store search results is significant for receiving organic downloads. The first step is researching your app keywords.

Why Being Present in App Store Search is Important

Apple states, that app store search initiates 65% of app downloads in the Apple App Store. This shows, that people tend to go to the App Store for finding a specific app and know what they want. Customers use keywords in various combinations to search for your app. Hence, App Store Optimization (including keyword optimization) can pay off if you can convince them that your app is what they are looking for.

Statistics by Apptentive show that app store search is the most common way customers discover apps. To sum up, this means App Store Optimization drives up to 68% of app downloads. This indicates that if you do not optimize your app for app store searches, you might lose a lot of potential users.

For optimized apps, the percentage of organic downloads coming from App Store Search could be even larger, leading to an incredible ROI. Another reason why keyword optimization is very important is because while other App Store Optimization factors are not under your complete control, keyword optimization is for you to decide.

Examples of organic search on the App Store. People find apps using keywords.
Examples of organic search on the App Store
Source: App Store

You cannot expect to have amazing ratings and reviews overnight. Neither you can have multiple versions of your app in a very short span of time. But you can optimize your app for the right keywords from the very first day of it’s launch.

Keywords are the most important factor for a successful App Store Optimization strategy. But what is keyword optimization? Does it mean stuffing keywords in your title, description, etc? No, absolutely not. Keyword Optimization means strategically (& iteratively) finding the right keywords and then using them in a way that gets your app maximum exposure.

Keyword Optimization includes the act of researching, analyzing, and selecting keywords in order to drive potential customers to your app. App stores intend for users to easily find and download desired apps based on search queries or simple browsing. So, if you write your app store metadata in a way, not only users but the app store algorithm likes it, you are already on the winning path.

App Keyword Optimization Step 1: Research

The first step of developing a winning keyword strategy is about researching possible search terms and keywords relevant to your app. In general, the keywords you use in your store listings are different when aiming for app store optimization for Google Play compared to Apple App Store optimization.

Do some Brainstorming & Draft a List with App Features and Use Cases

To do so, you could simply start with brainstorming keywords all around your app’s features and possible use cases. Consider what makes your product unique and sort your ideas. Take into mind, who your users are and what language they use. Keyword Research is about defining, for which search terms your app should and could be found with.

Competitor & Market Research

When you have a basic list of relevant features and content-based keywords, you should enhance them with more generic search terms but also long-term keywords. This is where it is recommendable to go through your competitor’s app store listings and look for possible keywords, which fit your app too. You can use App Radar to check what keywords your competitors are using and ranking for. 

Check what app keywords your competitor apps are using with App Radar
Check what keywords your competitor apps are using with App Radar 
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

Also, you can get inspired by reading user comments and forums. Which terms do users frequently apply there?

Get App Keyword Suggestions from App Store Optimization Tools

Another way great way to find keywords is to use an App Store Optimization tool. With App Radar you can get auto-suggested results straight from App Store and Google Play. You’ll also be able to see trending keywords and search through a massive library of more than 10 million search terms. App Radar gives you the search volume and difficulty to rank for each keyword, making narrowing down your keyword list much easier. 

App Radar helps you find new app keywords
App Radar helps you find new app keywords  
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

App Keyword Optimization Step 2: Tracking

Now you have a list of search terms and phrases that fit the content and purpose of your app. The next step is to find out if people can even find your app using these terms in app store search. 

Pro-Tip: Don’t overthink which keywords are your best bet. Try out various combinations in short iterations of app updates. This way, you can learn best what works and what does not.

The first step to increasing your app store rank is, naturally, determining your app’s current rankings. This is a tedious and close to impossible task if you are doing it manually. So, App Store Optimization tools, like App Radar, allow you to track keyword rankings for different app stores and various localizations of your app.

App Radar also shows you the keywords your app is already ranking for in App Store and Google Play. 

See the app keywords your app is already ranking for
See the keywords your app is already ranking for 
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

App Keyword Optimization Step 3: App Update

You want the app stores to index and rank your app for your chosen keywords. Hence, you have to know which metadata fields has the power to influence how your app is indexed.

Here is a quick overview of which metadata fields are important for keyword optimization (ranked by importance):

Apple App Store Ranking Factors

Google Play Store Ranking Factors

Why am I not ranking for keywords I’ve put in my app name or title?

It would be too easy if you could put keywords somewhere in your app store listing and start ranking for them immediately. You’ll most likely be facing some tough competition in the app stores. Because there’s so many apps out there, the App Store and Google Play ranking algorithms also considers some other factors when ranking apps. 

The following factors also affect app store rank:

The number of downloads: As announced by official Google reports and Apple app store trends, the more downloads your app received, the higher it will rank. 

Ratings and reviews: Google and Apple want to show off the best apps in their app stores. That means apps with low ratings and negative reviews will be ranked lower, while those with high ratings and positive reviews will be ranked higher. You should always strive to keep your ratings and reviews positive. In addition, the number of ratings and reviews your app gets matters too. The more you have, the higher you will rank. So it’s a combination of quantity and quality. 

Furthermore, for Android apps specifically, Google will index keywords in your user reviews.

Track your app ratings in App Radar
Track your app ratings in App Radar
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

Updates: Frequent and regular updates are a big driver in rankings. Updating not only has a positive impact on ranking factors but also gives room for fixing bugs and staying at the top. Especially in the App Store, when your existing user base updates your app, it gives you a short term uplift in the rankings. So updating more often can be really beneficial.

Tactics to Achieve a Top Position in Search Results

Great rankings won’t come overnight with a single app update. However, there are some tactics you could follow to achieve a great position in relevant app store search results.

Update Fast – Update Regularly – Monitor Continuously

When it comes to keyword optimization, you could spend hours analyzing specific keyword metrics. At the end of the day, the actual keyword ranking is what counts the most. The process of keyword optimization doesn’t end at researching and putting right keywords in some relevant fields. It is about continuous testing.

Doing ASO you need to find out what really works for your app and what does not in terms of keyword usage and optimization. That’s only possible when you allow yourself to try out things and fail. To keep the effects of possible ranking drops as low as possible and to stay in front of your competition, frequently update your app metadata. Once you start ranking high for low search volume keywords, cycle them out for higher search volume ones. 

You can keep track of your keyword rankings and changes in search volume values with the App Radar Keyword Tracking feature. 

Keep a close eye on your app keyword rankings and react fast to any changes
Keep a close eye on your keyword rankings and react fast to any changes 
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

Monitor a broad set of search terms in your ASO Tool.

Regularly update (once a week or at least every second week) your app stores metadata and try out keywords in various metadata.

Your app just won’t rank for a keyword even though you have it in a crucial metadata field already? Get rid of it and try another one.

App Radar can be helpful following this strategy. It tracks your mobile app’s visibility in search results AND allows you to directly optimize your app store listing without entering any other online-tools. You can publish changes to your app information directly to App Store Connect and Google Play Console. 

Edit your app information and app keywords in App Radar and publish changes directly to App Store Connect and Google Play Console
Edit your app information in App Radar and publish changes directly to App Store Connect and Google Play Console 
Source: App Radar App Store Optimization tool

Aim to rank for long-tail or combination app keywords

Since it can be difficult to rank well for very popular single keywords, try instead to rank for long-tail or combination ones. 

A long-tail keyword is a multi-word phrase that represents exactly what the potential user is looking for. These type of keywords are usually less competitive than singular ones. But, since they are more specific, you’ll be targeting a much more niche and quality audience. The chances that your app gets downloaded from a long-tail keyword are higher than from a single keyword. 

Finding long-tail or combination app keywords:

  • Think of which features your app should be known for
  • Focus on your unique selling proposition and USP
  • Build combinations of popular broad keywords

For example, instead of searching for just “running” people can also use the search terms “running distance tracker” or “running fitness tracker” to find run tracker apps.

Example of a long-tail or combination app keyword
Example of a long-tail or combination app keyword
Source: App Store

Go International and Localize App Keywords

If you want your app to be available in several countries, you can add a localization for different languages.

Localizing means that you add your app page in various languages within the app store. Then you can edit the app title, subtitle, keywords visuals, etc. so the information fits a specific geo-market group. This is an advisable tactic to improve app download rates.

When you want your app to be found by potential users abroad, it’s a good idea to work together with professional translators or translation agencies to localize your metadata. 

Especially when it comes to keyword optimization, you should not only translate keywords but do keyword research for every language / market in particular.

  • Consult trained translators for keyword research. They can better assess possible search terms in the context of your app and use colloquial language. 
  • Do not auto-translate visible app information. Translations are not always correct, especially when you’re translating phrases or full sentences. 
  • Avoid misspellings and grammar mistakes in app information. They are really bad for credibility and can dramatically harm your keyword rankings and download rates.

Grow Your Apps with Less Effort

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