Picking the Right App Store Keywords

With over two million apps in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, it’s important to do all you can to maximise the chances of people finding your clients app(s). A crucial part of App Store Optimisation (ASO) is selecting the correct app store keywords to use to show both the stores, and your apps potential customers, what your app is all about. This task is much like the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) that’s so important to the success of a website — and just like that takes effort, research and expertise.

The article puts forward five tips to help you with your keyword planning and give you the best chance of your app being discovered via searches.

Obey the guidelines

Before you start, you should familiarize yourself with the guidelines both Apple and Google make clear regarding listings for their stores. (You’ll find information for the App Store here, and the Play Store here).

The guidelines Apple and Google set have many similarities, and both companies strongly advise against grey / black hat optimization techniques, particularly involving excessive “stuffing” of keywords into app names and descriptions. However, it’s just as important to learn the differences between Google and Apple’s approach as it is to learn the similarities.

For example, Google Play Store indexes descriptions, so keywords within descriptions are key there (within sensible reason). Apple, meanwhile, focuses on a specific keyword field where you must select keywords up to a 100-character total limit.

As such, it’s well worth taking time to optimize your listings for each store individually. Broadly speaking, there are no big “tricks” you can employ here — algorithms are generally sophisticated enough to reward those who do good research and optimise their listings whilst obeying the guidelines.

Do your research

With the above in mind, it’s clear that research is the key, and it begins with a well-conceived list of the keywords you think you need to target.

Your objectives should then be to:

  • Learn how many people are searching for those keywords.
  • Ascertain what the competition is like for each.
  • Choose which subset of your app store keywords is most likely to bring you traffic.

As with traditional SEO, the idea is to find keywords where there’s a healthy level of search traffic AND a low enough level of competition to stand a chance. Very general keywords such as “camera” may have vast traffic, but will also be so hotly contested it’s hard to stand a chance.

It’s best to use a combination of tools to conduct this research. Traditional SEO tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner are helpful for starters, but dedicated App Store Optimisation tools are a better choice, and will allow you to look at both your chosen keywords and those being used by your competition.

Find your niche

Hopefully you will already have a clear niche in mind for your app, but the keyword research exercise above will quickly reveal if the niche is too broad. With so many apps in the marketplace, yours needs to be different enough to throw up some keywords that hone in on where the app is unique.

These will end up being the search terms that lead people to your app rather than your competition. ASO tools can help you find new keyword inspiration, but it bears repeating that a USP for your app that you can play into some of your chosen keywords is crucial too.

Consider localization

This may not apply to all apps, but if the intended audience spans different countries and languages, you can make use of localization to give you more space for descriptions and keywords — one set per language. Investing time in professional translations of descriptions and keywords can pay dividends if you think it’s likely people could search for the app using keywords in other languages.

In the case of the Google Play Store, “machine translated” localizations are added automatically, but if you’ve used Google Translate you will know that these are sometimes amusingly inaccurate. For a small investment, you can give a professional impression to customers who speak other languages AND give yourself extra space for local keywords.

Test different app store keywords

App store optimization isn’t a one-off task. It’s vital to continually monitor both your clients and your competitors’ apps to see how you are ranking for various keywords, as these rankings will never remain static for long at all.
 In time, the chances are you will begin to finesse your app store keywords strategy, but in the early days it’s likely you’ll want to do plenty of experimentation with different keyword sets and descriptions. One feature to look for in a good set of ASO tools will include keyword tracking — which will allow you to monitor how keywords are doing over time.

Equally important is to leave them running long enough to extract meaningful results. App store ranking algorithms will always be something of a mystery, but many factors will play a part, from reviews to uninstall rates, to the authority of incoming links to your app.

With so many things playing a part, it’s important to work to ascertain what changes are helping or hindering — do too many at once and you’ll struggle to work that out!

In the end, picking the right app store keywords is both an art and a science — but, with a little practice and testing — you’ll soon be able to get your clients apps found in no time.


Originally published at www.kumulos.com on January 25, 2017.

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