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Keyword Research for App Store Optimization (ASO)

(This article was originally published on Udonis’ blog.)

Keywords are the key! Pun intended 😂 To properly conduct keyword research, you’ll have to go through a lot of words. Keyword research is the crucial part of the App Store Optimization process, and if your app page is properly optimized, you’ll have more success in reaching the right audience.

We all know that creating a good app is not an easy job. It takes a lot of effort, time, and commitment to achieve that, but after you’ve finished with your app development, more obstacles will appear.

In two of the leading app stores, there are 5,7 million apps. In 2021, there were 3.48 million apps in the Google Play store and 2.22 million in the Apple App Store.

Keyword optimization is the key element of a complete and comprehensive App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy. Basically, it is SEO for the app store. Choosing the right keywords as a ranking factor is just one of the similarities between the two. In order to choose the right keywords, first, you need to do keyword research. If done well, it will increase the number of installs and revenue. Subsequently, it will lead to higher ROI (Return on Investment).

Keyword Research

Start by researching possible search terms and keywords that lead to your application. The best way to start your keyword optimization is to do keyword research. Try brainstorming keywords around your features and keyphrases.

Consider all the possible keywords and key phrases that could lead to your app. An ideal number is, at least, 2000 keywords and key phrases per language.

In this phase, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What terms do consumers use to describe the services your app offers?
  • What are your app’s most important features?
  • What advantages does it offer your users, or what problem does it solve?

It is also useful to find out which terms users frequently apply, which can be done by reading user comments, scrolling through forums and groups on social media, and examining competitor’s app listings. Another way to improve conduct keyword optimization is to use app store optimization tools such as App Radar, Gummicube, PreApps, etc.

Keyword Optimization

After constructing a keywords list, sort the keywords and choose the right ones. It is important to find out which keywords are worth including. Pay attention to three elements: relevance, competition, and search volume. The most important element is relevance.

Other than that, pay attention to which keywords are trending at the moment and if you can use them for your app. However, keep in mind not to use popular keywords only, since they are more difficult to rank for than keywords that consist of more than one word ( so-called mid-or long-tail keywords). For example, if you have a photo editor app, you can try and start with terms such as “photo editing app for selfies” rather than just “photo editor”.

App keyword optimization is about increasing impressions, traffic, and downloads. Search popularity and keyword competition are essential when it comes to developing a successful keyword optimization strategy.

Adapting your keyword list to other languages can increase the app’s traffic. Thesaurus helps you find alternative words for describing your app.

At the start of your research, make sure to know the following:

  1. Your app’s key elements
  2. Your app’s category
  3. Names of similar apps
  4. Potential search terms

Another simple way to expand your keywords list is to look at search suggestions in a search engine. Start typing to see what the autocomplete function of the search engine will suggest.

Remember, you don’t want to go for the most popular keywords only. Try and think of long-tail keywords your potential users might look for, and the competition didn’t rank for.

Here are App Store’s and Google’s metadata fields that are important for keyword optimization:

App Store

  • Name (up to 30 characters)

The app’s name is the most important metadata element for the App Store’s search algorithm. Choose keywords that are relevant and highly competitive.

  • Subtitle (up to 30 characters)

The subtitle is the second strongest element for the algorithm. Include relevant keywords with medium difficulty and sufficient search volumes.

  • Keyword Field (up to 100 characters)

This element is invisible to users and less important for ASO ranking than the first two. Here, you should consider adding keywords with low competition such as long-tail keywords.

Google Play Store

  • App Title (up to 50 characters)

Just like on iOS, the app’s title is of great importance for ASO. Include relevant terms with strong competition.

  • Short Description (up to 80 characters)

In the short description, you should use keywords with medium to high volume, and with a medium level of competition.

  • Description (up to 4,000 characters)

While iOS doesn’t index descriptions, Google does. You should put a lot of keywords into it, but make sure it’s engaging for users to read.

Keeping Track of Your Keyword Rankings

To improve your keyword optimization’s efficiency you should keep track of your keyword rankings. This isn’t an easy task because the rankings will vary depending on the number of app versions, stores, and localizations.

It is recommended to use keyword tracking tools that help you get an insight into which relevant keywords are ranked the best. One of the tools specialized for keyword research is AppRadar. Not only you should keep track of how your keywords rank, but also what the competition is doing to outperform each other. This is a great way to detect important keywords you would potentially miss.

Moreover, sometimes your app will rank for keywords you did not initially target. This list can be found in various keyword optimization tools. If they are relevant for your app, make sure to include these keywords in your strategy as well.

Additionally, when you are about to target a keyword, check the number of installs for top-ranked apps for this keyword. According to Appfigures, if your app is in a 20% range, you should try to rank for it. Otherwise, you will hardly reach the top 5.

Testing Your Keywords

After you’ve selected all your best keywords, you should put them to the test. It could take up to several days to several weeks for everything to start working properly.

Keep track of your listing for an insight into your performance. Within the first month, app stores should provide the data about your app listing, data about the number of times you appear in searches, and your install conversion rates. Those numbers will tell you how well you did your job.

App stores are constantly changing their algorithms, so keyword research needs to be an ongoing process. Even the best-researched keywords can lose rankings over time.

To help you make changes, you should use ASO tools to analyze your changes and determine their impact. Make changes you think will have a positive impact on your app store listings.

Another tool you can use for app market analysis & app store optimization is APPLyzer. On APPLyzer you’ll have insight into download rankings, keywords ranking. You can also spy on your competitors while doing market research.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

If you carefully explore what your competitors are doing, you may get valuable ideas for your keyword strategy.

One of the most important things you can find out from your competitors is — gaps.

If the category you’re competing in is super crowded, you have to get original. One of your key goals is to discover keywords your competitors are not targeting.

Even if these keywords aren’t the most popular searches, being the #1 result for those searches can be a great push for your app.

Explore the Review Section

Don’t forget to listen to your app’s users. Not only can they give you insights for further app improvement, but they can also help you with keyword research.

Look at the way users describe your app. Your approach to representing your app is one thing, but the users might think of completely different words about it.

Common Keyword Research Mistakes

If you consider all the tips above, you’re on the right track. However, there are some common mistakes app developers make, especially in the early stages of ASO.

  • Making a keyword list once and not optimizing it
  • Targeting generic keywords with high traffic only
  • Using the same ASO keyword research approach for Apple Store and Google Play
  • Not using enough long-tail keywords
  • Not watching out for the competition
  • Going overboard with keyword repetition (can be penalized, just like with SEO)

To Sum Up

You might find that dealing with keywords is messy, but it is a crucial part of App Store Optimization. Carefully select keywords and update and optimize regularly. This task is time-consuming and sometimes may even seem annoying, but it will pay off in the end.

About Udonis

Since 2018 until today, Udonis Inc. has acquired over 150 million users for mobile apps & games. We’re recognized as a leading mobile marketing agency by 5 major marketing review firms. We helped over 20 mobile apps & games reach the top charts. Want to know how we make it look so effortless? Meet us to find out!




Udonis Inc. is an award-winning marketing agency specialized in mobile apps & games.

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