Camp #1: App Store Keywords

05.06.2017 |

Episode #2 of the course App Store Optimization (ASO) fundamentals by SplitMetrics Academy


How much do you know about App Store’s ranking factors?

Just like in web search engines, a complex mathematical algorithm lies behind relevant results that users get when they enter a keyword in the search field. The App Store determines the relevance basing on how well app keywords accord with the user’s search query.

Most factors that influence App Store rankings are hidden, but it’s known for certain that the algorithm primarily uses keywords that come from the app title.

Another element scanned is 100-character keywords set in the iTunes Keyword Field. The space is quite reduced, so make sure you’re choosing keywords wisely.

Descriptions, conversions, installs, reviews, and ratings play a secondary role but still have a strong influence on app rankings.

How to find the right keywords

As we mentioned in the previous letter, app store optimization is an ongoing process with a permanent performance tracking.

When working with keywords, you want to make sure you get the most out of them. Therefore, start with a list of at least 50 keywords that describe your app. App developers usually analyze competitors or use tools like AppTweak, ASODesk, or Google Keywords Planner to develop an initial list.

Once the list is created, it’s time to validate it and cut. There are several elements you need to take into account when choosing keywords:

Relevance. It almost goes without saying but keywords must be relevant. The reason is that conversion rates actually influence keyword rankings. If people who find your app with a particular keyword convert into users, the algorithm will boost your position in search.

Rankings. Rankings is an element that needs permanent monitoring as they change over time. You will want your app to be as high as possible (top 10) because people typically do not scroll too far. Thus, if you see that the app cannot compete for the first 10 places, put this keyword aside.

Search Volume. It is always better to be in the top 10 with medium- and low-volume keywords than it is to be #158 with a high-volume keyword. You can estimate a keyword popularity with Search Ads.

To understand whether you can actually compete with them, start testing with high-volume keywords and move to low-volume ones. For keywords that do not rank well, shift to less popular long-tail keywords.


Keyword optimization tips

Choosing keywords is only half the battle. To make them work, follow these quick tips:

Remove all spaces, articles, and prepositions in the keywords string. The algorithm automatically combines all the keywords in order to create more opportunities for your app. The correct format is “kwd1,kwd2,kwd3,” etc. Compare:

Remove all repetitions; one mention is enough. Whenever you’re not sure if a word form or symbol has an effect in search, compare search results with and without it. If there’s little to no difference, you can lose the element in question and free up space.

Consider replacing one long keyword with two shorter ones. Replace words with numbers (“two” = 2).

Take advantage of relevant localizations. The App Store search algorithm often takes into account metadata from other localizations; for example, your app name and keywords in Mexico-Spanish localization will affect search results in the US.


To remember

Now you know the key tactics of successful App Store keyword optimization:

• Keywords must be included in App Title, iTunes Keyword Field, and Description (for Google Play).

• Keywords should be relevant, as the App Store considers your app’s conversion rate.

• Your app must be able to compete within the chosen keywords.

• Since you have only 100 characters in a keyword set, avoid meaningless words and repetitions.

• In order to broaden a list of indexed keywords, use relevant localizations.

Quick task: Inspect your app’s keywords, identify those where you don’t rank in the top 20 (make sure to check all combinations in which they appear), and replace them.

In the next letter, we will talk about app name optimization. There’s a lot to learn!


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