Keyword research for App Store Optimisation (ASO) will reveal the terms, phrases, questions, and answers that are most used by potential customers, when searching for your type of app. Get your keywords right and you’ll drive better optimisation performance for page views, capture leads and achieve downloads.

Promoting your products and services and drawing more customers towards your app can all be significantly improved by employing the ‘right’ keywords. Choosing right keywords to target and report against will provide you with a reliable ASO performance indicator and is the foundation for more accurate decision-making and keyword optimisation, which we will cover in a follow-up piece.

At Redbox, the ASO team employs a core set of rules as part of their ASO targeting, reporting, auditing, and analysis for clients; our ASO Lead Anil Ozdemir has outlined these below, to help those who are managing ASO to have a framework to work within.

What Is ASO Keyword Research?

App Store keyword research is the process of finding all possible search queries that may be relevant to your business and your customers. Keyword research includes finding, sorting, and prioritising keywords, which can then inform your keyword strategy.

To achieve this, it’s best to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and try to think like them. Ask yourself, “If a customer uses this search term, and sees my app as a result, will they feel that my app is the most relevant choice?” If the answer is no, then perhaps discard that search term since it will result in a mismatch between user requirement and your app’s purpose. Getting team members and even the client involved in the target keyword brainstorming process can generate even more relevant keywords. Two heads, or even more, are always better than one.

Properties that good keywords should have:

Relevance, direct and indirect: Target keywords can be directly or in some cases indirectly relevant to your app - that may sound confusing, but here’s an easy explanation:

  • Direct relevance: let’s say your app is a Spanish language tutorial app; a directly relevant target keyword string would be ‘study Spanish’ or ‘improve Spanish’. In this instance you would not target ‘improve language’ or ‘study language’, as those phrases are not directly related to what the user is looking for; they are not targeted enough and would rank poorly.
  • Indirect relevance: let’s say your app is one that uses telematics to track how well someone drives their car, and the data gathered opens cheaper car insurance options for them (if they are a good driver!). In this instance, a keyword string that demonstrates indirect relevance would be ‘cheaper car insurance’. Your app is not a car insurance app and the user is not directly searching for your app, but it is an app that is indirectly relevant to people looking for car insurance, so they might be interested in it.

Word variations: Commonly used typos (e.g., “yatzee” instead of “yahtzee”) can be added into you ASO keyword report. But, consider this, adding incorrect spellings with low search volume won’t be good practice, especially if the correct version is also there with a high search volume. Also, don’t include the same keyword in your ASO report more than once; for example, “skyBet” and “sky bet”.

Low Search Volume: Since there is no point in targeting keywords with low organic traffic potential, there is also no point in adding them to your keyword reporting list as you won’t gain any insights.

Watch for duplicates – You may consider using singular and plural versions of the same keyword, e.g., ‘bet’ and ‘bets’; in this case, we suggest that you simply keep the version that has the higher search volume since the Apple algorithm understands single and plural versions of the same word. In the case of ‘bet’ and ‘betting’ we suggest that you target both.

No Special Characters – The algorithm is unable to understand search volume difference between keywords with and without special characters; for example, both “tinder” and “tinder+” have the same high search volume. Therefore, we are unable to know how frequently users are searching for queries with special characters, so in most cases there are no reasons to report keywords with special characters.

Adding unranked keywords – It is mostly bad practice to add lots of unranked keywords to your reporting list; an exception would be in the case of a new app. New apps will not have any keyword rankings (or very few of them), so in this instance unranked keywords are added to establish whether they deliver performance. Also, new keywords that you have added to your metadata can be added to your keyword reporting list - these new words are likely to be unranked, so adding them will enable you to understand how they are performing.

Another example of adding unranked keywords into your keyword reporting list might be to add keywords that your app does not rank for, simply to see whether your competitors do rank against your app.

Other factors to consider while shortlisting keywords.

Generic and Competitor keywords - Don’t forget to include both generic and competitor keywords in your keyword list. ‘Generic’ keywords are those that are not brand specific, such as ‘betting’, ‘dating’ or ‘credit check’. ’Competitor’ words are any other app name that is in the same vertical as yours; so, for example, ‘Just Eat’ is a competitor keyword to ‘Deliveroo’.

Include metadata keywords - When you are choosing competitor keywords to target, consider adding those competitor keywords that you have already included within your metadata wording. In this way, your keyword reporting will indicate whether the competitor keywords you have included in your metadata are improving your organic ranking.

Running Search Ads too? - If you are actively running ASA campaigns you could pull your high performing keywords (low CPA, high post install event etc.) from your ASA and add them to your ASO keyword target list. By this way you can combine your ASA effort with ASO activities. We will cover this in more detail, in a future blog post

Check your competition - If you want to see how your competitors are ranking against your own-brand keywords, you should add your own-brand words to your target list. You already know that you rank highly against these words since they are highly relevant to you, but how well are your competitors ranking?

Language variations - You do not have to target keywords that are in the native language of the storefront you are listed in. For example, in the USA you might wish to use Spanish words, if those words demonstrate high search volume; similarly, there are many non-English storefronts in which English words rank highly.

In Conclusion…

With some time and thought, ASO keyword research can help produce highly targeted search results that engage potential users and will lead to more conversions. It’s worth remembering that there are no "best" keywords, just those that are highly searched by your potential users.

It's up to you to create a strategy that will help you to drive traffic to your app. If you need some help and a little guidance, then we are just a phone call away, get in touch and discover what we can do for you.

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