On 9 March 2023, Simon Thillay, Head of ASO at AppTweak, participated in the AdBites webinar series by Redbox Mobile about Apple Search Ads. The session titled “Keyword Power: Harnessing ASO Insights to Fuel Apple Search Ads Success” saw AdBites host Samuel Chorlton, CTO of Redbox Mobile, in talk with Simon. The discussion focused on how keyword research can shed light on app users and their search intent on the App Store.
In this guest blog from AppTweak, we recap some key insights and takeaways from the webinar and learn how you can boost your Apple Search Ad campaigns with keyword research.
How is ASO data relevant to Apple Search Ads?
Sharing his views on the relationship between ASO and Apple Search Ads, Simon noted that if a mobile app developer’s goal is to appear in the search results for a keyword, whether organically or through paid ads, the first thing they’d want to ask is: how many people would search for that keyword everyday? That’s where ASO comes in. ASO data is helpful for Apple Search Ads campaign management for discovering potential keywords to target, whether they drive good traffic on the App Store, evaluate what users expect to find with their queries, identify trends and opportunities to improve your campaign creatives and app product page metadata, etc.
When it comes to how well your app will rank for a specific keyword, the App Store considers, among many criteria, the conversion rate a keyword drives to your app. If you have a good conversion rate, it’s a great opportunity to improve your organic ranking.
The loop between Apple Search Ads and ASO. Source: Advanced App Store Optimization, a work by AppTweak and Phiture.
Importance of keyword insights for Apple Search Ads
Since keywords are the way most people find apps, they're a source of acquisition. According to Apple, 65% of all downloads on the App Store happen after a keyword search. Secondly, keywords are reflections of user intent and behaviour. Therefore, it is interesting to see keywords not only as the end goal of how to set up a campaign but also an opportunity to understand user intent.
How to best select keywords for Apple Search Ads?
When it comes to selecting relevant keywords for your Apple Search Ads campaign, Simon had some interesting insights to offer. He suggests starting with brainstorming keywords ideas that you may find interesting. To dig in further, it is recommended to consider using an ASO tool like AppTweak to evaluate a handful of metrics associated with the keyword:
- Search volume: Helps you analyze how popular the keyword is in terms of searches on the app stores
- Competitiveness: How many apps are actively targeting that keyword organically. From the perspective of Apple Search Ads, consider if it’s a keyword that’s being heavily bid on
- Relevancy: AppTweak has a unique KPI called the relevancy score (a metric between 0-100) that indicates how relevant a keyword is to an app. This helps confirm if an app and keyword are semantically close to each other. For example, the keywords “run” and “running” would be different in the eyes of the app stores than in our eyes. While the app stores would view “run” in terms of mobile games like Minion Rush, Temple Run, etc, “running” is about physical outdoor activity like running tracking apps.
How to understand user intent on the App Store?
User intent is usually easiest to find in apps' user reviews, which is a great way to discover a few keywords and identify motivators. Competitors’ reviews can also give you valuable insights. Another place to analyze user intent is organic search results and try to find a trend. Top-ranked apps are meant to be most relevant for the query, so analyzing how they relate to a specific keyword can tell you a lot about user intent.
If you’re not doing keyword optimization, you can already look at which keywords are performing well in Apple Search Ads and look for ways to incorporate them in your app metadata in a way that doesn’t look too forced. This, in turn, can help you improve your relevancy for that keyword and, ultimately, downloads.
The other is using custom product pages (CPP), which is a great tool to build custom landing pages on the App Store. It allows you to link a specific Apple Search Ads search result or the Today tab campaign to that page. For example, if you have a fitness app that offers advice for dieting but also programs for workout, you can create two different custom product pages that target users looking for a diet plan and a workout regime. When relevant fans engage with the advertising, they will land on an app page that showcases their preference.
What function do keywords play for Apple Search Ads?
Keywords enable your app product page to be discovered as well as your search result and search tab ads to be seen. Selecting and bidding successfully on the right keywords will win you impressions for your Apple Search Ads campaigns.
Apple Search Ads campaigns targeting relevant keywords that you are already targeting organically (keywords that are part of your ASO strategy) will likely have a higher conversion rate than more general keywords. Apple will recognize that users find these keywords relevant to your app and might take this into consideration in the ranking algorithm, which can, in turn, lead to increased organic rankings for those keywords.
What do semantics and natural language processing mean?
The simple way to describe natural language processing applied to the App Store is by discussing how words in the App Store don't always have the same meaning as in “real life” language. For instance, “lime” is something we associate closely with “lemon” in the physical world, but in the App Store, we actually associate it with “e-scooters.”
To leverage the semantics of apps and keywords, AppTweak was quick to introduce the first App Store Semantic Engine – Atlas – which we use to emulate App Store algorithms in various parts of our tool. For instance, you can generate a keyword brainstorm list to quickly find the keywords that the App Store finds closest to your app.
What’s the future for Apple Search Ads & ASO?
Apple Search Ads can be a great tool to improve your ASO strategy. Understanding the synergy that exists between Apple Search Ads and ASO is important to maximize the value of both strategies. Firstly, the user insights you can find with ASO should be leveraged across all marketing channels, and that includes all Apple Search Ads inventories. The second crucial role that ASO plays in Apple Search Ads is related to custom product pages. Tailoring your message to different search ads campaigns is a tremendous opportunity to improve your app conversion rates. But to build the most efficient custom product pages, you'll need to leverage insights and trends that can only be observed through ASO.