App store keywords: The exhaustive guide

With the sheer number of app options in the Apple App and Google Play stores, discoverability has become a serious barrier to creators hoping to monetize their apps. Set yourself up for success by ensuring your app has the best chance of being found by casual scrollers navigating the mobile marketplace. Like SEO for websites, ASO is the practice of identifying and incorporating app store keywords into your app listing to help it rank for preselected search terms.

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Where to place app store keywords in your Apple App listing

The title. Research has shown adding a keyword to your title will result in a 10.3% increase in app store search rankings. The best way to incorporate this is to use the following formula, “App Name – Keyword.” Technically the title can be 255 characters long. Though, it is worth noting Apple penalizes apps with titles “stuffed” full of keywords. Twenty-five characters is the recommended number, but some of the top apps average 50 characters in the title.

The keyword field. Unlike the Google Play Store, the Apple App Store has a keyword field. Keywords are placed here. The caveat? There are only 100 characters, so don’t waste time with spaces. Add your keywords using the formula word,word,word,etc.

Pro tips for ranking in the Apple App Store

Use single words. Don’t bother adding multi-word keyword phrases or spaces to the keywords field in the App Store. For example, if you’re targeting the phrase “mobile conference app” you would want to add the app store keywords individually like this: mobile, conference, app. Keywords should not be repeated.

Write a human description. Since app store keywords in the Apple App Store description field have no impact on your rankings, make sure you use it purely to market your app to potential users and highlight its value proposition. Keep it short, concise and impactful. Choose your words wisely to capture and convey your app’s brand personality in the limited space.

Title don’ts

  • Repeat keywords
  • Include categories
  • Type out numbers Include filler words (a, the, and)

Where to place app store keywords in your Google Play listing

The title. Similar to the Apple App Store, placing a keyword in the title can only help to improve the optimization of your listing in the Google Play Store. Avoid common terms. Instead look to reinforce what your app is about. Try to keep your title focused and as short as possible while conveying meaning. Depending on the size of the form factor the viewer is using, the title may be truncated.

The description. Google Play doesn’t offer a keywords field like the Apple App Store does. This means it’s important to write your 4,000 character description so it appeals to humans and robots. What does this mean? Your description should repeat important keywords five times each, but should also not feel like SEO bait.

Pro tips for ranking in the Google Play Store

Link to your Google Play App listing. As you enter characters in the Apple App or Google Play Stores, it will recommend queries based on the characters you have entered. Do this to brainstorm good keyword ideas for your app. If this isn’t yielding enough results for your app, try Google’s Suggested Search results instead.

Leverage Google+. Google+ may not be the most important social network for promotional content, but it still matters for app store optimization. Put some effort into getting as many +1’s as you can on Google+. Post about your app in relevant Google+ communities, and get your coworkers and friends to help promote it on their Google+ profiles.

Platform breakdownapp store keywords

App store category selection

Picking the right category to classify your app can also spell the difference between high visibility and a great idea gathering dust. Apps can be listed in two categories in the Apple App Store, and three categories if it’s a game. The Google Play Store allows only one category to be assigned.

App store top categories

Statistica. (2015, June). Most popular Apple App Store categories in June 2015, by share of available apps. popular-categories-in-the-app-store/

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Photo courtesy of DesignPrax.