Congratulations! You’ve built an amazing app and you’re ready to let it loose on the Apple App Store. Not so fast… although you may want to get your app available as soon as possible, you won’t get any users if nobody can find it, so it’s definitely worth putting some time into creating your app listing.
There are a number of components to a good app listing, but in this blog post we’ll focus on the keywords section. Keywords make it possible for your potential customers to find your app easily.
There are three things to consider related to keywords: choosing relevant keywords, using highly ranked keywords, and planning to review your keywords on a regular basis.
With keywords, you want to think of quality over quantity. You don’t want to just use trending or popular words because they have a high search volume — if the term doesn’t have anything to do with your app, you’re going to confuse people. You want the right people to find your app, so that means using keywords that relate to what your app does and why people would want to use it.
It’s also important to note that Apple limits keywords to a total of 100 characters, so you need to think carefully about what to include and how competitive those keywords will be. If your app is one of thousands and thousands of apps with “jobs” as a keyword, that particular word probably won’t help you much unless it is combined with something more specific.
On the topic of combining keywords: Apple accepts both words and phrases as keywords, so using “Chicago jobs” for an app listing opportunities in Illinois is probably a smarter choice than just “jobs.”
When you list multiple keywords, separate them using commas (without spaces). For example, use “employment,Chicago jobs,apply” instead of “employment, Chicago jobs, apply” – this also saves you some precious characters! It’s important to remember that you must include spaces in keyword phrases to have them recognized as separate words, though.
How do you choose the right keywords? A good way to start is to take a look at your app name. You don’t need to repeat any words in the name in the keywords field, since app stores already use them, but you can start by brainstorming synonyms related to those words. A tool like Google Trends can be helpful here. Pop in your app name (or an obvious keyword) and see what related search terms pop up. If there are major competitors to your app, try out some keywords related to them as well. With a little creative searching, you’ll have a nice list to choose from.
There are a couple of other things to keep in mind about keywords:
- Using a trademarked term, the name of a celebrity, the names of competing apps, or words that aren’t related to your app will probably cause your app to be rejected, so avoid anything irrelevant or that you don’t have permission to use.
- The App Store search algorithm will count individual words whether or not they’re part of a phrase, so “weather forecast” should be entered as “weather,forecast” to show up in searches for “weather,” “forecast,” and “weather forecast” without needing to enter all of those as keywords. Save phrases for very specific terms that you know people will look for.
- It’s better not to spell out numbers, so instead of “four,” use “4.”
- Avoid using special characters (like %, #, or @) unless they are essential to your app’s identity – the App Store algorithms tend to ignore these characters in most cases.
Remember you only get 100 characters for the keywords field in the Apple App store — make them all count!
Using carefully selected keywords will increase your chances of having a highly ranked app. If you want to go further into this, use a tool like Sensor Tower’s Keyword Ranking Tool to see where your app ranks for each of your keywords. Your goal is for your app to rank in the top 10 for as many of your keywords as possible. You definitely want to check your ranking for common keyword combinations to make sure your app is front and center in the right searches, and to decide if a few strategic keyword phrases make sense to throw in.
Again, remember to check that the words in your app’s name are highly ranked, too. Even if you have an abstract name (like “Yelp” or “Lyft”), you can add words to it to help your raking. Lyft’s official name on the iOS App Store is “Lyft – Taxi App Alternative,” so even the big brands do it!
Keyword optimization is not a one and done process. Sorry, but app stores are ever-changing. Recheck and adjust your keywords on a regular basis to keep your app on top.
It’s also important to keep up with which keywords your target audience is using. To do that, it’s helpful to regularly run your keywords through a tool like Google Trends to make sure they are still highly ranked. If not, it’s time to tweak them. There’s also no shame in spying on your competitors’ keywords – but don’t simply copy them (that could hurt your app’s search performance)!
Following these tips to find the most relevant and highly-ranked keywords should help your app stay in the top search results for your category, putting you right where you need to be when your ideal customers come looking.
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