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Summer ASO gems: How to hunt for the best keywords for your mobile app


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You hover excitedly over your mobile screen… Congratulations; your app, “Piglet Burster”, is finally ready for market… and it’s published! And it’s ranked #5976 for the word pig…bummer. With Over 2 million apps in the stores, you can expect tough competition for almost every keyword you will come up with, besides gibberish. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on ASO, nor should you give up on keywords hunting. Here’s what you can do

App Store v. Google Play 


Whether your fabulous new creation is published in the App Store or Google Play or both, making money from an app or a game that makes immature livestock go “kablooey” is all about discovery by the right users. You need to be as close to the top of relevant searches as possible. That, or just pay tons on ads.

The iTunes store and Google play, however, are quite different; keywords matter in both, but for iOS apps, they’re pretty much everything. With no keywords, getting your game (piglet, remember?) in the App Store will be like popping a piglet with a busted bike pump – not totally impossible, but much more difficult.

First take care of the conversion to installs! 

Before you do anything else, remember that driving traffic to your app is one thing; getting users to download it, is another. Well thought copy and graphics for your app page should be at the top of your app marketing list, and you’ll want to occasionally refresh them. Our app marketing templates library provides one option to manage frequent updates of your graphics. As an ‘appetizer’, we now offer a FREE collection of designed screenshot templates:

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Keyword list for your app – Start wide

Choosing keywords is, up to a point, a matter of common sense. Yes, that’s the starting point of all ASO experts too, no matter what they will tell you. Brainstorming with a good old-fashioned whiteboard and a few friends can be invaluable. Assuming you’re a native speaker of the keywords’ language, find some synonyms for the words you come up with together; “barnyard” and “mayhem”, for example; perhaps “immoral” or “outrage”. The Google AdWords Keywords Planner is also a great (and free) resource.

If your app is already published, research what others are saying about it; it’s a great way to find keywords you haven’t thought of, like “agricultural” and “bloodbath”. Try reviews and forum comments, and don’t neglect your competitors’ app descriptions; “Mouse Puncher” may not be a great game, but it might be ranking higher than yours, partly because of good keyword choices.  Sensor Tower is a useful tool for gathering intelligence about the ‘enemy’.

 DO NOT GO TOO FAR- if it takes you forever to come up with a specific word, it’s either irrelevant to your app or no one will use it to search the store. Either way it’s no good.


Make sure your list consists of words that are both searched and are VERY relevant to your app (we are after conversions… not only traffic).  ‘Sensor tower’ or similar tools can help you estimate search volumes as well.

I used to dig for keywords for my apps for hours, looking for words that “no one ever thought of”, I don’t do that anymore. I still invest in keywords searching but not too much. I’ve learned that it won’t do me any good if I include words that are not likely to be searched. Sorry, no way. I rather competing for popular keywords. Though it is challenging, at least there’s a chance to be discovered.

Anyway, once you have your essential keywords list, think about which is best, Singular or Plural.  Try to eliminate keywords that may get blacklisted.

Short list- Who’s in?


How will you narrow the list? You don’t have endless room. Quite the opposite… In iOs, you can have only 100 characters of keywords for every language (besides the title), and in Google play you just have to add the keywords to your app title and description. Well, here is where you should think strategically, and also where you should set expectations. Do not, I repeat, do not think you would wake up tomorrow morning with a nice rank on a keyword you’ve just added. No, sir. things take time. You need to be recognized for that keyword, especially when we are talking about a Google play app.

As for the strategy, think how hard you are willing to fight for your rank. Will you do a paid campaign? PR? Will you localize your app page (hence keywords)? All those activities and more can help you get ranked for tough keywords. The more you are willing to do, the higher you can aim for.

Trial & Error that’s the name of the game

shutterstock_140919829 trial and error

Marketing is often an inexact science, but luckily, when it’s about ‘App Store Optimization’ (AKA ASO), your rank can steadily improve, and it’s easy to measure.

Ultimately, trial and error pays off. How? You decide on keywords, you fight for them, you measure your rank for those words (after some time, not immediately). Hopefully, you will be able to get high ranks for some of these words, so keep ’em. As for other words, that you didn’t manage to get ranked for, maybe you better switch between them and other words on the list. that’s exactly how keywords OPTIMIZATION works.

It’s fun!

Elli is one of Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Having years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry promoting popular mobile apps and B2B related services. Presenting specific expertise on users' acquisition strategies, PR, social media, product marketing, BizDev integrations and more
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