Finding the Right Keywords for Visibility
In the first chapter, we learned the basics of ASO, including its two sub-goals: increasing visibility and optimizing conversion rates. In this chapter, we will discuss how to find the ASO keywords that help you increase visibility.
What is an ASO Keyword?
First, let’s talk about keywords. Not every word is a keyword. Only terms that narrow down the user intent qualify as keywords; that is, they should provide additional information about user problems or needs, or about the desired solution. For this reason, articles, prepositions, or conjunctions are not keywords.
We can group ASO keywords into different categories, including:
- Problem keywords, which narrow down the user’s needs and problems
- Feature keywords, which explain how your app solves these problems. They describe mechanics and features, especially those that are unique selling propositions (USPs)
- User keywords, which describe the people who use your app in terms of age, gender, or profession, as well as the roles they take when using the app. For example, users of a piano app are musicians or music lovers, but they are also students
- Location keywords, which specify where or in which context people use your app. These can be names of countries or cities as well as general terms like “office,” “beach,” or “countryside”
- Action keywords, which describe what people do when and after using your app. For instance, users of a restaurant finder app search and find restaurants, then book or reserve a table. Later, they will eat and drink.
How to Find Keyword Ideas
Now, let’s get into the action. The first step in your research process is to find keyword ideas.
Start by brainstorming with friends or family. Colleagues are fine too, but people who don’t work in the app industry usually add an unbiased perspective that is more valuable.
Sit down with them and let them speak their mind about your app. Note the terms they use. The keyword categories you defined before can help channel their thoughts. There is only one rule for the brainstorming: no censorship. Your goal is to find at least four to five keywords per category.
After the brainstorming, use the results as the basis for finding more keyword ideas. Here are some techniques for this purpose:
- Find word associations. Go through your list and read each keyword out loud. Then write down the first thing that comes to your mind. You can do the same with friends who were not involved in the initial brainstorming to get even more word associations.
- Find synonyms. These are terms with the same or a similar meaning as your keyword ideas. Websites like Thesaurus.com or Oxford Dictionaries are great databases for synonyms.
- Check media coverage and user reviews. If your app is already live, find out how people talk about it and which keywords their reviews and comments contain.
- Follow competitors. Find out which terms users and journalists use when they talk about their apps. Check app store product pages, websites, social media, reviews, and media coverage.
- Use auto-complete. Long-tail keywords that consist of more than one term are extraordinarily valuable because they narrow down the user intent better than single keywords. To find potential long-tail keywords, go to the app stores, type in one of your keywords into the search field, and check which terms the auto-complete function suggests.
How to Validate Your Keyword Ideas
At this point, you should have at least 50 to 100 potential ASO keywords. Now it’s time to validate them and filter out those which have real potential to create visibility for your app.
Judge them by three criteria:
- The most important criteria is Relevance. Keywords are relevant to your app if they actually are connected to it. In most cases, it is clear whether a keyword is relevant or not. For instance, the term “food” is obviously relevant for a cooking app, but not for a sports results app. In some cases, however, relevance is not obvious. When this happens, search for the keyword in the store and check the results. If most of the apps that show up are competitors to your app or at least in the same category, the keyword is probably relevant. But if the apps in the results belong to another category, it is likely that the keyword is not relevant.
- Difficulty (or Competition) is the second criteria. The more apps rank for a keyword, the more difficult it will be to position your app in the top rankings. To get a rough idea of a keyword’s difficulty, search for it in the store, and count the number of results.
- Finally, consider a keyword’s Search Volume. Only if people search for a given keyword does it have the potential to bring new users to your app. You can check search volumes on Apple Search Ads. To do so, select the right territory, create a campaign, and add keywords. For every term, you will see a small vertical bar indicating its search volume. Don’t worry, you don’t need to start the campaign, so this approach won’t cost you any money.
Keyword Research Tools
Checking difficulty and search volumes manually is a very time-consuming process. Fortunately, a keyword research tool makes this process much easier because it automatically pulls the data you need from the stores.
For long-term ASO, keyword tools are a must. Check out these alternatives:
- AppTweak (use coupon “HOSS20” to get 20% off the first 3 months on any plan)
- Sensor Tower
If you followed the keyword research process until now, you have a great list of validated ASO keywords. In the last part of this guide, we will discuss how to implement these keywords properly into your app’s product pages.