How to find the best keywords to maximize your app ranking?

App Store

. How do you find the best keywords to maximize your app ranking?

When researching keywords to use in both stores, there are three things you should always keep in mind: relevancy, traffic, and competition. Follow these 10 steps to find the keywords that are most relevant for your app, have high search volume, and are competitive.

Level: Intermediate
Read time:247 seconds
Number of steps: 10

1. Spreadsheet

Create a spreadsheet to track your keyword ideas.

2. Competitors

Start with a competitive keywords analysis. Use Sensor Tower, SearchMan or AppAnnie  and create a list of all of the keywords your competitors are using. Go over the descriptions of top ranking apps in your category, see how they describe their app, and add all of the relevant keywords to the list.

3. Search

Start typing the main keywords you have accumulated so far in Google search, Google Play, and Apple’s App Store. See what autofill suggestions you get and add them to your list.

4. Reviews

Examine both your and your competitors’ user reviews. Usually users use the same words to describe your app that they used when they searched for it. The added benefit of “mining” reviews is that you will find out what people think of your competitor’s apps and better understand how to improve your own.

5. AdWords Keywords Planner

Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner; it is a free tool that only requires a Google account. Type in a few of your best keywords and Google Keyword Planner will generate many more keywords ideas for you. You will also get an idea about the search volume of each keyword and how competitive it is. App Store search trends are different than Google search engine trends, but Keyword Planner still gives you a rough estimate about potential search volume.

6. Apple Search Ads

Run an Apple search ad campaign and see how many impressions each of your target keywords get. Choose the keywords that get the highest amount of impressions.

7. Twitter

Search for relevant Twitter hashtags. Twitter will pull up a list of tweets that contain that hashtag. Skim through the search results to discover related keywords.

8. Thesaurus

Another place to find keyword ideas online is a simple thesaurus tool. Websites like can provide synonyms that you can use for your keyword list. Be sure to click on each synonym to find more related words.

9. Sensor Tower

Once you complete your list, upload them to Sensor Tower and see their estimated search traffic and their difficulty score. Go over the list again and add a rank to each keyword based on its traffic potential, difficulty, and relevancy to your product.

10. Strategy

After completing the research and compiling your master list, add your own rank to each of the keywords. The recommended formula should combine the following elements:

  • Relevancy:1 to 4 – give it a 4 if it describes your app really well.
  • Traffic: – use Sensor Tower or a similar tool to check the potential traffic for each keyword and rank it 1 to 3 – give it a 3 if it has high traffic volume. (Sensor Tower traffic above 4.5 is usually considered high.)
  • Difficulty: – use Sensor Tower or a similar tool to check the difficulty score for each keyword. Rank it 1 to 3 based on the difficulty, 1 for very competitive apps (above 4 in sensor difficulty) and 3 for less competitive keywords. If your app is new, try to find the keywords with lower competition. If your app has been available on iTunes or Google Play for more than a month and you have already done some optimization, figuring out your target Difficulty Score is simple. Just take the average of the Difficulty Scores that you currently rank in the top 10 for and use that as your target score.

Sum up these three factors, add your rank to the table, and filter your list so the highest ranked keywords appear in the top. Divide them into 3 tiers, the keywords with the highest rank, keywords with medium rank, and keywords with lower rank. Add them to your title, keywords set, and description, give it a rest for a week, and track the improvement of their rank. If you don’t make it to the top 10, consider replacing these keywords in your next version. Implement other keywords, or brainstorm and search for more, and continue optimizing. Go back to step #2 and repeat until all keywords are ranking in the top 10.

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