App Store Optimization: 3 Tips to Picking Keywords for Your App

Choosing the right keywords is critical to the visibility of your app in the app stores. Here are 3 approaches to choosing the right keywords for your app.


Doing keyword research is like deciding to go scuba diving in the ocean. The ocean is a big place and you can start your dive practically anywhere. But if you choose the wrong path, if you choose the wrong entry point to start your dive, you may get lost.

Data is always overwhelming, and in the app store, the amount of data that we can collect is comprehensive. Potential download numbers, keywords, reviews, rankings, latest updates…. so where do we start? What is the best way to do keyword research?

Here are 3 different ways to jump into that ocean without getting lost or risking drowning.

1.) Start With What Your App Does

This is the most logical approach. You start with what your app does right?

This is easy because you already know what your app “core” keywords are, and based on those keywords you can start filtering some keywords that you want to rank. Those keywords are usually NOT obtained by an ASO tool but guessed logically by you.

If your app is about dog training, you know words like pet or puppy make sense. And you also know that teach, train and learn can also fit the “training” part of your app.

This is the first step: the logical approach. Once you have identified those keywords, you can do the following

1) Check levels of competition for keywords.

2) Check potential difficulty or estimate popularity of the keyword.

3) Analyse who is ranking in the top and then identify potential keywords you want to “borrow.”

2.) Focus on the Niche

Focusing on the niche is different, you ignore for 2 seconds those core keywords you know your app does and you look at your niche directly. You’re focusing on your category and you want to find who are the top popular apps in that category. Your goals are to:

1) Find the strengths of those top apps.

2) Steal potential keywords and keywords ideas.

3) Customise your keywords to fit and piggyback from those popular apps.

These strategies may not sound very politically correct, but they work. Knowing what apps are popular can give you a great advantage to grab some of the organic traffic that is generated by their popularity.

 3.) SNIPER Keyword Research

This can be considered the advanced and unconventional way, and the whole system is based on the premise that you really know your competitor. With the sniper approach, you know not only how well your competitor is doing but you know what keywords they’re ranking for … and once you know those keywords you’ll work to rank for the same ones.

Focusing on a specific app and set of keywords will narrow the range of keywords, but if it works, it can be a gold mine. This approach usually works better for niche apps than broad apps.

For general “runner games,” this may not be a great idea. But if your app is an educational app for little girls to learn to count from 1 to 20 – then you can achieve clear and easy victories.

At the end of the day, keyword research can be done in any way possible. You can reverse engineer your competitors, your market or specific keywords. The important point is to DO IT instead of just thinking about it or reading articles like this one. ;)

About Gabriel Machuret

Gabriel Machuret is an App store optimization consultant and evangelist . To find more about Gabriels’ work check and his latest ASO course at Gabriel @gabrielmachuret Facebook

  • ShelShock

    App Store Optimization is hard – but it does really work. We’ve been helping developers with ASO since 2011 and have run more than 1000 successful campaigns. We use real data from the app store (not data from Google search) to optimize your app based on what is really going on in the app store. You can read more and check out dozens of references here:

  • seosanjayupadhyay

    Hi myself sanjay i have 3+ year of experience in SEO, SMO, Email marketing, . but i’m new in ASO. so i just want to know is there any limits to target keywords. and what is the off page activity in ASO like SEO there is content marketing , social sharing, link building, etc. I have some more question which is given below.

    * What is the character limit in Title Tag.

    * What is the character limit in description

    * Is there any impact of SMO in ASO .

    * What is the ranking factor

    Recently i start work on two android application

    * free wifi finder

    suggest me how to optimize for better ranking