How To Improve Your App's Keywords Using Sensor Tower

Improve your iOS App Store strategy by doing App Store Optimization (ASO) with the Sensor Tower Keyword Tools.

If you are an app developer and you haven't optimized the keywords for your apps in the last month, you must read this article. Doing so will help your app get many more downloads. {"Many of our users that followed these steps have increased their apps' downloads by as much as 200%-300%"}. This article will outline the steps needed to come up with a great keyword list in order to increase your app's downloads.

In the simplest terms, your app's downloads come from all the possible locations where your app is seen. The more people that see your app, whether via search or via featured or category lists, the more users your app is going to potentially get.

Putting your app in front of as many eyeballs as possible is a great way to build a successful app that has a lot of users. The opposite of that are apps that never get shown to potential customers and don't get any downloads -- they are simply not seen and never downloaded.

You can't arbitrarily place an app on the featured list -- that often takes getting your app noticed or good contacts with the Apple featured team. Category rankings aren't as big driver of traffic as they use to be before iOS 6, but it is something that a smart app developer can influence -- if you gain downloads via App Store Optimization, incentivized downloads or ads, that growth will have a positive influence on your rankings (and on your search positions) over a long term.

However, the number of downloads that an app is getting from organic App Store search results is something that is somewhat in the developer's control. There are many potential symptoms and mistakes that an app can have that prevents it from appearing on as many search results that we've covered before in the most common iTunes keyword mistakes article, but the three main ones are:

Step 1: Identify Bad Keywords To Free Up Space

Some signs of bad keywords to look for are:

Not having enough keywords Keywords that you don't rank in the top 10 Keywords that no one searches

The idea behind removing bad keywords is to free up space for new keywords that you will later research and add to your app on your next update. What makes a bad keyword?

Make sure to read the article above, but generally a bad keyword is either one your app does not rank in the top 10 for, or a keyword that is so rare and esoteric that no one searches for it. There are very few cases when you should include keywords that you don't rank well for: only if that keyword forms an essential two or three word phrase with your other keywords that you rank highly on.

Ranking in the top 10 for all of your keywords should be your ultimate goal, but it is meant to be more of a guideline than a rule.

If you are ranking #24 for a particular keyword, that is still pretty good and you should probably keep that keyword in until you can find a better one. However, if you are ranking #329 for a keyword, nobody is going to scroll that far to find your app, so you need to take out that keyword and find another.

To do this with Sensor Tower is quite simple: After adding your app, add the keywords you want to check your rankings for on the dashboard:

Sensor Tower Keyword Rankings

This will let you quickly look over the keywords you have and check the rankings for them. Keep in mind that you can not rank for keywords you don't include in your keyword meta-data or that aren't in your app name or company name You could have the greatest cat video app in the world, but no one will find it if you don't let the App Store know your app is about cat videos.

Once you've identified the bad keywords, it's time to research new keywords to replace the previously bad ones.

Step 2: Come Up With New Keywords Via Keyword Spy

Using our Keyword Spy Tool, you can start looking at your competitors' keywords to get some ideas for new juicy keywords. The Keyword Spy feature lets you look at the keywords your competitors are using to drive their own downloads.

Sensor Tower Keyword Spy

Finding which competitors to look at for keyword ideas is an easy task with the Competitors and Keyword Research tools. The Competitors tab lets you view all your current competitors that we find for you (and even lets you add custom competitors) from which you can click on the Keyword Spy button to look up their keywords.

The Keyword Research provides a detailed and comprehensive look at the apps that are ranking well for the searches you specify. Select some apps from these two sources and use the Keyword Spy on them, writing down relevant keywords that you might use in the future.

Step 3: Generate New Keywords With Intelligent Keyword Suggestions

The Intelligent Keyword Suggestions tool is an easy way to quickly generate relevant keywords. It depends on having a reasonable set of seed keywords, but can quickly provide a lot of good suggestions for any app. Use it in conjunction with the Keyword Spy and Keyword Research tool to generate a strong set of relevant keywords that you can potentially use with your app.

Sensor Tower Keyword Suggestions Tool

The Intelligent Suggestions Tool displays data about the keywords, such as the Traffic Score, Difficulty or number of competing apps. Keep these stats in mind when selecting keywords, as trying to compete for difficult keywords is one of the basic mistakes an app developer can make.

Step 4: Optimize Keywords

Once you've compiled a list of new potential keywords, it is time to put them through the Optimize Keywords tool to figure out the best possible set of keywords for your app. Make sure to put the most relevant keywords that your app has a chance to rank for -- look at the iPhone/iPad difficulty score and the number of apps competing for that keyword in the table while tweaking your keyword list. The Optimize Keywords tool will correct most of the mistakes you can make, but as a rule of thumb make sure your keywords aren't too long, have a high enough traffic and aren't too difficult to rank highly on.

Sensor Tower Keyword Optimization Tool

The Optimize Keywords tool will also tell you all the relevant stats about each keyword you're optimizing -- such as the Traffic Score, Difficulty Score, and the total number of apps that use that keyword. Use those numbers as a guideline to select keywords that you can actually rank for.

Short keywords are generally better as they take less space. Don't put generic keywords like "fun" or "kids" in your app's keywords -- unless you have millions of downloads already!

Follow the instructions of the Optimize Keywords tool until you arrive at a 100 character list of keywords that makes the most sense for your app.

Step 5: Submit An App Update

Submit your app with the new meta-data for an update. If you aren't too familiar with how to add or edit your keywords in iTunes Connect, take a look at this tutorial which covers most aspects of submitting an app: (Skip to the "Submitting an App" section).

After your app update gets approved to the app store you can track the search positions of the keywords. Use the keyword tracking dashboard to see how your app does on the different searches that you were looking to target with the update, and repeat this whole process again if you identify any bad or ineffective keywords.

What other questions do you have about keyword optimization?

Sensor Tower's platform is an enterprise-level offering. Interested in learning more?

Alex Malafeev

Written by: Alex Malafeev, Founder at Sensor Tower

Date: February 2013

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