According to InternetLiveStats, Google’s search engine processes an average of 40,000 search queries every single second. Undoubtedly, a mind-blowing number that translates to 3.5 billion searches every day, or more than 1.2 trillion searches per year on a global scale. These statistics alone show the indisputable importance of keywords and correct positioning when navigating through the Internet. Today, we will make a zoom on apps – and we will see a practical guide for performing ASO keyword research that actually brings tangible results for your business.
ASO vs SEO – What is the difference?
Before we dive into the practical part of our ASO keyword research, it is important to understand the difference between SEO and ASO. Both of these concepts are widely popular among Marketers, and both use the so-called keywords as the “secret ingredient” for achieving efficiency and bringing results for businesses.
However, these concepts have their difference, as they are not always applicable to every type of app.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Put simply, Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO), is the process of improving the visibility and positioning of your website in search engines by making your website more relevant for users’ searches. The overal goal of SEO is to drive more traffic from search engines (such as Google, Bing, and others) to a webpage in an organic (non-paid) way.
Some SEO factors include:
- User Experience;
- Website architecture;
- Page load speed;
- Meta Titles & Descriptions;
- High quality content;
- Content optimization (mainly through keywords);
And other factors, include mobile responsiveness, backlinks, and so on.
At this point, you are probably asking yourself: what does this have to do with apps? Isn’t this only for web search (desktop and mobile)? The answer is yes…and no. Some apps can actually be indexed by search engines, which means that you may want to optimize them for SEO instead of ASO.
You see, when it comes to apps, there are three main types – native mobile apps, hybrid apps, and progressive web apps. And while native mobile apps require a third-party app store in order to be distributed, progressive web apps can actually be accessed via a simple URL, in the same way you would access a regular website.
As a result, search engines can actually find them and index them as opposed to native ones – so, you can actually perform SEO efforts in order to improve their positioning.
ASO – App Store Optimization
To better perform our ASO keyword research, first we need to have a good understanding of what ASO is. ASO, also known as App Store Optimization, is the process of improving the visibility of your app in the app store, in a similar way SEO works for websites and progressive web apps.
When talking about App Store Optimization, we need to focus on two different types of factors – the first one is on-metadata, and the second one is off-metadata.
On-metadata factors include the information that you provide about your app within the app store to convince users to download your app. Some of these factors include:
- The name and title of your app;
- Subtitle (short description);
- Visual assets and promotional text;
- A keyword-rich description of the app;
- Listing localization;
- Developer name;
And so on. In other words, all these elements that you need to identify to increase your app’s visibility within the store. We also have off-metadata factors, including:
- The number of downloads your app have;
- Ratings and reviews;
- Backlinks (a factor more highlighted for Google Play).
Of course, all these factors may differ between app stores, but this is just to get a general idea about ASO. As you might have imagined already, App Store Optimization is especially important for native mobile apps as they have to be downloaded from app stores (unlike PWAs, which can easily bypass app stores).
And now that we have a good understanding of these concepts, let’s dive right into our ASO keyword research methodology!
Step 1: Understanding the concept of keywords
As we already mentioned, keywords are the main ingredient of both Search Engine Optimization and App Store Optimization. They are the common language between search engines, users, and you as an app publisher – so you can let them know what your content is about, and they can find you easily when looking for an app like yours.
For this reason, in order to select the right ones, you need to understand how they work – and how to use them to your advantage.
Basically, we have three players within this equation:
The User’s Perspective
When the user goes to a search engine like Google, or visits an App store, he wants to find something – for example, an app to teach him meditate, or sleep better at night. So, he might go to the Google Play Store and type “best meditation app”.
Keywords from the user’s perspective are also known as “search terms” – in other words, a couple of words or a phrase that he types on the search engine in order to receive the desired results. As a response, the search engine (whether it is Google or the App Store engines) returns what it considers the most relevant for that query.
The Publisher’s Perspective
When it comes to keywords, we also have the perspective of the app publisher / content provider – in other words, you. As an app publisher, you want your app to be as visible as possible in front of your audience. This means doing an ASO keyword research (or SEO, if you have a progressive web app) to find the most popular keywords that people are using when going on search engines.
Understanding this is important because using the keywords that people use to find an app like yours will be key for helping you gain the visibility you want to achieve.
The search engine’s perspective
And of course, we also have the perspective of the search engine. When you publish your app, search engines need to know what the app is about – and the way you indicate this is through keywords. After all, they are not humans who can read your description and process the information (although I am not saying that there aren’t humans involved in the approval of the app).
So, you need to provide them with context so they can better know where to position you within the app store.
Step 2: Defining your positioning
Speaking of positioning, the next step of your ASO keyword research is to have a clear idea of how you want to position your app – not only within the app store, but also in front of your customers.
Let’s say that you have an app for fitness and healthy eating. Do you want to position yourself as an app for fitness? In order words, do you want users to think about you as a fitness app? Or do you want to focus more on diet and healthy eating?
Having a clear idea of where you are right now, and where you want to be, is absolutely essential for doing an effective ASO keyword research. To make sure that you are on the right path, take a piece of paper and write down everything that your want your app to be associated with. This will help you search for topics and select the right keywords.
For example, if you have an app for fitness and healthy eating, you can write down (and brainstorm with your team!) topics that your app covers, such as:
- Fitness exercises;
- Fitness tips and tricks;
- Healthy recipes;
- Best gyms around;
And so on! Start with a list of brainstormed concepts, and you will see that the next step of your ASO keyword research will be much easier.
Step 3: Sorting out the right keywords
And now that we have covered the preparational part of our keyword research, the next step is to put it into practice.
We already talked about how keywords are the common language between users, search engines, and app/content publishers. However, now all keywords are created equally – some will bring you more results, and help you gain more visbility than others. The key is to source out the right ones for your app – and today, we will see exactly how to do that.
Depending on whether you are doing an SEO or an ASO keyword research, your approach might differ a little bit. Let’s see why:
When people go to an app store, they usually type the first generic term that comes to their mind related to the app they want to find. For example, if they want to find an app for intermittent fasting, they will simply type “intermittent fasting” on the app store engine.
This means that you will be looking for generic keywords to include within your app content and descriptions, to make sure that you match the user’s query as closely as possible. In some cases, app developers even name their app with a very generic term for better ranking.
If, on another hand, you are working on a progressive web app and want to position on search engines like Google, you will want to take the SEO approach. This approach requires more specific keywords – for example, instead of “intermittent fasting”, you might want to go for “intermittent fasting app” or “intermittent fasting mobile app”.
The reason why is because search engines like Google are huge, and they have all sorts of content including videos, blog articles, websites, infographics, and so on. So, if you simply type “intermittent fasting”, Google will not know whether you are looking for an app, an article, or a video – so, you will need to specify this to make sure that the search results will be as relevant as possible.
In contrast, because the App store already offers exclusively apps and nothing else, you don’t need to be that specific. If you get too specific, users might not be able to find you for more generic terms.
Step 4: Look up keyword volume
Now that you have a clear understanding of the keywords that you should select for your app, the next step is to look up the keyword volume.
There are various tools that you can use for ASO keyword research, such as AppTweak, KwFinder, and AppFollow. However, they are only free to a certain extent, and you will have to pay in case you want a more comprehensive research.
For your ASO keyword research, you can also use the good old Keyword Planner by Google Ads. This tool is completely free, although you will have to create an account before you can actually use it. The good news is that after that, you can use it as much as you want to select the right keywords for your app.
Once you have selected the tool that you want to work with, start typing down the concepts associated with your app. For example, you can type “fitness app”, or “meditation app”, or maybe even “app for healthy eating”.
The point is to find relevant keyword ideas that have enough volume – if you select very specific keywords, you might not gain a lot of visibility on the app store because not many people will be looking for them. However, if you select keywords that are too generic (such as “abs exercises” or “fitness exercises”), they might not work very well if what you want is Search Engine Optimization. In this case, “fitness exercises app” will probably work much better.
Remember that we need to select more generic keywords for ASO keyword research, and a little bit more specific (they should contain at least the word “app”) if you are doing an SEO research for a progressive web app.
And last but not least, make sure to select at least 1 main keyword, and 3-4 supportive ones. The main keyword will be for your overall app positioning, while the supportive ones will help you position on the side for concepts that are related to the main topic of your app. For example, if your main keyword is “fitness app”, you can also select supportive keywords such as “app for exercises” or “fitness at home” (if that’s applicable in your case).
Step 5: Place your keywords in the right places
Now that you have your keywords, the next step is to put them in the right places.
Again, these places may vary a little bit depending on whether it is Search Engine Optimization or App Store Optimization that we are talking about. However, the general best practices include:
- Including the keyword in the title / name of your app;
- Including the main keyword, and some supportive keywords, in both the long and short descriptions when possible;
- Placing it within the meta titles and descriptions;
- And also within the content.
The idea is to mention your keywords a few times (only once isn’t enough!) across your titles and descriptions to make sure that the message of your content is communicated clearly both to your audience and the app stores.
Of course, be careful with keyword overstuffing – this is the term used for mentioning the keyword way too many times, which can lead to penalties by the app store. As long as the keywords sound natural within your content, you should be fine. But if you force the volume into the content, chances are that you are overusing them way too much.
Wrapping it up
To sum it up, keywords are an extremely important component when it comes to ASO and SEO. Both type of optimizations have their own peculiarities, but the process is very similar because the idea is to use keywords as the main language between all players.