This is a guest post from Oliver Hoss, Mobile Marketing Manager at Scout24.ch and author of the book “App Store Optimization – A Step-by-Step Guide to Boosting Your App’s Organic Downloads”.
In Part 1, we talked about keyword research. We spoke about how to find keyword ideas and validate them with data. Now we’ll talk about how to implement them into your product page.
Due to the differences between the App Store algorithm and the Google Play algorithm, we’ll discuss each store individually.
Implementing Keywords on iOS
For iOS apps, you have limited space to implement your keywords so you should follow a couple of rules to make sure you make the most out of the limited space:
- Aim for the Top 3 rank positions in SERP. Lower rankings gain only little visibility, so focus on ranking over search volumes. Ranking in #1 for a low-volume keyword will usually generate more traffic for your app than a #10 ranking for a high-volume keyword.
- Use each keyword once. Duplicating keywords across placements won’t give your app additional visibility because only the placement with the highest weight counts for the algorithm. But more on that in a moment.
- Use relevant terms only. Avoid generic words like “app”, “free”, or any app category names.
- Use either the singular or plural form. In most cases, you will still gain some visibility for the other form anyways.
- Split up long-tail keywords into single terms and implement the components separately. The algorithm will combine them across multiple placements. For example, if you put “workout” into the App Title and “plan” into the keyword field, your app will appear in the search results for “workout plan”.
- Use only the names of brands you own. Using competitors’ brand names is a violation of Apple’s Guidelines.
Only four placements are indexed by the Apple algorithm and they have different weights for search. An app with a keyword in a high-weight placement will outrank an app with the same keyword in a low-weight placement. With our rules in mind, let us look at the four placements one by one.
The App Title is up to 30 characters long and has the highest weight for the algorithm. It is the placement for your brand name, but depending on its length, you can add one or more relevant keywords. Focus here on keywords with good volumes and rather high competition.
Go for one of these formats:
Brand name – Keywords
Badoo – The Dating App
Brand name: Keywords
FOOBY: Recipes & More
Keywords by Brand name
Simply Piano by JoyTunes
The Subtitle contains up to 30 characters as well. Its weight is less than the App Title’s weight. Insert relevant terms as a comma-separated list into the Subtitle.
For example, the fitness app Freeletics – Workout & Fitness uses the subtitle “Bodyweight exercise app” that contains three relevant keywords.
The Keyword Field is invisible for users, but its 100 characters are indexed nevertheless. You can implement comma-separated lists of keywords into it. Remember to split up long-tail keywords with a comma. Remember that commas count against the character limit too.
The keyword field has a lower weight than both the App Title and the Subtitle, so go for terms with low competition. Also, consider terms that combine with terms from the App Title or Subtitle for relevant long-tail keywords.
Finally, the Titles of In-App Purchases (IAPs) contain up to 45 characters. Their weight for the algorithm is the lowest of all indexed placements. This low weight makes it hard to rank your app for single terms in the IAP title. Instead, try to push it into the search results for long-tail keywords combined from terms in the App Title and the IAP titles.
A great example is the app The Photo Cookbook. The app offers multiple IAPs with recipe packs with IAP titles like “Italian – 60 recipes” or “Asian – 60 recipes”. These names combined with the app title to create highly relevant long-tail keywords like “Asian Cookbook” or “Italian Cookbook” that create additional visibility for the app.
The Analytics Section on your developer dashboard provides the most important data you need to measure the success of your efforts. By filtering the metric “Impressions” by Source Type “App Store Search”, you can clearly see how your app’s visibility changes. Be aware that the algorithm might need a couple of weeks to realize the full impact of your adjustments.
It’s important to keep in mind that external factors can impact the number of impressions significantly. If you run TV, Print or Out-of-Home campaigns or similar UA activities that cause people to search for your app, you might falsify the results of your ASO efforts. To get meaningful results, try to minimize external factors. Compare weekly numbers to see short-term changes and to reduce seasonal causes for performance discrepancies.
Optimizing and Testing
Your app store keyword research is not done after implementing your keywords into your product page. In fact, it is a long-term task that requires constant optimization. Here are some things you should check and test on a regular basis:
- Does your app rank at least #3 for keywords in its App Title? If no, consider replacing them with terms that do. The App Title has too much value to waste with terms your app ranks poorly for.
- If your app ranks in #1 for a keyword, try to move it from the Title to the Subtitle. Try to give this most valuable spot in the App Title to another term. If your app drops in search results, restore the initial App Title. Don’t give the valuable App Title spots to keywords that don’t need it because they rank well when placed in other spots.
- If one of your keywords is a component of many relevant long-tail keywords, take special care about it. Monitor your app’s rankings for the long-tail keywords and adjust the important component’s placement if necessary.
- When changing keywords in the App Title or Subtitle, always keep an eye on the conversion rate. Changes might impact users’ perception of your app’s relevance and the likelihood of a download.
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Implementing Keywords on Google Play
The Google Play algorithm differs significantly from the App Store algorithm. The following metadata elements are indexed and should contain keywords:
The App Title contains up to 50 characters and has the greatest weight for the Google Play algorithm. Use one of the formats that introduced above for iOS Titles. Use the additional space to include more keywords.
The Short Description is Google’s counterpart of the Subtitle. It consists of up to 80 characters as well as being weighted second. The Short Description is a great spot for a marketing claim or a Call-to-Action (CTA) that includes some relevant keywords.
The Long Description is a running text of up to 4,000 characters. Its weight is lower than the weight of the App Title or the Short Description. As its primary purpose is to give users information about the app, it has to be grammatically correct and appealing to users. So you need to implement your keywords into a proper readable text. Include the most important keywords in the first paragraph. You can use rich formatting to highlight keywords in order to pull readers’ attention to them.
Just like on iOS, IAP Titles are indexed on Google Play. You can use up to 55 characters for each of them.
Finally, you can add keywords to your app’s Package Name that is also part of the URL. Unfortunately, you can only do so when setting up your app in the Google Play Console for the first time. Changing the Package Name later is not possible.
Due to the different algorithms and also to the design of search results pages, we need to adjust the rules for implementing keywords:
- Google Play SERPs show more apps than App Store SERPs. Thus rankings worse than #3 can be beneficial for your app too. Aim to get your app into the Top 5 for highly relevant keywords. For less relevant terms, Top 10 rankings are fine too.
- Duplicating keywords does help to gain better rankings to some degree because the algorithm adds up the weight of metadata elements. So a keyword mentioned in both the App Title and the Short Description will result in a better ranking for your app than the same keyword appearing only in the App Title. There is a limit though: Use a keyword once in the App Title, once in the Short Description and up to five times in the Long Description. Mentioning it more than these recommendations often does not help.
- As your Long Description has to be a good read, you cannot avoid words that are not relevant for your app. Nevertheless, try to limit using terms that are not necessary for grammatical reasons.
- If you want your app to rank for both the singular or plural form, use them both.
- Integrate relevant long-tail keywords in their entirety in your Long Description. That means put all components in their correct order in your text.
- Use only the names of brands you own to avoid violating Google’s Guidelines.
- Like on iOS, check the conversion rate when changing keywords in the App Title and Short Description.
The User Acquisition Performance reports on the Google Play console don’t provide impression numbers. Instead you can see the number of Product Page visitors which equals the clicks on search results. As an indicator for visibility, this is the best indicator Google displays.
In addition, you can see the number of installs that resulted from search queries. You can even see which keywords delivered the most users to your app.
Again, I recommend comparing the weekly numbers.
Optimizing and Testing
Just like on iOS, you should revise your keywords regularly. Take special care of these issues:
- Remove a keyword from your App Title if your app ranks lower than #5 for it, although you used the word in Title, Short Description and Long Description. Replace it by a term that has more potential to create a top ranking for your app.
- If your app ranks in #1 for a keyword, remove it from the App Title and test whether the ranking stays the same or not. If it does, give the valuable spot to another important term.
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I haven’t mentioned one crucial factor for ASO yet: a high-quality app. If your app is free of bugs, crashes rarely, and gets a lot of positive user ratings, it will rank better on SERPs. This is particularly true for Google Play apps but is becoming more important for iOS apps too. That means that the first step towards successful ASO is always successful coding.
Finally, let me emphasize that the process of researching and implementing keywords is not a once-off task. It is a never-ending process. For long-term success, constantly monitoring and optimizing is necessary. Make sure to implement continuous ASO into your marketing routines and processes.
And get a 25% discount on Oliver’s E-book by using the code ‘storemaven’ here.