How to Do a Full ASO Keyword Research for App Store and Google Play with TheTool

Keyword research is probably the most crucial task in ASO (App Store Optimization). It is the basis for both creating visibility in search results and conversion rate optimization. Besides, it is a requirement for running Apple Search Ads. So finding the right keywords is critical for the success of your app.

In this guide, you will learn how to find keyword ideas, validate them with TheTool, and implement them properly into your app’s product page on the App Store and Google Play Store.

ASO Keyword Research

Doing a full ASO keyword research with TheTool (App Store + Google Play)

What is a keyword research?

A thorough research is an essential element of ASO and Search visibility optimization. This is the first step to take before launching the app on the stores, and the first action to take when your app downloads are not reaching the volumes you expect.

The process of App Store Optimization (ASO) keyword research consists of 4 Steps:

1. Preparing Your Research

To make your research process easier, create a framework for your keywords. An excel sheet will do the job. But you can also use pen and paper, or post-its and the closest wall. Actually, the latter alternative is the best because it allows you to rearrange keywords easily.

Create at least four to six categories for your keywords. Depending on your app, the categories that make sense can differ. But in general, these keyword categories are a good place to start:

  • Problem keywords describe users’ reason to search for an app. They narrow down a problem or a question that your app can solve, or a need or wish, that your app can fulfill.
  • User keywords characterize your target audience, including their demographics, professions, interests, and the role they take when using your app. Roles might be, for instance, student (education app), traveler (traveling app), player (games), or athlete (fitness app).
  • Action keywords specify what users do with your app, and also after using it. Someone who uses a fitness app will run, exercise, work out, or get fit.
  • Feature keywords name the essential functions of your app, especially the USPs that distinguish it from competitors.
  • Location keywords describe where people use your app. They can include names of specific countries and cities, but also general terms that describe the situation like workplace, gym, beach, or mountains.

2. Finding Keyword Ideas

As soon as you have your framework, start the creative process: the brainstorming. Invite some helpers for this task, preferably people who have another professional background than you. They can provide another perspective, so you (as a group) come up with a more diverse set of ideas.

Now work through your framework, category by category. Every person should contribute at least one or two keyword ideas per category. Follow these rules to get the best results from your brainstorming:

  • Be spontaneous. Do not overthink keyword ideas. Speak your minds and write down all ideas.
  • No censorship. No idea is too absurd, so do not judge them based on feelings or intuitions.
  • Try to stick to single words instead of phrases.

The result of your brainstorming is the basis for your further research. Now, you need to expand the list and find more keyword ideas based on the terms you already have. At this point, you can also include long-tail keywords (phrases that consist of more than one term) in your research. Here are some techniques for this purpose:

Word Associations

Work through your categories again. Read out the keywords loudly, and write down the first thought that comes to your mind as another keyword idea. This technique is more effective if you do it as a group with people who were not involved in the brainstorming.

Synonyms

Find synonyms (other words with a similar meaning) to your keywords. Use one of these websites:

Competitors

Browse your competitors’ websites, social media, and product pages in the app stores. Also, check which terms are used in media coverage about their products and services.

Reviews

Keywords should reflect how users talk about your app. Thus, it makes sense to check which words they actually use to do so. Check user reviews in the app stores and on app review sites.

TheTool

TheTool offers a great feature to find long-tail keywords based on the single terms you already have found. To use it, follow these steps:

  • log in to TheTool.io (or sign up if you have no account yet)
  • select your app
  • navigate to the Search-page (step 1 in the screenshot))
  • add your keywords (2)
  • open the Kw IDEAS module (3)

TheTool Keyword Ideas

3. Validating Keywords with Data

At this point, you should have a significant number of keyword ideas. Now, it is time to validate them with data to find out which keywords are worth adding to your app’s product page. Add the data to your spreadsheet. Judge your ideas by three criteria:

Relevance

First, make sure that your keywords really are connected to your app. Will users who see your app in search results after typing in a specific term, see the connection to your app? If you can answer this question honestly with yes, the keyword is relevant.

Relevance is a subjective criterion. There is no way to measure it with data. But here is a way to get a rough idea of a keyword’s relevance: Search for the keyword in the stores. If most of the apps that show up on the SERP are competitors to your app, the keyword is most likely relevant. But if the results belong to another category, the term is rather not relevant.

Difficulty

If a keyword is too competitive (if too many other apps rank for it), it will be hard to get your app on top of the SERP. Thus, you need to take the difficulty to rank for it into consideration by counting the apps that appear in search results.

TheTool does this job for you. Navigate to the Search-page and add your keywords. Then check the column APPS to see how many apps rank for each word. Based on this number, TheTool calculates a difficulty score between 0 and 100. You can see this value in the column DIFF. The lower the DIFF value, the easier will it be for your app to gain a good ranking.

TheTool Validating Keywords

Search Volume

The third criterion for validating keywords is search volumes. This metric reflects how many users search for a specific term in the app stores.

Interesting | ASO Metrics & KPIs

TheTool provides this value, too. You can find it in the column TRAFFIC (see screenshot above). It ranges from 10 (low search volume) to 100 (high search volume).

4. Implementing Keywords on Your App’s Product Page / Store Listing

After validating your keywords with data from TheTool, order them by the three criteria. Relevance is the most important criterion, difficulty is second, and search volume is third. Now, implement the keywords into the metadata of your app.

Keywords on iOS

For every iOS app, you have three standard placements that you can fill with keywords:

  • The app name contains up to 30 characters. It has the biggest weight for the search algorithm out of all metadata elements. So keywords in the title will help your app outrank your competitors. Focus on highly relevant, competitive keywords for the app name.
  • The subtitle is second in weight for the algorithm. You can use up to 30 characters as well. Put in more relevant keywords with mediocre difficulty and decent search volumes.
  • The keywords field is invisible to users, but its 100 characters are indexed nevertheless. Its weight is lower than the weight of both the app name and the subtitle. Use the keyword field for keywords with low competition. Also, add terms that form highly relevant long-tail keywords when combined with words from the app name.

In any case, follow these rules:

  • Use each keyword only once. Duplicating keywords will not help your app rank higher.
  • Do not use “free”, “app”, or the names of the categories your app belongs to. Apple will rank your app for these terms even if you do not implement them into your metadata.
  • Use only the singular or the plural. The algorithm will give your app some visibility for the form you do not use anyway.
  • Do not use competitors’ brand names because this would be a violation of Apple’s guidelines.

Keywords on Google Play

The algorithm on Google Play works differently from the App Store, so you need to adjust your strategy. Here are the metadata elements that should contain keywords on Google Play:

  • The app title has a similar meaning like on iOS, but it contains up to 50 characters. Use it for relevant terms with high competition.
  • The short description is the Google Play counterpart of the iOS subtitle. It is up to 80 characters long. Use it for medium to high volume keywords with high relevance and mediocre competition.
  • Unlike on iOS, the (long) description of your Android app is indexed. As it contains up to 4,000 characters, you can put a lot of keywords into it. Make sure to implement them into a grammatically correct text that is a good and engaging read for potential users.

As the Google Play algorithm works differently than the App Store algorithm, we have to adjust the rules to follow when implementing keywords as well:

  • Use your most important keywords once in the title, once in the short description, and up to five times in the long description. The algorithm will add up their weight, but only to this limit. Using a keyword more often will not create additional visibility for your app.
  • If you want your app to rank for long-tail keywords, make sure to implement them as perfect matches into your long description: the exact single words in the exact order.
  • Use both the singular and the plural form if you want to rank your app for both.
  • Do not use competitors’ brand names. Google will not tolerate this tactic either.

Conclusions about ASO Keyword Research for Apple App Store and Google Play Store

With the data provided by TheTool, you have a solid basis for your App Store Optimization efforts. But your ASO work does not end here.

As soon as you have created and implemented your first keyword set, make sure to monitor them constantly. Watch how your app’s ranking for each keyword changes. TheTool shows you these changes, too (see the columns RANK and CHANGES in the screenshot above).

Also, check out the other features that TheTool offers, such as the Ratings analysis and the Conversion Rate reporting. They provide useful insights that will help you focus your attention to the right tasks.

Bonus

As a reader of TheTool Blog, you can get a $10 discount on my ASO e-book: Use the coupon code thetool2019.

Oliver Hoss
Oliver Hoss
Oliver Hoss is Mobile Marketing Manager at Scout24 Switzerland and author of the book “App Store Optimization – A Step-by-Step to Boosting Your App’s Organic Downloads”.

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