Last updated: September 1, 2016
You want your potential customers to be able to find you through search on the App Store because over half of apps are discovered this way. The first place that you need to start is selecting the right app store keywords and app name.
Here are a few tips on how to define your app name and keywords on the iTunes App Store (go here for Google Play Store tips). Doing this well might not get you on the Top Charts, but you can still get a ton of downloads.
As far as App Store SEO is concerned, your app name and keywords count the most.
This is not a big secret, but if you have never gone through the process before, it can be daunting. In this post, we will show you what to look for and how to maximize these two components of your app SEO, otherwise known as App Store Optimization (ASO).
Be Descriptive in Your App Name
After your icon, the first thing your potential users will see is your app name.
Make it count.
For non-games apps, it means that your app name needs to be as explicit as possible from the very beginning. You don’t want people to see a non-relevant name when they are looking for something. You also need to state what your app does in the name.
The second important thing to know about your app name is that the words you put in there also act like App Store keywords. These keywords used to have more importance for search results than the actual keywords, but this seems to have changed. Don’t make it just a list, and try to come up with short phrases (2/3 words) that people are most likely to use. And keep it short: since September, 2016 Apple has limited the number of characters in the app name to 50.
Basically, you need to find a good balance between keywords and branding.
The app name is used by Apple to create your app URL. Do not include any special characters in your app name, like the trademark or copyright symbol because your iTunes app page will then only use your id. You can read more on that here.
Another thing you might want to be careful of is try not to repeat an already taken app name (or parts of it), as Apple manually flags (and disables) the concerned keywords. I found at about that here.
Choose Your App Store Keywords Wisely
Apple gives you 100 chars to define your keywords, so make the most of it. Separate every word by a coma. Apple seems to be handling plurals better now, so you can get precious characters for your keywords that way.
Sensor Tower provides a handy tool for counting the number of characters in your keyword list. Be sure to use as many characters as possible in your keyword optimization.
Just like web SEO, if a keyword (or combination of keywords for your app name) is overused then try to come up with something different like synonyms or other ways to say it that people might use. Better to be in the top 5 results for an average-searched keyword than in the top 100 for a highly-searched keyword. Oh, and don’t use trademarks, that will get you in big trouble.
There are no bonuses from whole phrases, so just use the keywords composing the search phrases you want to be discovered. For example, “fitness tracker” should be listed as: “fitness,tracker” in your keyword list in iTunes.
How to Find the Right App Store Keywords?
Luckily, there is a wide range of app store optimization tools that can help you find the right keywords for your keyword list and your app name. Here is a list of the top platforms on the market:
These tools can help you figure out some of your competitor’s keywords, find new ones and more. Do your research on which tools fit your needs and budget. Then give a few a try and see which ones work best for you.
To get our complete list of app marketing tools click here.
You can also have a look at what’s happening on the web, using tools like Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends (those can actually help with market research as well). These tools can give you other valuable keyword ideas.
What is a Good Keyword?
The biggest mistake that people who are new to ASO make is they choose keywords based on how many searches the keyword gets.
That is actually the last thing that you should look at when choosing a keyword. Here is how you should prioritize the different characteristics of a keyword.
- Relevance – How relevant is your keyword to your app. In other words, if someone searches for this keyword, how likely will they be to download your app? Ranking #1 for the keyword “dog” if you have a dog training app is cool, but it is not specific enough. Ranking #1 for the keyword “dog training” would be much better.
- Competition – It doesn’t matter if you rank #542 for a keyword that gets a billion searches a month. Nobody will scroll that far in search results to find you. Look for keywords that you can rank in the top 10 for.
- Searches – Finally, if the above two criteria are the similar, then choose a keyword based on the number of searches it gets.
Each keyword tool will have its own metrics for measuring competition and searches. Learn how to use them and apply the selection criteria above. Mobile Action uses Chance to show the percentage chance that your app has for ranking for a keyword.
Determining relevance is up to you. That is where the art of choosing keywords comes in.
Now let’s look at some other naming tips…
The publisher name is also used by the App Store search algorithm. Search phrases mixing keywords between developer’s name and the app name seem to work. Be careful though, depending on your apps it can be a bad idea to choose app-specific App Store keywords for your publisher name.
In-App Purchase Names
Opinions vary on this matter. Some say that the names given to In-App Purchases are taken into account by the algorithm, but only if the search query matches the exact IAP name. Other say it is no longer taken into account by Apple.
These are most of the things you need to know and pay attention to in order to make the good keywords choices. If you want to keep up to date with the other aspects of App Store Optimization, check out our App Store Optimization page and our App Developer’s App Store Optimization Cheat Sheet.
Remember, keyword optimization is not a one time thing. You need to continually test and optimize your target keywords.
Try keywords for a few weeks and analyze the effects it has on your downloads and new users. The App Store is constantly changing and you need to keep up.
Keep experimenting and you will continue to stay relevant in organic search.
What about you ? Do you have any other tips to share about choosing a name and keywords for your apps?
Update 01/10/2015: From now on, all updates will be added directly into the post.
Update 05/28/2014: Updated with more relevant advice.
Update 09/27/2012 : Some other changes announced by Appcod.es: category names no longer work in App Store search on the device.
Update 09/18/2012 : Changes in the new App Store (and new elements on the “Chomp” update) had effects on choosing your app name and App Store keywords, so we updated the post accordingly.
Update 07/04/2012 : The team from Appcod.es recently published new information regarding new rules in App Store search, so we updated the post accordingly and we will keep doing it, and MobileDevHQ talked about it too.
I'm French and English is not my primary language, so you're welcome to correct me if I make a mistake.
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