Keywords have become an important tool in today’s online marketing. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is currently one of the most used marketing strategies, due to its ability to generate leads and potential clients without the need to spend money on expensive marketing campaigns. It also improves your conversion rate, since you will be reaching users that explicitly manifest a need for the product, service, or content that you’re offering.
Nevertheless, SEO doesn’t only apply to traditional search engines (Yahoo, Google, etc.) A similar strategy, called App Store Optimization (ASO in short), has been implemented in recent years for the specific purpose of positioning apps and other types of content on ecosystems such as Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.
Introducing the IOS Keyword Field
The App Store, in particular, offers developers a feature that helps rank their respective apps, called the IOS Keyword Field. It appears every time you upload an iOS app’s metadata and allows you to add “keywords”. These words can’t be seen on the app’s preview page, but they are used by the algorithm to index the app. Consequentially, your application can appear on users’ search results as they type the words in the search box. The maximum length is 100 characters.
By contrast, the Google Play Store relies on more traditional SEO methods to determine an app’s ranking. Instead of asking developers to fill a form with different keywords or tags, the Play Store’s algorithm is fed by the information provided by the app’s title and descriptions and then decides how and when to index it.
The App Store’s method is far more intuitive and simpler, but it can also be misused, affecting an app’s ranking and market performance when benchmarked against the competition. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most relevant tips to strengthen your app optimization skills and make the most out of the iOS Keyword Field.
Tips For Optimizing your iOS Keyword Field
Choose relevant keywords
Developers should strive to include keywords that users frequently employ in their searches instead of relying on what their intuition dictates. The users and clients are the ones driving the market nowadays, and we should design our strategy with that idea in mind.
It’s also important to avoid using filler words such as “free”, “best”, or “iPhone”, as the algorithm already indexes every app on these words, so adding them will only limit your ability to rank.
Various App Store Optimization platforms can provide keyword suggestions for your app. Some of the most popular are ASO App Radar, Asomobile, Appttweak, and AppFollow, among others.
Single keywords work better than long-tail ones
This does not mean getting rid of keyword combinations, but you should break them up into separate keywords instead of using the exact phrase for a long-tail one. This will ensue that people are going to be able to find your app even if they don’t use the exact phrase. Apple’s algorithm will make combinations based on the keywords present in your keyword field, increasing the chances of appearing in people’s searches.
For example, the long-tail “Tactical Role-Playing Game” can be separated with commas like this: “tactical,role,playing,game” (don’t add spaces because they count as characters!) Thus, your app can still appear on users’ search results even as they type in the search box “role playing tactical” or “game tactical role playing”
However, do not underestimate viral and highly competitive long-tail keywords, as there is a good chance that users will use them in the correct sequence and you’ll be able to appear more frequently.
Don’t use special or foreign characters
The Apple algorithm doesn’t take into account special characters in its indexing process. Those characters will only waste space in your keyword field and you won’t be able to add other important keywords to broaden your reach and increase your ranking.
Also, stick to URL-friendly characters. Don’t include foreign characters in your metadata because they are not only useless but also quite detrimental to your ASO strategy.
Use Keywords in Singular
This applies to English and other languages that use predominantly regular nouns. Apple encourages developers to only target keywords in the singular form, since the app usually ranks automatically for the plural form as well.
Don’t repeat keywords
Apple will not rank your app higher on account of keyword density, so it’s useless to add keywords in the iOS Keyword Field that are already present in the app’s title, descriptions, promotional text, or the field itself. In fact, the company itself advises explicitly against this practice.
Localized Keyword Fields should be in their respective language
It’s not necessary to add English words to keyword fields belonging to localized versions of your app. For example, if you have a version for Greece or Italy, the keyword fields of those localized versions should not contain English keywords, as they will not help you rank in those specific countries.
Never use your competitor’s brand name and/or trademarked terms
At times, marketing managers and app developers operate on the premise that they can fare better than their competition by targeting their trademarked brand and terms in an IOS Keyword Field.
While, at first glance, this might sound like a good idea, there’s a caveat. Apple has a very strict policy of rejecting and even blocking apps and developers that are caught employing this practice. If you wish to stay under the radar, you should make sure that your competitors’ brand names and terms are as generic as possible. For example, if you are uploading a “Grand Theft Auto” clone and you want to target fans of that game series, you can use each word of that title and scatter them throughout the keyword field to avoid detection. Apple’s algorithm will combine these words every time someone searches for “Grand Theft Auto” and, as a result, your app might be able to appear on the list.
Let’s summarize the tips we just provided:
- Choose relevant keywords
- Single keywords are preferable to long-tail ones
- Special and foreign characters are to be avoided
- Use keywords in the singular form (only applicable to English and some other languages)
- Avoid repeating keywords
- Don’t include English words in localized keyword fields
- Don’t use trademarked brand names and terms