Friday, 28 October 2011

App Store Keyword SEO - the DOs and DONTs of optimization

When our first iPhone app hit Apple's app store being asked to enter an App Title, a description and some keywords prior to submission all seemed so straightforward and logical.

Little did I know at the time how much there is to learn if you want your app to appear that bit higher in app store searches.  I naively picked a simple app name and overlooked the significance of being allowed a huge 255 chars and when it came to entering keywords I went for a combination of single words and multi word phrases that seemed to accurately sum up my app.

All was good at first, then I started reading blogs and forums on the do's and don'ts, the pros and cons of various approaches.

So here's what I've learnt...

  • You only have 100 characters of keywords to play with, so if you're struggling and need more then add some to your App Name.   Sounds odd, but the AppName field allows 255 characters and by using a colon or hypen separator you can add some keyword phrases after your core app name.
  • The category you pick for your app is important in more ways than one.  Not only do you get the category your app is in as a free keyword, so if your app is in 'business', then 'business' effectively becomes a keyword you get for free (so don't repeat in your app name or keywords), but also if you swap your app between categories you get those as free keywords as well without losing the 'category keyword' you've moved from!
  • Next, stick to single word keywords (comma separated) rather than phrases as otherwise things get confusing!  I was going to say you'll get more effective combinations that way, but the truth is there's no such thing as phrases in the App Store search/keyword logic - both spaces and commas are treated as keyword separators so don't mix the two, stick to commas.
  • Keywords appearing earlier in your keyword list appear to get a higher prioritisation.
  • Stick to keywords that belong to your app, using competitor app names or keywords that clearly don't relate to the purpose/functionality of your app is a big no no and the reviewer will throw your app submission out.
  • Even your company name is split and used as keywords, but I don't suggest you renamed your company to 'Angry Birds Ltd' or similar as I'm sure Apple will your app submission immediately!
  • While optimising your app name, keywords etc. will all help, it's app sales that ultimately determine where your app appears in a search - assuming your competitors apps are using the same keywords as you.
  • Another critical discussion on many forums is whether to include both pluralised and non-pluralised keywords... and the answer is.... just include the pluralised one not both.  The keyword 'expenses' will be matched with a search for 'expenses' (obviously), 'expense' and also other shortened variations, i.e. 'expens' (which is nonsense, but providing there's a 50%+ match from the start then it matches.

There may be many more things I need to learn, but I thought I'd share my experiences and obviously keen to hear other peoples experience with the dubious art of App Store seo.


Alex said...

Hey steve, nice post.

Though I'd be wary of cramming a really long name; though the limit is 255 characters going really close to that limit is likely to get your app rejected.

I also disagree about including only the plural keywords, I'd include only the singular versions as they take less space and actually get searched for more often!

I'd recently written a little blog on common keyword mistakes here, if you'd like to check it out:


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