Given that we had some updates coming out for the iPad version of Book Creator, I thought it would be a good time to refresh our app store keywords and description.
I’ve always thought of keyword optimisation to be somewhat of a stab in the dark, but after some careful research and thought, I’m pretty pleased with my initial results!
After a quick Google search I came across a post from Apptamin, a site had read previously and found to be useful. I was intrigued to find that most of the keyword weighting is given to the app store title and the keywords you select, and none at all to the description text.
Having said that, I’ve always found that using the search function in the App Store is very hit and miss, and you’re more likely to find the app you’re looking for if you do a simple Google search – and you can bet Google is searching all the text in your App Store description too, so it makes sense to include keywords in there too, even if Apple doesn’t value them.
The tool I used – MobileDevHQ
The Apptamin article suggested a variety of different tools for researching keywords. I tried a few of them and settled on MobileDevHQ. AppTweak looked like a good tool too, but their keyword analysis tool did not work for iPad apps.
MobileDevHQ has a dashboard where you can see how you rank for any keyword or combination of keywords in a chosen App Store (I focused on the US App Store only). It also gives you an idea of the difficulty of ranking for that keyword, and the volume of searches for that keywords – not sure how it knows that information as Apple does not share any data as yet, but I would guess they use another keyword tool (like Google’s) to act as a proxy indicator.
So, I was trying to work out which keywords we already ranked well for (without giving too much away, the keywords Book and Creator scored highly, duh). Some of our keywords were not performing at all, so I ditched them, and tested out a few others.
An obvious approach is to focus on keywords that have a lower difficulty score, and a higher volume score. But they also need to be contextual to your app – there’d be no point me trying to rank for keywords such as “cats” or “weather” or other inappropriate keywords.
So, I tweaked the keywords associated with our app (you get 100 characters within which to add keywords, and note: only Apple sees these). We already had some keywords stuffed into our app’s title so I left that unchanged.
I spent a long time updating the app description – with three aims in mind:
- Improving the readability of it – although it’s only plain text there are a few things you can do to make it look more presentable – capitals for headers, lots of white space etc.
- Adding key information that we want to share up front. Particularly on iPad, only the first couple of sentences are shown, so you need to make sure they have the most impact.
- Making sure keywords are included. As I said, although Apple ignores them, Google doesn’t.
In the screenshot below (taken from the App Store on the iPad), you can see that I’ve put some key headlines in the first few sentences, as these might be all the customer sees.
Now I get daily performance reports emailed to me from MobileDevHQ. What I’ve noticed almost immediately is that we now have more keywords ranking in the top 10 of search results (previously we had 3 now we have 11), and more keywords ranking generally. Result!
Dan’s top tips:
- Focus on keyword combinations as well as just single keywords. Although you might not rank well for a single keyword, you could rank better for a combination of keywords (e.g. instead of just ebook, look at results for ebook maker).
- Don’t neglect the App Store description, just because Apple doesn’t use it in search results – remember Google will.
It’s still early days of course. I’ll keep an eye on performance and try and change things. I’ll also be experimenting with different combinations for our Free app.
What we really need to see is some App Store analytics from Apple! That would really change things.