How to Choose the Right Keywords for Your App

So, you’ve finally finished developing your app and you’re ready to submit it to the app store, sit back, and rake in the money. Sounds like you’re in the clear, right?

Daft Punk

Not quite.

Even assuming that you’ve made a highly-engaging app that monetizes well, you still need to optimize the app’s title and keywords to get it in front of as many potential users as possible. This process, along with choosing the genre and creating screenshots and an icon, is called app store optimization, ASO. You’re probably already familiar with SEO - ASO is the same thing in the app store!

How do you optimize your keywords?

You have 100 characters in the keyword field and 255 characters in the app’s title to fill with relevant keywords. Generally we like to keep our apps’ titles short enough so that the user knows what the app’s core value is without the title being so long that it seems spammy.

Urban Pic

Therefore it is important to stuff as many keywords into the keyword field as possible. Here are a few guidelines to ensure that you’re optimizing the keyword field:

  • Don’t use keywords that are already in your title. Apple will automatically include them as keywords.
  • Separate your keywords with commas - don’t use any spaces.
  • Use all of the 100 possible characters. You want every advantage you can get - this is an easy one.
  • Only use the plural or singular version of a keyword. Find which one is better and use it.

But which keywords should you choose?


As with SEO, the most important thing is to target relevant keywords - someone searching for ‘spanish dictionary’ probably doesn’t want to see your sniper game, unless it gamifies language education of course.

There are several ways to get keyword ideas: you can use Google Adword’s keyword planning tool or go through reviews of similar games and find keywords that are used often.

Or you can use an app store analytics tool that will save you the time and effort.

I like to use Sensor Tower to find the best keywords to target. Usually what I do first is user their keyword spy tool to find keywords that competitors are using to get a sense of the type of keywords that could be beneficial.


Cool, now you know the competitor’s keyword strategy! Using this information, I’ll go to their keyword research tool and test out keywords I find relevant to find their estimated traffic and competition in the app store. The results will look something like this:


Pretty cool, huh? As you can see, keyword ‘quiz’ gets a decent amount of traffic but is difficult to rank for. Maybe there are other keywords that the competitors haven’t thought of, but how do I find them? Remember when I said you could look through reviews to find commonly used keywords and phrases? Well they have a tool for that too! Here’s one search I did for a game that was ranking unusually high in keywords relating to popular games:


Another option is to use their keyword suggestion tool by entering the keywords you already have, but I haven’t found this tool to be very good in suggesting relevant keywords. Alright. Now you’re ready to publish your app and watch it take off. You can even use Sensor Tower to track your rankings for your keywords! Now you can sit back, unless you need to worry about user acquisition ;).

Big Lebowski

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at or tweet at @julheimer!