As a developer, you may think that developing your app is the hardest part of app development. However, development is only half the battle. If you’re going to succeed in app development, your apps need to be optimized to make it easy for consumers to find them. If no one knows about your app, you’re not going to earn any revenue.
Editors Note: I am not an App Store optimization expert. I know some about SEO and some of the basics of ASO but I do not consider myself an expert. However, I do believe that this article will help you to achieve better ranking for your apps. I do not work for SensorTower. Sometimes you run across a great product (like Corona) and just want to talk about it.
1) Creating a list of Keywords – Keyword Research Part 1
Everyone has heard about keyword research but what is it? How do I do it? Where do I even begin? If your asking yourself these same questions, please start reading from here. Otherwise, skip to section 2.
In a nutshell, keyword research is generating a list of keywords that may be relevant to your app and finding out which ones are the best keywords to target. For example, if you have a memory match game (who doesn’t?), you may want to target keywords like memory, learning, educational, match, or even preschool. You can generate this list by brainstorming, searching the App Store, using the dictionary or SensorTower.com.
My first stop in generating keyword ideas is SensorTower. SensorTower provides a great and free way to get ideas on the homepage of their website. Type in an app name that’s similar to the app your building and you’ll get a list of keywords that they might be using. From what I can tell (and testing it on my own apps), they are pretty accurate. Here’s a screenshot of the keywords Angry Birds is using and/or targeting:
Using this simple tool, you can generate a ton of keyword ideas for free. You don’t even need to sign up for their free program. However, if you did want to get a better analysis, they offer a keyword spy tool. This tool allows you to compare your keywords against competitor keywords or apps that may be in the same category. Here’s a screenshot of the Keyword Spy tool:
Although this seems a little backwards to me, the keywords of your competitor are listed on the left, your keywords are listed on the right, and your shared keywords are listed in the middle. This handy tool is part of their free program and will give you a great idea of what keywords you may want to start targeting.
2) Deciding which words to target – Keyword Research Part 2
Once you have a list of keywords, you need to figure out which ones to target. Although there are a lot of tools to help you find out which keywords have traffic – like tools in Google AdWords, I prefer to use tools that are specific for apps. Depending on your goal, you probably want to target keywords with low difficulty, but high traffic. I say depending because some apps don’t care what keywords they are targeting because they carry such a huge brand name and have other ways to market their app – Yahoo News, Angry Birds, etc.
To find out what keywords to target, you can use SensorTowers’ keyword optimization tool. Simply enter the keywords you are thinking about targeting (a limit of 4 for free accounts) and you’ll see a chart of where your app ranks in the app store along with the traffic score, difficulty score, and number of apps for that keyword. Here’s a screenshot of keywords for fly, puzzle, destroy, and avian.
The traffic score gives me an idea of what traffic to expect for that keyword and the difficulty score gives me an idea of how hard it is to rank for that keyword. As an indie developer, it’s probably almost impossible to rank well for the keyword puzzle, so I may look to target other words such as challenge or befuddle to give my app the best chance to succeed.
Note: I realize that may you want to include the word ‘puzzle’ for phrase matching and this is simply for learning purposes.
After I find out what keywords I want to use, I can shorten it down to 100 characters and upload it to iTunes.
SensorTower does offer other tools such as Keyword Suggestion (for paid members), Keyword Suggestion, Category Rankings and more. However, I find myself using the tools outlined above the most because I’m familiar with these tools and I feel they are the most accurate.
There are other keyword research tools that you should take a look at such as Google’s Keyword Planner and other companies that provide a similar service such as SearchMan. If you really wanted to perform some in-depth keyword research, you’ll probably want to use more than one tool to generate your keyword ideas.
As a final review of the SensorTower product, I included a list of pros and cons below. I wanted to at least outline some of the advantages and disadvantages you may experience when using their product.
Pros of SensorTower
- Easy to find new keywords. I feel that SensorTower excels at providing you new keywords ideas by showing what other apps are targeting. You may not have thought about using the word challenge if you have a puzzle app and SensorTower can help you generate new keywords.
- Keyword Translation. To really get the most bang for your buck, you should definitely translate your keywords into different languages. SensorTower provides an easy and automated way using their keyword translation tool to make that happen. Although it’s automatic and may not always be the best translation, it’s better than nothing.
- Rank tracking. If you’re going to do app store optimization, you need a way to track what is working and what isn’t working. With SensorTower, they provide a built in way to track the daily rank of your app. With this tool, you can find out how your ranking is affected with your latest aso update.
Cons of SensorTower
After using SensorTower for awhile, there are a few drawbacks. Although these are manageable drawbacks, I want to at least address them.
- Cost. SensorTower offers more tools and features than other aso tools, but you have to pay for them. You can argue that using free keyword research tools, such as Google’s Keyword Planner, is a better option, but they may not offer suggestions or the data that SensorTower offers.
- Deleting Apps. This one bothers me when I was using the free edition of SensorTower. If I wanted to switch apps, I have the choice to delete an app, but the deletion process takes what seems like forever. I’ve had to email their tech support to remove an app from my account. As a workaround, you can go to Manage Apps and delete your apps from there. By going to the Manage Apps screen, it seems like SensorTower will delete your app.
- Lots of Data. This may seem a peculiar feature to list as a con, but the amount of data and options available in SensorTower is overwhelming to a newcomer to the tool. It takes time to learn how to use the tools that’s available within SensorTower. Although they do offer a collection of tutorials, it’d be nice to have one video to watch that walks a user through adding an app, gathering keywords, and researching each one.