You’ve researched keywords, identified the best ones, and then came up with clever ways to integrate them into your app's name and description. Now comes the most important part, figuring out if it worked.
This is the part many think is simple. Just look at downloads, right? Nope. There are several factors to consider when trying to determine if your keyword strategy is working that are much more relevant and actionable.
Whether you’re evaluating for yourself, to share with your team, or to report to stakeholders, continue reading to learn what to measure, how, and how to interpret the numbers.
In this guide:
- The Metrics You Need to Track
- Evaluating Against the Baseline
- What's the "Right" Number to Aim For?
- Evaluating Against Competitors
- How Long Do You Need to Track Before You Can Get Results?
- The Importance of Ongoing Monitoring
- The Key to Successful ASO is Continuous Experimentation
The Metrics You Need to Track
The goal of keyword optimization is to increase the visibility of your app, and there are several metrics that can help you understand how effective your strategy is at doing that. By looking at how the following metrics change over time, we can evaluate how successful the changes are.
The number of keywords the app ranks in out of the keyword it targets provides insight into how well your initial keyword research and evaluation process was and is an early indicator for the app's ability to compete. Ideally, you'd rank in every keyword you optimize for, but that's not always the case.
To track this number, you first have to make sure you track all of your target keywords, including two and three word combinations and singular/plural alternatives. Then, head into Optimization → Keyword Performance to see how many of them your app is ranked in.
The goal: Rank in all of your target keywords. When that happens, you know your targeting is correct.
If the app's already ranking for 100% of the target keywords, make sure your target keyword list isn't too short, and that the keywords are popular.
The average rank of tracked keywords is a proxy for visibility potential. The calculation here is simple, take the app's ranks in all of the keywords you're targeting and average them together. The reason for the average is to see how your entire keyword strategy is performing as a whole. The Keyword Performance report calculates this automatically for you.
You could have small gains with some keywords but net a big loss with others. Looking at just counts won't show you the true impact of the ranks, and that's where the average really helps.
The goal: A lower average, which means the app is showing up higher in search results for more of your target keywords.
The number of high-rank/high-popularity keywords gives you a measure of how much visibility you currently have. The key is to look at all the keywords where the app is ranked, not just the ones you're targeting, and zoom in on those that are popular where the app ranks well.
The most important filter here is the rank, and less so the popularity. It's better to rank well (top 5 or 10) in a less popular keyword than to rank poorly for a high-popularity keyword. To find this number head into Optimization → Discover, and set the filters at rank between 1 and 10, and a popularity between 10 - 100.
The goal: A higher keyword count, which means your app is visible to more users.
Evaluating Against the Baseline
In order to determine how successful your strategy is, you need to compare how things were before and after it was implemented. The initial set of values, the one you'll use as the base for your comparison, is what's called a baseline.
Having an accurate baseline is imperative for analyzing the success of your ASO efforts. When establishing a baseline, make sure you have all of your target keywords tracked and then run through all the metrics discussed above.
After enough time has passed (more on that below), record the current value of each metric and compare each against its baseline.
What's the "Right" Number to Aim For?
Every app and every ASO campaign is different, so there's no one right target. There are two questions to ask once you have results:
- Did any of the metrics get worse? If the answer is yes you have your answer.
- Are the results higher than the last evaluation? This is the more likely result, and the one that would be most meaningful.
Evaluating Against Competitors
If you don't have enough experiments under your belt to answer the second question definitively, you can run this exact same analysis on a competitor's app and compare the changes in their metrics to yours.
You can track any app in your account and see their keywords and ranks just like you do for your won apps. Start by adding the app to your account.
How Long Do You Need to Track Before You Can Get Results?
Now that you know what to track the real question is how much time do you need in order to have meaningful data? Unlike A/B testing, where the time depends on factors such as app popularity and traffic, when it comes to keyword optimization the time is pretty standard and is based on the amount of time it takes Apple and Google to update their algorithms.
Apple's algorithm updates very often and takes into account about a week's worth of downloads data. This means that you should see results fairly quickly, in some cases even within a few hours of changes going live. Although the algorithm is fast, we recommend giving more time for the keywords to "settle in". It's pretty common for an app to shoot up in the ranks right after an update is released but then lose those high ranks after a few weeks.
Google's algorithm updates more slowly and takes into account the app's life-time downloads as well as recent crash and retention data. This means that changes will take a few weeks to show, and it'll be a gradual change as opposed to Apple's sharp up-and-down trend.
In general, we recommend waiting four weeks between your baseline and results. It's a long enough period data-wise, and short enough that you can continue to experiment and improve your results.
The Importance of Ongoing Monitoring
While you wait for results, it's also important to monitor ongoing performance for all of the metrics we talked about earlier. Ongoing monitoring will give you a glimpse into performance so you can set your expectations. In addition, it will show you if your changes are impacting performance negatively and giving you a chance to course-correct before the damage becomes permanent.
With hourly performance monitoring, you'll know as soon as trends start to slope down, giving you ample time to end the trend.
The Key to Successful ASO is Continuous Experimentation
ASO is very dynamic, and to succeed, meaning to continue seeing more impressions, you have to continue to experiment with it.
Using what you’ve learned in this guide, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. Double up on keywords that work and replace keywords that don’t with new ones based on your keyword research and evaluation.