#39 - An Easy Way to Find Better Keywords to Target

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read 12/14/21

Have you ever looked at search results in the App Store and wondered why they're ranked the way they are? In this series of Keyword Teardowns we analyze how the algorithm works and highlight tips and tricks to help you rank higher.


#39 - An Easy Way to Find Better Keywords to Target

It's always best to go after keywords with a high popularity score, but... it's not always feasible. In this teardown, we'll look at an easy way to identify alternatives + analyze those results.

Apple's and Google's search algorithms are black boxes and completely undocumented. But when you look at enough data, patterns start to emerge. I analyze thousands of search results to reverse engineer how the stores decide which apps to rank and how to rank them. I share what I learn for you to learn from and get more visibility.

Keyword: Period Tracking

21 low 76 high 194 very low 710.1K very high $3.9M very high

Apps for female health are strong on the App Store, and the main keywords are pretty popular. In fact, my goal for this teardown was to look at period tracker, which has a popularity score of 67. Instead, this teardown is a two-for-one.

We'll look at the results and analyze them, but first, we'll look at a very simple way to identify alternatives to popular keywords that would be easier to get into and build momentum.

Here's how I found a valuable alternative:

  1. I started by entering the keyword I was initially looking for into Keyword Inspector, the tool I use for all Keyword Teardowns.
  2. Then, I used the Compare shortcut at the top of the table to quickly load the top 5 results in Competitor Keywords, a report that brings all of the keywords the chosen apps are ranked in.
  3. In the Competitor Keywords report, I applied a filter for period, which is the part of the keyword I want to keep.
  4. This gave me several options. I sorted by popularity and chose the keyword that was most similar and was still above a score of 20. This isn't a hard and fast number, just high enough.

There's only one more step!

Now that we have a keyword that's still popular and relevant, you want to bring it back into Keyword Inspector and see if the top results are targeting it directly. You'll know if they do if both words appear in the name and subtitle. You want a keyword where most of the top results don't.

Period tracking fits perfectly. None of the top results target this keyword directly.

This analysis is going to be very simple...

Search results for "Period tracking" in the U.S App Store

In first place we have Flo, a very popular app in this category that earns the top position even though it's only using half the keyword where it's visible and the other in the keyword list, by having the most new ratings.

Tip: The keyword list is very important for keywords you aren't targeting directly.

Right behind it we have Clue, which also only includes one word in the name and the other in the description. It has fewer ratings but still a significant amount, so it can claim a top position.


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My Calendar, at #3, is in the exact same boat. The only difference between these three is how many ratings they had in the last 30 days. Until we get to #4.

Ovia, the 4th result for this search, has more ratings than #3 and also splits the keyword between the visible and invisible. But unlike the rest, it uses the visible half in the subtitle, which is inherently weaker. That's why it's not ranking higher.

And last one for our top 5 is Glow, which follows the template of the top 3, but doesn't have the ratings needed to get above #4.

So... Where's the opportunity???

Did you notice that none of the apps have the second part of this keyword in their name or subtitle? That's the key!

If you recall, the algorithm looks at keywords first and ratings second, so if an app wants to rank in this set, all it needs to do is use both words in the app's name. You can possibly get away with splitting it between the name and subtitle, but I'd suggest concentrating it to increase focus as much as possible.

And, make sure you don't repeat any keywords between the name, subtitle, and keyword list.

What You Need to Know

The best keyword for your app is the one that's most relevant and has the highest popularity score your app can succeed in. That last part is important. Using Keyword Inspector and Competitor Keywords, you can find the best keywords for your app.

Then, target them directly by using the full term in the app's name.

And that's all I have for you today. Subscribe to the newsletter for a new Keyword Teardown next week. If you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Twitter.

Are You Putting My Tips to Good Use?

App Store Optimization is part art and part science. I say it a lot, and I mean it. The art part is what I've been talking about in this Keyword Teardown and in my App Teardowns. The science part is where our simple and intuitive ASO tools come into play.

See where your apps are ranked, track trends, learn from competitors, get smart suggestions, and more, here.

Tagged: #aso

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