#67 - Are Longer Keywords Worth Optimizing For?

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read Jul. 26

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.


#67 - Are Longer Keywords Worth Optimizing For?

Ask most ASO folks about optimizing for longer keywords, and the general gist will be that you should stay away from them and aim for shorter ones. This isn't bad advice, but if you're looking for opportunities, some longer keywords might prove to be great.

Let me show you an example + why I consider this one an opportunity.

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: Road Trip Planner

42 moderate 57 moderate 88 very low 114.8K very high $148.7K very high

when it comes to finding keyword opportunities, it all boils down to one thing, and it isn't the number of words. That one thing is popularity score. If a keyword is popular, you should aim for it. That alone doesn't make it into an opportunity, though.

If you've read any of my previous Keyword Teardowns you know where I'm going, but if you haven't, an opportunity for ASO is when the top results in a popular keyword aren't very optimized for that keyword.

That's what we have here. A 3-word keyword with a popularity of 42 and a decent chunk of revenue, according to our revenue estimates.

Search results for "Road Trip Planner" in the U.S App Store

At the top of the list we have Roadtrippers. A few things are wrong here. The keyword isn't fully being targeted (missing "road") and one word is duplicated into the subtitle. Not a great start. But... it's getting close to a thousand ratings a month, almost the most in this set, and having "road" in its keyword list helps it be the top result.

This is a great indicator of an opportunity, and Roadie is taking advantage of this opportunity by targeting the full keyword in its name and not duplicating any keywords. That's why it's ranking 2nd even though it has the fewest ratings, by a whole order of magnitude, when compared to the rest of the bunch.

The folks behind Roadie must be reading keyword teardowns.


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Moving down the fun ends and we're back to mistakes. 3rd place Wanderlog has more ratings than Roadie and has all the words in its visible metadata, but... two of the three appear in the subtitle, which already drops its relevance, and the words are technically not in order which isn't helping.

The algorithm isn't kind to apps that don't optimize correctly and does the best it can, which is third. The thing is, shifting just a few words around can earn it first place. First!

inRoute, fourth place, is in a similar boat. it's using all words, not in the right order, but it's doing it strictly in the title, which isn't strong enough. It also gets fewer ratings, which means it can't rise above Wanderlog. But, if it played its cards right, it could rise to second place.

And last one in this set is TripIt, which reminds me a lot of first-place Roadtrippers but with more ratings. So, why is it not higher? You can probably guess what's missing, the keyword list isn't optimized, and "road" is probably not up-front as it should be. A simple fix and it should rank much higher.

The keyword list has become very useful for ASO in the last few months, and if you haven't already optimized it, you absolutely should take the time to do it.

What You Need to Know

All apps, and games, need to leverage keyword opportunities to get ahead. Not just the ones starting out, not just the ones getting into ASO, but all of them. If you don't the competition will, so it's a must.

The good news is that opportunities still exist. I've covered countless keywords like this in this series, and I'm continuing to find more every week. The gooder news is that you can find them if you use the right tool (aka. Keyword Inspector) and optimize for them to get ahead.

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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