6 Tips to Optimize Your App’s Google Play Short Description

The Short Description is a metadata element that is unique to Google Play. It is an important piece of the product page for two reasons:

First, the Short Description is indexed. That means it can contain keywords and has the ability to contribute to the app’s visibility.

Second, it can contribute to conversion rate optimization. Unlike the long description, it is visible on the product page without another user action. Thus, it is a gateway to the long description that is only readable if users click “About this app”. With an exciting short description, you can keep users on your product page and increase the chance, they will download the app.

As an app owner, you should create a short description that attracts users’ attention with a great design and catches their interest with useful information.


To optimize your short description, follow these 6 tips:

  1. Add Relevant Keywords.
  2. State Your USP.
  3. Keep it simple.
  4. Raise Users’ Interest to read more.
  5. Use Emojis.
  6. Use all 80 Characters.

Depending on the app category, some of these tips are more or less useful. Thus, let me specify them to make sure you apply them in the right context.


The short description is indexed and has significant weight for the Google Play algorithm. Thus, you need to add relevant keywords to it, so it can contribute to your app’s visibility in search results. With 80 characters total, the short description offers plenty of space for this purpose.

Focus on relevant keywords that create decent search volumes and are not too competitive. Each keyword in your short description should rank at least in the top 10 on SERPs. You can also choose words that form relevant long-tail keywords in combination with terms from the app title.

Keep in mind, that duplicating keywords across multiple metadata elements does benefit your app’s visibility. So if you want to rank for a competitive term that you already added to your app title, put it into the short description as well. By doing so, you will increase the chance that your app outranks your competitors.

However, be aware that each term should appear in the short description only once. Implementing the same word twice will not create additional visibility.


Adobe Photoshop Express is an app for manipulating photos and creating photo collages. Its short description contains a lot of relevant keywords for this kind of app, including photo, editor, crop, image, effect, filter, border, and collage.

Short Description of Photoshop Express


People will not use your app to grant you a favor. They have a problem or a wish, and they will only download your app if they think that it can solve their problem or fulfill their wish.

The short description is a great tool to provide them with this information. Let them know how your app will help them and how it will make their lives better.

State the unique selling points (USPs). Usually, your keywords reflect these USPs. But there might be more facts that are worth mentioning. Ask yourself the following questions and use the answers (or parts of them) as keywords in your short description:

  • Which are the most important features of your app?
  • Which features does your app has that competitor apps do not have?
  • Does your app offer a greater variety of content or products than competitor apps?
  • Is your app cheaper (or are your products cheaper)?
  • Do you offer better services like free delivery, 24/7 support, multi-language content, or a money-back guarantee?
  • Is your app extraordinary fast or stable?
  • Can people use it in flight mode?


The short description of the videogames shopping app Instant Gaming states its benefits in terms of price (“70% off”), delivery time (“instant delivery”), and availability (”24/7”).

Short Description of Instant Gaming



Make sure to make the short description easy to read and understand. There is no need to write a masterpiece of literature. So avoid complicated vocabulary and long sentences.

Follow the KISS principle: “Keep it Stupid Simple”. By doing so, you make sure that all visitors of your app’s product page can read and understand your short description, no matter what their educational background is.

Short call-to-actions (CTAs) are great for the short description, but comma-separated lists of the features and benefits of your app might work as well.


Here is an example: The app Houzz – Home Design and Remodel contains three very short and clear CTAs of two words each. They tell users clearly what the app will give them.

Short Description of Houzz – Home Design and Remodel



As said before, the short description is a gateway to more information. If it is an exciting read, it can raise users’ interest in learning more and make them click “About this app” to access the long description. And users who read the long description are one step closer to hit the download button.

So your goal should be to optimize the short description in order to engage users to click “About this app”. You can, for instance, make users curious by providing incomplete information that works like a cliffhanger in a movie: it makes users want to learn more.


The example below shows the short description of the education app Mondly. It specifies five languages that users can learn with the app, but also gives the outlook of “28 more languages”. If users want to know which additional languages the app supports, they need to read the long description.

Short Description of Mondly


Google Play also supports emojis. If it makes sense for your app, consider adding some to pull users’ attention towards your short description.

Be aware that apps are not appropriate for every app. If you own a business app (respectively an app that is used primarily in a professional context) or a finance app, emojis are rather not appropriate. But for most leisure apps and especially for games that address children, emojis are a great way to beautify your short description.

To implement emojis into your short description, visit getmoji.com or a similar website. Select the emoji you want to add, copy it, and paste it into your short description.


The travel app eSky provides users -among other services- the possibility to book flights. To emphasize this feature, they added a plane emoji to their short description.

Short Description of eSky



Finally, make sure to use as many of the 80 characters of the short description as possible. Remember, the short description is indexed and thus can contribute to your app’s visibility. That makes every single character precious.

Nevertheless, the product pages of many apps on Google Play contain short description with much less than 80 characters. That is a waste of valuable space. Do not make this mistake. Make use of all of this space.


The Swiss food delivery app EAT.ch uses relevant keywords in their short description, and they also point out the benefits of the app (“quick & easy”). But they only use 43 characters. That is only half of the available space and a waste of the short description’s potential.

Short Description of EAT.ch



With the tips from this post, you have all the knowledge you need to create an awesome short description for your Google Play app. Be aware though, that you should optimize your short description in harmony with the other metadata elements of your product page. Especially the app title and the long description should complement your short description regarding their content and their design.

What is Black Hat ASO (and why should you not do it)

With more than 1.8 million iOS apps on the App Store and more than 3 million Android apps on the Google Play Store, the competition for users is enormous. And as this number raises constantly, it gets harder and harder to acquire new users by doing App Store Optimization. Therefore, some app owners turn towards Black Hat ASO.


Black Hat ASO is a collective term for a set of measures to manipulate the app stores’ algorithms and generate more organic downloads. “Normal” App Store Optimization (also called “White Hat ASO”) has two goals: increasing an app’s visibility in search results and top charts, and optimizing the conversion rate of users who visit the product page. All White Hat measures are performed in compliance with the guidelines of Apple and Google. App owners who use Black Hat measures have the same goals, but in contrast, they violate these guidelines and create unfair advantages for themselves.

Here is a list of black hat measures:

As Black Hat ASO violates the app store’s guidelines, using them can result in a ban of your app. Thus, I suggest that you DO NOT USE BLACK HAT ASO. To make sure, you do perform any forbidden actions, read on and learn more about them.


Store: Google Play Store (Android)

Target: Search Results

Getting an app into search results is a rather easy way to generate more organic downloads. Even new apps can make it into SERPs without the need of spending money. Thus, SERPs are a popular target for black hat attacks.

On Google Play, the app description is indexed. That means that it can contain up to 4,000 characters of keywords. As an honest app marketer, you would make the description a good read with proper grammar and implement your keywords in a meaningful way. But Black Hat marketers do not care about grammar or readability. They would simply stuff as many keywords as possible in their app descriptions.

This strategy is called keyword stuffing. It was very common in the past, but nowadays you will come across stuffed descriptions rarely on Google Play. In the App Store, this Black Hat approach was never useful because the iOS app description is not indexed by the algorithm.


Store: App Store (iOS), Google Play Store (Android)

Target: Search Results

Another way to manipulate search is to buy search traffic. If many users search for a specific keyword and then download a specific app from the search results, the algorithm will consider this app extraordinary relevant to the keyword. As a result, this app will climb up the SERP.

Black Hat marketers pay users for performing exactly these actions. Without a doubt, that is a punishable strategy according to the App Store and Google Play Store guidelines.


Store: App Store (iOS)

Target: Search Results

When you navigate to the search form in the App Store, you will see a list of trending keywords. These are terms that many users have searched for recently.

This list is another target of Black Hat ASO measures. Some app owners use the words on this list as keywords on their app’s product page. They hope to push their app onto the popular keywords’ SERP and generate additional organic downloads by doing so.

In general, there is no problem with this strategy, given that the trending keywords are relevant to the app. But if the keywords and the app have no connection whatsoever, this approach is a violation of the App Store’s guidelines.

As Google does not provide a list of trending keywords in the Google Play Store, this strategy only affects SERPs for iOS apps.

Trending Keywords on the App Store



Store: App Store (iOS), Google Play Store (Android)

Target: Search Results

Targeting the brand names of competitors is another approach that aims to highjack SERPs. At first glance, that looks like a promising idea for both iOS and Android apps. But if you think about it in detail, you will recognize that it actually is a terrible idea.

The reason is not only that it is forbidden by Apple as well as by Google. It is also unlikely that any app is able to rank higher for a brand name than the app that has this name in its title (Remember: The app title has the biggest weight for the search algorithm). Besides, users who search for a specific brand app, are usually not willing to download any other app.

So targeting competitors’ keywords has only little potential to create more traffic for your app. And given the risk of having your app rejected by the stores’ reviewers, you should stay away from this strategy.


Store: App Store (iOS), Google Play Store (Android)

Target: Top Charts

The App Store and the Google Play Store rank apps in top charts. Both stores create separate charts for each app category, but also overall charts across all categories. All of them are very valuable for app owners because they create enormous visibility and attract many new users.

The number of downloads overall and in the recent past is one factor that both Apple and Google consider when creating their top charts. So apps that manage to generate high volumes of new downloads within a short period of time will push their apps up the charts. 

For that reason, Black Hat marketers buy bot traffic. Bots are computer programs that simulate app downloads, and they can simulate thousands of downloads within minutes. As no real users are involved in this process, it is clearly a manipulation of the algorithms and therefore prohibited.

Besides, this approach is not very promising anymore. In the past, it was possible to push an app into the top ranks of the charts and keep it there for a couple of days. But in the last years, both Apple and Google have made traffic quality a much more important factor for their algorithms. As a result, short term pushes with bot traffic do not last longer than a few hours today.


Store: Google Play Store (Android)

Target: Top Charts

In addition to the top charts, Google creates “Top Grossing” charts for the apps that make the most revenue across on Google Play.

Black Hat marketers tried to hijack these charts in the past with a sophisticated strategy: They increased the price for a premium app to an unreasonably high level. Their accomplices then bought and downloaded the app multiple times to push it into the Top Grossing charts. Finally, the app owners granted their accomplices a refund. As the refund did not have an impact on the charts, the app could keep its ranking while the accomplices did not face any financial loss.

Only a few cases when this strategy was used are known. And as Google adjusted their algorithms to value user retention more, its potential to generate many downloads has decreased even more. Apple removed the Top Grossing charts from the App Store in 2017, this measure of Black Hat ASO can not impact iOS rankings at all.

Top Grossing Charts in the Google Play Store


Store: App Store (iOS), Google Play Store (Android)

Target: Conversion Rate Optimization

The success of every app depends on social proof. Only users who put their trust in an app will download it. And learning that many other people like an app helps significantly to build that level of trust.

In the app stores, ratings and reviews are the most important pieces of social proof. Black Hat marketers try to leverage this fact by paying users (or companies that send these users) for reviews.

This strategy clearly breaks the stores’ guidelines, besides, paid reviews are easy to recognize. In general, they are short, contain very generic language, and do not mention any specific details of the reviewed app.

A similar tactic is incentivizing actual users of an app for positive reviews, for instance by giving them in-app currency. Incentivized reviews are less obvious to spot, but nevertheless, they are a violation of Apple’s and Google’s rules.


Store: Google Play Store (Android)

Target: Conversion Rate Optimization

Instead of boosting the actual app rating, some Black Hat marketers try to lead Google Play users astray by faking social proof. To do so, they give themselves publisher names that indicate that their app is extremely successful. For instance, they state a very high user or install number, or they include star emojis to fake a great average rating.

Apps Faking Social Proof
Image Credits: Lukas Stefanko

The Google Play team gets better and better in spotting and removing apps that use this approach to manipulate users’ perception. So nowadays, apps with fake publisher names are rather rare.


Store: App Store (iOS), Google Play Store (Android)

Target: Conversion Rate Optimization

We have already discussed the strategy of targeting competitors’ keywords. A similar approach that aims to steal other brands’ credibility is copying their assets.

Black Hat marketers target especially app icons, because they appear all over the app stores: in search results, top charts, and store features. By creating icons that look similar to the icons of popular apps, they try to benefit from their popularity.

Apps Copying the Flash Player Logo
Image Credits: Lukas Stefanko


As you can see, Black Hat App Store Optimization is a multifaceted problem. Shady marketers try to manipulate the store algorithms in many different ways to gain unfair advantages over their competitors.

Let me stress again that I strongly recommend that you do not take part in this dangerous game. Black Hat measures provide only very little benefits (if any) and both Apple and Google get better and better in fighting it. So they are not worth risking your app’s ban from the stores. Focus on White Hat ASO instead and enjoy its long-term outcomes.

7 Tips to Get more App Reviews (and 3 Mistakes to Avoid)

Ratings and reviews are crucial for the success of every app on the App Store and Google Play. For 50% of male and 70% of female users, they are the most critical factor when deciding whether to download an app or not.

Especially the star rating is essential. Apptentive found out that 46% of all users ignore apps with an average rating lower than 4.0 stars. To avoid cutting your potential audience, you must invest time and work into getting more positive reviews.


Here are 7 Tips for getting more positive reviews:

  1. Create a great app.
  2. Update and improve your app regularly.
  3. Ask users to review your app.
  4. Ask via the right channel.
  5. Ask at the right time.
  6. Ask the right users.
  7. Keep negative reviews out of the store.

And here are 3 mistakes you should avoid:

  1. Do not ask your co-workers for reviews (CRUCIAL!)
  2. Do not reward users for reviews.
  3. Do not be too obtrusive.

If you want to learn more details about these tips (and make sure that you understand what you should not do to get more reviews), read on.


It sounds obvious, but as it an essential factor, let me emphasize it nevertheless: The easiest way to get more positive reviews is by building a great app. Make it easy to use, eliminate bugs, and optimize its performance in terms of speed and data usage. The better, faster, and more comfortable your app solves users’ problems, the more likely will they be to give you a positive review in exchange.


Give users the impression that you are dedicated to making their lives better by constantly improving your app. Fix bugs as soon as possible, and add new features and new content to keep your users engaged. Learn about their wishes by reading reviews and analyzing support requests. If multiple users make the same demand, push this task to the top of your to-do list.


Most people might not think about reviewing your app until you ask them. And it is no shame to ask. As it is not a big deal to review an app, many users will be happy to do so, especially if they like it. So ask your users for reviews. But do it the right way (keep on reading to learn how).


You have several ways to ask users to review your app. Here are the most popular:

  • in newsletters sent to all of your users
  • via individual emails after having an interaction with your support team
  • in the update notes on your app’s product page in the app stores
  • while they are using your app

Newsletters, emails, and update notes are reliable options, but they all have the same problem: Users will only get aware of your question if they initiate the interaction in the first place (by subscribing to the newsletter, contacting your support team, or opening your product page on the app store). Usually, these channels allow you to reach only a small fraction of your user base.

If you want to direct your question to a significant portion of your users, you have to ask them while they are using your app.

You can do so by implementing Apple’s or Google’s native review prompt or using a third-party tool.


If you ask users at the wrong time, they will ignore your question, or -even worse- give you a negative review. So the timing is crucial.

Nobody can give an honest opinion about any product that he just has put out of the packing. So do not ask users too soon after the install. Make sure they have enough time to learn how your app works and enjoy its benefits.

Even more important: Never interrupt the user experience. Imagine, you are playing a racing game, and in the middle of overtaking an opponent, the game stops and asks you for a review. Would you give one? I am sure you would not. At least not a positive one.

Always wait until users take a break. Or even better: Wait until they enjoy a moment of success. Because shortly after making a good experience, people are much more likely to share a positive review.

Here are some examples of good experiences:

  • mastering a level in a game
  • having a match with another user in a dating app
  • arriving at a destination after using a public transportation or navigation app
  • after ordering a product on a shopping app or a meal from a food app


To increase the chance of receiving a positive review, you can direct your questions only to those users who demonstrated a specific level of engagement. For instance, people who used your apps on three consecutive days in a row. Or you can determine another criterion, for example:

  • players who finished at least level 3 of your game
  • users who chatted for at least 15 minutes with another person
  • people who booked a taxi at least twice
    users who bought at least one product from your shopping app

The right criterion depends on your app and your abilities to track user behavior.


Some of the third party tools that let you ask users for reviews provide a very convenient feature: They allow you to filter feedback. Let us have a closer look at this process:

First, the tool asks users whether they enjoy the app or not. Users who answer yes will be redirected to the app store so that they can write their reviews. But if someone replies no, this user will be encouraged to send feedback to the customer support instead of the store.

This mechanism keeps negative reviews out of the store. And it has a second advantage: You learn about users’ pain points and get a chance to improve your app.

Image Credits: Apptentive


Asking your staff or co-workers to rate your app sounds like a great idea in the first place, especially if your app has only a few reviews yet.

Do not do it! Both Apple and Google might consider this approach a manipulation of their algorithm. And this violation could result in a ban of your app.

Besides, it could also break competition regulations in your country. The telecommunications company Bell Canada had to pay a fine of 1.25 million Canadian Dollars in 2015 after encouraging their employees to review their apps. To avoid getting involved in similar lawsuits, do not copy their strategy.


Just like the strategy outlined in tip 8, rewarding users for giving reviews (for example, by giving them in-app currency) might be a violation of the app stores’ guidelines. This behavior is not clearly prohibited, but it is obviously a manipulation of the algorithms, especially if you offer rewards for positive reviews. Thus, better do not take the risk and rely on users’ unbiased opinions instead.


Nobody likes to be harassed with the same question over and over again. So if users do not opt in to review your app, leave them alone. You will not convince them to give you a five-star rating if you repeat the question ten minutes later. You might even prompt them to do the opposite and give your app a negative review. Better accept the no and move on.


Good user feedback is the basement for your app’s success. And by following the tips in this article, you will increase the average rating for your app, and the number of positive reviews, too.

Nevertheless, be prepared to receive negative reviews, too. No app is perfect all the time. Thus, you will face criticism at some point in your career as an app owner. Handling this negative feedback the right way is another skill you should acquire.

How to Promote and Optimize In-App Purchases on iOS

If you use in-app purchases (IAPs) to monetize your app, I am sure you will agree that they are a great source of revenue. But did you know that they have another important function?

Since Apple introduced a major iOS update in November 2017, IAPs are indexed by the search algorithm. That means, they can appear on search results, contribute to your app’s visibility, and as a result generate more organic downloads. Sounds awesome, right?

In this post, you will learn how to make your IAPs searchable for Apple’s algorithm and optimize them to drive more organic traffic to your app. Let us walk through the single steps:

First, you need to promote the IAP that you want to see in search results. The term promote might be a little confusing in this context, because it does not reflect a marketing campaign. Instead, it refers to a simple technical setup:

  • Log in to iTunes Connect.
  • Click “My Apps”.
  • Select the app that contains the IAP.
  • Click “Features” (top navigation bar).
  • Click “App Store Promotions” (left sidebar).
  • Check the IAP that you want to promote.
  • Click “Save”.

App Store Promotions on App Store Connect

Second, add IAP metadata. Like your app needs a title, a description, and an icon, each IAP needs these elements, too:

The IAP title contains up to 30 characters. It should give users a first impression of the IAP’s content. But more important, it is the metadata that is actually indexed by the algorithm. So the IAP title is where you need to place your keywords.

The IAP description has up to 45 characters. Its purpose is to give users more details about the IAP’s content. As it is not indexed, you do not need to optimize it for search.

The IAP icon is a square graphic of 1024 x 1024 pixels in PNG or JPEG format. It visualizes the IAP’s content on the app’s product page and on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Before you start creating these elements, let me emphasize some important facts and best practices about promoting in-app purchases and composing their metadata.

Which IAPs can be Promoted?

Apple allows you to promote only IAPs that match two requirements:

  1. They must be non-consumables or subscriptions.
  2. They must support the SKProductStorePromotionController API.

Non-consumables unlock content, features, or other benefits permanently after the purchase. Here are some examples:

  • collections of recipes for a cooking app
  • training plans for fitness apps
  • equipment like weapons or armors for games

Subscriptions unlock content or features temporarily. Typically, they are valid for at least one month and up to twelve years. Subscriptions can be auto-renewable, so they continue even after the initial period is over until the user cancels it, or non-renewing, so they end automatically. Subscriptions are used, for instance, to:

  • hide ads in an app
  • give users access to news, music, and video apps
  • unlock premium features in utility apps

Be aware that you cannot promote consumables such as in-app currency (“gems” in Clash of Clans or “Superlikes” in Tinder).

The Right Strategy for IAP Keywords

Finding the right keywords is the most important part of the setup process. Before we get into details, let me outline how Apple’s algorithm handles in-app purchases.

You already know that only words in the IAP title matter. So the algorithm will ignore keywords in the IAP description.

Another crucial fact is that the weight of IAP titles for the algorithm is low. Actually, it is the lowest of all indexed metadata elements. In other words: apps that contain a keyword in the app title, the subtitle, or the keyword field will outrank your app if you put the same term in an IAP title.

However, it is possible to use IAP titles to conquer the top ranks on SERPs for single keywords. But it is rather unlikely, and you should not focus on this goal.

There is a much better strategy: use IAP titles to target long-tail keywords. The algorithm will combine words from the app title and IAP titles, and rank your app for these long-tail keywords. As these are less competitive than single terms, it is absolutely possible to conquer their SERPs with this strategy.

Attention! This strategy only works for the app title. The algorithm will not combine long-tail keywords from IAP titles and the subtitle or the keyword field.

Finding Keywords for IAP Titles

So, which keywords should you put into IAP titles?

To answer this question, here is a great example of the app The Photo Cookbook. Users can purchase various non-consumable IAPs that have titles like:

  • Asian – 60 recipes
  • Italian – 60 recipes
  • Vegetarian – 60 recipes

In combination with the app title, these IAP titles form very relevant long-tail keywords:

  • asian cookbook
  • italian cookbook
  • vegetarian cookbook

And guess what? The app ranks for all of these terms (not always in the top spots, though).

IAP of The Photo Cookbook on SERP

For many apps that offer non-consumables or subscriptions, this strategy is easily adaptable. Use a term that describes a major feature of your app in the app title, and narrow it down with keywords in IAP titles. Here are some more ideas:

  • Fitness apps: training or exercise in the app title + body parts (chest, legs, biceps, back) in IAP titles.
  • Music apps: songs or music in the app title + music styles (rock, pop, latin, classic) in IAP titles.
  • Translator apps: learn or translate in the app title + languages (french, german, italian, chinese) in IAP titles.

How to Design the IAP Icon

When designing the IAP icon, you need to take two things into consideration:

  1. The IAP icon will appear in different sizes across the app store. It can show up in SERPs, but also in features and on your app’s product page. To make sure the icon is legible no matter where it appears, keep your design simple.
  2. When appearing in SERPs, the app icon will overlay the IAP icon, so the bottom left corner will be covered. Thus, try to keep this area clear, otherwise, you might hurt the user experience (see example below).

Subscription of the App Klix.ba

These rules cover the best practices for creating IAP icons:

  • Use one primary motif with few details for the foreground.
    • For a fitness app, it could be a pictogram of the body part (an arm or a leg).
    • For a music app, you could design a simple instrument that reflects the music style (an electric guitar for rock or a violin for classic).
    • For a translator app, the ensign that matches the language would make perfect sense.
  • Use a unicolor or a simple color gradient background. Make sure it has a good contrast to the foreground motif.
  • Avoid text components in the icon. A number to indicate the length of a subscription is a valid exception to this rule.
  • Try to keep the bottom left corner clear.

How to Write the IAP Description

Writing the IAP description is an easy task as you do not need to take care about keywords (remember: the IAP description is not indexed by the App Store algorithm). Simply follow these guidelines:

  • State clearly what the package contains. For subscriptions, add the subscription length.
  • Even users who do not know your app yet might see the IAP in search results. Make sure they understand its content nevertheless.
  • Write a unique description for each IAP, so users can distinguish them.


To promote in-app purchases so they appear in search results is a rather easy task in App Store Optimization. But on the other hand, they have great potential to significantly contribute to your app’s organic traffic: With up to 20 promoted IAPs, you can create additional visibility for 20 long-tail keywords (or more).

However, you must embed your IAP optimization into your overall ASO strategy. The fundamental requirement for promoting IAPs is a list of promising keywords that is the result of proper keyword research. If you already have created this list, it needs only a small extra effort to unlock the power of in-app purchases for search, and increase your app’s organic visibility.

12 Tips to Optimize the Keyword Field for Your iOS App

How to optimize the keyword field is an important question in App Store Optimization. Because the keyword field is invisible to users, app owners often underestimate its power. But actually, it has a big impact on the success of App Store Optimization. When you do it right, your app will gain visibility in the App Store’s search results. And doing it right is not that hard.

To achieve the best results when optimizing your app’s keyword field, follow these 12 tips:

  1. Focus on relevance.
  2. Aim for the top 3 rankings on SERPs.
  3. Separate keywords by commas.
  4. Avoid words that are not keywords.
  5. Do not use words with less than 3 characters.
  6. Do not use “free keywords”.
  7. Do not target competitors’ brands.
  8. Use every keyword only once.
  9. Do not use both the singular and the plural form.
  10. Use single keywords only.
  11. Optimize keywords across metadata elements.
  12. Leverage localization.

Some of these tips need a bit more explanation, so let us have a deeper dive into how to select the right keywords.

TIP 1: Focus on Relevance

The most important rule for selecting keywords is to focus on relevance. If users see your app on a SERP, they will assume that it can solve their problems. But in case it cannot fulfill this expectation, users will be disappointed and not download it (or use it once and uninstall it right away). And the algorithm will notice this behavior and punish your app by ranking it down in search results. So only terms that draw a real connection between your app and the users’ needs will help it rank higher in search results.


If you own a fitness app, terms like training, exercise, or gym are relevant. But words like piano, puzzle, or train are not.

TIP 2: Aim for the Top 3 Rankings on SERPs

On the first page of each SERP, users see only one or (in rare cases) two organic results. To see more apps matching their search, they have to swipe down. But according to a study by NativeX, only 50% of all users inspect the results below the third rank.

Thus, you should target a keyword only if your app makes it into the top 3 results for this term. If it fails to do so, give the precious space in your keyword field to a more promising word instead.

TIP 3: Separate Keywords with Commas

You must separate all the terms in the keyword fields by commas. Otherwise, the algorithm will not be able to distinguish them. Be aware that adding spaces after the commas is not necessary.

Separating Keywords by Commas


TIP 4: Avoid Words that are not Keywords

To understand that rule, let us recap what a keyword is. Only a term that narrows down the user intent qualifies as a keyword. It can refer to a problem, a need, a wish, or the user’s characteristics.

Words that do not help understand what the user wants are not keywords. That includes:

  • Articles (a, an, the)
  • Conjunctions (and, for, that)
  • Prepositions (under, over, in, on, at)

Avoid these terms when you optimize the keyword field.


Let us pretend a user searches for translate english to french with voice input. This phrase contains four keywords that specify the user’s wish:

  • translate indicates that the user wants a translator app
  • english and french narrow down the languages the user is interested in
  • voice input specifies which feature is important to the user

The conjunction to does not contribute any additional information about the user’s wish, and neither does with.

Avoiding Words that are no Keywords


You can ignore words and abbreviations with less than three characters like AI, KO, or PM. The reason is simple: Apple does so as well. So your app will not gain any visibility by targeting these terms.


In some cases, you do not need to put a word into your keyword field, even if it is highly relevant. The reason is that Apple will give you visibility for this word automatically.


Here are the keywords that you should not put into your keyword field:

  • App; as users are searching inside the App Store, it is evident that they want to download an app.
  • Free; if you own a free or freemium app, Apple will rank it for this term anyway.
  • Category Names; you can assign your app to two categories, and the algorithm will rank it for both category names.

Avoiding Free Keywords


You might be tempted to put the names of your competitors’ apps into your keyword field to challenge their rankings in search results. But there are three good reasons to stay away from this tactic:

  1. Apple’s guidelines prohibit to target the names of brands that you do not own in your metadata. Breaking this rule can result in the rejection of your app.
  2. All apps use their brand names in the app title. As the title has a higher weight for the algorithm than the keyword field, your app will not be able to outrank your competitor in search results.
  3. Users who search for a specific brand name have a strong intent to get this app. Thus, the likeliness that they will consider downloading your app is very low.
    It might be worth to target single generic keywords from their app titles, though.


If you want to challenge the game Empires & Puzzles: RPG Quest, you cannot target the exact phrase Empires and Puzzles. But you can use empire, puzzle, rpg, or quest (or their plurals) as keywords in your keyword field.

Brand Keywords

TIP 8: Use every Keyword only once

Apple’s algorithm will count any keyword only once, no matter how often you use it. Thus, duplicating a word in the keyword field will not result in a better ranking for your app.

The same is true for using the same word across different metadata elements. So do not put a keyword in the keyword field, if you already put it into the app title or subtitle.

TIP 9: Do not Use both the Singular and the Plural Form

Tip 8 also applies to singular and plural forms of the same word. Apple’s search algorithm will give your app visibility for a plural term even if you use only the singular form as a keyword. Be aware that this only applies to regular plurals that are formed by adding an s to the singular. In case you want to target an irregular plural, you must use it in addition to the singular.


Let us assume you want to rank your app for dog and dogs. You only need to put the singular or the plural form into your keyword field, because it is a regular plural.

But to rank for man and its irregular plural men, you have to use both keywords in your keyword field.

TIP 10: Use Single Keywords only

Long-tail keywords like french cooking recipes are more precise than the single keywords cooking or recipes. And ranking for these phrases is also easier because the competition is lower.

To get your app into the SERPs for long-tail keywords, you should not add them as exact matches into your keyword field, though. Instead, use the single components, and separate them by commas (see rule 3). The algorithm will rank your app for the single keywords and for all combinations of them.


If you put french, cooking, and recipes into your keyword field, your app will rank for these long-tail keywords:

  • french cooking
  • french recipes
  • cooking recipes
  • french cooking recipes

TIP 11: Optimize Keywords across Metadata Elements

The mechanism that I outlined for tip 10 also works across different metadata elements. So, if you put one keyword into the app title and another one into the keyword field, your app will rank for the long-tail keyword, combined from both.

You can leverage this mechanism if you put terms that are components of many long-tail keywords into the app title. Then, place the partner terms into the keyword field to rank for all relevant long-tail combinations.


If you put recipes into the app title and french, italian, and vegetarian into the keyword field, your app will rank for these relevant long-tail keywords:

  • french recipes
  • italian recipes
  • vegetarian recipes
  • french vegetarian recipes
  • italian vegetarian recipes


The App Store has separated storefronts for each country. In each of these storefronts, at least two languages are indexed by the search algorithm. So if you translate your metadata, you can fill two keyword fields instead of only one. To leverage this fact, localize your product page to the right languages.


For the U.S. storefront, Apple’s algorithm indexes the English (U.S.) and the Spanish (Mexico) localizations. By translating your metadata to Spanish, you double the space for keywords that you can target.


Following the tips I outlined in this post will help you optimize the keyword field and unlock its great potential. However, keyword optimization always must include ALL metadata elements that are indexed by the App Store algorithm. Thus, align your efforts regarding the keyword field with the other metadata: app title, subtitle, and the titles of your in-app purchases. Also, make sure that your strategy for conversion rate optimization fits your keyword strategy.