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What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a process in App Store Optimization. It is about searching and validating keywords and implementing them into an app’s metadata later. The goal of this process is to increase the app’s visibility in the app stores’ search results. Thus, keyword research is a crucial activity in App Store Optimization.

Why Keyword Research is important

With the right keywords, app owners can push their apps into search results. By doing so, they can create a constant stream of new organic users. Therefore, keyword research is the foundation of a successful app business.

The Research Process

Keyword research is a complex process that consists of five phases:


Phase 1: Brainstorming Keyword Ideas

The first phase is brainstorming. Brainstorming is a creative process with the goal of finding keyword ideas. For this phase, only one rule applies: no censorship. That means that all ideas are fine.

Phase 2: Expanding the List of Keyword Ideas

The second phase of keyword research aims to increase the number of keyword ideas. For this purpose, app owners can use different techniques and sources. For instance:

  • word associations
  • synonyms
  • media coverage and user reviews
  • product pages, websites,  and social media of competitors
  • user reviews and media coverage about competitors
  • the app stores’ auto-complete function

Phase 3: Keyword Validation

Keyword validation is the third phase of the keyword research process. It is about judging the keyword ideas regarding three criteria:

  • Search Volumes: how many users search for this term?
  • Difficulty: how many other apps (try to) rank for this term?
  • Relevance: is the keyword connected to the app?

Search volumes and difficulty are objective criteria. But neither Apple nor Google provide them to the public. To get access to this data, app marketers need to use keyword tools.

Relevance is a subjective criterion. Some people might consider a keyword relevant for an app, while others do not. In other words, it is an individual opinion. As there is no data available, marketers need to use reason and logic to determine relevance. A good approach is to scan other apps that rank for this term.

Phase 4: Keyword Implementation

The fourth phase of the keyword research process is implementation. The new set of optimized keywords must be added to the app’s indexed metadata.

Phase 5: Monitoring Results

Finally, app owners need to monitor and analyze the outcomes of their adjustments. The proper metrics for this purpose are the number of impressions and the number of downloads.

Keyword Research in the Long Term

Keyword research does not end after the last phase. Instead, it is a never-ending process that app owners should repeat regularly. Reasons for reiterating the process are, for instance:

  • changes in the app stores’ algorithms
  • new competitors
  • trends

Keywords and Paid User Acquisition

Keywords are not only important for increasing organic traffic. Besides, it is also the basis for paid user acquisition campaigns. Especially the success of Apple Search Ad campaigns depends on a great keyword set.

In conclusion, keyword research is one of the most essential activities in Mobile Marketing.


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