Incipia blog

ASO – 6 Resources for Keyword Research

Gabe Kwakyi | January 5, 2017

It can be a daunting task to try to identify all the different keywords to use when trying to optimize your app to be found by people searching in the app store.

Not only are keywords important for helping your app to come up for relevant App Store searches, keywords are also vital in explaining to people what your app is and does once they open your description, in the shortest possible number of words.

 Thankfully, keyword research is a straightforward process with several commonly used resources – here are six of them that you can use in your keyword research efforts.

1. Your Own Head

While there are plenty of ways that you can use to compare keywords in your list or find new keywords, all will require you to provide an initial "seed" keyword list of at least one keyword. Start your research in your own head, coming up with a list of ten or more keywords that you think describe the ways that people will search for your app. It's important to note that you should be thinking about keywords that people will use to search for your app rather than keywords which generally describe your app, because occasionally the keywords that people use to search will be different from the keywords that you will describe your app; moreover, there is often a big difference in the popularity of each of these types of keywords, especially in the gaming category.

Take for example our Goalie app, which we would describe as a "visual to do list;" yet people searched using other keywords like "task list, sticky notes and checklist."

Once you have this list, make sure to vet each keyword in it for popularity of each of your ideas using other methods listed below.

2. App Store Searches

Whether you're doing research for iOS or Android, you can use a simple search for one of the keywords you have already identified in the appropriate App Store to find new keywords and variations. This is done by way of auto fill or related keyword searches.

Auto fill results are popular searches that other searches have done, based on the characters or words you have already typed.

google play auto fill

iOS auto fill searches

While the details of what makes up related keywords are less concrete, it's a safe bet that related searches are other popular searches done by people who have searched the same keyword you did, meaning that they may be relevant for your app if the seed keyword is relevant.

iOS related keywords


Keep in mind that you will come across many auto fill keywords and related keywords that are irrelevant. Parse through the suggestions to pull out those that are relevant and keep moving.

3. User Reviews

Peruse through your own app's reviews as well as your competitors' apps in order to figure out how best to describe your app in a language that your users are most apt to understand. Keywords found in user reviews often make good search keywords as well as descriptor keywords.

Many ASO tools (such as the two below) as well as the Google Play Console even perform the aggregation for you, making it easy to analyze user reviews for popular phrases and keywords.

Another ASO tool, App Annie allows you to see up to 200 user reviews per page, filterable for several dimensions such as country, rating and version.

app annie user reviews

Additionally, when viewing reviews via iTunes Connect on a computer, you can see which reviews were voted most helpful, which can help you zero in on the reviews that resonate most with people.

itunes connect app store review

4. Apple Search Ads

Apple's Search Ads platform is very useful for keyword research as it is the first, first party platform to provide App Store-sourced search data. While this search data is surfaced as a search popularity index number between 5 and 100 (interestingly enough, the lowest known number is actually 5, rather than 1) rather than a specific monthly search volume number, it is nonetheless the most accurate way to compare and prioritize your list of ASO keywords. Search popularity is also the best way to determine which keywords have little-to-no volume (i.e. 5), which helps narrow your research. Apple search ads also provides suggested keywords (both auto fill and related) for any keyword that you request recommended keywords for.

apple search ads keyword research

5. Google Adwords

One of the most valuable assets to Adwords is the Keyword Planner Tool – a wonderful, free tool that lets you plug in a seed keyword list and spits out suggested keywords, along with providing estimates on anything from expected impressions, clicks, cost to even conversions and ROAS for each keyword. While the Google Keyword Planner Tool doesn't (yet) provide Play Store search data, it is useful to serve as a thesaurus for finding related searches that may make sense to use. Just make sure to confirm the value of each keyword you consider with other, app-specific data, such as the presence of top competitors in the top 10 rank, search popularity score or auto fill data.

That said, when adding keywords to an active ad group that has some keywords in it, you do have the option to see some keyword search volume data taken in part from the Play Store through the keyword suggestions box.

adwords suggested keywords

6. ASO Tools

Naturally the most useful place to do keyword research, ASO tools typically provide a free tier, where you can see data on competitor apps and start tracking a few keywords; however, most tools will charge around $50 or more per month to track around 100 keywords. Here are a couple of our favorite ASO tools:

AppTweak – great for keyword discovery and packed with loads of features, including pulling keywords from auto fill, related and apple search ads suggestions, along with comparing keywords that competitors rank for. AppTweak is also very handy for tracking performance for keywords, showing keyword ranks across your competition set and allowing you to download daily ranking data for each keyword. AppTweak also offers an ability to optimize your keyword mix across your app's title and keywords space for iOS for the most optimal character yield.

aso tool apptweak

Mobile Action – Among some of the many features of this useful tool, Mobile Action has is a new view that shows keyword performance over time, with worst, best and average rank for up to 100 keywords that Mobile Action automatically identifies your app as ranking for.

ASO tool mobile action

Competitor Apps

Looking at other apps that are in your niche or those that return for the keywords you have already discovered is another easy way to do keyword research. The first and foremost place that you should identify potential keywords is those found in the app's title. An app's title is the most influential place that keywords are ranked from, meaning that any keywords found in an app's title will be useful for your keyword research. For Android apps, you'll also want to consider keywords in the short or full description, given that a Play Store description also helps rank keywords for user searches. Descriptor keywords found in an iOS app's description can also be relevant in that they may align with the intent that users are searching for, but those keywords aren't quite as sure to be actual search keywords.

google play keyword search


Once you've identified your keywords, the next step is to optimize for them in your listing. We'll write a post on this next step, but if you're reading along and feel that research or optimization is something that you don't feel you have the time or expertise for, don't feel defeated. While ASO is a skill that can be learned, it takes lots of time to do so and lots of practice to truly understand.

If your time is limited, you may be better off hiring an ASO expert to help manage your strategy, either in part or whole. Hiring an ASO expert not only saves you time, but also provides crucial access to that expert's economies of experience, which is invaluable to achieving results and mitigating the issues that inevitably arise from implementing an ASO strategy.


That's all for now, folks! Be sure to bookmark our blog, sign up to our email newsletter for new post updates and reach out if you're interested in working with us.

Incipia is a mobile app development and marketing agency that builds and markets apps for companies, with a specialty in high-quality, stable app development and keyword-based marketing strategy, such as App Store Optimization and Apple Search Ads. For post topics, feedback or business inquiries please contact us, or send an inquiry to