App Store Keyword Ranking: Why it Matters and How You Can Improve Yours

June 29th, 2019

App Store Keyword Ranking: Why it Matters and How You Can Improve Yours
David Bell

by David Bell

CEO at Gummicube, Inc.

For an app to thrive on the App Store, it needs visibility in searches. The days where an app’s category ranking determines its success are long gone – today, keyword rankings are what matter the most, as the majority of app discovery takes place in search. As a major factor of App Store Optimization is improving your keyword rankings, one should understand how they work on the App Store and why they’re important.

Why Keyword Rankings Matter

When users look for an app on the App Store, they search based on terms related to what they want. Those terms are the keywords an app must target in order for users to find it.

There’s a saying that goes “the best place to hide a body is on the second page of search results.” This applies to the App Store search as well. The higher up an app appears in search results, the more likely users are to see it.

Given that 70% of app downloads come from App Store searches, you’ll want your app to be visible to users. If you can rank well in enough keywords, you can increase the number of users that will see your app for a greater variety of searches.

In short, apps can live or die on the App Store based on their keyword rankings.

How to Optimize Your Keywords

Now that you understand the importance of keyword rankings, the next question is: how do you optimize your keywords? The important thing here is to choose the best keywords for your app.

A good keyword should be directly related to the app, connecting to its purpose, features, user-facing elements and so forth. These should relate to the app’s functionality, such as a movie editor app targeting terms like “film,” “edit” and “video.”

Consider what the app is as well as what it can provide or the benefits from using it. For instance, many meditation apps target “wellness” keywords, since a proposed benefit of meditation is an increase in personal wellness.

However, it doesn’t matter how relevant a keyword is to an app if no one is searching for it. Apps should primarily target keywords with high search volume. ASO software can help identify what keywords users are searching for in high volumes, so you can understand the most valuable ones to target. Using highly relevant but lower volume terms can also help, as apps can use them to target niche audiences with less competition than they’d face for the exceptionally high-volume terms.

When adding your keywords, remember the App Store keyword rules and utilize as much space in the title, subtitle and keyword bank as possible. This will help you target the most potential terms for your app to appear on in searches.

Building Your Keyword Rankings

Once you’ve selected the keywords to target, it’s time for the next challenge: improving your App Store keyword rankings.

Your keyword rankings are affected to several factors, including:

  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Conversions
  • Relevance

When a user sees an app in search results and clicks on it, this signals to the App Store that it is relevant to the keyword the user searched for. Similarly, if they install the app, the App Store algorithm will know that users searching for the keyword find the app relevant for the term, which can improve its rankings for that keyword. Think of each click as a vote in favor of the app’s relevance; enough clicks can cause the app to move up in its rankings for that term.

These both tie in to the app’s relevance to its keywords. The CTR and conversion rate say to the store “Users searched for this keyword, they saw this app and liked it, therefore the app should rank well for that keyword.” While the actual algorithm is more complicated than that, this is a good way to simplify it.

As such, an app should be optimized to appeal to users. Visually engaging creative sets can entice users to click on the app, thus improving its CTR. If an app’s creatives include callout text that emphasizes the keywords the app is targeting, users searching for those keywords may more immediately connect their search query with your app. From there, videos and screenshots that show off the app’s functionality and a well-written description that demonstrates its value can encourage users to convert.

Running Apple Search Ads can help improve keyword rankings. Search Ads can put the app at the top of search results for its targeted keywords, which gives it a chance to make good first impressions to users before its competition has a chance. Any clicks and conversions the app gains from its ad count towards its organic indexation, so you can improve your App Store keyword ranking through Search Ads campaigns.


The value of keyword rankings cannot be overstated. Ranking well for a number of keywords can help an app improve its visibility by making it more visible in an area where over 70% of app downloads occur.

To improve an app’s keyword rankings, first ensure you’re targeting keywords that have value to your app in terms of relevance and search volume. After creating your metadata set, ensure that the app is optimized to engage with and convert users; the clickthrough rate, conversion rate and so forth will determine how well your app ranks for the keywords it’s targeting. With proper App Store Optimization, your app can rank high for a vast number of keywords, thus improving your chance at success.

Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.

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