Keywords are Key for Search Ads

November 29th, 2018

Keywords are Key for Search Ads
David Quinn

by David Quinn

VP of Strategy & Partnerships at Gummicube, Inc.

A successful Search Ads campaign utilizes keywords to connect active searchers with apps. Taking the time to optimize keywords is an essential part of launching any effective paid campaign and an integral part of App Store Optimization for both ranking within the App Store. But developers can’t just choose what keywords they want to target on a whim – they need to take the time to determine what terms and phrases they’re targeting. Here’s what you should know when determining keywords for your Search Ads campaign.

ASO and Search Ads

On a very basic level, keywords matter because they’re what users use to conduct a search. If an app ranks well for a keyword, users searching for that keyword are more likely to see it. This is one of the cornerstones of App Store Optimization and is just as important for paid campaigns as it is organic search. Search Ads campaigns will put the ad at the top of search results for the keywords the advertiser bids on. The higher an app ranks for a keyword, the more the ad gets served for that search term and the less it costs to acquire a user searching for the term. Again, this is a basic concept, but the synergy between organic search and Search Ads begins from there. An app builds relevance for a term in Search Ads campaigns by integrating it naturally throughout the description and indexing for it. The more users click on an app when searching for that term, the more relevant it becomes. This is where the symbiotic relationship between Search Ads and organic rankings grows – when Search Ads place an app at the top of search results for a certain keyword, users will view it more, which builds its visibility for that keyword. This improves its organic rankings, which in turn improve its relevance for Search Ads, in a feedback loop of growth that benefits the app both in and out of paid campaigns.

Always Be Relevant

When selecting your keywords, it’s key to keep them relevant. The more relevant an app is to a selected keyword, the more likely it is to win its Search Ads bid for that keyword if the bid is sufficiently high. As previously mentioned, apps can build relevance for keywords by properly utilizing them within the description. This will take some time, as the Search Ads algorithm indexes the apps and determines what is relevant, but once the app is deemed relevant, it will improve its chances of winning keyword bids. Regardless of the algorithm, it doesn’t matter if an app is at the top of search results if it has little to do with what the user doing the search is trying to find. If users are searching for a racing game, they’re unlikely to click on a match-3 game or an app about the physics of race cars. You want to be relevant and appeal to users, so they’ll click the app when it shows up in results and convert. Visibility is only the first part of the user acquisition process.

Don’t Go Too Broad

Similarly, while you want to be relevant to the user’s search, you also need to be relevant to their specific needs. Broad search terms will be less likely to reach users than more specific terms that focus on exact words and phrases. If, for instance, an app is a mobile roleplaying game where the player is a dragon, the app could target terms like “dragon game” or “dragon RPG” in its Search Ads campaign. That would specifically appeal to users searching for games involving dragons. However, if it were to just target “roleplaying game” or even just “game,” those are much broader terms that not only have more competition, but also encompass a wider variety of games that users could be searching for. For broad terms like the example above, the app’s Search Ads campaign would have to compete with a wider range of apps that could match those keywords. Even though they’ll be reaching users, they’re not guaranteed to be searching for the exact app and could be looking for a very different type of game. The more specific a targeted keyword can be while still remaining in-demand, the better.

Negative Keywords

When you’re choosing what keywords to target for your paid search campaigns, keep in mind those you want to avoid too. These are known as negative keywords – keywords that your app will be excluded from searches for. For instance, say an app is designed for fashionistas to shop and share information on their favorite looks. That app would not want to target users searching for a fashion-based game, since they would be looking for a casual mobile game, not a shopping app. While the app would still target “fashion” as a keyword, it could include any variants of “game” as negative keywords, ensuring that anyone searching for “fashion games” would not see the app in their search results. Utilizing negative keywords enables app developers to put their marketing budget to better use because they can make sure their app isn’t shown to users that are uninterested. If they can identify keywords irrelevant to their app that might still crossover with keywords that are relevant, setting them up as negative keywords lets them focus fire on the users that they have the best chance of converting.

What to Remember

Picking the right keywords is essential to a good Search Ads campaign. They determine what searches the app will appear for, so it’s vital to choose them wisely. The keywords must be relevant to the app and specific to what the app has to offer, which may include blacklisting some keywords that are not relevant. By targeting the right keywords, an app can build its organic search rankings for them while appearing in paid searches as well. By improving its visibility, it’s furthering growth both in and out of paid campaigns.

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