Skip to main content

News alert, Apple is now limiting your app name to 50 characters and removing old or cloned apps from the app store. This is great news!

A few months ago I made a commitment to double down on app store optimization (ASO) as a viable strategy to drive downloads.


You see the same people that said ASO no longer works were the same people flooding the App Store with these crappy clones and reskins. So as they started moving on from ASO, I started digging deep.

And it’s paying off…

We have helped clients increase downloads anywhere from 20–400% using nothing but ASO.


In this blog post I will reveal our exact strategy on how we’ve been able to achieve phenomenal success using App Store Optimization.

1. Use These Tools to Compile Your Keywords

Many people building a social media app will try to rank for a high-trafficked term such as “facebook” when they would be better off ranking for a low-trafficked phrase with lower competition such as “international chat”. (Disclouse: I don’t know if “international chat” is a low competition I’m trying to make a point that long tail keywords generally have lower competition.)

**The key to a good ASO strategy is compiling a relevant list of keywords. **

The keywords don’t always have to be long-tail, however, if you’re only targeting a keyword because it has a high traffic score despite it only be loosely related to your app then you will not see an impact on downloads.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to find keywords worth targeting:

App Store Auto-Complete

I generally start with 3 or 4 single phrase keywords that describe the app and then put them into the App Store search to see what Apple and Google return as auto-completes.


If there are any relevant phrases that show up, then these keywords are ones that I will potentially target using step 3.

Target Competitors App Names

From our experience, we haven’t seen a huge lift of downloads ranking #2 for competitor app names. My theory is that the user is already typing a brand into the search with the sole intent on downloading that brand. It is very difficult to switch their minds just because you are #2.

However, I do think this is still a viable strategy especially if the traffic numbers for the keywords are higher than a three. The reason is that I still rather have the high visibility in keyword rankings. Thus for U.S. based apps, I generally use competitors’ app names in the Spanish-Mexico localization, so I can focus on more “head terms” in the main U.S. localization.

Other Tools

Here are a few other tools that I like to use to help me compile a long list of keywords.

2. See What Keywords Are Currently Driving Downloads

What are the keywords currently driving downloads? From my experience, Mobile Action is the only tool that shows me this data. If you are updating a current app then Mobile Action will show you the keywords that are driving the downloads for your app.

While the data is a calculation based on your rankings and traffic score, it does give you a good foundation to build off of.

Use this data to decide whether you should double down on the keywords driving a majority of your downloads.

3. Use Two ASO Tools to Obtain Competition Data

Using data from just one of your favorite ASO tools can lead you down the wrong path. While we used to rely solely on Sensor Tower data, we’ve found that comparing the data with Mobile Action actually yields a better result.

There have been multiple instances where one ASO tool will say a keyword has low competition but we don’t rank highly for it. That’s why I like using two ASO tools. If both ASO tools say a keyword has low competition then it usualy results in a top 10 ranking. However, if only one tool shows low competition then you may or may not then rank high for that particular term.

Here’s a video that shows real data from each tool and our client’s ranking for a particular keyword (I don’t reveal the actual keyword).

4. Double Your Keywords

Most app publishers and marketers know there is a 100 character limit on the App Store keywords field and 50 character limit on the App Store name, however, most do not know that Apple indexes more than one set of localizations in each App Store territory.

For example, the U.S. App Store indexes the Spanish (Mexico) localization meaning that if someone searches in English for a keyword that you have in English but in your Spanish (Mexico) localization you will rank for that term.

If you watch the video from Step 3, you will see real data of keywords that only appear in the Spanish (Mexico) localization where our clients are ranking #1.

Here’s a video on how you can utilize the localization of other App Store territories.

Understanding which localizations are used in each country is paramount in improving your App Store Optimization (ASO) efforts. It essentially doubles the amount of keywords you can utilize in your app name and keyword field. In fact, this localization trait is even magnified in some countries.

To see the full list, check out Sensor Tower’s The Definitive iOS Keyword Localization Guide.

Leave a Reply