What is ASO?

ASO… So, you’ve launched your brand new magical app, designed to revolutionise the world. It’s packed with features that you know users will love, promising to make their lives easier, more enjoyable, or perhaps both. Yet, despite its potential, there’s a problem: nobody is installing it. It’s lost in the vast ocean of the app store, invisible to your target audience.

This is a common dilemma in the digital age, where even the most innovative apps struggle to surface in the crowded app marketplace. The key to overcoming this challenge lies in understanding and mastering App Store Optimisation (ASO), particularly the crucial element of keyword research. It’s about making your app discoverable to those who are searching for exactly what you offer, ensuring it doesn’t just fade into the background.

ASO. App Store Optimisation.

App Store Optimisation (ASO) is essentially a strategy to craft your app’s description and other relevant metadata in the app store in a manner that makes it easily discoverable by users. This process involves carefully selecting words and phrases – keywords – that potential users are likely to use when searching for an app like yours in the app store.

Why You Need ASO?

The main goal of ASO is to improve the visibility of your app in the app store’s search results. When someone searches for a keyword that’s relevant to your app, you want your app to appear as high up in those search results as possible. To achieve this, you need to integrate these keywords thoughtfully into various elements of your app’s listing in the store, such as the title, the description, and even the updates section.

In summary, ASO is about writing your app’s description and other textual elements in such a way that it aligns with what your potential users are searching for, thereby increasing the chances of your app being found and downloaded.

The Essence of Keyword Research in ASO

Keyword research in App Store Optimisation (ASO) is a fundamental step, much like laying the foundation for a building. It involves a careful process of identifying and selecting the terms and phrases that potential users are most likely to use when they’re searching for an app in the store. For instance, if you have developed a meditation app, your keyword research might reveal that potential users frequently search for terms like “mindfulness,” “meditation,” “stress relief,” or “calm.” By understanding these search habits, you can better tailor your app’s description and metadata to align with these searches.

The ultimate goal of this research is to enhance the visibility of your app in the app store’s search results. When your app listing contains the right keywords, it has a higher chance of appearing at the top of search results when users look for those terms. This increased visibility can significantly boost the likelihood of your app being downloaded. For example, if your meditation app’s listing includes the keywords identified in your research, it’s more likely to appear when users search for “stress relief apps” or “best meditation apps,” thereby drawing in a larger audience and potentially leading to more downloads. This strategy is essential in a crowded app marketplace, where standing out amongst thousands of competitors can be the key to success.

Key Steps in Keyword Research for ASO

Understanding the Target Audience

The initial and arguably most critical step in keyword research for ASO is developing a deep understanding of your target audience. It’s about getting into the minds of the people who are most likely to use your app. What are their specific needs and preferences? How do they express these needs when searching for apps? For example, if your app is a language learning tool, your target audience might include students, travellers, or professionals looking to expand their linguistic skills. You need to consider various factors such as their age group, which might range from young adults seeking to learn a new language for career purposes to older individuals interested in learning for personal enrichment.

Additionally, the geographical location of your audience can play a significant role. Users in different regions may use different terms or phrases when searching for the same type of app. Interests are also crucial; understanding what drives your audience, what other apps they might use, and how they engage with technology can provide valuable insights. For instance, if your language app includes unique features like gamified learning or cultural trivia, identifying keywords that resonate with users interested in gaming or cultural exploration can be beneficial. This comprehensive understanding of who your audience is and how they search is the foundation upon which effective keyword strategies are built.

Competitor Analysis

An integral part of keyword research for ASO is conducting a thorough competitor analysis. This involves investigating the keywords that your competitors are targeting in their app store listings.

For example, if you’re developing a recipe app, you might want to look at the keywords used by leading recipe apps – these could range from “easy cooking” to “healthy recipes” or “quick meals.” This not only gives you an idea of what’s popular in your niche but also helps you identify any potential gaps in their keyword strategies that you could exploit.

Tools like Data.ai or Sensor Tower are instrumental in this process. They provide detailed insights into your competitors’ app store performance, including which keywords they rank for and their position in search results. Let’s say you’re in the travel app industry; these tools could reveal that competitors are focusing heavily on keywords like “cheap flights” and “hotel deals.” However, you might notice a gap in keywords related to “eco-friendly travel” or “adventure travel,” presenting an opportunity for your app to target these less competitive, niche keywords.

The goal of competitor analysis in ASO isn’t to simply mimic what others are doing, but to understand the landscape and find your unique space within it. By identifying areas that your competitors might have overlooked, you can carve out a distinct position for your app. For instance, in the financial app sector, while most competitors might focus on keywords like “budget tracker” or “expense manager,” there could be an untapped market for keywords related to “investment portfolio” or “crypto wallet.” Targeting these unique keywords can help set your app apart and capture a specific audience segment that is underserved.

Utilising Keyword Research Tools

Making the most of specialised tools for ASO keyword research is a critical step in refining your app’s visibility strategy. These tools are designed to help you discover the most effective keywords for your app, providing a range of functionalities that simplify this otherwise complex process. For instance, they can suggest relevant keywords based on your app’s features and target audience. Suppose you have a language learning app; these tools might suggest keywords like “language exchange,” “learn Spanish,” or “vocabulary builder,” helping you to identify which terms are most relevant to your app.

Additionally, these tools offer valuable data on search volume, which indicates how often a particular keyword is searched for in the app store. This information is crucial in determining which keywords are worth targeting. For example, a high search volume for “meal prep ideas” might make it an attractive keyword for a cooking app. Furthermore, they also provide insights into the difficulty of ranking for specific keywords. In competitive markets like gaming, where terms like “puzzle games” or “adventure games” might be highly sought after, these tools can show you how hard it will be to rank highly for such keywords, enabling you to make more informed decisions about your keyword strategy.

The advantage of using these tools lies in their ability to offer a comprehensive view of the keyword landscape, guiding you in selecting keywords that are not only relevant but also achievable in terms of ranking potential. By leveraging this technology, you can optimise your app’s listing with a balanced mix of high-volume and niche keywords, maximising your chances of being noticed in a crowded app marketplace.

Long-Tail Keywords

Incorporating long-tail keywords into your ASO strategy is crucial, and often, it’s a game-changer for app visibility. Unlike shorter, more generic keywords, long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that, while they may have lower search volumes, are highly effective in attracting a targeted audience. These keywords are often less competitive but more descriptive and closer to the actual search queries made by users. For example, instead of just “fitness,” a long-tail keyword could be “home workout for beginners” or “yoga exercises for stress relief.”

The strength of long-tail keywords lies in their specificity and relevance. They allow you to target niche audiences who are looking for exactly what your app offers. This can lead to a higher conversion rate because the users who find your app through these searches are likely to be more interested in your specific features or content. For instance, if you have a budget planning app, targeting a long-tail keyword like “budget planner for freelancers” can help you reach an audience specifically looking for budgeting solutions tailored to freelance work.

Moreover, long-tail keywords can also improve the overall user experience. When users search using these specific phrases and find an app that precisely matches their needs, it enhances their satisfaction and increases the likelihood of positive reviews and ratings, further boosting your ASO efforts. Therefore, while integrating these keywords, it’s essential to ensure they align well with your app’s features and user benefits, thereby creating a more focused and effective app discovery experience.

Localisation and Cultural Nuances

When targeting a global audience or multiple regions, localisation of keywords becomes a pivotal aspect of ASO. Localisation goes beyond mere translation; it involves adapting your app’s keywords to fit the cultural and linguistic nuances of each target market. This means not just translating words, but understanding how people in different regions search for apps like yours. For instance, while “budget tracker” might be a popular search term in the UK, in France, users might search for “gestionnaire de budget,” which encompasses not just a literal translation but also aligns with local search habits.

Cultural nuances also play a significant role in localisation. It’s about knowing the cultural context and preferences of each market. For example, a fitness app might focus on “beach body workouts” in coastal regions but emphasise “office workouts” or “home fitness” in urban areas. In Japan, a productivity app might need to focus on keywords related to “efficiency” and “time management,” reflecting the local work culture, whereas in Brazil, the same app might target keywords around “work-life balance” or “stress reduction.”

Proper localisation can significantly enhance your app’s appeal in various markets. It helps in connecting with users in a more meaningful way, showing that you understand and cater to their specific needs and preferences. This effort not only improves your app’s visibility in different regions but can also lead to better user engagement, higher download rates, and positive reviews. Hence, investing in accurate and culturally sensitive localisation of your app’s keywords is essential for successful international ASO.

Monitoring and Adapting

Keyword trends can change rapidly. Regular monitoring and adapting the ASO strategy accordingly is vital for sustained app visibility. This ensures that your app remains relevant and easily discoverable. For instance, a fintech app initially focusing on keywords like “online banking” may need to shift towards terms like “mobile payments” or “digital wallets” as consumer preferences evolve towards newer financial technologies.

Seasonal trends and economic shifts can also impact the effectiveness of certain keywords. During tax season, for instance, fintech apps focusing on personal finance might benefit from targeting keywords like “tax saving investments” or “easy tax filing.” Similarly, during times of economic uncertainty, users might be more interested in “investment tracking” or “budgeting tools,” requiring a shift in your keyword strategy.

Regularly assessing the performance of your chosen keywords is not just about staying current with trends; it’s also about evaluating the impact of your ASO efforts. Utilising analytics tools to monitor fluctuations in keyword rankings, app downloads, and user engagement metrics is vital. This data can inform which keywords are successfully attracting users and which ones need revision or replacement.

The flexibility to adapt to market changes is a cornerstone of effective ASO in the fintech sector. By continuously updating your keyword strategy in response to user behavior, market events, and emerging financial technologies, you can ensure that your app retains a prominent and relevant position in app store searches, catering effectively to the needs and interests of your target audience.

Challenges and Solutions in ASO Keyword Research

Saturation in Popular Keywords:

In the world of ASO, one of the biggest challenges is the intense competition for popular keywords. These are terms that have a high search volume and are generally sought after by many apps in the same category. For instance, in a sector like mobile gaming, keywords such as “puzzle game” or “action game” are incredibly popular, making it difficult for a new app to rank highly for these terms. The saturation in these popular keywords means that simply using them in your app’s listing may not be enough to stand out in the crowded app marketplace.

The solution to this challenge lies in finding the right balance between popular and niche keywords. This involves tailoring your keyword strategy to align with your app’s unique value proposition. For example, instead of only targeting broad terms like “fitness app,” a health and fitness app could focus on more specific keywords that highlight its unique features, such as “vegan meal planner” or “15-minute home workouts.” This approach helps in targeting a specific audience looking for particular features that your app offers, which can lead to a higher conversion rate.

By combining popular keywords with more targeted, niche keywords, you can effectively tap into the larger audience while also appealing to those users with specific interests or needs. This strategy not only helps in differentiating your app from others but also increases the chances of your app being discovered by users who are more likely to engage with and benefit from your app’s specific offerings. Therefore, understanding and implementing a balanced keyword strategy is key to overcoming the challenge of saturation in popular keywords.

Dynamic Market Trends:

Navigating the mobile app market requires an acute awareness of its ever-changing nature. This dynamic landscape is characterized by shifting user preferences, emerging technologies, and evolving market trends, all of which can significantly impact the effectiveness of your keyword strategy in ASO. For instance, with the rise of remote work, apps focused on productivity and collaboration may find that keywords such as “remote team management” or “virtual office tools” have become more relevant and sought-after.

Staying informed about the latest trends is crucial. This involves not only keeping an eye on industry news and reports but also analysing user feedback and behaviour patterns. In the finance sector, for example, a growing interest in cryptocurrency might lead to increased searches for keywords like “crypto wallet” or “blockchain investments.” Being quick to adapt your keyword strategy to include these emerging trends can position your app favorably in the app store, making it more discoverable to users seeking these new functionalities.

Adapting to these trends also means regularly revisiting and updating your app’s keywords. The keywords that were effective a few months ago might not yield the same results today due to changes in user search behaviour or the introduction of new competitors. In the health and wellness sector, an emerging trend like “mindfulness meditation” might replace previous keywords such as “stress relief exercises.” By continuously monitoring and updating your keywords to align with current trends, you ensure that your app remains relevant and easily findable in the app store, thus maintaining and potentially increasing its user base.

In summary, the mobile app market’s fluidity demands a proactive and responsive approach to keyword strategy. By staying updated with market trends and rapidly adjusting your keywords accordingly, you can keep your app competitive and visible in a marketplace that is constantly in flux.

Localisation Missteps:

A critical aspect of ASO, especially for apps targeting a global audience, is the accurate localisation of keywords. One of the common pitfalls in this process is poor or literal translations of keywords, which can not only reduce the app’s visibility in local searches but also harm its credibility among users. For example, a fitness app simply translating “weight loss exercises” into another language without considering local fitness trends or colloquial terms might miss connecting with the intended audience. Such missteps can make the app seem out of touch or irrelevant in the local context.

To avoid these localisation errors, it’s essential to engage native speakers or professional localisation services. Native speakers bring an understanding of not just the language but also the cultural nuances, idiomatic expressions, and regional search habits. This expertise is invaluable in ensuring that the translated keywords are contextually and culturally appropriate. For instance, a financial app expanding into a non-English speaking market will benefit from local experts who understand both the financial terminology and the way locals discuss financial matters.

Professional localisation services offer a more comprehensive solution. They not only provide accurate translations but also conduct market research to identify the most effective keywords for each region. They can help tailor your app’s content and keywords to resonate with local audiences, taking into account regional trends, cultural sensitivities, and local search engine algorithms. This level of localisation enhances the app’s relevance and appeal in different markets, thereby increasing the chances of success in a global app marketplace.

In summary, investing in proper localisation by using native expertise or professional services is crucial in avoiding missteps that can impact your app’s effectiveness and reputation in international markets. This approach ensures that your app is not only linguistically accurate but also culturally resonant, paving the way for better engagement and adoption across diverse user bases.

ASO Impact

App Store Optimisation (ASO) has a notable impact on the number of app installs. According to BusinessofApps this was evidenced by several case studies:

  1. Kiwi.com: After implementing an ASO strategy focusing on keyword and conversion rate optimisation, Kiwi.com saw a 31% increase in app downloads
  2. Sephora: By improving its ASO strategy, including keyword optimisation and conversion rate improvements, Sephora experienced a significant increase in its conversion rate, positively impacting overall performance across all channels
  3. iSharing: With a refined ASO approach, including keyword set updates and conversion rate monitoring, the iSharing app improved its ranking in the App Store’s Social Networking category from #160 to #92 within two months
  4. Himalaya: By optimising keywords and descriptions, Himalaya achieved Top 2 in the “Books” category in the App Store in Taiwan, saw a 58% increase in search downloads on the App Store in Taiwan, and a 47% increase in search downloads on Google Play in the United States. Additionally, there was a 164% increase in top-ranking keywords in the App Store and a 233% increase in Google Play.
  5. Darby Smart: A simple A/B testing on the app icon led to a 10% increase in the app’s conversion rate.
  6. Headspace: The implementation of a comprehensive ASO campaign resulted in a 40% increase in visibility, an 18% increase in installs via search, an 8% increase in the Click-View-Rate of local store listings, and a 40% increase in installs via search in key, non-English markets.

These examples demonstrate how an effective ASO strategy can significantly enhance app visibility, search ranking, and ultimately lead to a substantial increase in app downloads.


Effective keyword research is pivotal in ASO and requires a blend of analytical and creative approaches. By thoroughly understanding the target audience, keeping abreast with market trends, and continuously refining the keyword strategy, businesses can significantly enhance their app’s visibility in a crowded marketplace. In essence, keyword research is not just about finding words; it’s about connecting with an audience in the most efficient and compelling way possible.