How to Do Keyword Research for App Store Optimization (ASO)?

How to Do Keyword Research for App Store Optimization (ASO)?

by Andrea Knezovic

Looking for tips on how to do keyword research for app store optimization?

You’ve come to the right place. 

In this practical guide, you’ll learn the step-by-step process of finding keywords that will boost your ASO efforts and drive organic user acquisition to your app or game. 

But first, here are the basics of ASO and how keywords work in the stores.  

What Is App Store Optimization? 

App Store Optimization or ASO is the process of optimizing the app store pages for a mobile app or game to improve its visibility by ranking higher and driving conversions. 

In other words, with ASO, you can get more users for your app or game organically. 

Most people go to Google Play or App Store to look for apps, which is why most of the conversions happen there. According to Apple, search is responsible for initiating 65% of all downloads on the App Store. 

Some of the main ranking factors on the app stores are the app’s name, description, and keywords. The app’s icon and image assets can also aid the app store optimization process. 

Because keywords can help your mobile app or game rank higher in app stores, picking the right ones is essential. 

You should start this process by doing keyword research for app store optimization. 

app store icon

What Is Keyword Research for App Store Optimization (ASO)?

Keyword research for app store optimization (ASO) is the process of finding phrases that best describe your app or game and match users’ search terms. 

For example, if you have a travel app, you should research topics related to the travel niche. Furthermore, you should consider the specific search terms people use to find travel apps. 

This is the basic idea of ASO keyword research. 

How Keywords Work on the Apple App Store vs. Google Play

Even though keywords are a ranking factor on both Apple App Store and Google Play, there are some crucial differences between the two stores. 

On the App Store, there’s a designated keyword field where you can enter the keywords you want to rank for (up to 100 characters). The keywords you add are private, and users can’t see them on your app’s App Store listing. 

Google Play doesn’t have that option. However, you can include keywords in the app’s title, short description, and long description. Adding ASO keywords to the title has the biggest effect on ranking. 

Keep in mind that you can add keywords in the app’s title and subtitle on Apple as well – it also has an impact on ranking.

apple app store icon

How Many Keywords Should I Use for ASO?

As I’ve mentioned, on Apple, there’s a keyword field that allows for up to 100 characters. That makes the process a bit easier to navigate because it creates a limit – you can’t add as many keywords as you want. 

On Google Play, you need to insert keywords in the title and description. This is a bit trickier because you might wonder – how many keywords is too much?

One thing is certain – keyword stuffing is a practice you should avoid at all costs as it might produce the opposite effect. Put simply, more keywords doesn’t mean better results. In that sense, it’s much like SEO.

We recommend that you aim for five to ten keywords you can compete for. However, to narrow it down to that number, you need to do extensive research and first come up with hundreds of keywords first.

But more on the process of keyword research for app store optimization in the following section. 

How Do I Find Keywords for ASO?

Here’s a simple step-by-step process for doing ASO keyword research. 


Step 1: Brainstorm

The first phase of keyword research for app store optimization is brainstorming. 

During this phase, the goal is to write down as many keywords as you can think of. 

I’m talking hundreds or even thousands. 

Of course, the keywords should be based on the features of your app or game and include phrases related to your niche. 

Start by answering the following questions: 

  • What terms do people use to describe the services your app offers or the features of your game?
  • What are your app’s or game’s most important features and benefits?
  • What advantages does it offer your users, or what problem does it solve?
  • What makes your app or game unique?

Let’s say you have a fitness app for women with guided workouts that can be done at home. 

Keywords you could start with based on the questions above could be: 

  • “fitness app”
  • “home workout”
  • “workout for women”
  • “home fitness”
  • “exercises for losing weight”
  • “exercise app for weight loss for women” 

Expand Your Keyword List

Next, you should work on expanding your keyword list. 

Make sure your list includes both short, one-word keywords and long-tail keywords. For example, along with the keyword “workout”, you can also include long-tail keywords like “workout app for beginners”, “free workout app”, “workout app for losing weight”, etc. 

Moreover, expand your list by combining different keywords and including synonyms. For example, some synonyms for the keyword “workout” are “exercise”, “training”, “conditioning, “routine”, and “isometrics”.

Finally, include all different variations and spellings of one keyword. For example, “workout”, “workouts”, and “work out”. 

It is also useful to determine which terms users frequently apply, which can be done by reading user comments, scrolling through forums and groups on social media, and examining competitors’ app listings.


To reach users in specific countries, you also need to include keywords in different languages

Not only that, but you should localize your entire app page to reach international users. 

To do that, it’s best to hire professional translators. Avoid using tools like Google translate because this can result in incorrect translations that will hurt your app store optimization efforts. 

spy on competitors

Step 2: Spy on Your Competitors 

It can be very helpful to check out competitor apps and see which keywords they’re using. 

This will not only give more keyword ideas but also help you identify gaps that you can take advantage of. 

The easiest way is to look at the app titles and descriptions and identify the keywords there. 

Furthermore, many ASO tools allow you to see the keywords your competitors are ranking for. Along with giving you ideas, this helps you choose your keywords and optimize them. 

But more on that later. 

Step 3: Analyze Keywords

Once you’ve got a master list that consists of hundreds of keywords, you need to sort through them and analyze them.

Here’s what I mean by that. 

It helps if you group similar keywords and synonyms. This will make your life easier and help you choose the best keywords from each group.

Also, you need to establish which keywords are the most relevant for your app (relevancy), which have the highest search volume (traffic), and competition (difficulty). 

Then, start narrowing down your list. If some keywords are not as relevant for your app or game as others, remove them. 

It’s also important to identify keywords with a relatively high search volume but aren’t insanely competitive. 

I will explain this in detail in the following section. 

Step 4: Find Balance between Search Volume and Competition

The two most important factors for choosing a keyword are search volume (traffic) and competition (difficulty). 

Search volume tells you how many users search for a particular keyword. 

For example, you might think you’ve found a keyword that perfectly describes your app or game. However, if that keyword has a low search volume, it won’t help you meet your ASO goals. 

On the other hand, keyword difficulty tells you how much competition there is for that keyword. Naturally, if a keyword has a lot of competition, it will be hard to rank for it. 

You’ll find that keywords with high search volume also have a lot of competition. Similarly, keywords with low search volume tend to have a low difficulty number. 

The key here is balance. 

Your goal should be to find keywords with relatively high search volume but are not insanely competitive. In other words, avoid going to extremes in either direction.  

For example, “fitness” is a generic keyword with a high difficulty score. Thus, it would not be a good choice. 

A long-tail keyword like “free fitness and nutrition tracking” has relatively high traffic but isn’t as competitive. 

That makes it a better option.  

Step 5: Narrow Down Your Keyword List

Finally, you need to narrow down your list to just five to ten keywords that will give you the best chance for ranking high in the search results based on the previous tips.

Furthermore, start thinking about where you’ll include each keyword – in the title, keyword field, or description? 

When it comes to keywords in the app name and description, it’s essential how you include them there. Both need to be natural and make sense with the title or description text. Thus, avoid randomly inserting keywords just for the sake of it. 

Once again, this is a lot like search engine optimization, as similar rules apply. 

Can I Do Keyword Research for Free?

The short answer is – yes, you can do keyword research for free. 

Luckily, many free ASO tools can help you with this important task. 

Here are the best ones. 

Free ASO Keyword Research Tools

google keyword search


Here’s the thing – most of your initial keyword research can be done with Google search, which is, of course, 100% free

Start typing in phrases related to your app and game, and you’ll be able to see what people are searching for and get suggested search terms.

google play search autosuggest

App Stores

The same thing can be done on the app stores with autosuggest. When you start typing in a phrase in the search bar, you get suggested search terms. 

This tells you what users are searching for and the exact phrases they’re using.

This simple tool allows you to do basic keyword research for Play Store for free. Just enter a keyword, and you’ll get a list of related keywords. 

color match keywords


This is an excellent ASO tool that has many free features. Most importantly, you can spy on your competitors’ keywords, which is particularly useful. 

For example, just by signing up, you can access keywords different apps and games rank for, as well as see category rankings and search visibility. In the image above, you can see the keywords the mobile game Coloring Match is ranking for. 

Also, many other paid ASO tools have basic free plans or trials like ASOdesk, AppFollow, and AppRadar. 

color match keywords and rankings

How Do I Optimize Keywords in the App Store?

To get the most out of your keyword strategy for ASO, you need to test the keywords you’ve chosen and track their performance. 

Test Your Keywords and Track Performance

After you’ve selected all your best keywords, you should put them to the test. It could take up to several days to several weeks for everything to start working properly.

Keep track of your listing for an insight into your performance. Within the first month, app stores should provide the data about your app listing, the number of times you appear in searches, and your install conversion rates. 

Those numbers will tell you how well you did your job. It helps to use ASO tools to track your keywords and their performance. 

App stores are constantly changing their algorithms, so keyword research for app store optimization needs to be an ongoing process. Even the best-researched keywords can lose rankings over time.

Final Thoughts on Keyword Research for App Store Optimization

To summarize, app store optimization is a powerful strategy for driving conversions organically and achieving a high ROI. 

Keywords are an essential part of this process. 

When keyword research for app store optimization is done properly, it can significantly improve the visibility of your app or game in the stores. 

Brainstorm, do market research, find the sweet spot between keyword traffic and competition, and you’ll be on your way to achieving success with your app.


About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 200,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018.

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