An Easy Keyword Research Strategy You Can Use Today for Your Apps

Like it or not, we've got to accept the fact that the Apple's app store and Google's Play store are both getting terribly crowded.

(Psst! Read to the end for a hot tip on app naming!)

Keyword research play an even bigger role now. Gone are the days where you could slap together, for example, a  flashlight app, and your app would show up for flashlight searches. In fact it's gotten so bad for flashlights, that Apple has even stopped accepting flashlight apps!

A new year, a new look!

Before I proceed, I would love to wish you and all your loved ones a wonderful 2015! May you publish a new flappy bird killer app or game this year.

This blog has just undergone (still is undergoing) some renovations, and hopefully this new look gives the blog a more professional look. But the changes are not final, and not only limited to how it looks.

This year MobiAdage changes its tag line to "the business of mobile". With that, I am striving on providing you with much better articles, comprising ASO / SEO, app marketing and mobile advertising. I'm also in the midst of working out some useful products and tools that will be beneficial to the small indie developer community.

Let's see how it goes then. Stick around! And please wish me luck!

Now, back to the topic of keyword research strategies that you can use TODAY for your apps.

Keyword Research for Mobile Apps and Games

Keyword research should be looked at even BEFORE you start your development. The market is so packed and vast now, that its really tough to stand out from the crowd. What's going to make your flashlight stand out? Should you even bother with a flashlight app? Is it worth your time and effort?

Every developer with a sane mind will advice to stay away from making a flashlight app. But we know the insane ones are the ones that make this world a lot more exciting right?

Flashlight apps are like the countless hello world codes developers all around the world have written. If you're new and just starting out in this world of app development, then I do recommend you try making one, if this interests you. You'll get the experience of developing a useful tool, and also learn the app publishing and marketing parts too.

The thing is, the flashlight app market is just too crowded, that Google perhaps should make a sub-category called "flash lights". And for cameras and alarms too. How you get outstanding here is what's going to make the difference whether your app succeeds or not.

I'll be using flashlight app as an example here, the theory can be applied to any apps of course.

How I do my keyword research

This is just one of the ways you can do your keyword research. This strategy gives you fast ideas for keywords. Remember though, that like everything you do in your app marketing, nothing is guaranteed. Luck plays a role too.

Using this simple strategy, if I were to develop a flash light app, this is how I'd go about with it.

1 - Keyword research on Google Play

One of my favourite keyword research tool is the Google Play itself. The suggestions that Google displays as you type in the search field are a treasure trove of keywords ideas.

I loaded Google Play on the browser, and started typing "flashl", and I get the following suggestions:

Keyword research on Google Play

This in itself gives me a great idea for the keywords I'd use for the flashlight app. You will notice the keywords "free", "app" and "widget" there. If I'm just using this, I'd title my app "Free Flashlight App & Widget". This title covers all the suggestions that Google Play provided.

The problem with this is that your app is just another one of a bazzilion out there that use these keywords. Remember, you need to make your app stand out!

2 - Get more keywords research done via Google's Keyword Planner tool

Google's Keyword planner tool is based on web and internet searches. While it's not quite used in the app world directly (my assumption), you can get some really useful ideas from here. After all, this important keyword tool highlights what humans are actually searching for anyway.

So I searched for "flashlight app", and the following were returned (sorted by average monthly searches):

Google Keyword Planner ideas searching

A couple more ideas pop up here, such as "LED", "Brightest" and "Torch". Again "Free" and "App" shows up here as what I found from step 1 above, adding further value to these words.

Do these basic words matter? There are certain parties that say we can remove them as these don't carry much weight. But end users still use these words for searches, thus there is an importance to be placed on them.

3 - A look at the competition.

So I head back to Google Play, and do a search for "flashlight". This is what the search returns:

Keyword "flashlight" search result on Google Play

Look at the titles of these apps. The first 7 out of 10 apps have the word "Torch" in their title. LED is used quite often too. "Bright" and "brightest" are there too. So these are indeed useful keywords to use for the flashlight app.

Surprisingly "free", "app" and "widget" don't appear in the top 10 flashlight apps' names. This is an opportunity to use them as keywords in your app, MAYBE there is search volume? You've got to test these out. (One important point about keyword research is testing it out to find out what works best, and do note, testing takes time).

4 - Brainstorm ideas to make the flashlight unique.

The best way to stand out is to make your flashlight app have unique and interesting features. You brainstorm some ideas and look at the competition.

Strobe light effects are popular among the top flashlight apps. You can also add a police light effect, and SOS light effect. Maybe also a disco light effect and even a message light you can personalize.

These features make your app still the same as the top apps. An idea that can make your flashlight unique is perhaps a night camera mode, where you have the flash light on, and at the same time your can take pictures.

You could also make a game where your flash light is used as "tactical" flashlight (another keyword suggested by Google's Keyword Planner). You can play a real-life multiplayer game with a fellow friend, where your phone becomes the gun, and there is a crosshair on screen and using the camera, the front views are shown. And when your opponent is in sight, tap a button on screen to "shoot".

You can use many other related keywords that we went through to get more ideas for your flash light app.

The app marketing and ASO has just begun.

The keyword research step is just one of many the developers need to go through. There are many ways to do it.

And seriously, please don't copy other developer's descriptions 100%. I've experienced these a few times, and the copier never gets their app high anyway. There is a lot more to an app's rankings this than just the title and description.

Hot ASO Tip!

It looks like Google might be treating plural and singular words with the same weighting. Check out the graph below for my Aztec Mini Golf Games 3D game on Google Play.

Singular and plural naming rank effect on Google Play ASO

Some time in October, I updated the app's description to have "golf games" (plural) as its main keyword. You can notice that the game started ranking much higher for "Golf games", but dropped in rank for the singular form.

And then, in December, Google did some changes I'd guess, and you notice that both singular and plural names now rank about the same.

Do let me know if you've experienced something similar.

Conclusion - Keyword Research Rocks!

Keywords research is just one part of app store optimization. And there is much to be done. It does not mean this is it for keyword research. It would make sense to keep trying out more keywords if your app isn't ranking well.

But sometimes it's not the keywords that's holding your app back. I'll look into these in upcoming posts. Do sign up for the newsletter to get updates into your inbox!



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