SEOs focusing on Web search may have had a Panda update and an EMD update at the beginning of October, but SEOs focusing on mobile and app search have had their own share of turmoil in the last few months.
In February, there was a major spam crackdown by Apple which resulted in many developers being banned from the app store for things like auto reviews.
At the end of June, there was a small ranking change which weighed keywords less heavily and focused on ratings and downloads.
Last month, there was iOS 6, which transformed the app store rankings into a horizontal scrolling card display interface, and gave less popular apps even less visibility, according to some developers.
And now, Apple has shut down Chomp, which they acquired in February of this year to help them with App Store search. This is unfortunate for those of us interested in optimizing apps, as Chomp was one of the best sources of app keywords on the Internet.
On their site, they had app store search suggest, but also listed popular app queries, and they also had app store search reports, which they discontinued in February of this year.
There are still good sources of app store keywords out there. iTunes , Google Play and Yahoo! App Search still offer search suggest to help searchers find what they’re looking for. Since these suggestions are ordered by popularity, it is easy to get a sense of which keywords are more popular.
Selecting the most relevant, high-volume phrases has the same effect in app search that it does in Web search — driving qualified traffic to apps from app search. And since searching is the most popular method of app discovery, app store SEO can be a lucrative enterprise for those who do it right.
Adding single characters in iTunes and Google Play and entering all of the keywords that appear can be a large task. Appcod.es has a paid keyword tool that has its own ranking algorithm if you prefer not to go through the process every time you do keyword research for apps. The algorithm isn’t public, but they’ve compared it to popularity from the app store and Google Play and are confident of the results.
I did this process for iTunes keywords back in 2009 and shared the results on my blog. However, since app store keywords are often time-sensitive, many of those keywords are now out of date.
So I did it again with both Google Play and Chomp in June and am listing the results here. Keep in mind these are the most popular keywords, and because of that, they might not be the most qualified for your specific app. In their app store best practices,
Apple cautions against using common keywords like these and recommends using more unique keywords, as there is less competition. Nonetheless, if you have a popular app, and some of the keywords below are relevant to it, including the most-relevant keywords could connect you with a larger audience than simply adding unique, low-volume keywords.
A caveat, I haven’t been able to enter one character into Google Play recently, as the minimum appears to be three before Google serves up a search result. Nonetheless, in June, the search suggest worked with just one character, and that’s how I got the results below.
Top 100 Keywords For Chomp*
Top 100 Keywords For Google Play*
*According to search suggest for Chomp and Google Play in June 2012. Ordered by mobile search volume estimates from Google’s keyword tool.
The two lists result in 397 unique keywords, and only 22 of the keywords are shared. Looking at the two lists, it’s clear that app store searchers put in more software-based keywords than they do in Google search, which makes sense since that’s all that the app store offers. Many of the keywords that you see correspond with popular apps or games, while others are related only to the app function.
If you’re thinking of building an app, check this list before you develop, as you might get ideas for categories of apps people are looking for to build your own niche in. If you’re submitting keywords for an existing app, check here first to make sure you’re using keywords that app searchers are actually looking for.
App store rankings will change as Google and Apple change their algorithms and user interfaces, but app store SEO that’s based on solid keyword research will benefit users and search engines for as long as consumers are looking for apps.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.