On Keywords

As I pass my 5th year of developing mobile apps, I’ve been looking back at my catalog of apps, pushing new updates to older apps, publishing to new stores and planning what apps I’d like to work on for the following year. As with every app I publish, once it’s been released in the wild I look back at what I did well, and what I could have done better. Sometimes it’s the way I coded a particular scene, other times it’s the icon design. Almost always is keywords. For the life of me I have not been able to figure this out to my advantage. I’ve tried doing it myself, using Google’s keyword tools, even finding random keyword generator websites online. None have left a particularly good taste in my mouth.

A few weeks ago I came across Sensor Tower. I used it for a few days, but it didn’t particularly grab my interest. It didn’t seem to give me anything I didn’t already know. Today however I gave it a second look. Nothing had changed since my first look, I guess I just gave it a more serious look.

I’m in the process of updating one of my most well reviewed games, A Long Way Home, to be a free to play app. I’m going to be re-releasing it on iOS Google Play and Kindle. I decided it was a great time to revisit the keywords I had selected. I thought I had selected some pretty great keywords. I was wrong.

After inputting all 17 of my keywords I was presented with a nice overview of how good/bad they were. I was surprised that for two of my keywords my game didn’t even rank. Two other of my keywords had my app ranked well over 1000. Five more keywords had my app ranked over 200. Out of the 17, only 5 keywords had my app ranked under 100. This was a problem.

The first thing I did was immediately remove all keywords that had me ranked over 300. As many of you know, you only have 100 characters to work with in the iOS app store. Removing those keywords dropped me down to 49. Sensor Tower has a nice Keyword Optimization section which suggests keywords based on your existing keywords. Using that I was able to find a few high traffic low difficulty keywords to add to my list. I then moved over to the Keyword Suggestion section and found a few more.

There is also a nifty Keyword Research section where you can type in a keyword and see what apps appear. I used to just open up iTunes to do this, but this was a lot more convenient.

Keyword spy is a nice way to compare the keywords of another app against yours. Most of my apps are not competing with others (with the exception of my very own Flappy Bird clone :) ), so this was not as useful for me.

I do wish the price was cheaper. Even the indie pricing is more than I am willing to spend on a monthly basis. If it was under $20, I think it would be a no brainier.

So anyways, if you are looking for a way to improve your keyword rankings, give Sensor Tower a shot, it may give you the edge you need.


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