How to Gain More Exposure for Your Mobile App With Keyword Optimization
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As a developer, you have to do tons of work to release your mobile app. But if it gets no more than a hundred downloads after a while, that’s definitely not the ROI you aimed for. There are many ways to gain more exposure for your app.


You can approach participants of local events, but they may forget about your app on coming home. Tech bloggers are also passionate about reviewing new stuff, but their passion can cost you three- or four-digit sums. The good thing is mobile app marketing doesn’t end with outreach and face-to-face meetings. 

Learn More: A Step-By-Step Guide to Marketing your Mobile App


Potential users of your app can stumble upon it when browsing the web. For that, your content must rank on the first page of organic search results. By saying “your content,” I mean not only the copy on your site but also descriptions you submit to app stores and guest posts you publish on third-party resources.


To hold high positions in SERP, you must optimize your promo content with the right keywords. Here’s the thing. Not all keywords that have the potential for generating a lot of traffic do so eventually. In this guide, you’ll learn how to pick keywords that will work for your mobile app promotion.

Step 1: Choose keywords based on use cases of your app.

It may sound like a paradox, but keyword research involving app promotion doesn’t start with the app itself. It starts with brainstorming users’ needs and the ways your app meets them.


Let’s say you developed a mobile app for PayPalThink of the purposes it serves to people who may want to download it. The best pattern to follow in purpose-driven keyword research is a how-to:


  • how to send mobile payments to the bank account;
  • how to manage payments on the go;
  • how to access transaction details from your mobile;


Once you make a list of your app use cases, you can expand it with real users’ queries. Google reveals them in two places on the results page. Thanks to Autocomplete in the search field, you can check different variations of your keyword, while you’re typing it.


app keyword optimization search


If you scroll down to the bottom of SERP, you will also see Related Searches. That box includes even more suggestions on how to phrase your app use cases. 


app keyword optimization related search

Step 2: Modify broad keywords to more specific phrases.

With cut-throat competition online, broad keywords will get your mobile app nowhere. Traffic from them already goes to big players in your industry. I mean app developers with an excellent reputation, loyal audience, and strong backlink profiles. Obviously, you won’t outperform them with something generic.


Instead, your wording must be more specific if you want app keyword optimization to work. You can mention anything from your app features and purposes to the target audience and devices it’s meant for.


Here are some modifiers that can make the broad phrase “mobile apps” more specific. You can even combine modifiers from different categories in one keyword to achieve a higher level of specificity.


OS Mobile apps for Android, Windows mobile 10 apps
Device Mobile security apps for iPhone, SSI mobile wage reporting smartphone app
Feature Sync compatible mobile apps, offline apps for mobile
Purpose Mobile live streaming apps, mobile data security apps, mobile money transfer apps
Users Healthcare mobile apps for patients, mobile apps for real estate agents, mobile apps for small business owners
Status Best mobile video editing apps, top 10 mobile apps 2018, most popular mobile apps
Cost Free mobile chat apps, cheap mobile app development
Location Mobile app developer Los Angeles, mobile apps development Houston


Specific phrases you’ll use in your promo content are called long-tail keywords. They get around 30-90 searches per month, unlike broad terms whose volume can reach a few thousand searches.


Don’t let those comparatively small numbers mislead you. Here’s how things work in modern SEO; different users type in different phrases when searching for the same kind of information. With the launch of the RankBrain algorithm, Google has become smart enough to understand their search intent and return relevant results regardless of different phrasing.


In other words, if you optimize your promo content for a single long-tail keyword, it can rank for hundreds or even more.


Learn what differences in the keyword structure Google ignores when processing users’ queries.

Word Form

It doesn’t matter whether there’s a letter-for-letter match between the original query and search results. The query “bank apps” gets results with the word “bank” used with an -ing ending.


app keyword word form


Since abbreviations are common to online communication, Google equates them to full word forms. For the query “television apps,” the engine gives results with the word “television” abbreviated to “TV.”


app keyword optimization abbreviations

Conjunctions & Prepositions

While conjunctions and prepositions make phrases coherent, they can hardly change their meaning. If you type in “apps to use when waiting in line,” Google will show results with the conjunction “while” used instead of “when.”


app keyword wording

Word Order

The way words are arranged in a query is a small matter for Google too. Let’s check it out on the example of “mobile apps 2018 for small businesses.” In the search result, “small business” is in the middle of the target phrase, while “2018” is at its end.


app keyword optimization word ordering

Closely Related Words

In everyday speech, people use synonyms interchangeably, ignoring minor distinctions in their meaning. Google has the same policy. For the query “mobile apps for food,” some results are optimized for the word “restaurant.”


app keyword optimization related wording

Step 3. Identify easy pickings among broad keywords.

Long-tail keywords are not the only options to make it to the top. Your promo content can rank high for broad keywords too. To pick the low-hanging fruit, analyze the following metrics.


This is a critical metric to check when researching keywords. If a term has a high difficulty score, it means top app developers already hold the highest positions for it. There’s little to no chance you’ll push them down and take their place, especially if your backlink profile yields to theirs. Instead, choose keywords with a minimum difficulty score. 


For example, the phrase “food apps” has a difficulty score of only 3 points, which makes it a must-try if you develop apps in this niche.


app keyword difficulty score


A high search volume gives the impression that a keyword will generate a lot of traffic. But it doesn’t always happen. When SERP contains an instant answer in the form of Google’s Knowledge Card, most users don’t click through organic results.


For example, 72% of searches never convert into page visits for the keyword “Snapchat founder.”


app keyword optimization search volume


As you can see below, SERP has a Knowledge Card for such a query. Unless you want to learn more details about Snapchat founders, there’s no need to visit any suggested pages. So, make sure SERP doesn’t contain an instant answer for your target keyword.


app keyword knowledge card


The next thing to analyze is how long the interest for a keyword lasts during a year. There are seasonal keywords that have a high search volume during a limited period only. For the rest of the year, hardly anyone searches for them.


The search volume of “Olympics app” is high only during the Games. Then, it drops and doesn’t rise until the next Olympics. Enter Google Trends to learn whether the interest for your app lasts throughout the year or, say, during a month.


app keyword interest over time

Step 4. Borrow keywords from the top-ranking content.

Ever wondered how users land on the top ten pages in SERP? You can access the secret data with the help of SERP checkers. These tools reveal what keywords popular content ranks for and how much traffic they generate. On click, you can check them all one by one. To outrank competing pages, use phrases with a low difficulty score.


app keyword optimization SERP checker

Step 5. Move from cliches to unique keywords.

Do you run a blog to support your mobile apps? Then, focus on topics that haven’t been covered like a thousand times. You can find original keyword ideas in places where app users hang out, i.e. tech forums, social communities, and Quora.


If you come across the same app-related query time and time again, there’s probably no useful content about it. Be the first developer who writes an ultimate guide on that issue. That’s how you’ll get a step ahead of your competitors.


Answer the Public can be your source of unique keywords. This free online tool gives 780+ suggestions for the query “mobile apps.” You can explore them by categories:


  • 129 question ideas;
  • 118 prepositional keywords;
  • 82 comparisons;
  • 437 alphabeticals;
  • 20 related phrases.


app keyword optimization suggestions



On click, you will enter SERP for the keyword of your interest. There, you’ll see whether you can cover the given topic from a new angle or at least add some unique points others overlooked.


You don’t have to be a professional SEO expert to pick juicy keywords for your mobile app promotion. Using this detailed guide, you’ll easily analyze all the pros and cons of each keyword. Just note that app keyword optimization works best when combined with link building. Your site needs a high-quality backlink profile to look rank-worthy in the eyes of Google.


About the Author

Nick Campbell is a content creator and marketer at Ahrefs with a passion for technology, SEO, and copywriting. Work up every idea from chaos to clarity is his motto.