6 Tools to Generate Keywords for App Store Optimization by Steve Young

Generate Keywords

Steve Young

Steve Young “started building apps in 2011, but had no idea what [he] was doing. Then in 2013 [he] decided to start a podcast so [he] could pick the brains of app creators that [he] admired including the co-founder of Shazam, Tapbots, Crossy Road, etc and that changed everything.”

Steve now runs an app promotion agency, Runway.bz, where they’ve helped clients get featured by Apple, hit the #2 paid app overall, and get coverage on Mashable, Venture Beat and other major publications. He also writes about apps on The Next Web, Entrepreneur.com, and on my blog AppMasters.co. Today, Steve shares with us 6 tools that generate keywords to help marketers and mobile devs with App Store Optimization.

The key to any App Store Optimization (ASO) project is finding relevant and low-competition keywords.
Because of that, before starting any ASO project, I like to generate as many relevant keywords as possible.
Using the tools that are listed below, you will be able to spy on your competition, find low-competition keywords, and make sure you don’t replace high-performing keywords during an app update.

1. OneLook

OneLook.com is one of my favorite tools for generating keywords. It’s actually better known as a dictionary and a thesaurus, but I really love using this website to find some extremely valuable keywords.

In fact, I’ve been able to find some keywords that have little to no competition using this keyword tool alone.

Go to OneLook.com and then click on “Reverse Dictionary”.

Next, type in the keyword that you think is most relevant to your app. So, if you’re making a poker app, you put “poker,” and the site will return a large variety of different keywords.

generate keywords

You can put a few different variations of your keyword into this tool to get a longer list of keywords. The longer the list, the better. It’s a little bit more work, but it will be worth it in the end.

2. AdWords Tool

Many of you from the online marketing world probably know a little bit about Google AdWords and what you can use it for – to run an AdWords campaign or for SEO. In this case, we are going to use it for keyword research.

First, you’re going to log into Google AdWords and then, using this tool, you’re going to go to Tools > Keyword Planner.

keyword generator

You can put as many keywords in the tool as you’d like. Next click on the “Keyword Ideas” tab. Google will display similar keywords and their average monthly search volumes along with each keyword’s competition level.
keyword generator

We are not going to use the traffic data, because that’s data from the Web, which can be different on mobile app stores. Instead, we are using this tool to get keyword ideas.

However, you can use Google’s traffic and competition data as a starting point for deciding whether or not a particular keyword is actually worth going after.

3. Amazon.com

Another tool that most people don’t know about is actually Amazon. Let me give you an example: one of our clients had a word game that was similar to Wheel of Fortune. We were looking for keywords that we could possibly rank for, so I just did a search for word games on Amazon.

Then I looked at some of the toys, and found out that the game Bananagrams was something similar, so I put “Bananagrams” into Sensor Tower and found out that it had a decent traffic score and very low competition. We ended up using that in our app name and were able to rank number three for that particular term.
keyword generator

However, I wouldn’t spend too much time on Amazon. Rather, quickly go through the website to see if there are some keywords or some popular games that you might be able to utilize in your app. I’ve found the website is a much better tool for generating keywords for games than any other category.

4. AppAnnie.com

If you are just starting in the app space, definitely sign up for an App Annie account, because it will provide you with all the data you will need for your apps. You connect it to iTunes Connect and/or to Google Play and it will send you a daily email of how your apps are performing.

In addition, however, App Annie has been expanding its services and now has an ASO analysis tool that you can use.

If you are optimizing an app that is already live, then you can search for that app within the tool. On the left hand side, click on the “Keywords/ASO” links. App Annie will give you a list of keywords that you already rank well for. I use this list as a way to make sure I do not remove any keywords that I am already ranked in the top 10 for.

keyword generator

Secondly, you can use App Annie to find keywords that you can better optimize. For example, let’s say I have a poker app called “Poker Ninjas – Texas Hold’em Fun” and I’m using “stud” in my keyword field and App Annie tells me that I’m ranking 15 for that keyword.

Knowing that the app name has a higher weight in keyword rankings, I will move “stud” from my keyword field into my app name and rename my app to “Poker Ninjas – Texas Hold’em and Stud Fun.”

If you don’t have an app out already, you can look at some of your competitors’ apps and see what keywords they rank well for.

For this example, let’s assume Zynga Poker is a competitor of yours. According to App Annie, we find that Zynga ranks number two for “poker” and “stakes.” Using the other tools, “stakes” is a keyword that we may have overlooked, but we could potentially use in our app name or keyword field.

keyword generator

5. Sensor Tower

While App Annie shows the keywords the app is actually ranking for, Sensor Tower will make an educated guess as to the keywords the developers are using in their “keyword field.”

keyword generator

The Keyword Spy tool within Sensor Tower provides you with a list of keywords that Sensor Tower, through its algorithms and mechanics of scraping the App Store, has been able to determine that Zynga (or your any of your competitors) might be targeting.

6. The App Store App

The final tool I want to share with you is the App Store app itself. As you’re reading this, you can actually pull up the App Store app and search for some of the keywords that you might be considering.

After you conduct a search, or while you’re conducting it, you want to look at the suggestions the App Store gives you. For example, if we start searching for poker, we see poker game, pokerstars, and other suggestions that are either existing apps within the App Store or commonly-searched phrases related to that particular keyword.

keyword generator

Some successful app developers completely rely on this tool alone to optimize their apps. Remember, Apple has the search data and it is showing you a glimpse of that information within the App Store app through its suggestions.

Do your ASO the smart way

After generating a long list of keywords, you can use your favorite App Store Optimization tool such as Sensor Tower, AppTweak, or Mobile Action to find the traffic and competition scores of your keywords. After you have that data, you can then decide whether a keyword belongs in your app name or keyword field.

Using the tools outlined above, you can intelligently and efficiently optimize your app name and keywords. Each of these tools has its own strengths and weaknesses, and a truly effective ASO strategy will use more than one of them.


  • Thanks for sharing information regarding keywords research tool! I was looking for the same tool.

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