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Keyword Research and Keyword Spy

Keyword Research and Keyword Spy

All ASO warriors know that one of the most challenging parts of App Store Optimization is finding the right keywords to target. Countless brainstorming sessions will help you come up with the most related keywords.


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But how can you discover the least competitive ones that are both related to your app and users actually search for? MobileAction’s ASO Intelligence is the best answer to this question.

To make keyword discovery easier and provide the best user experience possible, our Keyword Research and Keyword Spy tools are ready to help you. In this article, we will discuss how you can find the best keyword ideas using our ASO Intelligence tools.

Starting From Category Rankings

Suppose that you are an ASO Manager for a meditation app such as Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds by Ipnos. Your close competitors would be some formidable apps such as Headspace and Calm. Historical category rankings of these apps in the U.S. are as follows:

The data was extracted on August 19,2021 and represents the past year.

As you can see above, since February 2021, Relax Melodies has been closing the gap in terms of category rankings in the Health & Fitness category.

Spying on Competitors

In the Keyword Spy feature, we reveal a selected competitor’s keywords through 6 sources:

  • App Metadata: The keywords from an app’s title, subtitle, and description.
  • Ranked Keywords: All the ranked keywords of an app, sorted in the ranges: 1-10, 11-50, and Others.
  • Paid Keywords: The keywords on which an app is running Search Ads. High, Medium and Low groups are formed based on the percentage of impression share coming from those keywords.
  • SearchAds Recommended Keywords: The keyword suggestions of Apple Search Ads for the selected app.
  • Keywords by Download: Most download bringing keywords ordered from highest to the lowest.
  • Category Keywords: Most popular keywords of the selected app’s category.

Now we know about the different keyword sources, let’s get down to business and start spying on the competitors!

Keywords from Calm’s Metadata

Keywords from Calm’s Metadata

As we’re already tracking a bunch of keywords from the metadata of Relax Melodies, many shared keywords from Calm’s metadata are already being tracked. The number next to the keywords show the keyword density in the description and the keywords in the description are sorted based on that number. All that is left for us to choose the most related ones such as “sleep stories” and “mindfulness” and track them.

Ranked Keywords of Headspace

Ranked keywords of a competitor can be a great source for inspiration. The keywords we’ll find in this section indicates the possible opportunities to scale your ASO strategy.

Ranked Keywords of Headspace

Above you see the ranked keywords of Headspace. The keywords that Headspace ranks between 1-10 seem to reflect the benefits of the app and the pain points of the users. Targeting these keywords in the Health & Fitness category would be absolutely a well-crafted strategy as users generally write either their problems into the search bar to find solutions (e.g. stop anxiety) or what they need to solve the problem (e.g. guided meditation).

We definitely need to keep a close eye on the keywords that contain the target keywords of Relax Melodies such as “relax and sleep”, “guided relaxation”, and “anxiety and sleep”. Don’t think about the search popularity or the ease of ranking at this step since you can always do a thorough analysis, using the Keyword Tracking feature later.

Paid Keywords of Breethe

Search Ads keywords of an app are usually well-thought-out ones worth paying attention to. Since the apps focus on bidding on the right keywords that will bring the most loyal users, you can rely on your competitor’s paid keywords to use in your ASO strategy. As Breethe is aggressively  investing in Apple Search Ads, let’s see from which keywords they are getting their impressions:

Paid Keywords of Breethe

Realized some familiar brand names? As a common Apple Search Ads strategy, Breethe is also bidding for the brand name keywords of its close competitors, “headspace” and “calm”. Other than the brand names, they focus on the keywords reflecting certain needs such as “relaxing sounds app”, “guided relaxation”, and “meditation for sleep”. Here it would make sense to add the keywords related to sleep and meditation to your tracking list to work on them later.

Search Ads Recommendations for Sleep

As Apple Search Ads Advanced provides a high-quality keyword list for every app, we can discover new keywords by checking Search Ads suggestions for the competitors. Among all the competitors we mentioned at the beginning, Sleep has a very similar focus as does Relax Melodies. So, let’s take a look at Apple’s recommendations for it:

Search Ads Recommended Keywords for Sleep

The numbers next to the keywords show the Popularity Score. And all keywords are sorted from most popular to least. As expected, the most popular keywords are generally brand names. Other than the brand keywords, we can pinpoint some seed keywords to research such as “sound”, “sleep” “noise”, and “story”. These keywords might seem easy to find at first glance. But remember: we’re more interested in different combinations of these keywords, which we can find in the Keyword Research feature.

Keywords by Download from Simple Habit

Most Download Bringing Keywords of Simple Habit

Keywords by Download can be a great help to take a sneak peek at competitors’ best organic keywords. In the above screenshot, you see the keywords that bring in the most organic downloads to Simple Habit: Sleep Meditation. Since Simple Habit also ranks for branding keywords, it is no surprise that users interested in Calm, Breethe or Headspace can also download Simple Habit to give it a try. This also shows how important it is to rank for the brand keywords.

Category Keywords for Health & Fitness

Category Keywords – Health & Fitness

The last feature to pay attention to in the Keyword Spy feature is the Category Keywords section where you see the most popular keywords of any category. For the Health & Fitness category, we can see a great interest in fitness apps. Don’t forget that there are also seasonal trends for these keywords.  But still, some brand keywords such as “calm” and “headspace” still managed to get into many fitness and diet-related keywords. And it seems like “sleep” and “sleep sounds” still remain at the top, which shows a good opportunity for Relax Melodies.

When you click on a keyword to track, it is automatically added to our Keyword Tracking List to do further analysis. Additionally, you can see all the shared keywords on the Keyword Spy page and your tracked keywords on the right-hand sid.

Keyword Spy

Before we move on to the next section, if you’re already in love with what you see and don’t wish to wait till the end of this post, schedule a demo here

App Store Optimization Localization

Increasing local rankings in different regions can be though without adapting your strategy to those regions. That is why global apps engage in app store optimization localization, a practice through which app marketers can deliver their messages to the local people.

In order to make the app localization process easier for you, we integrated a translation module into our Keyword Spy module so you can understand foreign words in an instant. This way you can track keywords only if they are related to your app without the fear of adding irrelevant phrases to your strategy.

Keyword Research for Relax Melodies

In the Keyword Research feature, we can get keyword recommendations for any seed keyword or keyword phrase we want from 6 different sources:

  • Apple Auto Fill: The autocomplete suggestions from the App Store for a keyword you type
  • Google Play Suggestions: The keyword recommendations from the Play Store
  • Search Ads Recommended Keywords: Recommended keywords from Apple Search Ads Advanced for your keyword query
  • Similar Keywords: Keywords sorted based on an assigned similarity score for the keyword you search for.
  • Related Keywords: The App Store’s recommendations for your keyword query
  • Trending Searches: Most searched keywords

When we were spying on competitors, we detected some high potential seed keywords for Relax Melodies. One best use case for Keyword Research is to enter a keyword phrase for which you rank quite high to see what other highly relevant keywords you’re likely to rank at the top results. Since Relax Melodies already ranks at the top for “sleep sounds” as it targets this phrase in its app name, let’s see what additional opportunities Keyword Research feature can offer us.

Apple Auto Fill & Google Play Suggestions

Apple Auto Fill & Google Play Suggestions

“Sleep sounds” is one of the strongest keyword phrases for Relax Melodies. Yet, there are already 1,823 apps ranking for it. The long-tail versions coming from Apple or Google are likely to be less competitive than this. And the best part is that people don’t have to write the whole phrase by themselves as they will see the suggestions automatically and choose one among them.

When one thinks of “sleep sounds”, two of the most common ones are ocean and rain sounds, and it might be a good idea to look into those phrases as well. For example, “rain sleep sounds free” coming from Apple Auto Fill has a chance score of 59 with about 300 apps ranking for it. And it turns out that Relax Melodies is not ranking for it yet.

Getting Help from Apple Search Ads Advanced

Search Ads Recommended Keywords for “sleep sounds”

Similar to the one in the Keyword Spy page, you can find recommendations from Apple Search Ads in Keyword Research, but with a major difference. The recommendations listed here will be in one way or another related to your keyword query. Again, the number next to a keyword shows how popular that keyword is. Since the keywords in this section are highly likely to be relevant to Relax Melodies, better keep track of them to keep ranking at the top 10 for all.

Finding Similar & Related Keywords

Similar & Related Keywords

Similar Keywords are the ones which have similar search results as your search query. MobileAction’s algorithm simply checks the results of the two different keywords, one of which is the keyword that you typed in the search bar. Then, according to the number of the common apps in the results, it assigns a similarity score, 100 meaning the most similar. Basically, these are the keywords you have high chances of ranking, and you should definitely consider tracking them. Not to mention, they’re very much related to the keyword you entered.

Related Keywords is what the App Store suggests to you for your keyword query in the previous versions of iOS. As these keywords are generally fancy keywords with good relevancy, you may want to take them into account for your keyword research.

After you click on all the keywords you wish to track, you can conduct a deeper analysis on the Keyword Tracking page. All the keywords you added from different features are gathered on this page and ready to be sorted for different filters and exported.

App Rankings

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