Keyword research: love it or hate it, it’s an integral part of effective app marketing.
Luckily for you, here at Mobile Action, we take a lot of the guesswork out of keyword research, with our data-backed modules and time-tested strategies.
Our best recommendations can be found here on the blog, in posts like:
- How to Pick the Best App Store Keywords for ASO
- How to Find Your Competitors’ Best App Store Keywords
But your research doesn’t have to stop there. If you want to discover some great app store keyword ideas from your potential users, that you may have never had access to before, read on…
These three strategies can uncover amazing niche keywords, by getting feedback from real people.
Keyword Hack #1: Survey Mechanical Turk
Ever heard of Mechanical Turk?
If you haven’t, the name alone might bring to mind all sorts of strange things. But it’s actually a crowdsourced marketplace (named after an 18th-century fake chess-playing robot), created by Amazon. As a “requester,” you can employ a small army of “workers” to complete simple, repeatable tasks.
The goal with this keyword research strategy is to survey a small but significant amount of workers on what they would search for in the App Store, in response to a given scenario.
This gives you something that all the research and reporting in the world won’t give you: direct communication with actual humans, and access to their unique opinions.
Here’s how to execute this hack:
Write up a quick scenario related to your app to survey the workers. Imagine how you might ask a friend about what they’d search for to find your app, while keeping it simple and specific.
For example, “You’re looking for an app that offers you guided meditations along with yoga poses. What would you search for on the App Store to find something like this?”
Post your scenario to Mechanical Turk, requesting ten search terms or phrases from each worker. You can pay each user $1 or so, per response, meaning that you’ll spend approximately $10 for 100 potential search terms.
If you want to get more responses, feel free to scale it up.
Once you have your responses, copy each set to a spreadsheet; you’ll use the sheet to assign points to unique words in the responses, and from there you’ll sort the responses to find the most powerful words.
If a word appears in a user’s first search term, give it 10 points. If that word is in its second search term, give it 9 points, and so on down the line.
Let’s use the app scenario above and say that a response comes back with the top three searches guided meditation yoga, guided relaxation with yoga poses, vinyasa yoga poses plus guided meditation.
In this example, you will assign guided and yoga 10 points, then 9 points, then 8 points, because they appear in all three; meditation and poses get 10 points, then 9 points; relaxation gets 10 points; vinyasa gets 10 points.
Once you sort your words by point value, you’ll be left with a prioritized list of words to include in your app store keywords. You also may discover some words you hadn’t prioritized enough.
In the example above, you may have already included meditation and yoga in your ASO strategy, but the user’s responses reveal a couple other words you may not have considered, like relaxation and vinyasa.
You can repeat this strategy for each localization; Mechanical Turk offers controls for requesting language-specific workers. Make sure to set it up so each person can only answer once.
A big thanks to Jay Van Buiten for sharing this strategy here. He was able to double his downloads with this strategy.
Keyword Hack #2: Search User Forums
User forums are full of unfettered opinions that can lead to great keyword ideas. But it’s not always easy to know where to look, much less how to comb through forum posts for those potential keyword gold nuggets.
A simple Google search technique can help here. Once you know of a forum you want to mine for ideas, think of another keyword that may be being used or, even better, a competing app.
Then use this search string:
site:[forum URL] + [competing app name]
For example, let’s say you want to search the MacRumors forum for what people are saying about WhatsApp, because your new messaging app is very similar but with more privacy controls. And with all your ASO work, the app will soon be a competitor in the same category.
In Google, search for:
You’ll see a long list of threads containing real users talking about WhatsApp. Some topics may not be relevant to your keyword research (e.g. threads about battery life) but some may spark some inspiration. For example, you’ll find this thread searching for more private messaging app.
Perhaps up to now you’ve only called your app a password-protected messenger, but now you see that a real user may search for terms like PIN, Touch ID, passcode mode, and so on.
This search strategy is great for any other forum where people are talking about mobile apps, even sites that have search functionality within them, like Reddit.
Keyword Hack #3: Use Targeted Facebook Ads
Employing targeted Facebook Ads for your keyword research is sort of like taking the Mechanical Turk hack to the next level.
Here’s the concept:
You’ll target a specific demographic and offer a free download of something useful if they fill out a short survey.
The download could be an e-book from your marketing team, a coupon code for the paid version of your app or another one of your company’s products, and so on.
In the survey, you’ll use the same idea you did with Mechanical Turk: create a scenario related to your app, and ask users what words or phrases they’d use in the App Store to find an app matching the scenario.
Facebook does have a poll option, but for this particular type of survey it will be more effective to link to a Google Form. Google Forms will deposit all the response data into a Google Sheet for you automatically, so you can proceed with your points-assigning as described above.
The benefit of using Facebook ads is that you can reach a much more targeted audience–by location, age, interests, and so on. In some countries, you can get clicks for as little as $0.05, making this a very cost-effective way to do your test research.
Final Thoughts on Getting App Store Keyword Ideas
You now have three methods that allow you to take your keyword research into your own hands and reach actual human beings who have responses you may not get any other way. Mechanical Turk, forum searching, and Facebook ads may not be as trendy as some other strategies that employ big data or flashy software, but they will connect you directly with real people.
That type of access is invaluable.
No method is completely perfect on its own, so we recommend employing these hacks in combination with all your other well-oiled ASO strategies. Build a well-rounded strategy with a variety of keyword research methods and your app downloads will be unstoppable.
About the Author
Rachel Wilson is a writer, marketer, and content creator living in NYC. She’s worked for technology companies like BetterCloud and Microsoft, and believes her English degree prepared her to write about pretty much anything. She misses the ocean and the mountains of the Pacific Northwest but can’t give up New York pizza.
Get the Mobile Action Newsletter
Get the latest ASO tips, app marketing strategies and market analysis delivered directly to your inbox.