Optimising for the Apple App Store

A few years back when SEO was discussed, it was in relation to the search engines Google, Yahoo, Live Search and Ask. The term “SEO” encompasses much more now. People want to rank more than just a website.

They want to rank their:

  • Facebook page and profile on Facebook search
  • App in the Apple/Android/Windows App Store
  • Video in YouTube
  • Name!

And so on.

I’m going shed some light on optimising your app for the Apple App Store.


In June 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs during his WWDC keynote revealed Apple had paid developers $1 billion since the launch of the app store. The other day, I came across an article in the Metro – Order & Chaos iPhone game makes £600,000 in 20 days. This game is making ~£30,000/day.

Apple have surpassed half-a-million apps (source). Your app ranking in the top 5 on the App Store will provide exposure and boost downloads (lower positions are below the fold on the iPhone/iPod).

App Store Optimisation

Keywords (100 chars)

  • Use standard SEO research tools (such as Google Keyword tool) and the App Store’s auto-suggest feature.
  • Don’t include app/company name. App/company searches will return your app.
  • Order – most important first
  • Localise keywords if your app is multi-lingual.
  • Once entered, they cannot be changes until you update the app.

App name

  • Keyword in name – Apple gives more relevance to this
  • Prefix with number if possible.

Keywords in Developer name

App Description

  • Keywords in the description do not benefit rank
  • Mention popular related apps – this will result in your app popping up for searches made for those apps.


  • Encourage users to write reviews (e.g. within the app)
  • use Truevoo to encourage users to review your app

High average download rate

  • Use Admob
  • Price drops – assists moving up the charts and there are many sites and directories that track price drops (such as 148 apps). PopCap Games Inc. have had lots of success using this technique.
  • You can even buy downloads. In 2009, Adwhirl conducted some research and concluded you need ~2500 downloads a day to hit the top 100 and would cost at least $1850 per day (which is beyond the reach of most developers). This would, of course be more now.

Upload 5 screenshots for your App

Release a lite version of the app if it costs

  • A free lite version of your app will not only allow users to try your app before they buy but also gives you another slot in the app store and increases your credibility.

Study the popular apps

  • This one is important
  • Tens of thousands of pounds have been put into promoting and marketing successful

Follow the above and you’re halfway to your app becoming a success!