Apple Search Ads Keywords: Best Practices

Apple Search Ads is a great tool to have in your app marketing strategy. With the Apple Search Ads keywords best practices we choose for you, you will have higher conversion rates.

Talip Sencan
March 2, 2021

Apple Search Ads is a great tool to have in your app marketing strategy. As the platform makes it possible to reach a highly relevant audience, conversion rates are rather high. Apple Search Ads works with a cost-per-tap model, thus choosing the correct Apple Search Ads keywords is crucial to keep your cost per acquisition as profitable as possible. 

If you are using Apple Search Ads Basic, you do not have to worry about this topic as the platform will automatically match your ads to relevant keywords. However, if you are more serious about mobile app marketing, proper keyword research has the potential to greatly increase your Apple Search Ads revenue. This Apple Search Ads guide will cover some of the best practices for keyword research in order to help you increase app user acquisition.

App Store Optimization

Let’s start by briefly discussing the relevance of App Store Optimization to your Apple Search Ads strategy. As you probably know, App Store Optimization is the process of increasing your app’s visibility in the app stores. Driving in more traffic will result in increased organic downloads. You should also not forget that along with app store keyword optimization, conversion optimization is also an important component of ASO. 

So what exactly is the relationship between Apple Search Ads and App Store Optimization? 

Most probably you will not be able to get a lot of impressions only by bidding high if your ASO is not in place. You need to convey to the algorithm that your app is relevant to a keyword. If not, it will be much harder for your app to win auctions, resulting in increased CPAs. By properly structuring your metadata with the optimal keywords, you will increase your chances of getting more impressions. Bidding on irrelevant keywords will also not be optimal as you will be targeting potentially irrelevant audiences, which will have less LTV. 

On the other hand, your Apple Search Ads strategy can also help your ASO. Most likely you will discover some well-performing keywords in your Apple Search Ads campaigns. Well-performing can mean high TTR, CVR, and revenue for a given keyword. You can include these keywords in your app title or subtitle in order to increase your organic rankings for those keywords. This way your paid keywords can be also used to bring in organic downloads. 

Thinking Like a Potential User

Now that we covered the importance of the relationship between ASO & Apple Search Ads for your user acquisition strategy, let’s try to actually find some keywords to bid on.

A good place to start is by discovering the keywords used by users to search for your category. If we were creating a campaign for a puzzle game, it would be safe to assume that users search for the keyword“puzzle in order to find apps similar to ours. However, not all the keywords will be so obvious. Thus finding a few competitors and looking at their keywords might prove to be helpful. 

In ASO Intelligence, we can track the keyword puzzle and view the apps running ads for that keyword.

We can see the top 3 apps running ads for “puzzle” in the United States. The impression share of the given app is also presented. In this instance, nearly half of the impressions for the keyword seem to go to Jigsaw Puzzle. By checking the ASO Report for Jigsaw Puzzle, we can see some of the generic keywords they are organically ranking on along with apps that run ads for those keywords.

Instantly, we can see some generic keywords such as solitaire, free games for kids, box, and 3d.  Such keywords could be used in our generic campaign.

In your Apple Search Ads bidding process, you should keep in mind that along with relevancy, search traffic is also very important to consider. If you bid on keywords with very low search volumes, you might not be able to get many impressions. 

Utilizing Organic Rankings

By using the Organic Keyword Ranking tool, we can see that Jigsaw Puzzle organically ranks for generic keywords such as “calm”, “puzzle games” and “word games. We can use these keywords in our Apple Search Ads generic campaign.

Yet another tool that allows us to understand the keywords users use to search for a category is the Keyword Research tab. Here, we can type in a seed keyword such as “puzzle” in order to find several types of suggestions. 

This tool allows us to find even more Apple Search Ads keywords to use. We can also discover some long-tail keywords such as “free puzzel games'' in this instance to include in our generic campaign. As keywords are presented with their search score, it is much easier to choose the ones to add to our tracking list. 

Competitor Brand Keywords

Using Apple Search Ads, you can also try to get impressions from users who are searching for the app of your competitor. Especially if your competitor is not using Apple Search Ads, constantly appearing in their search results might result in increased downloads. 

Through’s Keyword Auction Insights tool, we can see which apps are running ads on a given keyword by using the “Search by Keyword” function. 

Toy Blast and Candy Show appear to be getting more impressions from this keyword in this location even though it is the brand name for another app. Thus in your competitor campaign, including ad groups where you focus on brand keywords of other apps can help you increase impressions. 

TikTok is one of the top advertisers in Apple Search Ads. Using “Search by App” , we can see the keywords that an app is running ads on along with some additional data.

We can see that TikTok is bidding on 26031 keywords in 13 countries which is pretty impressive. The app also has a very  high Apple Search Ads visibility score. 

TikTok clearly shows us the workings of a competitor campaign. As we can see the app is not only bidding on the brand names of other apps, but it is also taking most of the impression shares coming from those keywords. 

Discovery Campaigns

A Discovery Campaign is a great way to find new Apple Search Ads keywords. Discovery campaigns will allow you to find new keywords that are relevant to your app. For example, if you are marketing a workout app, through a Discovery Campaign you might find out that people frequently search for the term “home workout quick”. Following this, you can use this keyword in your Exact Match ad groups to receive even more impressions from them. 

Usually, discovery campaigns include ad groups that use Search Match and Broad Match. If you switch on Search Match for an ad group, Apple Search Ads will automatically match you with relevant keywords. For example, if you are promoting a finance app, you might automatically appear on a search for the keyword “safe finance app”. 

On the other hand, your broad match ad group can help you find related keywords. This is yet another way to find the keywords users are frequently searching for. 
If you find keywords that are successful through these campaigns, you can add them to your exact match ad groups in other campaigns while also adding them as negatives to the discovery campaign. This way you won't be competing against yourself. Using Automation Tools such as the one provided in can make this whole process a lot easier. For example, you can easily create a rule where well-performing keywords are added to relevant campaigns, saving you time.

If you would like to take your Apple Search Ads management to the next level, schedule a demo with our experts today and see how we can help you!

Contact Us

Ready to revolutionize your app downloads, boost user retention, and achieve consistent performance in all ad placements?
Book a Demo
Recent Blog Posts
See All