Optimizing for App Store search

Search plays a huge role in how users discover and download content on the App Store. Learn how you can impact your search result ranking to help users easily find and download your app, initiate in-app purchases, and learn about in-app events.

Overview

The App Store makes it easy for people around the world to find apps, games, and content. Search results include developers, in-app purchases, in-app events, categories, editorial stories, tips and tricks, and collections. Apps appear in search results with the app name, icon, and subtitle displayed. Depending on the platform and image orientation, the app’s single rating and up to three screenshots or app previews are also shown.

Choose accurate keywords

Keywords are limited to 100 characters, so be concise when describing your app. While spaces shouldn’t be used before or after the commas that separate keywords and keyword phrases, you can use spaces to separate words within keyword phrases. For example: Property,Real Estate,House.

Choose keywords based on words you think your audience will use to find an app like yours. Be specific when describing your app’s features and functionality to help the search algorithm surface your app in relevant searches.

Consider the trade-off between ranking higher for less common terms versus ranking lower for popular terms. While people may frequently search for terms such as “jobs” or “social,” these terms have highly competitive rankings. More uncommon terms may be searched less often, but aren’t as competitive.

The unauthorized use of trademarked terms, celebrity names, or other protected words and phrases is not allowed and is a common reason for App Store rejection. The use of terms that aren’t relevant to the app and the use of competing app names are similarly prohibited.

Avoid special characters — such as # or @ — unless they’re part of your brand identity. Special characters don’t carry extra weight in search ranking.

While you can repeat keywords in your app description, avoid keyword stuffing throughout your metadata. Also, keep in mind that your promotional text doesn’t affect your app’s search ranking.

Create a compelling app name, subtitle, and description

Your app’s name and description play a critical role in how people discover and download your app.

Names can be up to 30 characters on the App Store. Choose a simple, memorable name that’s easy to spell and suggests what your app does. Be distinctive — avoid long names full of generic terms or descriptions, or names that are too similar to existing app names.

Use a subtitle, rather than your app’s name, to explain the value of your app in greater detail. Avoid generic descriptions, such as "world’s best app." Instead, highlight your app’s purpose or features that resonate with your audience.

Every word counts, so focus the description on your app’s unique features and functionality. Begin with a concise statement of what the app does, followed by an attention-grabbing paragraph that includes a short list of main features.

Assign the right categories

Categories on the App Store help people discover new apps to meet their needs. The primary category you select is particularly important for your appʼs discoverability on the App Store, and it helps people find your app when browsing the App Store or filtering search results. The primary category also determines whether your app appears in the Apps tab or Games tab on the App Store. You can also select a secondary category to help our algorithm better surface your app. If you select Games as the primary or secondary category, you can select up to two additional subcategories to define your game.

Be sure to select the categories that are most relevant for your app or game. Choosing categories that aren’t relevant is grounds for rejection by App Review.

Learn about choosing a category

Foster positive ratings

Ratings and reviews appear on your product page and influence how your app ranks in search results. They can encourage people to engage with your app, so focus on providing a great app experience that motivates users to leave positive reviews.

Ask users to rate your app on the App Store, but don’t ask too soon — wait until they’ve enjoyed a few sessions first and make sure your app is stable. Then choose an appropriate time to make the request. Look for moments when users are most likely to feel satisfied with your app, such as when they’ve completed an action, level, or task.

Provide an easy way for users to give feedback with the SKStoreReviewController API, which lets them submit a rating through a standardized prompt, as well as write and submit a review — all within your app. You can prompt for ratings up to three times in a 365-day period.

Make sure your support channels and contact information are easy to find in your app and on your App Store product page, so if users encounter difficulties they’re able to discuss them with you directly and resolve negative experiences that may otherwise lead to poor reviews.

Learn about ratings, reviews, and responses

Publish in-app events

In-app events are timely events within apps and games — such as game competitions, movie premieres, or livestreamed experiences. You can publish your in-app events on the App Store on iOS and iPadOS. When someone searches for an app, the event card and your app appear together in search results for people who have downloaded your app, while screenshots show for those who haven’t downloaded your app. When someone searches for an event, the event card and your app appear together in search results.

Learn about in-app events

Promote in-app purchases

Your promoted in-app purchases appear in search results on the App Store. Tapping an in-app purchase leads to your product page, which displays your app’s description, screenshots, app previews, and in-app events —and lets people initiate an in-app purchase.

Subscriptions and in-app purchases are shown in separate sections on your product page, and you can showcase up to 20 items total. Each item you feature can have a unique display name, promotional image, and description. In-app purchase names are limited to 30 characters and descriptions are limited to 45 characters, so choose your words carefully. Be descriptive, accurate, and concise when highlighting the benefits of your in-app purchases.

Learn about promoting in-app purchases