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 and in-app purchases.

The App Store in iOS 11 makes it even easier for customers to find apps, games, and content. Search results now include developers, in-app purchases, categories, editorial stories, tips and tricks, and collections. Apps appear in search results with subtitles and a single rating prominently displayed.

Choose accurate keywords

Keywords are limited to 100 characters, with words separated by commas and no spaces, so it's important to be precise when describing your app.

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 well for less common terms versus ranking lower for popular terms. Popular, functional terms such as "jobs", "text", or "social" may drive a lot of traffic, but are highly competitive in the rankings. Less common terms drive lower traffic, but are less 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 are not relevant to the app and the use of competing app names are similarly prohibited.

Avoid special characters — such as # or @ — unless they are part of your brand identity. Special characters don't carry extra weight when users search for your app.

While you can repeat keywords in your app description, avoid keyword stuffing throughout your metadata. Also, keep in mind that your promotional text on the App Store in iOS 11 doesn't affect your app's search ranking.

Create a compelling app name, subtitle, and description

Your app's name and App Store description play a critical role in how users discover and download your app.

The length of your app name can be up to 30 characters on the App Store in iOS 11. Choose a simple, memorable name that is 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.

Consider using a subtitle on the App Store in iOS 11, rather than your app 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 features or use cases that resonate with your audience.

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

Assign the right primary category

Categories on the App Store help users discover new apps to meet their needs. The primary category you select is particularly important for your app's discoverability on the App Store. It helps users find your app when browsing the App Store or filtering search results, and it determines whether your app appears in the Apps tab or Games tab on the App Store in iOS 11.

Be sure to select the primary category that is most relevant for your app. Choosing categories that are not relevant to your app is grounds for App Store rejection.

Find out more about selecting the most accurate and effective categories for your app in Choosing a Category.

Foster positive ratings

Ratings and reviews influence how your app ranks in search and can encourage users to engage with your app from search results, 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 for a rating too soon — wait until they have enjoyed a few sessions before prompting them. Ensure that the app is stable before you ask, and choose an appropriate time in the session to make the request. Look for moments when users are most likely to feel satisfaction with your app, such as when they've completed an action, level, or task.

If you'd like customers to provide feedback on the App Store without leaving your app, you can use the SKStoreReviewController API. Simply choose when to prompt users to rate your app, for up to three prompts in a 365-day period. Customers will submit a rating through the standardized prompt and can authenticate with Touch ID to write and submit a review.

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

For more details, read Ratings, Reviews, and Responses.

Promote your in-app purchases

Your in-app purchases appear in search results on the App Store in iOS 11. When customers tap on them, they are taken directly to your product page where they can read your app's description, view screenshots and app previews, or start an in-app purchase.

In iOS 11, subscriptions and in-app purchases are shown in separate sections on your product page, and you can showcase up to 20 total items. 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.

For more details, read Designing In-App Purchases.