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Is there a way to make your game easier to search for in the app store?

07-17-2012, 07:29 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 13
Is there a way to make your game easier to search for in the app store?


I am new here and I am interested in developing games for the iPhone. I got a bit of a sort of marketing related question and I wanted to hear from people who have tried this and talk about their experience with this.

I once made a search for "Dungeon Master" in the app store because I love the old PC game and one of the first results I got was an RPG called Descend which seems pretty much inspired by Dungeon Master. I am intrigued because nowhere in the game description says "Dungeon Master". The closest is the term Dungeon Crawler which I suppose is the genre of these games (in my days it used to be Dungeon Hack, though). So, is there a way to make a game searchable like that? If, for instance, I make a game inspired by the Zork text adventures, is there a way to make my game pop up when people search for Zork in the app store? It makes sense to try to sell a Zork type game to someone searching for Zork games.

I have seem similar tactics with the app name. There are many apps with celebrities' names on it and of course the now ubiquitous word 'zombie' appears more often than not. With so many zombie titled games I don't think it increases your chances of appearing on a search anymore, but I assume at some point it did.

So are there ways to make apps easier to search for? And if so, are there ways to optimize that?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer my question.
07-17-2012, 08:11 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: California
Posts: 31
Your not allowed to use trademarked or names of other games in your keyword list, but people do and get away with it. For example, "tower defense" is trademarked and you could get your game pulled if you title it, "Mike's Tower Defense" or something.

Choosing popular keywords won't affect your search ability either. It's ranked by most popular or most downloaded. The trick would be the same tactic niche websites use with google analytics and search terms. Finding that popular search term that gets just enough hits to be popular, but not too popular to be buried.

Theres a reason why people use the TA app, or various other apps to help them find games, because there are a lot of scam games and trash. Another technique that everyone does is to frequently alter the price of their games so that apps and websites that monitor the app store would display it as being on sale.

Twitter: RuizNick

07-18-2012, 10:15 AM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 13
Thanks for your answer.

I got one more question. If you can assign keywords to a game but not names of other games like "Tower Defense", can you for instance add the keywords "Tower" and "Defense" as long as they are not together as one word?

I'm just curious, I don't want to find ways to cheat the app store rules or anything like that, but I am curious about the search mechanics it uses.
07-18-2012, 10:31 AM
Joined: Jun 2012
Location: Devon, UK
Posts: 121
Sure you can add "tower,defence". I'm not sure it would make much difference if the comma was a space or not? You could call your game X-Comics but it won't show up in every search results unless you have a keyword of *

Web: www.zenout.co.uk
Follow: @zenoutJez
Developer: BubbleSand Tetroms (Attic Eyes...Soon!)
AppStore search string: "Jez Hammond"
07-18-2012, 05:20 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 101
Searching for apps is still based on 2 big factors. The apps name (words in the name) and keywords which are used by the app store search engine.

Note it is absolutely critical that your keywords are comma delimited. I have run a few test and a keyword list that is space delimited versus comma delimited does not have the same results and yes the space version is much worse.

So let us start with the App name. Words in the App name that match make the result weighted higher. But recent changes have lessened this effect a good bit but App name words that match still have the best results.

Next is keywords. Comma delimited list of words should not contain any word that is in your App name. It is just a waste of keyword space. There is still some question in the area of if words are matched exactly or as variants. See below:

Search words: Tower Wars
App Key Words: Towers,War

In this case the search does not match the keywords and at one time did not get you results. Recent changes seem to at least allow Tower to be tested against Towers now. But Wars as a search term still does not match with War. Results suggest the search method is using a contains versus exact match method now. And since Keyword Towers contains search word Tower you get a hit. Again recent changes has removed some of the old school hard science from this and several of us are still testing and collection information.

So what does all this mean? Well App Store keywords are like web site keywords for Google. You have to choose the right ones. This means research and testing. It is after all called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and has become quite a business. To think you don't need the detailed research for the App Store is be giving up a first line discovery tool.

Example 1: When we release an App, but prior to release I conducted about 200 searches on various words that people might search for to find the App. We choose the ones we feel are the most obvious and asked for reviewer (friends and strangers) input on the terms. Yep this is real work. We released the app with those search terms and after it was available I started searching our key words and seeing "Where in the search results" we came up at. This is critical. If you have keywords that used as a search term result in your App being app number 250 (ten screens in on iPhone) in the search results there is a good chance there is a better search term/keyword that will get you ranked closer to the top 100.

A better example. One of our games has keywords that bring it up inside the top 50 for almost every keyword (80% of them) and are reasonable for someone to type in. Our worst search ranking is 74 for a keyword for this specific app. When combining words that logically go together our app shows up in the top 20 search ranks better than 60% of the time and the rest are inside the top 75 that I have tested. On iPhone that is on the first page of results over half the time and that is huge.

I keep hearing how discovery is broken. I think it needs a lot more work to deal with the shear number of apps we have now on the App Store but it is not broken. It amazes me that someone would take 3 months to develop an app and then write their keywords in less than 5 minutes with no research at all. In essence that person just gave away the first line tool for app discovery. I am sure people can get lucky with the 5 minute method but I am sure that most people wind up with search terms that are well crappy.

Oh on search I will point out something that I see much to often. The app name "MyAwesomeApp" with no spacing is pretty much giving away the App name search. Even with recent changes this is still a bad app name. Where as "My Awesome App" with spaces is a very good app name.

If you are one of those folks that just tosses in keywords and did no research and do test searches then you need to take heed and change your ways. On the subject of test searches, they let you avoid keywords that bring your app up with big name apps. If you use a search term and it results in 20 Angry Birds type apps in the results with your app you open the door for the person to be distracted by "oh shinny big name app" and not choose your app. Also if the search term returns your paid app in a list of free apps that can hurt as well. I mean really your paid app and 24 free alternatives (think on iPhone) and ask what is the person going to download.
07-19-2012, 01:47 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 13
Thanks, Simengie. That was actually a lot of helful info.
07-19-2012, 08:31 PM
Came across this article recently:


There's a nice tutorial in there as well. Seems like reasonable stuff. Now to figure out how best to implement it in our own games.
Cricket Words: http://bit.ly/cricketwords