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Best Practices


Keywords are critical to app discovery. They determine how your ad is matched to searches on the App Store. Using keywords effectively can boost search results campaign performance and help you uncover opportunities for growth. Use the following suggestions to get the best results.

Think like your customers. 

Consider the search terms people might use to find an app like yours on the App Store. Customers might search for something very specific, such as an app name or brand, or they might search for something more general, such as a category or type of app. Start with your app’s name and terms that explain the service your app provides or the need it meets. This can include use cases that might be secondary to your app’s main function. Consider adding other popular brand names that provide services similar to yours, as customers often download and try multiple apps that serve the same purpose.

Include both general and specific terms. 
Let’s say you were promoting a string instruments teaching app called Music Teacher. You would want to use both general and specific terms like the examples below to help your ad appear for more App Store searches. 
General keywords help you reach a wider audience. These keywords can be more popular and competitive. Make sure they’re relevant to what your app offers, otherwise your ad may be unlikely to win the auction for those searches.

Music Teacher Keyword Examples

  • guitar
  • music lessons
  • music app

Specific keywords help your ad appear for search queries that are more narrowly related to your app. These terms can help you improve the rate of ad taps to installs, but if keywords are too specific you may not reach as many customers as you’d like.


Music Teacher Keyword Examples

  • Music Teacher
  • acoustic guitar lessons
  • string music lessons
A list of suggested keywords related to music. The suggested keywords have plus signs to the left of them, and five circles to the right of them. The more circles that are colored in, the higher the popularity ranking of the keyword.

Focus on relevance
and popularity.

People come to the App Store with the intention of discovering and downloading apps. The search terms they use are the strongest intent signal you can get. By choosing relevant and popular keywords, you can reach these customers at the moment they’re searching for apps. Rather than bidding on an exhaustive list of every possible keyword, focus on the most relevant ones and use tools like Search Match to discover more. You can also use the keyword suggestion tool in your account to find related terms. The tool displays keyword popularity based on App Store searches.

Capitalize on search trends and peaks with
broad match.

The broad match type provides wider coverage of search queries related to your keywords.* It helps your ad appear for terms similar to your keyword that you may not have thought of, and can save you from having to identify every possible keyword combination. With broad match, you can tap into the latest search trends, peaks, and lower-volume terms without having to manage an exhaustive keyword list.

You can also use broad match in discovery campaigns when you want to find new keywords. When you identify the terms that perform well, add them as exact match keywords in your brand, category, or competitor campaigns.

With our keyword optimization and competitive bidding strategy, we saw higher revenue from Apple Search Ads than any other ad platform. We also improved efficiency with a 21 percent lower cost-per-install than
other channels.

Use exact match to tighten control over when your
ad displays.

While exact match offers less coverage than broad match, customer intent is more clearly defined and you can set keyword max CPT bids appropriately to maximize impressions. Exact match is especially useful in brand campaigns and competitor campaigns.


Below are match type variations for our example app Music Teacher’s keyword guitar app. 

Match type variations for example app Music Teacher.

Add non-performing terms as negative keywords.

Check individual keyword performance regularly to determine which terms are performing well and which
aren’t. To avoid paying for taps that are unlikely to convert to downloads, add non-performers as negative
keywords. Use exact match so you don’t accidentally exclude your ad from showing for relevant searches,
or try broad match if you want to ensure that your ad doesn’t appear for words or phrases.

The Campaigns dashboard is open for an example app, Music Teacher. The checkbox next to the keyword "tuning app" is selected, the Actions menu is open, and Add as Negative Keywords is selected.

If the keyword tuning app was driving a number of taps but no installs for Music Teacher, you could add it as a negative keyword in your brand, competitor, and category campaigns. This would save you from spending on a keyword that wasn’t converting.

Use Search Match to find new keywords.
Search Match automatically matches your ad to relevant searches on the App Store using resources such as the metadata from your App Store product page, information about similar apps in the same genre, and other search data. With Search Match on, you don’t have to figure out and bid on all keyword possibilities for your ad to appear. This can be especially useful in markets where you don’t know the local language.


We recommend you turn on Search Match in a campaign or ad group dedicated to keyword discovery. Monitor results and identify high-performing search terms, then move them to campaigns or ad groups focused on brand, competitor, or category keywords.

A toggle showing Search Match turned to the On position. A Search Match header with the words Automatically match my ad to relevant searches underneath it.

Manage different keyword types in separate campaigns or
ad groups.

Put discovery, category, competitor, and brand keywords into individual campaigns or ad groups. Managing these types of keywords separately can help with optimization, reporting, and your ability to scale. 


Learn more about campaign structure

A modal from the Recommendations page showing numbers of keyword recommendations available by app.

Consider our keyword recommendations.

In addition to using the keyword suggestion tool, once your campaigns have had time to run, you can check the Recommendations page for keyword suggestions. Recommendations include relevant keywords that are being used in App Store searches for apps like yours.

Tap the potential of high performers.
By checking keyword performance regularly, you can monitor which keywords perform best and ensure you have enough budget available to maximize their potential. You may want to increase bids for specific high performers to see if you can get more impressions, taps, and downloads. Or, you may want to reevaluate the bids you have in place for lower-performing keywords. For additional details, see the best practices page on Bidding.

See how keyword optimization helps drive success.

Below are some of the performance gains Apple Search Ads advertisers have realized with the help of hardworking keywords.

21% lower cost-per-acquisition compared to similar platforms.
6% higher buyer conversion rate compared to similar platforms.
5% increase in iOS new user registration.

6.5X new user growth year over year.
8% lower cost-per-install year over year.
4.5X return on ad spend after campaign optimization.
36% higher conversion rate with ad variations than default ads.

#1 performing channel in the U.S. for cost-per-install (CPI).
10X growth in installs over two years.
50% additional increase in installs by including all users
150% higher engagement (tap-through-rate) for returning users than new users.

20% of scale from iOS comes from Apple Search Ads.
8% higher purchase rate compared to other ad platforms.
2X higher retention rate compared to other ad platforms.

Campaign Structure