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Advanced | Campaign Management

Add and manage keywords

How to choose keywords

Apple Search Ads knows a lot about your app and its genre, and it can provide a list of keyword recommendations to save you time. You can also add keywords of your own, and Apple Search Ads will suggest a further set of keywords related to the ones you’ve provided. To add any of them to your ad group, simply click the plus sign next to them. You can also bulk upload keywords in the Keywords tab by choosing Upload Keywords from the Actions menu.

Note that for languages that include non-ASCII characters, you must save your CSV file with UTF-8 encoding to prevent character corruption.

Download Keywords CSV Template
Download Negative Keywords CSV Template

Each ad group can contain up to 5000 keywords. You can bulk upload up to 5000 rows in the spreadsheet at a time. For negative keywords, the maximum for each ad group is 5000, with a bulk spreadsheet upload of up to 5000 rows at a time.

Once you’ve downloaded and opened the spreadsheet, fill in each column with the following information:

Action: If you’re adding a new keyword, enter “CREATE” here, or enter “UPDATE” if you’re updating an existing keyword.

Keyword ID: If you’re adding a new keyword, keep this blank. If you’re updating a keyword, include the Keyword ID, which can be found in the Ad Group Keywords dashboard, in the Keyword ID column. Use the “Edit columns” link to move this into the “Columns to show” side if it’s not visible.

Keyword: Enter the keyword you want to add or edit.

Match Type: Specify either BROAD or EXACT match.

Status: Indicate whether you want the keyword to be ACTIVE or PAUSED.

Bid: Enter your maximum cost-per-tap (max CPT) bid amount.

Campaign ID: This can be found from the top right of the Campaigns dashboard, above the Edit Campaign Settings link.

Ad Group ID: This can be found in the top right of the Ad Groups dashboard, above the Edit Ad Group Settings link.

If you want to choose your own keywords, here are few tips to help:

  1. Think like your customers.
    Consider the search terms someone may use to find your type of app. What words explain the need your app meets or service it provides?
    For example, your app is a new camera app with some unique filters that aren’t available anywhere else. You’ll want to start with the basics, such as your app’s name. Then, think about what your app can do. Terms like color editor, picture editor, and photo editor might also be successful at driving downloads.

  2. Try both general and specific keywords.
    General keywords should still be relevant to what your app offers. Otherwise, your ad is unlikely to make it into the auction for those searches. Using general keywords will help you reach a wider audience, but might also cause you to go through your budget faster, because they can be more competitive and require higher bid amounts.
    When you choose specific keywords, your ad may show for search queries that are more narrowly related to your app. Specific search terms can help you improve the rate of ad taps to conversions, but if keywords are too specific you may not reach as many customers as you’d like.

  3. Consider putting discovery, generic, competitor, and brand keywords in separate ad groups.

    • Discovery keywords can help you reach a wider audience and mine for popular search terms. Be sure to use Search Match.
    • Generic keywords can also help you reach a wider audience of customers interested in your app or its genre.
    • Competitor keywords help your ad show for queries that are more narrowly focused on your type of app.
    • Brand keywords help your ad appear for searches directly related to your app and brand. Use the exact match type for these keywords.

Note that when you add new keywords to campaigns, they’ll default to the broad match type and your default max CPT bid. They’ll also apply to all the same countries and regions associated with your campaign.

Understand match types

A match type is a keyword setting that helps you control how your ads are matched to user searches. There are two types you can apply: Broad match and exact match. We recommend you run campaigns with both match types to ensure good coverage and performance.

Broad match

This is the default match type in Apple Search Ads Advanced. Broad match ensures your ad will run on relevant close variants of a keyword, such as singular, plurals, misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and phrases that include that term, fully or partially.

Use broad match to save time on building keyword lists. Apple Search Ads Advanced can do the work for you so you don’t have to think of every possible keyword combination.

Broad match also helps ensure you don’t miss out on relevant searches your exact match keyword list didn’t cover.

It reveals unexpected search queries which you can leverage as individual bidded keywords, once you’re aware of them. You can find them in the Search Terms tab within your campaign.

Exact match

For the tightest control over searches where your ad may appear, use exact match. You can choose a specific term and its close variants, like common misspellings and plurals. Your ad may see fewer impressions as a result, but your tap-through rates (TTRs) and conversions on those impressions may be higher because you’re reaching the customers most interested in what your app offers.

To indicate a keyword as an exact match, include brackets around the search term, like this: [keyword]

Examples of match types used with a keyword

Here are examples of match types used with the search term photo edit free.

Exact match and broad match applicable:

  • Words in order: photo edit free
  • Close variants: photo editor free, photo edit free

Note that close variants may not work in some languages.

Broad match applicable only:

  • Not in order: edit photo free
  • Partial words: photo edit, edit free
  • Other words: photo edit collage free, free crop photo edit
  • Synonyms/ related words: picture edit, picture edit text

How to change a keyword’s match type

New keywords default to broad match in your Apple Search Ads account. You can adjust them to exact match when you’re adding them to an ad group. Once they’ve been added, match type cannot be changed. To change your match type, you’ll need to pause the keyword and re-add it to your ad group with the appropriate match type selected.

When to add a keyword

When a particular keyword is performing well, you can use the keyword suggestion tool to see recommendations for more keywords like it. Simply highlight and click the recommended keyword. You can also add your own keywords in the box, and edit the match type for each keyword. Click Save to add the new keywords that you’ve chosen to your ad group.

When to pause a keyword

You can pause keywords in your campaigns anytime. Here’s when you might consider it:

  • When a keyword has a low conversion rate.
    Especially if it has a CPA higher than your CPA goal.
  • If a broad match keyword has a CPA above your expectations.
    You can pause it in broad match, and instead add it as an exact match keyword. That way, you maintain impressions for that specific word, but not its synonyms and relative variants.
  • If you want to apply a different broad match keyword or want to switch to exact match. Once you set your match type in your campaign, you can’t change it. But you can pause it and start another.

How to use negative keywords

Negative keywords ensure that your ads will not appear for certain terms. They can help control your costs and improve your campaign efficiency. The default setting is broad match, and we recommend you change the setting to exact match.

You can add negative keywords during campaign and ad group creation, upload them using a spreadsheet in the Keywords tab, or add existing keywords as negative keywords to one or more ad groups. Once your campaigns start running, you might find you need to add to your negative keyword list, or cut back. It’s easy to make changes anytime in the Keywords tab.

Negative keywords should be closely related to your bidded keywords, but they should also indicate that the searcher is looking for something that your app does not offer.

For example, a negative keyword is appropriate when:

  • You want to prevent your ad from showing for search queries that don’t apply to you. So if your app is about women’s fitness, adding men’s fitness as a negative keyword means your ad won’t show for any searches related to men’s fitness.
  • Your campaign or ad group performance data shows a particular keyword doesn’t lead to conversions for your app. Adding it as a negative means your ad will no longer show for searches using that term.

How to use negative keyword match types

Exact match (negative keywords)

This match type ensures that your ad doesn’t show for an exact word or phrase. It doesn’t block your ad from close variants like common misspellings and plurals. We recommend using exact match to avoid inadvertently excluding your ad from showing for relevant searches.

For example:

Say you have an advanced puzzles app, and you’re using the keyword puzzles. You may want to add the exact match negative keyword kids puzzles so your ad doesn’t show for that specific term, and you don’t spend money on an audience that your app doesn’t intend to serve. Note that a search for kids puzzles apps will result in your ad being shown since the exact match negative keyword is precise to the phrase kids puzzles.

Broad match (negative keywords)

To ensure that your ad doesn’t appear for words or phrases you select, use broad match. All the words in your broad match negative keywords need to be present for your ad to be blocked. If a synonym or close variant is used, your ad still appears.

For example:

If you have an advanced puzzles app and use kids puzzle games as your broad match negative keyword, your ad won’t appear on kids puzzle games or puzzle games kids but would still appear on search queries like kids puzzle apps. If you want to block kids puzzle apps as well, add kids puzzle as your broad match negative keyword.

How to add keywords as negative keywords

  1. From the All Keywords or Ad Groups dashboard, select the keywords you’d like to add as negatives (up to 50 per page).
  2. Open the Actions menu and choose Add as Negative Keywords.
  3. Within the Add Keywords as Negative Keywords page, select whether you want to add the new terms at the campaign or ad group level.
  4. Enter the name of the campaign or ad group where you’d like to add the negative keywords, or select from the list that appears.
  5. Adjust your match type if needed. As a reminder, exact match is recommended.
  6. Click the Add button.