Search Ads: What You Need to Know

05/24/2017 12:33 am ET

Search Ads arrived on October 5, and quickly took over the App Store. Now the ads can be seen adorning the top results for almost any highly searched keyword.

With the popularity of the service coupled with the accompanying Title size reduction, there has been concern among developers that Search Ads could potentially counteract or contradict existing App Store Optimization efforts. In fact, the opposite is true – With the introduction of Search Ads, all App Store marketing now revolves around ASO.

Consider for a second how Apple has managed their Search Ads program. Many keyword-based advertising platforms let users bid on keywords, awarding placement to the highest bidder. Apple’s Search Ads work the same way, but with a catch.

In Search Ads, just as in a traditional optimization, relevancy is king. Historically, Apple has placed the end user experience on a pedestal. They have not compromised that experience in the name of a few advertisements. That means in order for an app to place for a Search Ad, it must actually be relevant for the keywords targeted in the ad. It’s not enough to just be the highest bidder. This is in part of Apple placing more emphasis on a user’s experience as a whole. Alongside curated listings in multiple categories, Apple wants to ensure that any app bidding on a popular keyword is as relevant as possible to ensure that users are really getting what they want out of search.

Building relevancy for keywords in a Search Ad works similarly to creating relevancy for terms in your keyword bank. This means that a traditional optimization can actually aid you in targeting Search Ads as well.

Looking beyond a traditional optimization, it is actually possible to optimize your app to be more likely to land certain keywords in a Search Ad. In order to appear more relevant for a keyword, try establishing that relevance in your description.

For instance, if you want to target the word “football” for your sports statistics-tracking app, you can write your intro sentence as “Track statistics for football, soccer, basketball and more...” The first sentence in your App Store description is a great place to establish increased relevance for the words and phrases you would like to target.

You can also establish relevance by building feature lists for your app. Use this as an opportunity to explain the features that your app offers, and how they might be relevant to the words you are trying to target in your Search Ads. Gummicube, a leading ASO provider, has also noted that relevancy for the keyword you are targeting in the Search Ads helps improve conversion on the ad. If your app’s title and creative assets use the search term, users will be more inclined to click through, or even click “Get” straight from the search results.

By aligning Search Ads with existing ASO best practices, Apple has created a way for developers to bypass the archaic search rankings system to reach a wider audience, without upending the strategies that have led thousands of developers to past success in the App Store. If your app is already optimized well, chances are you have a good shot at landing relevant terms. And if you have yet to optimize, there is no better time to start than now.

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