The App Store as a Search Engine

There’s an interesting trend where people are using the various app stores as a search engine.  To illustrate this, I’ll discuss the experience of a one of our clients.  Normally, for all our clients, I recommend that they have a marketing plan to promote their app.  However, in the case of the app, Drug Test Info, that we developed for the American Screening Corporation, this was receiving a high amount of downloads without any promotion on every app store (Apple App Store, Google Play,  and Blackberry App World) that it was published in.

There’s an App For That

It finally dawned on us that people were find the app by searching for “drug test” so the name of the app, “Drug Test Info,” clearly had an advantage.  Apples slogan, “There’s an app for that,” implies that there’s an app to solve every particular problem.  So, often, people are searching the various app stores to solve a problem.

A search for "Sacramento  Real Estate" only yields 7 results.

A search for “Sacramento Real Estate” only yields 7 results.

Searching Google vs. Searching the App Store

If you Google “Sacramento Real Estate,” on a browser, you’ll find literally hundreds of entries.  Compare that to doing the same search on the Apple App Store and you’ll find only 7 apps listed.   The search on the browser is dominated by ad sponsored entries and big named realtors.   Conversely, the apps found in this example were developed for local realtors (Swint Realty is one of our clients).


However, in many cases, because there are so many apps in one category, you’ll be unable to find a specific app based on the key words.  Such an example is the mediation app we developed for a client.  Because there literally hundreds of mediation apps.

For the Apple App Store, you’re limited to 100 characters.  You have to be also very careful because once you submitted your app to Apple, you won’t be able to change the key words.


Here are some recommendations in being found easier in the App Store:

  • Name your app with the crucial key word.  For example the app we named developed for the American Screening Corporation was called “Drug Test Info.”  I think the name of the app is one of the big reason that it’s easily found
  • If your business is more regional, add the name of your city as a key word.  In the case of our client’s app, Swint Realty, one of their key words is Sacramento.  So, when someone searches “Sacramento Real Estate,” they are one of the 6 apps that show up.
  • Better yet, combine both above recommendations.  So if I were a realtor in Sacramento, I would name my app “Sacramento Real Estate.”
  • For more advanced projects, you may want to develop your Android app first.  Because Google Play has no restrictions on keywords (and how often you alter them), this will allow you time to optimize your keywords.  Once you figure out the optimal keywords, you can then publish your iOS app.

Being found via keywords on the app store, may be worth the price of admission, especially if your business is regional and you find  that your key words are competitive on Google.  Good luck.


Rich Foreman

CEO / Appotology

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