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Brand vs. generic breakdown in App Store Search

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Brand vs. generic breakdown in App Store Search

A few weeks ago, we released a new brand tag that indicates if a keyword is branded or not. Using this new tag, we dug deeper into our data to further analyze search behaviour on the Apple App Store. We wanted to know which keywords drive most traffic to the App Store: Brand or Generic? The answer might not be the one you expect…


We wanted to know how frequently users search for brands vs. generic keywords on their iPhone. To do so, we had a look at all keywords that have a Search Popularity score above 12 and separated the brands from the non-brands. We then estimated the number of daily searches a keyword drives based on Apple’s Search Popularity score and an aggregation of our app data. We found that, although brands only account for 24% of all keywords, they drive 43% of the App Store traffic.

Comparing the % of unique keywords that are brand and generic against the traffic they drive in the US Apple App Store

Comparing the % of unique keywords that are brand and generic against the traffic they drive in the US Apple App Store

It’s interesting to note that search from generic keywords still accounts for more than half of the Apple App Store traffic. We tend to think that users mostly look for brands on the Store.

It’s true that brands tend to have a much higher volume than generic keywords. On the graph below, we show how the distribution of brand vs. generic keywords is affected across different levels of volume. As we consider keywords with higher volume, the portion of brand keywords increases significantly. This explains how 24% of keywords drive 43% of App Store traffic: these keywords are a concentration of the App Store’s high volume keywords.

Distribution of brand vs. generic keywords and the traffic they drive on a group of keywords with a given range of volume (US Apple App Store)

Distribution of brand vs. generic keywords and the traffic they drive on a group of keywords with a given range of volume (US Apple App Store)

Among all keywords that have a volume above 75, more than 90% are brands, this percentage drops down to 17% among keywords that have a volume below 25. If we look at the full spectrum of generic vs. brand distribution across volume (see graph below), we see that, above a volume 90, all keywords are brands exclusively!

The percentage of keywords that are brands vs. generic across keyword volume (Apple Search Popularity Score)

The percentage of keywords that are brands vs. generic across keyword volume (Apple Search Popularity Score)

Learn more about our Brand algorithm

Leveraging the volume of generic keywords to drive downloads to your app

That said, we have to keep in mind that there are 3 times more generic keywords than brand keywords in our analysis. So, when it come to App Store traffic, although high volume keywords are mostly brands, there is a huge amount of low volume keywords which, added together represent a big portion of the App Store traffic.

The proportion of unique brand vs. generic keywords across volume on the US Apple App Store

The proportion of unique brand vs. generic keywords across volume on the US Apple App Store

In other words, generic keywords constitute a very long tail of App Store traffic. This is where you can make the difference for your app. Capturing the traffic from those generic keywords to your app can really increase your its overall downloads.

On the App Store, it’s difficult to drive traffic to your app from other branded keywords. You can use Apple Search Ads to bid on a competitor word and appear in top results of its brand, but that has a cost. You can also try to get your app suggested among your competitors’ You May Also Like section, but publishers have very little control on this field.

When it comes to keyword optimisation, in theory, it is forbidden by the App Store to use a competitor brand in you app listing. Even if your app manages to rank organically in a good position on a competitor word, the conversion rate tends to be much lower, since the user already has a particular app in mind. We estimate that the conversion rate of an app on its own brand is around 85%, but this falls down to 25% for the first app on a generic keyword search.

Optimizing your App Title: Keywords vs Brand Name

On the other hand, getting your app visible on relevant generic keywords can really uplift your app installs and capture part of the long tail traffic they generate. This is where ASO Tools like AppTweak can help you identify the best keywords for your app and monitor its performance over time. Based on our actionable ASO KPIs, you’ll be able to tweak your app listing to fully optimize it and leverage the potential of generic keywords.

Advanced ASO tips ASO: in-depth keyword research and analysis

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