How Search Ads Can Boost Your App’s Organic Keyword Rankings

Lucas Riedingerby 
Product Manager at AppTweak

6 min read

According to Apple, about 65% of app downloads come from a search. This makes the advertising placement in the top of the search results prime real estate. On top of that, when Apple Search Ads was released in 2016, some were relieved to find a cheat code that would automatically position your keywords between 8 and 10 for organic ranking when your ad showed in the search results. This, in turn, gave even more organic visibility to your app. Unfortunately, today, this is not the case anymore.

However, there is quite some overlap between ASO and ASA. In this blog, we’ll discuss how Apple Search Ads can help boost your app’s organic keyword rankings and grow your app.

1. Find new keywords with Apple Search Ads discovery campaigns

By running discovery campaigns (search match), Apple will identify keywords that might be relevant for your app to rank on. This can reveal keywords that you didn’t think of and that might be worth bidding on or even trying to rank organically on. Additionally, if you already have in mind keywords that you are willing to target, you could use the search match feature to make sure you are not missing variant keywords worth targeting.

Learn how to run ASA campaigns with our Apple Search Ads guide

Expert Tip

For broad match and search match campaigns, add all the keywords from your brand, category, and competitor campaigns as negative keywords. This prevents your discovery campaign from matching ads to keywords you’re already bidding on.

2. Improve organic conversion rate with exact match campaigns

Once you’ve discovered new keywords, you can run an exact match campaign targeting specific, highly relevant keywords. By targeting specific keywords, you can improve your ads conversion rates and gain high-quality downloads. These additional downloads could also impact your organic visibility and generate an organic uplift.

Organic uplift can basically be triggered in 2 ways:

Improved conversion rate and download velocity on keywords

Apple Search Ads campaigns targeting relevant keywords that you are already targeting organically (keywords that are part of your ASO strategy) will likely have a higher conversion rate than more general keywords. Apple will recognize that users find these keywords relevant to your app and might take this into consideration in the ranking algorithm, which can, in turn, lead to increased organic rankings for those keywords.

To achieve such an organic uplift, the key lies in identifying keywords upon which you can improve your conversion rate. There are 2 ways of doing it:

  1. Start running Apple Search Ad campaigns on identified keywords to drive some additional downloads, improving the conversion rate.
  2. Using custom product pages (CPPs) to improve the relevancy of an Apple Search Ads campaign.

Expert Tip

It appears that when a custom product page is used in an Apple Search Ad, the organic result also displays creatives of the custom product page. This means that at the top of the search results, you would have the first 3 screenshots of the custom product page displayed. Then, wherever your app ranks organically, the fourth, fifth, and sixth screenshots of your custom product page would be shown.

Global improvement in daily number of downloads

Besides the impact Apple Search Ads can have on a keyword level, the overall increase in downloads that can result from Apple Search Ads campaigns may lead to an overall increase in visibility. As a matter of fact, with an improved download velocity, Apple understands that it should weigh your app more heavily in its algorithm. It follows that your app may start ranking on a larger pool of keywords and on more competitive keywords.

3. Get insights from your Apple Search Ads campaigns

After running some exact match campaigns, you should use Apple Search Ads data to provide your ASO team with keyword-level conversion rate measurement and test your organic relevance. As a matter of fact, to maximize your chances of having an organic uplift, it is important to analyze your ASA campaigns and look for keywords that could be added to your ASO strategy. For instance, if you find out that the keyword “quick deliveries” converted well during one of your campaigns, it might be worth adding it to your metadata (subtitle or keyword field, for example).

Search Ads Manager

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Synergies between Apple Search Ads & ASO

Everything we have discussed so far underlines the synergies that exist between Apple Search Ads and App Store Optimization. It is really important to understand those to make the most out of both your Apple Search Ads & ASO strategies.

The loop between ASA and ASO.
The loop between Apple Search Ads and ASO. Source: Advanced App Store Optimization, a work by AppTweak and Phiture.
  • Using ASA data to support your ASO decisions might lead your app to convert better organically on some keywords. This can, in turn, help you maximize your conversion on both organic and paid search results.
  • Custom product pages operate as landing pages that you can show to store visitors searching for specific keywords. Create custom product pages that match the search intent behind a keyword to increase the relevance of your app and further improve your paid and organic keywords’ conversion rate.

Find out how you can leverage custom product pages in Apple Search Ads

Expert Tip

Be careful of cannibalization. If your app ranks #1 on some keywords, bidding on these keywords could lead to cannibalization. You might end up paying to acquire users that you could have converted for free.


The pursuit of user acquisition has never been so fierce on the App Store. Many will try to use all tools available, but only a few will succeed at combining them to conquer the App Store! To combine properly Apple Search Ads and ASO, you should:

  • Conduct discovery campaigns to reveal new keywords opportunities
  • Conduct some exact match campaigns to assess the potential of each keyword
  • Learn from your Apple Search Ads campaigns and share the insights with your ASO team
  • Refine your ASO strategy and keyword selection to maximize the organic uplift generated from your Apple Search Ads campaigns

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Lucas Riedinger
by , Product Manager at AppTweak
Lucas is a Product Manager at AppTweak, helping to fuel growth for the world's most popular apps and games. He is passionate about rugby, basketball, and video games.