ASO Teardown: Duolingo Commands Every Keyword in its Category

Ariel Michaeli Ariel Michaeli
#aso-teardown
ASO Teardown: Duolingo Commands Every Keyword in its Category

Welcome to ASO Teardowns, a series where we dissect the strategies apps use to gain visibility on the App Store and Google Play for you to learn from.

When it comes to learning a new language, Duolingo is a very popular choice. It's very likely that someone you know has at least tried Duolingo to pick up a new language. We can see that reflected in the App Store, where the app is the clear winner among its competitors.

We'll look at what they're doing right and what can be improved in this ASO teardown.

Duolingo's overall ASO score: A

Duolingo by the Numbers

Before we start examining, here's Duolingo's performance on the App Store in the US:

  • 📈 616K downloads in the last month
  • 3️⃣ #3 in the Education category
  • ⭐️ 97% of new ratings were positive in the last month
  • 👋 Audience is young and split evenly between men and women
  • 💰 Primary competitors include Rosetta Stone and Babbel

Analyzing Duolingo's ASO Strategy

Now, let's look at the key components of ASO: keywords, to get found and send more people to the app's page, and visuals, to convert those people into users (aka. downloads).

Keyword Analysis

For iOS apps, there are three areas Apple looks at for keywords: the app's name, subtitle, and keyword list. The first two are public, so we'll start by analyzing those:

  • Name: Duolingo - Language Lessons
  • Subtitle: Learn Spanish, French and more

Strictly based on these, it looks like Duolingo's keyword strategy is targeting the following keywords:

  • duolingo
  • learn spanish
  • learn french
  • spanish lessons
  • french lessons

Here's how the app's ranked in these, along with keyword insights:

One important thing to note before analyzing this performance table is that Duolingo has an impressive lead in downloads over both of its competitors in the US. This gives them much more flexibility when it comes to keyword placement.

As you might expect, Duolingo dominates all of those terms. What's more interesting is that its brand has the highest popularity of all keywords, which means Duolingo is pushing demand hard outside of the App Store as well.

However, there is an issue with this strategy. "language lessons," the main term, has a very low popularity score of just 7. It combines nicely with other keywords in the subtitle, but on its own seems like a mistake. If Babbel or Rosetta Stone, which optimize for "learn languages" (popularity of 45), were to burst downloads for a few days, they'd likely take over the first place and pose a long-term threat.

Beyond these keywords, the app ranks in a few other popular keywords:

Takeaways:

  • When you are the leader in downloads the algorithm is very generous to you
  • Optimize for specific intent (ex. "learn spanish") where possible to get targeted users who will convert better
  • Always aim to have every word in the name and subtitle combine with other words to amplify your keyword list

Suggestions

  • Having a low popularity keyword in your name just so it combines with other keywords is very risky. Instead, we'd suggest finding a way to work those keywords in the subtitle and focus the name on a higher popularity keyword, especially if you have the downloads to back it up.
  • Although readable, having "and more" in the subtitle is a waste of eight characters, which could have been used to target another language instead.


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Duolingo's Keyword List

The keyword list is private and can only be seen by the developer and Apple's search algorithm, so we're going to have to reverse-engineer it as well. Based on keywords the app ranks in that aren't already in the name and subtitle, we believe it looks something like the following:

english,portuguese,japanese,chinese,italian,german,beginner,speak,learning,conversational,babbel

In addition, Duolingo has a localized keyword list for Spanish, which Apple uses in the US in addition to the English keyword list. That's why the app ranks for several terms written in spanish.

Takeaways:

  • Use the keyword list to extend your specific intent keywords, especially if they combine with the name or subtitle
  • The keyword list is a great place to add modifiers, which combine well with other keywords
  • Mentioning competitors isn't all that useful, but if you have a very well-known brand it could, so if you have the characters it's worth a try

Screenshot Analysis

These screenshots are fun! Bright colors, a chunky font, and actionable text make these screenshots very easy to look at. But they lack something that could improve conversion, they don't highlight simplicity. Learning a new language is rarely easy, and that's common knowledge. The screenshots don't exactly say it'll be easy, or at least convenient, to learn a new language with Duolingo.

It may not be, but isn't that the goal of the app?

Takeaways:

  • Bright colors add contrast and make the text very easy to read
  • Chunky text is more friendly
  • Short sentences (4-5 words) are very easy to read and digest quickly
  • Each caption should answer a question or challenge a user may present, making them more actionable

Suggestions:

  • The main screenshot doesn't highlight the app's competitive advantage (its simplicity), which is likely hurting conversion
  • The general statement the screenshots make is that the app can help you learn a new language. But... the competition can also do that so why pick Duolingo over the rest?

Video Analysis

No video?!?! That's right, Duolingo isn't using an App Preview to show off how easy it is to learn a new language with the app. Not all apps need a video, as we mentioned in previous teardowns, but in this case, a video could be a great way to show off the app's unique advantage and get a higher conversion rate.

Takeaways:

  • If you can, create an App Preview video for your app and test its impact on conversions. There are several types of videos, and not all fit your app, so you need to test them.

Duolingo vs. the Competition

We already touched on competitors, but before we dive into keywords, let's see their performance, which comes directly from our app intelligence:

Duolingo has more than double the downloads of Babbel, and more than four times the downloads of Rosetta Stone.

A rich keyword list, targeted name + subtitle, and a significant lead in downloads have put Duolingo ahead of the pack. Well done! Duolingo's keyword strategy is an excellent example of how using different keyword modifiers can expand an app's reach.

Summary

Someone at Duolingo is spending a good amount of time optimizing, and it shows. But ASO isn't just about keywords but also about converting the impressions those keywords bring. While they're doing great with keywords, there are a few obvious opportunities to improve conversion by optimizing the screenshots.

Your Turn

How's your ASO strategy performing? The key to success with ASO is to constantly make changes, and base those on data. Appfigures has all the tools you need to find and evaluate keywords, track performance, and monitor the competition. Get started


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