#104 - Your ASO Better Be Ready When It Comes

Ariel Ariel
5 minute read 9/5/23

Have you ever looked at search results in the App Store and wondered why they're ranked the way they are? In this series of Keyword Teardowns we analyze how the algorithm works and highlight tips and tricks to help you rank higher.

#104 - Your ASO Better Be Ready When It Comes

There's a misconception that apps are already optimizing for all the popular keywords, so they're all very hard to win.

It's 202,3 so it should be the case, but it isn't...

Today's Keyword Teardown is an example of a keyword that's popular but every single app in the top is making some mistake. Some even multiple.

Keyword: Hurricane Tracker

64 high 95 very high 104 very low 128.6K very high

The last few months have brought devastating weather to many different parts of the globe, so it shouldn't be a surprise a keyword like "hurricane tracker" got popular quickly.

Search results for "Hurricane tracker" in the U.S App Store

In first place we have National Hurricane Center Data, which does the least terrible job of this bunch.

Even though this keyword is very popular, the top results are pretty much coasting because they're all making mistakes.

In this case, it should be obvious if you've been reading for long enough - the keyword isn't in the name but only in the subtitle.

The name is the most important place for keywords and the subtitle is second.

It still manages to snag the top position by getting a lot of ratings and doing just slightly better than the competitors.

Although it has a DPR of 16, which is generally pretty good, it's the slowest to acquire new ratings when compared to its competitors.

That's a big problem because it means its top spot could be in jeopardy.

At least it isn't duplicating.

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Right below it is My Hurricane Tracker & Alerts, which commits the cardinal sin of ASO - it repeats keywords between the name and subtitle.

When keywords are repeated, they're dropped, and the algorithm only sees the last instance + the name is worth more than the subtitle so it's a pure loss.

It manages to snag the second spot by getting lots of ratings. Not as many as the top position so it isn't at the top.

Its DPR is the second lowest of the bunch which puts it at a good advantage. It means that it could get more ratings faster and with fewer downloads.

That's a good option to have.

In third place we have Weather Radar by Impala Studios.

There's no repetition here and it's getting more new ratings than second place - what's going on here?


The mistake here is a bit more subtle/ there are two, actually.

The first is that the keyword is split between the name and subtitle, so it's not getting the value from being in the name, which is the most valuable.

The second mistake is that the keyword is backward. While the algorithm still ranks keywords that are backward, it's not helping them get up high and that's what we're seeing here.

If the app had half the ratings it'd be significantly lower. And with the second worst DPR it's something Impala should pay attention to if they want to keep this spot.

Fourth place Storm Tracker, also by Impala Studios, looks like an anomaly. "Hurricane" isn't even in the name or in the subtitle, and that's because it's clearly optimized for a totally different keyword.

So, why is it here?

Three reasons, really.

One, The keyword is likely in the keyword list, and two, the app gets a lot of new ratings.

The third reason is a bit different - Most of the competitors make mistakes, and that's leaving the door open for apps with many ratings to squeeze in.

And that's an important part of ASO - if you do it poorly not only will it hurt your chances at ranking but also aid your competitors. I doubt you want that.

This is also why ASO is so important to big brands who may not need the standard discovery because everyone is searching for them by name.

And in last place we have something we don't see often. A paid app! There aren't many of those, but they do exist.

There are a few good things it does to get this honor, but it could do better.

The first, and (almost) the most important thing is the name - the app's name is exactly the keyword. This is the mark of a long-timer, and it's a secret weapon.

It's also getting an okay number of new ratings. Not enough to beat the competition on ratings alone, but enough to beat most of the rest.

It's worth noting that the app with the best DPR, which means it's the most efficient at converting downloads into new ratings. That gives them the ability to grow their organic presence faster and with fewer downloads.

But… the subtitle also has the keyword which really hurts its ranks.

If (or should I say, when) the duplication is removed, I expect this app can rank higher. Even though it's not a free app.

Duplication is one of the silliest reasons to fail with ASO, but it's also the easiest mistake to fix. Please go fix yours - you'll thank me in a couple of weeks.

So what did we learn today:

  1. Make sure you're making fewer mistakes than your competitors.
  2. Work on decreasing your DPR so you can convert more downloads into ratings and get ahead faster.
  3. Repeating words in your metadata is bad. Don't do that.
  4. Reversing keywords is a not so great reason to fail, too. Try not to do it.

These are some of the most important things you need to know about ASO. For more check out my guides and other keyword teardowns and ace your ASO.

And that's all I have for you today. Subscribe to the newsletter for a new Keyword Teardown next week. If you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Twitter.

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App Store Optimization is part art and part science. I say it a lot, and I mean it. The art part is what I've been talking about in this Keyword Teardown and in my App Teardowns. The science part is where our simple and intuitive ASO tools come into play.

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