#2 - Do Downloads Matter for ASO?

Ariel Ariel
3 minute read 8/12/21

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.


#2 - Do Downloads Matter for ASO?

Many believe that downloads drive ASO ranks. While that's true for category ranks, when it comes to search results, things are a bit more complicated. And, downloads matter very little.

Apple's and Google's search algorithms are black boxes and completely undocumented, but when you look at enough data, patterns start to emerge. I actively analyze search results to reverse engineer how the stores decide which apps to rank and how to rank them, and share what I find, including tips, tricks, and secrets, here for you to learn from.

Keyword: Video Editor

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We'll begin our teardown by looking at a category of apps that's seen a very turbulent last few months.

Search results for "widget" in the U.S App Store

At first glance, I see a list that's almost sorted by downloads, and even though an Apple-owned app is in the results, it isn't the first result. That you don't see every day!

Much like last week's teardown, the order of these comes down to keyword placement and ratings.

At #1, Splice (which I did a full app teardown of a few months ago) uses the keyword in its name and subtitle and has very competitive downloads and ratings. I looked through the top 10 results, and none are competitive enough, which is why it's the #1 result.

In second is Apple's iMovie, which I'm going to skip for obvious reasons!

On to third, and this one might require a double-take. Keyword in the name, check. Lots of downloads, check. Lots of ratings, check. So why isn't it the lead? See that keyword duplication in the subtitle? That's no good... The algorithm keeps the last instance, which gives the entire search term less priority.


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Luni's attempt to guzzle up every bit of algorithm juice it can, by having nothing else in the name, fails for the exact same reason (hint: easy fix!), and Videoleap shoots itself in the foot by splitting the term between the name and subtitle, all on its own.

Overall, it's pretty clear what the "move" is here, and that's to not duplicate parts of your search term. I have a feeling I'll be repeating that a few more times in this teardown.

FYI - The one name you don't see in the top 5 is Capcut, the free video editor from TikTok, which has more downloads and a competitive number of ratings, and uses the search term correctly. While it has all of those, there's one thing it doesn't, and that's age. Although age has little impact on ranks, when it comes down to very competitive terms where apps have fairly similar performance, a big difference in how old an app is can make a big difference in rank. In this case, it sent Capcut to #14.

What can Capcut do? Work on getting more ratings. They surely have the downloads for that.

Three Important Takeaways

Ratings matter for keyword ranks. More is better, and they should be recent. They only work when your keywords are done right, though.

Are You Putting My Tips to Good Use?

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. See where your apps are ranked, track trends, snoop on competitors, get suggestions, here.

Tagged: #aso

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