#24 - Don't Blindly Copy the Competition

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read 10/2/21

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.

#24 - Don't Blindly Copy the Competition

Seeing what your competitors do is a great way to generate ideas for your own ASO startegy, but you shouldn't copy them. When you do you'll more likely lose.

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: GIF Maker

60 moderate 97 very high 6.4K moderate

We'll end this teardown with another keyword we've almost looked at before but didn't.

At first glance, I expect seriously competitive strategies considering how competitive its analog video editor is. All I saw, however, is a lot of (bad) copy & paste errors... Said otherwise, there's a lot of room for improvement (and learning)!

Repetition (or duplication, I use the two interchangeably) is bad. It's bad for single-word terms and even worse for multi-term ones.

Let's see it in action. First GIF Maker, the first place result, uses the full term as its name. That's great! But... it then uses the plural of one portion of it at the end of the name and then repeats it twice in the subtitle. Which instance of the word will the algo see? So they cut the weight of this term by more than half. Ouch.

Luckily for it, the second-place result, GIF Maker by Momento, is doing something very similar. Fewer words, but also fewer ratings.

That's actually an opportunity for Momento to take over. At roughly half the downloads, it could benefit greatly from that. The main thing it'd need to do is remove the word GIF from the subtitle, which will put all the focus on the name. Its second challenge is getting more ratings. It doesn't need to beat first place, but it needs a few more. I'd aim for about double what they have now. Those two together should spring it into first place.

Side note: The other nice thing about being able to get existing users to rate your app to get better ranks is that once you have a good system in place, more downloads = more ratings, and more ratings = strong ranks. It's a self-feeding system if you play it all correctly.

Skipping #3 for a second, we can see the copy/pasta continuing into #4 and #5, both of which have GIF Maker as the first words of their names, and then go on to ruin all of that by repeating GIF in the subtitle.

Monitor. Optimize. Grow

Get actionable insights in minutes!

But wait! why is #4, which has fewer ratings and downloads above #5? Just like Trivia, when you take away the duplicates, it's doing better in the focus category. A small but (very) significant difference.

Now let's tackle GIPHY, (possibly) the most popular app in the bunch. How is it sitting pretty at #3 even though it has the most downloads and ratings of all results?

Just like meditation, you can see GIPHY is including both parts of the keyword in its name and subtitle, but it's split, and the part that's at the end of the subtitle gets such little weight that even 3x ratings can't put it up above 3rd.

A very easy fix, and it'll then easily rise to #1.

What You Need to Know

  1. Repetition is ignored, which can actually help. The algorithm filters out repetition first and then evaluates the weight of keywords. I'm not saying repeat keywords because you can, but I am saying watch out for competitors doing that and analyze those correctly.

Anyone can ace their keyword placement, especially if they read enough of these teardowns, which makes the algorithm's job of figuring out how to sort results more challenging. That's when ratings come in. If you do a great job with keywords but don't have the necessary performance, another app will likely outpace you and take your spot.

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

Related Resources

#104 - Your ASO Better Be Ready When It Comes
Keyword Teardowns
#104 - Your ASO Better Be Ready When It Comes

Trends change in the App Store very quickly. Here's what you need to do to be ready with ASO.

#103 - The Trick to Branded Keyword and App Store Optimization
Keyword Teardowns
#103 - The Trick to Branded Keyword and App Store Optimization

How do branded keywords behave on the App Store and how to optimize for them.