#25 - Please Stop Doing This...

Ariel Ariel
3 minute read 10/5/21

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.


#25 - Please Stop Doing This...

The cardinal sin of ASO is duplication. If you've been reading along with the series this isn't the first time you hear me say this, but if you're new (👋, please subscribe when you're done reading) I have a great example of how duplication can hurt ranks.

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: Metronome

61 high 75 high 1.5K moderate

When you master guitar, or really any instrument, the next frontier is tempo. And for that, you need a metronome, another popular keyword.

At first glance, I think I see a pretty simple list of results, but this one's full of weird ones that are slightly harder to explain. Let's take it from the top.

The first app, which hasn't been updated in 6 years!!! is the leader in downloads but not in new ratings. It's not that far off from the rest, but certainly on the lower end. It snags first by not having a subtitle and by having the keyword as the first thing in its name. It also has 49 characters in its name...

That's the first weird thing I noticed.

It's definitely an unfair advantage, and Apple should be doing something about it, but because six years ago this wasn't a requirement, this app can have 49 characters in its name.

The second result is the first repeat offender (see what I did there). Duplication is hurting it, but it also has fewer new ratings, so the algorithm doesn't have too many options.


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But then we have an app with more downloads and new ratings, and better keyword focus, at #3. Why is it not 2nd? We've encountered the second weird thing in this set. The second result, which has a completely generic name, has a promoted in-app purchase which gives the algorithm more reason to rank it high. It's not something we see often, but it's similar to the bundle trick we saw in Keyword Teardown #4.

The fourth result, Metronome by Soundbrenner, is fairly in line with #3 having fewer ratings and downloads. In fifth, we see, again, a bad case of repetition, so even though Smart Metronome has more new ratings than #4, the repetition devalues the keyword enough to distract the algorithm.

For the sharp-eyed readers who counted the number of words in both names, removed the duplication and compared. The reason #5 can't go higher is because #4 has the keyword only in its name while #5 has it in the subtitle. To succeed with that, they'd need many many many more new ratings. And even then, only maybe.

What You Need to Know

Repetition, meaning using the exact same word in the app's name and title, is completely useless, and just because your competitors do it doesn't meant you should too. Now... if you duplicate enough times you'll end up with, by magic, focus. But, I still suggest staying away.

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.


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