#37 - The Cardinal Sin of ASO

Ariel Ariel
2 minute read 11/29/21

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.


#37 - The Cardinal Sin of ASO

There are two basic things you need to get good results from App Store Optimization. If you've been following the series, you know it's a combination of keywords and ratings. The best example for how those interplay is when a bunch of apps use the exact same keyword the exact same way.

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 analyze thousands of search results to reverse engineer how the stores decide which apps to rank and how to rank them. I share what I learn for you to learn from and get more visibility.

Keyword: Brain Training

38 low 100 very high 11.6K high 746.7K very high $2.2M very high

The keyword we'll be looking at today is brain training. It's a fairly popular keyword that brings in millions every month. And all of the top results follow the exact same format for their name... Let's see how the algorithm handles that (+ an ugly mistake).

Search results for "Brain Training" in the U.S App Store

At a glance, we can see the top 5 results follow the exact same format: [brand] - Brain Training. This means that the algorithm is going to be very sensitive to keywords and ratings.

Looking at this list above, or in Keyword Inspector, if you're following live, it's clear ratings are what dictates the order.

The #1 result, Impulse, has the most ratings of the bunch, and by far. It's followed by Elevate, which has an order of magnitude less, but still more than the rest. Lumosity, in #3, drops another order of magnitude, and Peak below it at #4 is at about a half.


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But then we get to MindPal, which has more ratings than the #2 result, and even though it follows the same template, it's 5th. Why?

It's committing the cardinal sin of repetition. Look at the subtitle -- it's repeating the word "brain", and since everyone else isn't, keyword placement trumps ratings, and MindPal gets pushed down.

If/when that keyword is removed, I expect to see MindPal rise to #2 fairly quickly because the ratings are there. It might get to #3 quickly and only then compete for #2, but the difference in visibility between #2 (or #3) and #5 is pretty massive.

It's a really silly way to lose visibility, so I hope they're reading this teardown.

What You Need to Know

Duplication is bad. Duplication is bad. Duplication is bad. And in case you still aren't sure. Duplication is bad.

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.

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, learn from competitors, get smart suggestions, and more, here.

Tagged: #aso

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