#46 - This Is What You Have to Concentrate on Right Now

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read Feb. 8

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 in this series so you can increase your visibility.


#46 - This Is What You Have to Concentrate on Right Now

This week I've got a very simple keyword that demonstrates how necessary ratings are, but not without proper keyword placement.

Keyword: Ruler

54 moderate 64 high 197 very low 114K very high

Ranking for a keyword as popular as this one, with a popularity score of 54, might make you think you need hundreds of thousands of downloads. But that's not at all the case. Let me show you.

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

Just glancing over these results, I see what the algorithm is looking at here, and it's what we've seen it focusing on for a little while now. New ratings and keyword placement.

In first place we have RulerĀ®, an app that not only uses only the keyword as its name but it also went as far as registering a trademark for it. How would an app get the trademark for something so generic? Trademark aside, RulerĀ® makes the cardinal sin of duplication and devalues its keyword.

But it has very few other words in the app's name and subtitle and has a decent number of new ratings, that it gets the top spot. It can easily fall from there, though.

Right below it is an excellent example of two crucial things. The first is the importance of new ratings, and the second is the importance of optimizing your keyword list, the one that's in App Store Connect.

Tape Measureā„¢, another generic trademark, is using the keyword in its keyword list, so it's only visible to the algorithm. Lately, Apple's algorithm has been giving the keyword list much more importance. Combined with the most new ratings of the bunch, the algorithm gave it the highest rank it could, and that's second place.

If the keyword was anywhere in the name (probably can't because of the ā„¢) or the subtitle (yes, please) it could become the top result pretty quickly.

In 3rd place we have yet another good example of another very important thing ā€” Keyword placement. Ruler++ uses very few words in its name and subtitle, doesn't duplicate (hooray!) and with just a smidgeon of new ratings, a fraction of the competition, it manages to rank very high.

It's pretty old and hasn't been updated in a while, so the opportunity for someone who can optimize correctly is right there. Come and snatch 3rd place.

In fourth place we have Tape MeasureĀ®. Like the other app of the same name, this one uses the keyword in its keyword list and has quite a few ratings that the algorithm has to take note. It gave it as much of a push as it could, which landed it in 4th place.

Again, adding the keyword to the subtitle would shoot it to the top.

Side note: I was curious how two apps can have the same trademark and not belong to the same owner, and from my basic research, it looks like both apps had the trademark but let it expire. Is Apple verifying these?


Monitor. Optimize. Grow

Get actionable insights in minutes!


Last on this list is yet another good example we can learn from! Ruler does it right. The keyword is the first in its name, minimal other words, and I have an unsubstantiated hunch its keyword list is very short. Which is how it can get ranked so high, and 5th is suuuper high for a keyword with a popularity score of 50+, with single-digit ratings.

Again, because it used the keyword properly, the algorithm had to rank it, and because it didn't have (too m)any ratings, it did the best it could with 5th place.

What You Need to Do

Ratings matter. Keyword placement matters. One way to look at it is to get more ratings and pick better keywords. And if you watched my live stream last week, you'd know how (recording).

But there's another way to look at it.

Getting more ratings should be your goal, but there are keywords you can rank in today that you probably have enough keywords to do well in, but you just don't know about them.

That's right! You could be ranking better without the need for growth. All you need to do is find them, and the tool I use for that is Keyword Inspector, which shows you how many new ratings apps and games are getting for any keyword, including yours.

Use it to understand which keywords have openings (aka. apps that aren't using the keywords in the name), are popular, and you have enough new ratings to compete. Then use those keywords in your app's name.

Simple, right?

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

Related Resources

Optimizing For the Most Competitive Keyword in the App Store
Keyword Teardowns
Optimizing For the Most Competitive Keyword in the App Store

You can rank for even the most popular keywords if you know what mistakes to avoid - here's how.

How to (NOT) Do App Store Optimization
Keyword Teardowns
How to (NOT) Do App Store Optimization

Here's a keyword every top result messes app, and how to fix it and become the top results.