#52 - The Thing About Ratings (and Keyword Placement)...

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read Apr. 5

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.


#52 - The Thing About Ratings (and Keyword Placement)...

Keyword research is crucial to improving your ASO, but what does that actually mean? Isn't it just about finding high popularity/low competitiveness keywords that are relevant?

Almost, but not fully.

In this teardown we'll look at what finding good keywords looks like, and how ratings + keyword placement can win top ranks.

Keyword: Selfie editor

33 low 88 high 190 very low 558.7K very high $2.8M very high

Photo and video editors are very hot right now, both in popularity and downloads/revenue. Breaking into the top results there would be hard unless you have a very popular app. But what if you don't? That's where you have to find the right keyword to optimize for!

Search results for "Selfie editor" in the U.S App Store

In first place we have Selfie Editor, which has the least number of new ratings (and downloads, and revenue) of the bunch. And I'm not even talking a few less but rather orders of magnitude.

Yet, it's the top result. Why? Because it uses the keyword right at the beginning of its name and only in the name, something none of the other top results do.

You might be nodding your head right now, saying, "it didn't work for me when I tried it!!!". And I believe you. That's because you probably tried the wrong keyword with this strategy!

I'll explain what I mean after I analyze the next four apps, and it should make more sense.


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In second place we have FaceApp, one of the more well-known names of the bunch. It uses half the keyword in the name (Editor) and half in the subtitle (selfie), which makes it weaker than the top result. But it has a looooot of new ratings so the algorithm can't ignore it.

Right below it, in 3rd place, is Airbrush, which makes the exact same mistake. It has gets fewer new ratings, so it can't really advance any more than 3rd place.

Looking at the number of downloads vs new ratings Airbrush is getting makes me think Pixocial, the developer behind Airbrush, is not even trying to get ratings from its users, which is a huge missed opportunity here considering it gets more downloads than Face App.

I hope you're not making this mistake.

Dropping into 4th place, YouCam follows Airbrush and splits the keyword. With even fewer new ratings, however, the algorithm puts it exactly where it belongs. In 4th place. I suspect YouCam can also do more to turn its new downloads into ratings, but it's not as bad as Airbrush.

In 5th place we have BeautyPlus, which gets more ratings than the 3rd and 4th places combined! But... it uses the keywords only in the subtitle and breaks it up so it's pretty diluted as far as algorithm juice goes, so it can't take advantage of those new ratings.

At least it seems to be trying to turn downloads into ratings.

Oh, and if you're trying to really look at the screenshot from Inspector and see 6th place having the full keyword in its name and thinking "waaaaaaait, what's that???". I suspect the second YouCam has "selfie" in its keyword list. If the developer is reading this, I'd love to know if that's correct.

What You Need to Know

So, why did this app succeed while your app may not? It's all in the keyword.

"Selfie editor" is the perfect keyword for this because:

  1. It has a lower popularity score than other relevant keywords such as "photo editor"
  2. Yet, it's still relevant and has a decent popularity
  3. None of the top results target the keyword entirely with their name

I have a simple 3-step workflow for finding keywords that fit these parameters and are relevant.

  1. Start by listing relevant keywords using the "Related" tab of Keyword Inspector and the Competitor Keywords report
  2. Sort those by popularity (in descending order) and track the most popular ones from each report that are most relevant
  3. Head into the Keyword Performance report, which now has those new keywords you tracked, sort by popularity again (in descending order), and use the "View" link to inspect each. I open those in a new tab to save time.

When inspecting each one, you don't even have to dig too deep. Simply look at the top results and how they optimize for the keyword. If most/all don't have it in the name, you're done. Optimize for it, run an ASO checkup, and submit your changes!

FYI - I use both the "Related" tab and the Competitor Keywords report to gather as many potential keywords as possible, starting with the related tab, which is usually fairly broad, and then continuing to the report, which tends to have more specific results.

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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