#55 - Not Impossible (If You Know What to Do)

Ariel Ariel
3 minute read Apr. 26

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.


#55 - Not Impossible (If You Know What to Do)

Are all crazy-competitive keywords impossible to rank in? With so many apps in the store, that's an easy yes, no? Well, not really. We'll look at one example in this Keyword Teardown.

Keyword: Audiobooks

47 moderate 98 very high 8.5K moderate 353,671 very high

Audiobooks have risen in popularity a lot in the last couple of years, and while many know the most popular name, there are many many (many) audiobooks fighting for downloads in the App Store. So how can you beat big names?

Keywords, placement, ratings.

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

In first place we have Audible, which not only gets keywords right but also gets the most new ratings, by far. Audible uses the keyword right in its name and early and doesn't repeat it in any way in the subtitle. If I had to take a wild guess, I could tell you it isn't in the keyword list either.

Then come the 61,500 ratings. Of the top 15 results, only two apps get closer. One of those is the Kindle app, also from Amazon, which has a higher downloads to ratings ratio. But... The Kindle app didn't make it into the top five here because it doesn't use the keyword in its visible metadata.

Proper keyword placement and loads of new ratings give Audible its top position.

But look at #2...


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Right below we have Audiobooks.com, which manages to snag second place with keyword duplication in the name and just 384 new ratings (in the last 30 days in the US). A teeny tiny fraction of the ratings Audible gets, but only one spot below it.

Why? Well... because everyone else manages to mess up one way or another, and Audiobooks.com messes up the least...

I'd still remove that duplication to have a bit of a stronger standing in case any of the others read this teardown.

In third place we have none other than Apple's built-in app. I normally skip Apple's apps when they appear at the top spot, but seeing it in third, I'll point out that it has the ratings to compete, and since it's not using the keyword in the name but rather just the subtitle, it can't get much higher.

The algorithm feels pretty fair with this one for some reason. Must be a fluke!

Moving down to fourth place, Audiobooks, that's right, the name is only the keyword, sits pretty with 39 new ratings.

Now, hold on, the name is the keyword, shouldn't it be higher? It could but it committed the cardinal sin of ASO and used the keyword again in the subtitle. Why? Why??

I'd remove the duplication and work on getting more ratings. 39 ratings out of more than 10,000 estimated downloads means it's not really trying. Just trying, even if not very hard, should really help and could push it above Apple's own app and into third place.

So far we've seen the keyword used in the name (good), duplication in the name (bad), the keyword used only in the subtitle (less good), and it being duplicated between the name and subtitle (bad bad bad).

In fifth place we have more of the same. Scribd uses the keyword twice, unnecessarily, and with its 38 ratings is pretty much on equal footing with Audiobooks. More keywords in the name and subtitle reduce the focus, so it's sitting below.

I'm going to state the obvious, but with more estimated downloads than #4, cleaning up the name/subtitle and optimizing for ratings could give Scribd a massive lift. Possibly pushing Apple's app down.

What You Need to Know

Choosing an appropriate keyword, placing it where the algorithm can see it, and showing the algorithm your app matters by getting more of your downloads to rate it.

All three are important. One or two out of three aren't enough, but none should take very long to kickstart.

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.

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