#57 - The Interplay Between Keyword Placement and Ratings

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read May. 17

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.


#57 - The Interplay Between Keyword Placement and Ratings

Understanding the interplay between keywords in the name, subtitle, and keyword list is essential to being successful with App Store Optimization. This Keyword teardown has a great example of the most popular combinations and how much the algorithm "likes" each combination given the ratings.

Keyword: Remote Jobs

16 low 76 high 5.8K moderate 96.3K very high

I stumbled on this keyword while trying to figure out why Indeed has an app just for remote jobs for last week's episode of This Week in Apps, and while it's not a crazy-popular keyword, the way apps optimize for it and how the results are ranked, is a great way to understand the importance of keyword placement.

To help with the analysis, I annotated the result list.

Search results for "Remote Jobs" in the U.S App Store

First up is Work from Anywhere. It earns the top spot for one and a half reasons. It's using the keyword in the subtitle, where the algorithm accepts plurals and singulars, and also has the most new ratings of the top results.

Ratings first, keyword placement close second.

Right below it, we have FlexJobs, which has about a 10th of the ratings. Not only that, it gets fewer ratings than other apps that come below it in this set. So, why is it here? Because it has the full keyword in the name, which is what the algorithm puts the most weight on.

Actually... it has just half of the keyword in the app's name. The other half is in the subtitle. That's because when keywords are repeated, the algorithm sees the "last" instance of them and ignores the rest. This means it's not as strong as it could have been without the repetition, but no other apps do a better job, so it still gets the coveted second place.

Moving on down, we have an app that isn't using the keyword at all in its visible metadata and uses it instead in the keyword list. So how can it advance above apps that do use it in their visible metadata? Easy, WorkWhile has the ratings.

Good ratings + poor keyword placement = not so great ranks.

If WorkWhile wanted to capitalize on its ratings, adding the keyword into its visible metadata would bump it a notch up fairly quickly.


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By now you should have a better understanding of the interplay between where you place your keywords, the new ratings your app gets in comparison to the competition, and how the algorithm will rank it. But we're not done yet.

RealRemote in #4, has the keyword entirely in the subtitle. Much like the top result. Except... RealRemote barely gets any ratings. So how's it even in this set? Well, not many other apps have the keyword, in one piece, in their visible metadata. That gives it an advantage.

And in last place is a question mark. Snagajob Only has half the keyword in its visible metadata while the other is probably tucked away in its keyword list. But... I probably don't have to tell you why it's here – ratings, which it gets quite a bunch of.

So why is Snagajob not higher up? That's because the algorithm doesn't like to read in reverse. All the apps we've looked at so far go in order, which means the first part of the keyword appears first, and only then the second. Except for this app.

Reversing the order of the keywords, which in this case is much worse because it's not even all visible, really hurts how much weight the algorithm puts on the keyword.

Snagajob can optimize the visible part and the keyword list in a short amount of time and rise much higher.

What You Need to Know

Where you put your keywords matters. The algorithm looks at the three possible places, starting with the name, subtitle, and keyword list. So, if you want to focus on a specific keyword, place it in your app's name.

When keywords are split between the name and subtitle, or subtitle and keyword list, so does their weight. So, if you want to focus on a specific keyword, place it in your app's name. And don't reverse it.

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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