#76 - Optimizing For the Most Competitive Keyword in the App Store

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read 10/3/22

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.

#76 - Optimizing For the Most Competitive Keyword in the App Store

I've yet to look at a keyword with a perfect competitiveness score of 100. Such a score means ranking high is really really hard because the top results have what it takes to be at the top.

But... Even they make some mistakes.

Keyword: Bible

69 high 100 very high 18.4K high 325.6K very high

Bible apps launched as early as the iPhone did, and developers haven't really stopped since. As of right now, Explorer is showing 2,650 apps with the word "bible" in their name available for downloads on the App Store. That number explodes to 8,478 when you include apps that are no longer available (Explorer remembers those too).

I'm not sure why you'd want to, but if you do want to compete here, is there a way to rank?

Let's have a look at the top results and see if there are any opportunities.

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

The top result is also one of the oldest apps in this category. So old its name is Bible, and it doesn't need to use the funky-character trick we've looked at in the past.

But it's also doing everything else right, by not duplicating the keyword into the subtitle, something others do, and also has one of the strongest ratings to downloads ratio (47%).

This one's really hard to beat because of that ratio, and considering the scale of downloads, this is really commendable!

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Moving down to second place we see not one but two things frequent readers should identify from a mile. The first is... duplication. Bible · duplicates the only useful keyword in its name into the subtitle. It also uses the funky-character trick to keep its name short.

This works, but only because there aren't (m)any useful words to take away focus, and it gets enough new ratings to keep up with the competition.

After throwing away stop words, which is what the algorithm does, what's left is "holy" and "bible". Because of the duplication, "bible" isn't getting as much attention as it could have, but considering the top result is also very focused and gets more ratings, this is as good as it gets.

In third place we see another interesting way of using the funky-character trick - the # in #Bible's name is ignored by the algorithm so it's reading the keyword correctly even though our eyes aren't.

I personally think this strategy is kind of ugly.

The good thing here is no duplication and enough new ratings to compete. It also promotes an in-app purchase, which the algorithm still seems to like. There are a bunch of other keywords here so the algorithm gives each a little less value, and that's why it can't become 2nd place easily.

On a side note, I get asked often if it's better to focus the name or to aim for more keywords, and the answer is "it really depends". There are pros and cons to focusing. The pro is that you get more value on a single keyword so you can compete better. But the con is that you can't target many keywords. In this case, it's better to focus because that's what the top results are doing.

And that's what you should do if you're asking this question. Use Keyword Inspector to check out the top results in the keyword you're most interested in. If they're focused, you should do that too, if they aren't you have a choice. Focus if you can't easily beat them on performance, or don't if you can. You can check that with Inspector, too.

Back to the analysis!

In 4th place we have the oldest app in this set. K.J.V. Holy Bible is somewhere in the middle between not focused and very focused. I'd call it somewhat focused, but in this case, it's a lose-lose.

Oh, and it's also duplicating the only useful keyword.

Because of the duplication, the algorithm is seeing "k.j.v", "holy", "bible", "audio", "available". What a mess. Who searches for the word "available"??? I looked - no one.

Because of this mess, the app can't get any higher even though it gets more ratings than the 2nd and 3rd results. Which means... if it cleans up and focuses properly, it could go as high as second place. Please do that and let me know how long it took. Thanks!

And last on our list is Bible for Women. Is there really a different bible for women I was never aware of? In any case, with fewer new ratings than the rest, duplication, and even less focus than #4, it's no surprise the app is last.

Please stop duplicating keywords. There's absolutely no benefit in doing that. And make sure you only focus if you have to. If you're not sure, use Keyword Inspector to check. It'll only take a second and could save you from destroying your discoverability.

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.

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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.

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