This is the Biggest Mistake Optimizers Make!

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read Nov. 7

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.


This is the Biggest Mistake Optimizers Make!

There's a simple rule to ASO that I see far too many novices and experts breaking, and hurting their chances at a better rank. This is true for all keywords, but especially true for the more popular and competitive ones.

What's the rule, you might ask?

It's simple - Don't reuse words from the app's name in the subtitle.

Easy, right? Well...


Monitor. Optimize. Grow

Get actionable insights in minutes!


Keyword: Flight tracker

56 moderate 83 high 177 very low 247.4K very high $337.8K very high

Travel season is upon us, and with flights being canceled and delayed regularly, it's always best to have a flight tracker in your pocket. That's why this keyword has a popularity score of 56, which is pretty popular.

You'd expect that every flight tracker will be carefully optimized for this keyword, but... most aren't, and they make obvious mistakes.

Let's have a look!

Search results for "Flight tracker" in the U.S App Store

The first result in this set, and the app that doesn't make any mistakes, is The Flight Tracker. There are a few good things going on here. The first is the name, which is almost the same as the keyword. That's great for ASO + simple for users. The second is that there's no duplication. And the third, which is a bit less obvious, is its ability to turn downloads into ratings. It's not the best at it, of this set, but it's also not the worst - that's good enough considering it isn't duplicating any keywords.

Below it is where the issues begin. Second place finisher, FlightRadar24, duplicates both parts of the keyword in the subtitle. And that's not all! It uses the keyword at the end of the subtitle, so the algorithm gives it the least amount of importance.

But...

FlightRadar gets a lot of new ratings. Far more than any other app in this set. That gives it a lot more leverage and strength over placement, and why it's in second place and not lower.

In third place we have FlightAware which seems to have copied FlightRadar's strategy, duplicating the keyword at the end, and generally looking the same. It's in third because it gets fewer new downloads, however.

And when I say fewer I mean about a third. That's a lot for a bad name/subtitle set.

Tip: Don't repeat words between the name and the description.

Fourth place finisher, FlightStats, is an interesting case. The app doesn't have half of the keyword in its name or subtitle, but instead, it's in the keyword list.

The keyword list has become a good place for keywords, and this is a good example of that.

There's something else the app doesn't have - duplication!

FlightStats' use of the subtitle and keyword list is, at best, a happy accident, but it works here because all other apps are duplicating (which weakens them), so the algorithm sees this case as an equal and ranks it as high up as it can given ratings and overall keyword placement.

And last in our list is FlightView, which copied the strategy from #2 who copied it from #3, but with even fewer ratings. That's not all. In addition to phoning home the keyword strategy, FlightView also has the lowest number of new ratings and the lowest ratio of new downloads to new ratings. By far!

There you have it. Follow the rules and you'll rank higher. It's that simple. That's why #1 The Flight Tracker is the top result even though it doesn't get the most downloads or new ratings.

FYI - Even though the names of these apps are similar, they don't all do exactly the same thing. Some track flights in the ky and some track your flights. A good reminder that your ASO competitors aren't necessarily apps that do exactly the same thing.

What Can They Improve?

If I were optimizing these apps here's what I'd do to try and rank #1:

  1. The Flight Tracker - Absolutely Nothing. Everything is excellent.
  2. FlightRadar24 - I'd change the name to "Flight Tracker by Flight Radar", then change the subtitle to "Real-time plane status". This will eliminate the duplication and expand the keyword coverage, something FlightRadar24 can do because it gets so many new ratings.
  3. FlightAware - This one's so similar to #2 that I'd follow a similar logic but instead of attempting to expand the list I'd focus it, keeping both the name and the subtitle short and focused. There aren't enough new ratings to compete for too many keywords.
  4. FlightStats - Rewrite the name to include the full keyword. If it does that right now it could become the #2 result very quickly.
  5. FlightViews - Much like #2 and #3, I'd first rewrite the name and subtitle to eliminate the unnecessary repetition. But there's one more thing. Unlike those other two apps that make the same keyword strategy mistakes, FlightView is doing a very poor job at converting new downloads into new ratings. This is a big miss.

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

The Algorithm Prefers Trends, But That's Not All
Keyword Teardowns
The Algorithm Prefers Trends, But That's Not All

This is the most fundamental piece of ASO that so many people get wrong. Luckily it's very easy to fix.

App Store Optimization is Easy When You Know This
Keyword Teardowns
App Store Optimization is Easy When You Know This

A common ASO mistake is so common it's ignored by the algorithm (and is a great opportunity)