#95 - The Secret to App Store Optimization is Really Easy (When You Pay Attention)

Ariel Ariel
3 minute read 2/21/23

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.

#95 - The Secret to App Store Optimization is Really Easy (When You Pay Attention)

The "secret" to App Store Optimization is finding the "right" keywords for your app. Not the "best" keywords or even the most popular. But rather the right ones.

What's right for your app depends a lot on your app, but before you even start comparing popularity scores you should first be sizing up the competitors. That's how you identify the right keywords.

What should you be looking for?


There are many types of opportunities in App Store Optimization, but my favorite type of keyword opportunities are keywords where the top results don't target the keyword very well.

Here's another example and why the algorithm ranked these results the way it did.

Keyword: Budget Planner

46 moderate 79 high 6.7K moderate 319.7K very high

There are a bunch of different ways to describe apps that help with budgeting, which is something many need. That's why most of the relevant keywords are fairly popular.

Many apps try to cater to multiple keywords, but they can't get them all, which is why this is a good area to find opportunities.

Here's one such example.

Search results for "Budget planner" in the U.S App Store

In first place we have Fleur, which calls itself "cute" for some reason I don't really get. That's not why it's ranking first with under 100 new ratings and duplication.

Fleur takes the top result because all other apps do worse.

You'll see what I mean as we analyze the rest.

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Buddy, in second place, gets a few more ratings but splits the keyword between the name and subtitle. It's a bad combo for an important keyword, but then again, it's the #2 result with only around 100 new ratings so this isn't bad.

If I were optimizing Buddy I'd look at the rank and popularity for all other targeted keywords and if none are better, I'd move "planner" into the app's name, preferably right after "budget". That should guarantee first place.

In third place we have the industry's leader, Mint which gets to third spot without having "planner" in its name or subtitle thanks to the sheer number of new ratings it's getting. Even though they far outweigh all other competitors (combined), the algorithm can't rank it higher because it isn't using half the keyword in its visible metadata.

There are ways to rank higher without any visible changes by optimizing the keyword list, which is something I imagine Mint hasn't done for "planner".

Fourth place result should annoy everyone. You can count the number of new reviews Goodbudget gets on two hands with fingers to spare, yet the app is in fourth place and is getting lots of visibility.


Because it's the only app in the set to use the full keyword in its name without any unnecessary duplication.


And last in our set is Money+ which, and this is just a guess, copied Fleur by calling itself cute. Maybe there's more to "cute budget tracking" apps I'm unaware of, but if that's not the case, I'd guess it's a copy. If there is, please let me know.

It ranks last in the list because it uses "planner" in its keyword list and "budget" in its subtitle, a destructive combination for success. Oh, and it gets the same number of new ratings as Fleur, so it can certainly rank better.

Copying is lazy, please don't do it blindly.

Use competitors' metadata as a starting point to save time. Learn from what works for them. But don't just copy what they do if you want to beat them.

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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