#96 - How to (Not) Do App Store Optimization

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read 2/28/23

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.

#96 - How to (Not) Do App Store Optimization

Why do so many apps commit the cardinal sin of ASO??? That's a question I ask myself too often these days. But! Because they do, your apps have the opportunity to beat them and get more visibility and more downloads. And not committing it is super easy.

Not sure what I'm talking about?

Keyword: Audiobooks

43 moderate 100 very high 9.8K moderate 580K very high

Audiobooks are a quiet monster helping companies like Audible grow their app revenue by 4,000%, which is why Spotify also started offering audiobooks not too long ago.

With such stats, you'd expect this keyword to be very competitive. And it is! But... There's plenty of room for competition because most apps commit a basic ASO sin.

Let's have a look!

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

Audiobooks kind Audible is in the lead, taking the top spot in search results without having the keyword in its name but rather the subtitle. Normally, this would be a problem, but Audible gets multiple orders of magnitude more ratings than all of its competitors.

Ratings guide the algorithm when it comes to ranking results, so more is better.

But that's not all -- if you take a closer look at Audible's DPR, it's the lowest of all of its competitors, which means it's the best at converting downloads into ratings. A DPR of 8 means that Audible needs 8 downloads to get a new rating.

For comparison, Audiobooks.com, which comes in second, needs 211 downloads to get one new rating. What a difference!

And since we already moved on down, Audiobooks.com is committing the sin of duplication by repeating the keyword in its name twice. It's there twice because the algorithm stops reading at the period, which means "audiobooks.com" = "audiobooks" as far as the algorithm knows.

Given how low its ratings are in comparison to Audible removing the duplication probably won't have any immediate impact on ranks, but doing that will help Audiobooks.com ensure smaller competitors can't creep up and take over the second spot.

That's important to keep in mind.

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In the third spot we have Apple. I normally skip Apple-owned apps because their rank doesn't seem organic, but oddly enough, this time it does. I'm as confused as you are!

Apple doesn't commit any obvious sin and has a decent number of ratings making the algorithm want to place it below audiobooks.com all on its own.

You'll notice it has almost twice as many ratings as Audiobooks.com, so why isn't it above? It's because Apple Books doesn't use the keyword in the name and Audiobooks.com does. And because the duplication is in the name, the algorithm still sees it as being in the name.

Apple could rise if they add the keyword to the name. I don't expect that to happen though. For obvious reasons.

Right below is Audiobooks. Just the keyword, nothing else, and because it's been around for 14 years, it doesn't even need to use that old ASO trick to achieve this.


Even though it has the best name of the entire bunch in terms of optimization, it chose to throw away all that goodness and duplicate the keyword in the subtitle. It crushes me to see such simple mistakes ruin an app.

With just a handful of ratings and the keyword in the subtitle, which is the only instance the algorithm sees, Audiobooks can't rank any higher.

And in "last" place we have Scribd, which joins the list of sinners, having the keyword repeated in the name and subtitle. With almost the same handful of ratings, the algorithm can't help it any more than it already did, placing it fifth in the list.

Please Stop Sinning!

Keyword repetition is one of the simplest and most common reasons for failing with ASO. It's not the only one, but it's the one I see repeated (I'm punny) enough times to be seriously problematic.

If you're repeating keywords in your app's name, subtitle, or keyword list, now's a great time to stop. You'll see improvement fairly fast as long as you're not making any other serious mistakes.

If you aren't, look for categories where the top apps are! Those are great opportunities for you to gain visibility.

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

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