ASO Monthly #1- May 2016

ASO Monthly #1: May 2016

Google Play to allow 5 localized store listing experiments and more..

This is the first post in a fresh “App Store Optimization Monthly” publication series. The idea behind the publication is to offer a monthly digest in the ever-changing landscape of App Store Optimization.

The format is a curated list of all relevant App Store Optimization news for both the Play Store and the App Store, in chronological order and with minimal commentary. I aim to be as objective as possible and want to cover topics such as:

  • Apparent App Store / Play Store search algorithm changes.
  • Interesting new insights into the algorithm published by ASO experts.
  • Publications about best practices in CRO: From app store view to download.
  • New ASO Tools or features from ASO tools such as AppAnnie, AppTweak, Gummicube, MobileAction, SensorTower and Tune.
  • Big changes for third party app stores such as the Amazon app store.
  • Black hat ASO / Grey hat ASO tactics I ran into.

I would appreciate all feedback to the format, and would love to receive items you think are newsworthy! If you want to help out curating, also feel free to ping me 🙂 Now without further ado:

May 2016 in App Store Optimization

May 5: App Store search is broken & Report on impact App Store featuring

App Store search is entirely broken. A lot of top brands aren’t showing up on their own brand name anymore. My former employer SoundCloud probably wasn’t too bothered by it, ranking #1 for “Spotify”.

soundcloud app

I still wonder if the broken experience was an algorithm change that was pushed live without proper testing. It was just April 30 when Venturebeat published an article on “Apple’s been quietly experimenting with its App Store search algorithm”…

On the same day, App Annie publishes an interesting report on the impact of front page app store featuring, stating that the impact seems to have declined especially for apps. Well worth the read, but I missed an analysis of how the average downloads of featured apps pre-featuring has changed. I suspect that over time the baseline Apple started featuring less indies and more well established publishers. The latter might still receive the same absolute or even more downloads, but lower the median a lot.

median impact of featuring on daily downloads

May 6: Mobile Action announces custom alerts.

May 8: Black hat App Store Optimization offer

Not exactly ‘news’ but still wanted to share the email I received from a company offering to sell Google Play bot installs for 0.10–0.15$. They work with unique devices, and can make them retain too. #BlackHat

message offering to sell google play bot installs

May 10: A call to fix the App store

Gabriel Machuret publishes his open letter to Philip Schiller ( in which he addresses a lot of issues the App Store is facing with discovery. He published it on the same day that it became clear that the May 5 App Store issues have cost around 10% in downloads for the majority of apps. Speaking of (un)broken app store discovery: listen to this relatively fresh Mobile Minutes podcast episode by Eric Seufert and Ouriel Ohayon.

May 11: Run 5 experiments in Google Play at the same time

Google now lets you A/B test up to 5 localized store listings at the same time. Great news for apps/games with country managers who can now run their own tests, but also for indie developers who want to run more A/B tests.

run concurrent localized experiments on your store listing in multiple languages

Go forth and test, I see no reason why you shouldn’t have 5 experiments running at the same time.

This is the second cool update in short time to the Play Store as they also added a split by country in their User Acquisition data overview on April 28. You can now compare Play Store conversion rates on a country-by-country level. Really helpful to get a read on where your users aren’t converting so that you can put more effort into the Play Store description in ie. French.

review user acquisition data by country

May 12: AppTweak announces category keywords

AppTweak announced their 4.0 just April 28, and is on a roll. On May 12 it announces a new feature called “Category keywords” with which they list all the keywords the top 50 apps in that category rank for. An interesting feature for the process of keyword brainstorming/discovery. It lists also a lot of brand terms, misspellings and other LSI keywords (“abscess” as top keyword in category productivity). Olivier Verdin from AppTweak pointed out to me that if you search for the word “abscess” in the US, you actually do get a full list of “VPN tools” in the “productivity” category. That’s indeed Apple’s ‘misspelling algorithm’ going a bit too far (thinking that people who’d type “abscess” would actually mean “access”). Still, I would not add “abscess” to my keyword list because of this….

apptweak announces category keywords

May 13: iOS apps now get reviewed in under 2 days.

Good news for the App Store and marketers. According to AppReviewTimes, who survey app developers about review times, the average review now takes under < 2 days. App Store marketers should now be less worried of holding up long release cycles.

ios app store rolling annual trend graph

May 18: Google IO + App Store screenshot generator tool

92 reviews on50-100 installs on launch day

As ThomasBCN pointed out they somehow managed to get 92 reviews on 50–100 installs on launch day 😉

  • Google Play rolled out review benchmarks with other apps as well as a good overview over what your users talk about Whilst a nice to have for product teams, at first hand it doesn’t seem like it’s super actionable for Play Store Optimization. However, to me it clearly indicates that Google wants to become more and more knowledgeable about what users like / dislike about a specific app or game, so that it can index those apps accordingly in their search. I just hope they combat these practices at the same time.benchmarks
  • Google also announced a Reply to reviews API which should help publishers integrate reviews in their existing customer support solutions such as Zendesk.
  • Android Instant Apps let’s you run apps without needing to install them. Lee blyth from AppRoots comments:

Google’s instant Apps is a real game-changer: Imagine a world of search and rich content, delivered in an App (or web view) view, without searching in App Stores, needing to install stuff over Wi-Fi, App updates, entering passwords…, needing 32–64–128! Gb smartphones etc, This technology *appears* slicker than our existing desktop web experience and frankly could be a killer route for increased app engagement — but driven from search, not app stores. It’s a significant step, and one which again creates more value from Google search.

May 20 — Another day another Black Hat ASO strategy discovered

David Barnard spots a potential Black Hat ASO strategy: launching various apps under the same developer account with the same keywords, to get more visibility on the keyword.

May 24 — Extensive comparison of accuracy and utility of ASO

Gabe Kwakyi compared MobileAction, SensorTower, SearchMan, AppCodes and MobileDevHQ in an excellent post (only AppTweak was missing). He tested four things:

  1. How good are the tools at predicting chances of attaining a top 10 rank
  2. How good are the volume estimates
  3. Number of apps returned for a keyword search query
  4. How well do they match with your actual keyword rank

I liked the ‘auto-fill’ score approach Gabe uses — I actually tend to not trust any search volumes at all and rather go with auto-suggestions. I won’t give any more spoilers here, head over to the post to see his results.

May 28 — Applause BCN: Announcement ‘The Tool’ & everything about ratings & reviews

Applause held a conference with some ASO highlights:

  • Daniel Peris introduced “The Tool”, a new promising ASO tool (see slideshow). I’m especially excited about the fact how they incorporate the influence of paid marketing into your keyword & app store rankings. You can preregister at
  • Make sure to see ThomasBCN’s presentation on Ratings & Reviews.

Thanks, that’s it from us for this month!

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Let’s discuss in the comments, and like always: if you have noticed anything related to ASO, please let me know on Twitter or reach out to [email protected].