Case Study: How We Increased App Downloads By 1478% In A Month Using App Store Keyword Optimization

Case Study: How We Increased App Downloads By 1478% In A Month Using App Store Keyword Optimization

Background Story

Happy Taiwanese Mahjong was a dying app that only had a few daily installs in the App Store. Our goal was to resurrect the app with App Store Keyword Optimization (ASO).

But is App Store Keyword Optimization powerful enough to save a dying app like Happy Taiwanese Mahjong? Let’s find out…

Note: while this case study is based on the Apple App Store in China market back in 2015, the same method still works for all markets now. 

To make it more challenging, there were a few more conditions:

  1. We could only optimize the Simplified Chinese version for China market. At that time, there were just a few daily downloads in China market because users there don’t like the Taiwanese Mahjong rules;
  2. We could only optimize the app name and keywords, but not the icons, screenshots, reviews, etc;
  3. and we could neither spend a cent on any other marketing campaigns nor could we change any app contents.

In less than a month, we were thrilled by the results.

Here’s how the journey began…

BEFORE APP STORE KEYWORD OPTIMIZATION

Before doing ASO, the monthly downloads in China was just 83, which means an average of less than 3 daily downloads.

App store optimization analysis 1

After various analysis, we came up with a new set of keywords for the app. These new keywords were then added to App Annie ASO module for tracking purpose. Before the new app version release, these keywords were mostly “out” of the ranking. We also planned to add some keywords to the Chinese app name as 麻将 — 台湾欢乐麻将(单机麻将游戏).

App store optimization analysis 2

THE FIRST ROUND APP STORE KEYWORD OPTIMIZATION

The 1st round ASO was released on Oct 13:

App store optimization analysis 3

Downloads in China

  • 1 week before 1st ASO: 18
  • 1 week after 1st ASO: 68
  • Growth: 378%

Downloads in China

  • 2 week before 1st ASO: 38
  • 2 week after 1st ASO: 142
  • Growth: 374%

Observation

Though the numbers are small, the growth rate is consistently over 370%.

Here were the app rankings of the new keywords sorted by highest ranking:

 App store optimization analysis 4

Observations

  • The new version was submitted on Oct 12 and approved on Oct 13. It just took one day this time. However, this should not be considered standard.
  • For iPhone, we only got in the top 10 of 3 keywords:
  1. 胡牌 rank: 2, difficulty: 1.7
  2. 台湾麻将 rank: 6, difficulty: 3.6
  3. 川麻 rank: 10, difficulty: 2.2
  • For iPad, we only got in the top 10 of the same 3 keywords:
  1. 胡牌 rank: 2, difficulty: 1.6
  2. 台湾麻将 rank: 5, difficulty: 3.3
  3. 川麻 rank: 9, difficulty: 1.7

Note: The difficulty is an index provided by an ASO tool.

Conclusion

  • The difficulties of most keywords are too high for this app. That is why the app got in the top 10 of only 3 keywords.

Actions

  • Perform a second round ASO to replace the non-performing keywords.
  • In the second round, we will use keywords with lower difficulty.

THE SECOND ROUND APP STORE KEYWORD OPTIMIZATION

We researched another set of keywords. We selected the set of keywords with difficulty below 3.5. We also further optimized the app name by appending some keywords at the end as 台湾麻将 — 欢乐麻将单机版游戏.

The second round ASO was released on Nov 3:

App store optimization analysis 5

Downloads in China

  • 1 week before 2nd ASO: 59
  • 1 week after 2nd ASO: 266
  • Growth: 451%

Observation

Though the numbers are small, the 1-week growth rate is over 450%.

Here were the app rankings of the new keywords sort by highest ranking:

 App store optimization analysis 6

Observations

  • This time, the new version was submitted on Nov 3 with a bunch of error because iTunes Connect has a major upgrade. The app was approved on Nov 10 (a week later). Nonetheless, the keyword rankings were already updated on Nov 3 in the first submission.
  • Out of the 15 keywords, the app got on the top 10 ranking of 9 keywords (60%), compared to only 3 keywords in the first round.
  • For the remaining 6 keywords, the app got on the top 30 ranking of 5 keywords.

Conclusion

  • The difficulties of the keywords in this round are already very low (below 3.5). Unless there are other marketing campaigns and promotion, the current keywords are optimal for the time being.

Action

  • To review again after two weeks

OVERALL APP STORE KEYWORD OPTIMIZATION RESULTS

Let’s compare the 1-week download count before and after the whole ASO process.

App store optimization analysis 5

Downloads in China

  • 1 week before the first ASO (Oct 6~12): 18
  • 1 week after the second ASO (Nov 3~9): 266
  • Growth: 1478% in less than a month!

The downloads had improved by 1478% in less than a month! This was achieved purely by ASO of app name and keywords only. During this period, there were no other marketing campaigns or changes of the app content.

app store optimization chart

Surprised? It had exceeded my expectation too considering it was a dying app with just a few daily downloads!

In fact, we believe our the growth rate could have been even much higher if we had run marketing campaigns in concert with other app store optimization techniques.

Are you still doubting ASO? Check out these 15 ASO Case Studies. If you haven’t optimized your app yet, you really need to get started!

We hope this case study can give you a better idea of the power of app store keyword optimization. If you want to know the other aspects of ASO, check out this ultimate guide of app store optimization.

HERE IS WHAT TO DO NEXT…

You’ve just finished reading the case study of app store keyword optimization.

Great job!

But did you know you DON’T NEED to do all the app store optimization tasks by yourself?

app store seo increase app downloads what

Yes, just use this App Store SEO Grader!

In less than 30 seconds, the tool will automate the tedious app store optimization checking tasks for your app.

It will also generate an App Store Optimization Report for your app, and tell you how to get more app downloads.

And it’s free!

app store optimization report

Marcus is a tech entrepreneur & a father of 3 daughters.
He is the founder of Meatti, which helps mobile app developers increase app downloads using artificial intelligence.

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