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App Store Auto-correct: How will this update affect the future of App Store optimization?

With the release of iOS 14, Apple announced it would start autocorrecting keywords in App Store search results.

In this article, Netpeak RadASO specialist Yaroslav Vorona will shed some light on how this will affect search engine optimization moving forward and what an ASO specialist should take into account when working with search queries that contain typos.

release of iOS 14
Users often misspell search terms while searching for an app. Qualified ASO specialists have known this secret for a long time and came up with a way to use it to their advantage by adding misspelled words to the metadata. Unfortunately, our favorite Cupertino dwellers have decided to put an end to their tactics and rectify the situation by implementing the new auto-correct feature in the App Store.

With this in mind, is it the end of the line for intentionally inserting misspellings in app descriptions to get more traffic? The answer is not that simple. So, let's figure out if adding key queries with typos to the metadata will still be worth the effort after the release of iOS 14?

Long story short — no.

After the update goes live, the App Store will correctly display the results for search queries without giving preference to misspellings, even if the query itself contains some. Therefore, it makes no sense to add a misspelled word to the metadata in hopes of tapping into the extra traffic potential.

extra traffic potential
This also applies to brand names.

This also applies to brand names

However, keep in mind the store doesn't always trigger auto-correction. For example, if a US-based individual were to enter a search query containing misspellings, the algorithm would know what they had in mind and correct the word accordingly. But this doesn't hold true for every country. For example, in Ukraine, the search query would be accepted «as is». This is because search queries that contain misspellings tend to be unpopular in the country.

search queries that contain misspellings tend to be unpopular in the country

search queries that contain misspellings tend to be unpopular in the country_2

Also, there are certain exceptions where fairly popular misspelled queries are shown as valid.

certain exceptions where fairly popular misspelled queries are shown as valid

In cases where auto-correction doesn't apply, adding the misspelled word to the metadata in the keyword field makes sense. Thus, the app listing will appear in the search results upon entering the misspelled search query, but not for the corrected version proposed by the App Store.

In the eyes of the App Store, misspelled search queries are treated differently than words spelled correctly. Often, misspelled words are less popular than the original search terms:

misspelled search queries are treated differently than words spelled correctly

Also, results can either match or differ, regardless of whether the algorithm corrects the word or not.

results can either match or differ, regardless of whether the algorithm corrects the word or not
results can either match or differ, regardless of whether the algorithm corrects the word or not_2
In some cases, the App Store doesn't enforce auto-correction but shows the search results for the original search terms:

App Store doesn't enforce auto-correction but shows the search results for the original search terms

So, we've already concluded that words not recognized as misspellings by the App Store can be added to the metadata. But how do we verify these findings? Below, we will analyze two methods.

  1. The easiest and most convenient way to check is by using the «Keyword live ranking» tool in the ASO tools section of App Follow. This is a free tool that comes with an integrated auto-correction indicator.

Keyword live ranking

  1. You can also check whether the output includes auto-correction by doing a manual search. However, to execute this correctly, you will need an iPhone and a switcher to switch between countries. This can be the Switchr by Imagility website or one of several applications developed specifically for this purpose, such as Switcher by ASO Giraffe or ASO Toolkit by Redbox Mobile. In one of our articles we discussed switchers in more detail.

Conclusion

You can add misspelled words to the keyword field if you want to get indexed for such queries. However, you should first check whether they trigger auto-correction. If the algorithm decides that auto-correct measures are in order or you find that the misspellings have zero effect on the output itself, it doesn't make sense to add a word with a typo since the store will show the output that matches the original request instead.

Text Localization: Kateryna Kalnova, Netpeak RadASO

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