What Galileo Can Teach You About App Store Optimization

Galileo and other scientists made major contributions to what ultimately became known as the scientific method. Find out how to successfully apply this to mobile app development.

"Where the senses fail us, reason must step in." - Galileo Galilei

Although we still do not know everything about our universe, there were definitely periods in history when we knew a whole lot less. During those times, "facts" about the world around us were often based on superstition or the opinions of a few powerful people, rather than any conclusive evidence. As important discoveries were made and could be verified by people all over the world, many of the old ideas about how the world worked were debunked.

If we look at this evolution from an app development perspective, when you first started, you may have attributed your search rankings to luck or factors that have no actual effect on your rankings. Then when you learned about App Store Optimization (ASO), you realized that there is a science behind the rankings. At that point, you may decide to invest a ton of time and energy improving your ASO.

But hard work by itself can simply make you busy, without producing any forward progress. Worse yet, if you do get some positive results, but you do not know how you got these results, you will not know how to replicate them. This is where the scientific method provides a repeatable process for improving your ASO.

People like Galileo were major contributors to the scientific method. Using this systematic process of asking questions and answering them through experimentation has been the basis of almost all great scientific breakthroughs throughout history. Galileo used it to make discoveries in astronomy, mathematics and physics. Let's take a look at how you can leverage the power of this technique to get more downloads.

Formulate A Question

The first step in the scientific method is that ask a question that you want to find the answer to. In App Store Optimization, asking the right questions may not always be as straightforward as you think. It does require some careful thought. The first question that most people might ask is: How can I improve my App Store search visibility?

That question is way too general. A better question might be: How can I get my app to rank in the top 10 for all of its keywords?

Be sure to ask a question that will give you a very specific outcome. Asking higher quality questions will yield higher quality answers.


In order to answer the example question above, you may hypothesize that if you choose keywords that have a Difficulty Score of 3.8 or less, you will be able to rank in the 10 top for all of your keywords. As you know, your keywords should be highly relevant to your app, but attempting to measure relevance is complicated enough on its own, so let's keep things simple and focus only on ranking, in this example. You can come up with your own questions about relevance.


Before doing any testing, use our Keyword Research Tool to examine every keyword idea that you have. If you need help finding more keyword ideas, consider using our Review Analysis Tool, Intelligent Suggestions Tool or read our post on how to get more keyword ideas.

If you have a fitness app, "training" might a great keyword to target. When you do the research on the keyword, this is what you find. As you can see, the iPhone Difficulty and iPad Difficulty Scores are both below 3.8, so this is a keyword that you can add to your list of keywords to test.


Now that you have some keywords that fit your selection criteria, submit an app update (new version) to change your keyword list. Wait a week to give your rankings a little time to stabilize, then analyze your results.


The analysis of your results in this example are simple. At the end of the week, check the Search Rankings Tool and see how well your app ranks for all the keywords you chose. This what what your iPhone Rank results might look like.

Repeat the scientific method for every keyword that you are not ranking in the top 10 for. Hypothesize on keyword replacements, test them by doing another app update, then analyze your results again.

After you analyze your results, you may find that you have to revise your original hypothesis. In this example, maybe choosing words with a Difficulty Score of 3.0 or below gets the desired outcome of ranking in the top 10 for all of your keywords.

It may take you several iterations of testing to answer your question, but stick with it. The answer is important, but equally important is the process that you went through to get your answer. The process is something you can apply over and over again in the future when conditions change.


But don't stop there. Ask questions about how to measure the search rankings impact your downloads, how adding keywords to the title might improve your rankings, and more. Then take it one step further and use this process to upgrade your app icon, paid ads, app website or anything else that you want to improve.

Whenever possible, test one hypothesis at a time so you can measure the result of that one change. This is not always practical because you may need to implement several different changes at once, but do your best.

Implementing the scientific method and asking the right questions will give you answers that you can continue to build on to move you forward and reach your goals. It worked for Galileo and it can work for you.

Have you solved other non-development related problems with this process?

Sensor Tower's platform is an enterprise-level offering. Interested in learning more?

Hugh Kimura

Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content

Date: December 2013

Never miss an insight. Get quality content sent to your inbox every week.

Thank you!

By clicking "Subscribe" above, I agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge the Privacy Policy.