Illustrative art shows a person suspected of doing black hat techniques

Why black hat techniques are too risky for developers

App Store Optimization (ASO) is hard work, but it’s necessary to maximize your app’s potential. You might be tempted to resort to black hat techniques when trying to improve ASO, but if you stick around you will soon see why you really don’t want to.

What Are Black Hat Techniques?

Before laying out the list of reasons why you shouldn’t use them, it’s important to understand what these specific techniques are.

Black hat ASO utilizes unethical practices to quickly make an app more visible and increase its downloads. Think of it as taking a shortcut.

There are three major categories:

  1. Installs
  2. Keywords
  3. Reviews and Ratings

White hat techniques also use the above categories to improve an app’s visibility, but black hat tactics use them to wrongly manipulate the system.

Let’s take a closer look at each one:


Getting more installs means the app will rank better and become more visible.

Black hat tactics in this category include:

  • Incentivized Installs – Bribing users with some sort of reward in return for downloading a particular app;
  • Incentivized Search Installs – Having the user search for the app before installing it and receiving a reward;
  • Bot Installs,
  • Retained Bot Installs – Messaging companies to promise them a certain number of app downloads.


Using the right keywords improves ASO, thereby increasing the odds of your app showing up in the search results.

Black hat techniques in this category include:

  • Irrelevant Keywords – They are placed in the title and description but have nothing to do with the app;
  • Keyword Stuffing – Relevant keywords should be used in the title and description, but not excessively and not in sentences where they don’t naturally fit in,
  • Using Brand Names – This is a very sneaky attempt to trick users into downloading a lesser known app instead of the one they are searching for.

Ratings and Reviews

Positive reviews encourage more downloads as they convince users the app is worth installing. In addition, apps with positive reviews tend to rank better.

Black hat techniques in this category include:

  • Fake Reviews – Created by bot accounts, these fake, positive reviews are used to quickly improve the app’s ranking;
  • Buying Reviews – Providing something to users in exchange for their feedback on an app;
  • Encouraging The Use Of Keywords in Reviews – Through incentive means;
  • Reviews Written By The App’s Own Publishers,
  • Attacking Competitors – By leaving negative reviews on competing apps.

Why You Don’t Want to Use Black Hat Techniques

Illustrative art shows presenter commenting on black hat techniques.

Although these tactics can cause a sudden spike in KPIs, don’t expect it to last.

Black hat SEO may result in the following negative consequences:

  • The removal of your app;
  • Quick results without long-term success and growth;
  • Low-quality users who will probably end up deleting the app after installing it,
  • Having to continually throw money into these methods in order to maintain their success.

Why White Hat Techniques Are Better In The Long Run

It may take more time to see results using ethical methods, but it’s worth it to be patient and put in an honest effort.

Here’s Why:

  • Your app will be more trustworthy;
  • You will have a greater number of high-quality users, meaning they will probably continue to use the app after installing it,
  • The results are more sustainable, so your app will remain competitive and successful.

When it all comes down to it, the risk of using black hat techniques far outweigh the temporary, short-lived benefits of these shady tactics. Stick to ethical practices and keep an eye on KPIs to ensure the long-term success of your app.

But I’m sure you realize it’s very hard! Don’t worry, you can speak with a specialist at RankMyApp to get help with increasing your app’s visibility. Don’t do this alone anymore.

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