Black Hat ASO : Buying Downloads

Show 18
The Mechanics of Black Hat ASO: Understanding the Process of Buying Downloads and Reviews


Black Hat App Store Optimization (ASO) techniques, such as buying downloads and reviews, are often employed by developers seeking a shortcut to higher rankings and visibility. Despite the potential risks associated with these practices, some developers continue to utilize them as a means of growth hacking. In this educational article, we will explore the process of buying downloads and reviews, the logic behind these strategies, and their potential consequences.

Understanding the Practice of Buying Downloads

A fundamental metric tracked by the App Store and Google Play Store is the number of downloads an app receives. By purchasing downloads, developers can artificially inflate this number, potentially resulting in improved rankings and visibility. However, the App Store and Google Play Store also monitor other metrics, such as uninstall rates and user engagement, to validate the legitimacy of these downloads.

When buying downloads, it is essential to consider the following:

  1. Volume: A significant number of downloads need to be purchased to impact the app’s ranking. A few hundred downloads will likely not be enough to make a difference.
  2. Geographic targeting: It is crucial to buy downloads from the country where your marketing efforts are focused. For example, if your app is based in the UK and targeting the US market, you should purchase downloads from the US, not from New Zealand or any other country.
  3. Secondary benefits: While buying downloads from one country may not directly impact your rankings in another, achieving top rankings in one region might catch the attention of app store editors in other countries, leading to potential features and visibility.

The Risks and Nuances of Buying Reviews

Purchasing reviews is another classic Black Hat ASO technique, often employed in conjunction with buying downloads. For example, if you were to buy 50,000 downloads, you might need to generate around 400-500 fake reviews to make the download numbers appear legitimate.

However, this practice carries risks, and it is generally more sustainable to devise strategies for obtaining real and organic reviews. Consider the following:

  1. Detection: Both Apple and Google have sophisticated systems in place to identify and penalize fake reviews. Engaging in this activity can result in penalties, including app suspension or removal.
  2. Trust: Users are more likely to trust and recommend apps with genuine positive reviews. Fake reviews can erode trust, leading to lower user engagement and retention rates.
  3. Long-term success: In the long run, it is more beneficial to focus on improving your app’s quality and user experience, which can lead to authentic positive reviews and sustainable growth.


While Black Hat ASO techniques like buying downloads and reviews may provide a temporary boost in app rankings, they come with significant risks and potential penalties. Instead, focusing on improving your app’s quality and user experience and employing ethical White Hat ASO strategies can lead to long-term success and a more loyal user base.