App Store Ranking

If an app’s discoverability is low, this will result in fewer impressions and limited growth.

What is App Store Ranking

App Store ranking has multiple meanings, the first is ‘keyword ranking’ which is the position of an app within the search results page and the second is an app’s ranking in two other charts of the App Store.

Those are:

1. the Top chart which is a chart of all the top apps divided into free and paid

2. within Category charts where it’s possible to go into specific category charts and see the top apps for that category

Apple guards the exact details of how it ranks apps but we do know some of the ‘text relevance and user behaviour’ factors that influence the App Store algorithm which we outline below.

Why App Store Ranking is Important

Discoverability depends on an app’s ranking in the App Store. If an app’s discoverability is low, this will result in fewer impressions and limited growth which isn’t the winning formula app developers/marketers are looking for. It is therefore crucial for an app to rank highly if, in search results and charts (top and category specific.), it’s to rise above the other thousands or millions of apps just like it. 

The App Store algorithm takes many factors into account. Experts don’t have details on all the factors or how much weight the ones they do know are attributed to each one, but by taking the below into account, an app stands a good chance to rank well in the search results / specific categories. Known ranking factors include:

  • Listing performance (install velocity: how well the app converts first time installs) in the Top and Category charts. A healthy amount of downloads will contribute to an app ranking for a number of terms. Industry experts understand this is one of the leading factors in how an app ranks.
  • Metadata keywords in title / keyword field (the hidden-from-user keyword field isn’t used on Google Play, it’s unique to the App Store)
  • Retention rate. App developers want a high app retention rate to rank well. If users uninstall an app quickly this can be detrimental to its overall ranking position.
  • CVR. Conversion rate is a valuable measure for an app’s ranking.
  • App ratings on a five star system and user reviews. The better these are, the higher an app can rank.
  • Frequency of updates. A stale app that sits in the App Store without any updates may rank lower than a regularly updated app. 
  • In-App purchases (IAP) are indexed as keywords in the App Store.

App Store Ranking and ASO

App Store ranking is one of the metrics that ASO teams look to push in order to improve both an app’s visibility and organic traffic. An app’s ranking can be its make-or-break position in the app store, so experts need to optimize the areas discussed to improve a ranking. Rankings change intra-daily and can go up or down depending on the App Store algorithm, so it’s crucial for developers and marketers to keep on top of where their apps are placing.

A major contributing factor to App Store ranking is install rates, which rely heavily on having a great app in the first place and an optimized product page to support it. Seeing that app ratings and user reviews are also taken into account (and look great on a product page) users should be encouraged to leave good feedback as higher ratings will increase an app’s ranking. Not to mention that user reviews can shed light on potential keywords that are derived from seeing how users describe an app.

Related Terms

  • App Store Creatives
    App store creatives are all the visual elements that appear on an App Store or Google Play product page.
  • App Store App Description
    The app description is a text paragraph explaining to users about the app or game.
  • Google Play Product Page
    The Google Play product page is the landing page for a mobile app or game distributed and published on the Google Play store.

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