Did you know that most people find your app by browsing the app store? This was true in 2012 and is still true in 2020. So a top position in the app store charts is and always will be a crucial factor for the success of your app – whether it is an iOS or Android App – as the app store ranking algorithm is what will decide your success. But which are the deciding app store ranking factors you should know?
This article will analyze the main factors that affect your ranking in the charts – and how to improve app store ranking factors to get a better app store ranking or play store ranking.
About the Ranking Factors of the App Stores
Official statements about the ranking algorithms for the Play Store and the App Store are not available.
Thus, we can only analyze the factors that we can find through observation and testing.
We can not be 100% sure, that all of the factors state an exhaustive list – but we can be sure that every factor has effects on your ranking.
A general suggestion will always be to use a good app store ranking tracker like AppAnnie. This way you can track your android app ranking or app store ranking.
What does the App Ranking in the App Store depend on?
As with all search engines, the Google Play Store (for Android devices) and the Apple App Store (for iPhones) also use intelligent algorithms to determine where an app is located and whether it appears further up or further down in the search results. The targeted optimization of these Search Result criteria can therefore sustainably advance your app in the Play Store ranking. If you are interested in learning more about App Store Optimization, click here. You should note that app ranking by country and will not be overall the same, so pick the most important countries for yourself and improve your app store search ranking there first.
App Store Ranking Factor 1: App Downloads
The amount of downloads your app gets is still a key factor for your app’s ranking in both app stores.
The more users download and install your app, the higher your position in the app store rankings will be.
If you have a good marketing strategy and promote your app effectively, you can even increase your downloads consistently and grow organically further from the better rankings.
One important note: the time frame that the download occurs in is still a very important factor. So-called burst downloads campaigns can multiply the effect of the download campaigns as and you are able to leverage the organic installs from the higher traffic.
A great way to achieve burst app marketing campaigns is the incent app install strategy.
Your app’s revenue has no influence on your ranking, at least in Google’s Play Store. The reason for that is the unwillingness of most Android users to download charged apps. Therefore, free apps account for the majority of app downloads in the Play Store.
The situation in Apple’s App Store is the exact opposite: here, the users pay significantly more often for their preferred apps. Hence, the amount of revenue will most likely affect the app’s ranking – at least within the Top Charts “Paid Apps”.
App Store Ranking Factor 2: App Usage
Observe closely how your users are interacting with your app! At that, the App Starts – how often your users open the app – are especially important. This is a critical factor since not only the amount of downloads affects your ranking but how often users actually use your app. Additionally, this data is helpful for measuring app engagement and retention.
App Store Ranking Factor 3: App Ratings and Reviews
Your app’s ratings and reviews are important for multiple reasons. On one side, for many people, they influence their decision of downloading the app or not. The majority of users is more inclined to download an app that has many positive ratings and convincing reviews.
On the other side, this study, for example, shows a connection between positive reviews and changes of the app store rankings. The gist is that the better the ratings of the app the lower the likelihood of a worse ranking.
App Store Ranking Factor 4: App Keyword Relevance
At this point, we face a very important part of App Store Optimization: selecting the right keywords for your app. It is important that your keywords represent the features and the benefit of your app while being relevant for search queries. This is necessary for users to be able to find your app later in the app store. This aspect is a ranking factor for both the App Store and Play Store.
But watch out for keywords that are overly popular. Oftentimes the competition for these keywords can be way too high and you seldom have the chance of reaching a good app store ranking.
App Store Ranking Factor 5: App Updates
Many people assume that an update improves the app ranking in the App Store, unlike in the Play Store, temporary.
However, every update has to pass through its own review and approval process.
Similar to the initial launch of the app, Apple could reject it at this point as well.
One little hint: you only have the possibility to change your app store keywords and other metadata in combination with an update.
So: plan every update and make sure that it works smoothly and offers an improved experience for your users.
Then, an update is a good opportunity to receive new and positive ratings and reviews.
App Store Ranking Factor 6: Retention and Number of Uninstalls of the App
While the number of downloads has a positive effect on the app ranking, the uninstalls seem to have a negative impact in the Play Store.
For instance, the chance for a feature in the category “Top New Free Apps” decreases.
Interesting to know: such a feature is only possible within the first thirty days after the app launch.
Thus, it is necessary to publish a bugless app users want to interact with straightaway.
For that, you need a precise pre-launch strategy, that increases engagement and decreases the amount of uninstalls.
App Store Ranking Factor 7: Country Targeting of the App
In both app stores, the ranking position is depending on the country. On one hand, there are country-specific rankings, and on the other global rankings.
In terms of country-specific rankings, the decisive factor is localization.
This includes important changes for different versions like translating text to the respective language or adopting regional formats for time and date.
Also, a very important step is the cultural adaption of the app.
Regarding the use of symbols and colors, different cultures could have different meanings for them as well.
Furthermore, you have to change the characters and, for some countries, the reading direction.
As an app developer, you can’t forget these steps to ensure that you address users with different origins correctly.
An Overview of the App Store Ranking Factors
Finally, we want to give you an overview of the important app store ranking factors and which store considers them.
|Factors that influence your rankings|
|Google Play Store ranking Factors||iOS|
|Amount of Reviews||✔||✔|
|App Store Ratings||✔||✔|
With the help of this table, you can figure out which factors you have to optimize in order to reach a good ranking in your chosen app store.
With all these Ranking Factors you should know, here are some valuable tips you should know to skyrocket your app:
Tip 1: App performance as a new ranking factor in app store optimization
A completely new ranking factor was added to the Google Play Store at the beginning of August 2017: The app performance. This refers to the quality and user experience of an app. The more often your app crashes, the more often it is uninstalled and the more battery a mobile app uses up, the more negative it will have on the position of an app in the search results.
Google wants to prevent app users from being unnecessarily frustrated by unstable apps and thus actively promotes the ranking of high-quality programmed apps. (Post in the Android developer blog).
By using practical Google tools such as Android Vitals, the Google Play Console or Android Analytics, mobile app developers can identify and eliminate any performance weaknesses, which in turn has a positive effect on the classic ranking factors in the Google App Store.
Tip 2: Classic ranking factors in app marketing
You should know about the app store ranking factors from above:
- The average rating
- The number of ratings
- The content of the reviews
- The number of downloads
- Keywords in the description and in the app name
Yes, keywords are important. So think about what your app should be called based on a keyword search and write a good description text using important semantic terms. Otherwise, you can’t generate relevance to a specific search query in the app store and waste essential potential in-app marketing. The free keyword planner from Google is the tool of choice for research purposes.
Also, use the bundle identifier in the Google Play Store to add other important terms to which you want to be found. Here you should absolutely enter your company name, if this is not possible in the app name, or desired.
In addition, you should make sure that your app does not contain any malware. Therefore, it was only in April 2017 that Google completely removed 41 apps from the Play Store.
The following tips explain how you can improve the classic mobile app ranking factors.
Tip 3: Increase app popularity through organic search
The number of downloads you make depends heavily on how well your app is found. So if your mobile app has a good ranking to interesting keywords in the normal organic Google search via desktop or mobile device, it increases your chance that your app will be found by your target group. Past studies have discovered a direct connection between the ranking on Google and the popularity in the App Store, which can be visualized in a self-propelled cycle.
This is how it works: As soon as your app has good visibility on Google, the new user will be attracted to the app store and will lead to more downloads. More downloads increase the app popularity (SEO ranking in the App Store) and lead to more downloads. The resulting increased app popularity is registered by the algorithm of the organic Google search and rewards you with even better visibility. Which in turn attracts new users to the App Store … and so on and so forth. As you can see, an almost endless cycle for your App-Marketing can arise once the wheel turns.
As Tune showed in there State of App Discovery report, searching for specific tasks is a major influencer of downloads. How can you get this water mill running? We’ll go into this in the following.
Tip 4: App Store SEO: Use brand and brand names as app names and for links
Ideally, your app should contain the brand name of your company, if the app is related to it. This will make your brand appear in all link texts in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store links, giving you greater relevance. External link sources are also more likely to increase the visibility of the brand name and app name.
Tip 5: Include the app name in all link texts to the App Store for good Mobile SEO
Also be sure to mention the app name in your own link texts and within the URLs of download pages. A link to the download page of your app should therefore never be called “To The App”, but should always contain the app name including the brand. And avoid to link the app via pictures or graphics alone – that would be fatal for the SEO.
Tip 6: iOS & Google Play Store: Link the download page of the app from your homepage
This is really important: You want to make the search engines understand that your brand / your company is directly related to the app. Therefore, place a prominent link from your homepage to the download page in the app store. As a position, you can use either the footer, an overview page of all your developed apps, or landing pages within your website with additional information like reviews, ratings, interesting features and so on. The main thing is that linking is easy and fast to find. It is best to use all three options for your mobile app SEO.
Professional tip: Use the Mark Up via structured data from schema.org to get the chance for rich snippets.
Tip 7: App Promotion: Build qualitative backlinks for your mobile apps
After you have created your own landing pages for your apps within your website, it would be great if these pages had qualitative backlinks. So make sure your mobile app gets the attention it deserves. You can write to tech bloggers and ask for a review, contact online editors of big e-business magazines, address testimonials, or target specific forums where your potential users cavort.
Avoid artificial link building in any case and never buy any link packages from ominous providers – you risk being punished by Google and lose your visibility in the worst case.
Tip 8: Integrate a QR code on your website for better app marketing
QR codes: These are the little funny pixel cubes that were enormously fashionable some time ago and were printed on all products and posters and still enjoy great popularity today. In very rare cases it is worthwhile to integrate the QR codes on websites: For example, if you want to ask a desktop user to download an app for his smartphone. This facilitates handling, pleases the user and represents a super optimization of your usability.
Tip 9: Use Google AdWords and the app extension for mobile apps
If you have exhausted all previous possibilities of app marketing, you can also apply for your mobile app via Search Engine Advertising (SEA). In Google AdWords, you have e.g. the possibility to activate targeted app extensions in ads and thus get optimal campaigns on mobile devices.
In addition, you can create an advertising campaign in Google’s display network and advertise your app within other mobile apps, and thus target your target group.
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There’s no easy way to create a good ranking for a mobile app in the iOS and Google Play Store – but these tips should definitely steer you in the right direction and show you how to create synergy effects between the app stores and the organic search.
The foundation of any successful app is, of course, solid and user-friendly programming. Do you have further questions about mobile apps or do you need consulting in online marketing? We are looking forward to your request.