Which Factors Affect the App Store Rankings?

Whether you choose to develop an app for Android or for iOS – to stand out you have to reach a good position in the store charts.

In this article, we will analyze in detail, which factors affect the app store rankings in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store – and how.

The App Store Ranking Factors

Naturally, neither Google Play nor the Apple App Store disclose their ranking algorithms publicly. Thus, we can not be absolutely sure about which criteria actually influence the ranking of your app.

Nevertheless, we composed a list of factors many people believe to have an effect on the app store rankings.

Downloads

The number of downloads is a key factor for your app’s ranking in both app stores. The more users download and install your app, the better your position in the app store ranking.

If you have a good marketing strategy and promote your app effectively, you can even increase your downloads. Learn here, how you can help your app to a ranking boost.

Revenue

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 pay for 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 Usage

Observe closely how your users are interacting with your app! At that, 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.

Ratings and Reviews

Your app’s ratings and reviews are important for multiple reasons. On one side, they influence decisions 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 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.

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.

However, 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.

Read this article to find out how you can still find the perfect keywords for your app.

Updates

Many people assume that an update temporarily improves the app ranking in the App Store, unlike in the Play Store. 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.

Retention and Number of Uninstalls

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 that users want to interact with straightaway. For that, you need a precise pre-launch strategy, that increases engagement and decreases the amount of uninstalls.

Country

In both app stores, the ranking position depends on the country. On one hand, there are country-specific rankings, and on the other there are global rankings.

In terms of country-specific rankings, the decisive factor is localisation. 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.

Social Proof

This factor rather applies to the Google Play Store since Apple doesn’t consider any social media at this point. Google takes all activities relating to your app into account that happen within the Google+ network or other social networks like Facebook and Twitter. They most likely affect your app store ranking positively since they underline your app’s relevance and quality.

Backlinks

Like social proof, backlinks are only a factor in the Play Store. Similar to SEO, backlinks probably have a positive effect on your Play Store Ranking. However, that depends on the quality, amount and relevance of the backlinks that lead to your Play Store page. The better these three criteria, the more this factor affects your app ranking for the better.

But be careful: Even though relevant backlinks can benefit your app, irrelevant links could do more harm than good. Therefore, you have to establish a process to monitor and retrace all backlinks to your Play Store page.

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.

Play Store App Store
Downloads
Revenue (only paid apps)
App Starts (usage)
Number & Value of Reviews
Keyword Relevance
Recently Updated
Retention/Uninstalls
Country
Social Proof
Backlinks

Differences in factors, which influence your rank in the app stores © ayeT-Studios

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.