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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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
Revenue (only paid apps)
App Starts (usage)
Number & Value of Reviews
Keyword Relevance
Recently Updated
Social Proof

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.


How to Boost the Rank of Your App

If you already have an app in the app stores, you should always look for new users. The most effective way to acquire new users constantly is a good position in the app stores.

There are some possibilities to boost your rankings in the app store. Some of them are for free and for some of them you have to pay. In this article, we will show you the best practises to choose from.

How Does Your App Rank in the Stores Right NOW?

At first, you have take a look at how your app is currently ranking in the app stores. The most important thing to know is how good your selected keywords rank in the charts. (If you want to read a more detailed guide on how to find the most fitting keywords read here) Google and Apple both do not provide details of where which keywords ranks in the charts. So you have to get that information from an external provider. We can recommend to use the service of AppAnnie or Sensor-Tower. A basic version of their service is available for free so you can try whether it works for you or not without spending any money.

Free possibilities to boost the ranking of your app

Free, in most cases, means free of charge, but not free of investment. The money you save has to be spent equivalently in time you have to put into work.

What you surely already know is the importance of app store optimization. (If you read here, you will find a very detailed guide on how to do app store optimization the right way)
You can make the biggest impact on organic installs and rankings when updating the store page of the app. If you found out for which keywords your app is ranking, you have to decide whether these keywords fir your marketing strategy. Maybe you found some keywords in the ranking, which you didn’t even know about! 
When updating the description, short description, screenshots and promo videos, the ranking algorithm is very likely to improve the rankings of your app to see whether the new features appeal to the user. You can also implement a feedback function in your app. The ranking algorithms of both app stores are rewarding highly rated apps with excellent visibilities in their stores.

Paid possibilities to boost the ranking of your app

The possibilities to boost your app in the app stores with the help of money are borderless. It is simple but true: the more users your app has, the higher your app’s app store rank will be. So when you spend money on advertising your app, in most cases your rankings will also improve.
There are two options on how you can acquire new users: You can reward them to use your app or you choose the non-incent way.
Rewarded installs have many faces. A very famous way to use rewarded installs is to use this advertising method in another app. Many games use lives or tires in their game cycle. So, the publishers of these apps let their users watch short videos, banners or even visit an app store page in exchange for the possibility to continue the gameplay. The other way to reward the users is to directly pay them to install and/or use the app of another developer. Mostly, this is organized by an offerwall where the users can see what they get to earn what kind of reward.

ayeT-Studios offers an all in one service where you can combine the advantages of rewarded and non-incent advertising to bring users to your app and therefore boost the rankings of your app.

All in all, we would suggest to combine all the methods we mentioned in this post to have the biggest impact. So, you should culminate all of your marketing efforts. Update your app store page, implement a review-CTA, buy banner and video ads and also reward other users to get impressions and leads. This way you can sky rocket your user flow and the rankings in the app stores.

How to Successfully Find New and Non-Competitive App Store Keywords

To attract potential users for your mobile app, you have to be visible in the app store. One thing to consider is app store optimization (ASO) and especially finding the best app store keywords – one the most difficult but most important elements of ASO.

In the following, we will explain how to find the best app store keywords possible for mobile apps and give insight into appropriate tools and strategies.

The Main Factors of ASO

There is a great variety of adertising formats you can choose from to promote your mobile application. Typical types, as well as special ones for the mobile world, can be used and mixed to generate as much traffic as possible. We have listed the most important models for mobile advertising in this article.

These two key factors lure more users to your app store page: Findability and Appearance.


To improve findability, the name of your app is a very important point. It should be catchy and already have one or more of your targeted keywords in it.

The description should mention all the features and experiences the user can expect when using your app.

You should also think about creating a brand for your app and promoting it on social media channels to build a remarkable amount of backlinks.


The icon is one of the first things users notice about an app. It should be unique and appeal to the user to cause him/her to visit the app store page.

Additionally, screenshots and videos on the app store page emphasize the sales arguments of your app.

A well-produced video can give an overview of the look and feel users will have with your app.

Findability is more important than appearance but one can’t work without the other:

  • If you put all your work in the appearance of your app, maybe nobody will find it.
  • Or your app store page looks plain, having a great name and very potent app store keywords but nobody is attracted by its design

You have to balance these two factors to ensure success for your app. If you are looking for more detailed information, you can read this article about App Store Optimization.

App Store Keywords: Research and Selection

How to find good keywords? One thing is to make sure to choose keywords that are not overused while still being able to compete with other apps.

Great App Store Keywords and Practical Tools

The following steps outline how you should prioritize the different characteristics of keywords:

  1. Relevance – How likely is a user going to download your app if he uses the keyword you’ve chosen?
    You really need to check the environment you’re trying to rank in. If you rank #1 for the keyword “bicycle” and have a shopping app for bicycle parts, it is great, but not precise enough. Ranking #1 for “bicycle shop” would be much better.
  2. Competition – If you rank #431 for a keyword that gets millions and millions of searches, nobody will see your app in the app stores. The majority of users will not scroll that far in the search results. It is better to use keywords, which have less search traffic but for which you are able to rank in the top 10.
  3. Searches – In the end, the amount of searches is what counts! However, it’s very important to work on the first two factors before looking at the number of searches a keyword collects in the app stores.

The importance of this factor is decreasing. The number of searches is not the most important thing for finding app store keywords – it’s the last thing you should take care of. Start with concentrating on 1. and 2. Only work on 3. if you’ve figured out the first two.

Tools To Use

Having talked about the fundamentals of the right approach to picking good app store keywords, we will now introduce you to some services you can use to find the right ones.

There are quite a lot of different platforms you can choose. We listed some of our favorites:

Google Keyword Planner – More Than SEO

Google does not just provide one of the best tools for SEO: You can also extend it as an ASO tool to find the best app store keywords for your mobile application.

It can help you find out how competitive your keyword is in comparison to other apps and how it ranks in a predefined region.

Due to differences in the search volume of web searches and searches in app stores, you cannot expect the ratio to be “1:1”.

Informations about the Keywords "puzzle game" when using the Google Keyword Planner

Results in Google Keyword Planner for the app store keyword “puzzle game” © Google


Another way to optimize keywords is reversedictionary.org, where you can search for keywords you want to find an alternative for.

This website provides a humongous amount of possibilities. Combining them with, for example, the Google Keyword Planner, you will find awesome new app store keywords.

With reversedictionary.com you can find good working alternatives for your app store keywords

Reversedictionary.org shows words that are connected to your targeted app store keyword © reversedictionary.org

Thesaurus – Finding Synonyms

thesaurus.com offers considerable potential to finding synonyms for an application keyword you have never thought of. The only negative point is: You can only use it in English.

Like reversedictionary.org, it is a good additional tool to find non-competitive and new keywords.

SensorTower’s Keyword Spy Tool – Check Out Your Competitors

A word of warning about this tool first: Please only use the results from SensorTower as an inspiration for your own keywords. Apple and Google don’t plainly disclose keywords.

However, this service can be very useful when trying to find out which keywords your strongest competitors rank with. You can also compare them with the rank of your own app store keywords. Furthermore, you get enormous input for finding new keywords.

You will find a list of websites, which can be used to find the most fitting keywords for your mobile app below.

These providers can help you find new app store keywords or can even tell you which keywords competitors use.

Please keep in mind: You usually have to pay in order to use the full service of these platforms. So you need to find the tool that best fits your needs and budget. If you want to know more about free app promotion check out this blog post.

Keyword Ranking

Finding the most successful app store keywords means you should try to understand what causes a keyword to thrive. The problem is that Google and Apple keep their search algorithms a secret.

Nonetheless, the following aspects can be optimized:

  • Number of ratings: How many users have reviewed and rated your app?
  • Ratings itself: How high/low are they?
  • Amount of downloads: How many downloads can your app generate?
  • Uninstalls: How many people uninstalled your app?
  • Download growth: How did your downloads grow over the last 30 days?
  • Usage frequency: How often is the app used? How long per session is the app used? How many app screens does a user see per session?
  • Links to store page: “Getting people to write about your app improves your search rankings in the Play Store” (Google I/O June 2012).

You will find many tools that help with promoting your mobile application, not only regarding ASO but also in general. Click here to find the best app promotion services available.

App Store Optimization in Google and Apple

Let’s start by comparing factors that influence your app’s ranking in the App Store and Play Store:

Play Store App Store
Revenue (only paid apps)
App Starts (usage)
Number & Value of Reviews
Keyword Relevance
Recently Updated
Social Proof

Factors that influence your rank in the app stores © ayeT-Studios

50% percent of traffic on app store pages comes from direct searches in the app store, so you definitely need to optimize yours as much as possible.

The right app store keyword and app name are vital factors for success. Although the App Store and Play Store appear quite similarly, the use of app store keywords and a good app name is very different.

In the next paragraphs, we will describe aspects and differences you should consider of the main two app stores.

Keywords in the App Store

Let’s take a look at how Apple deals with its keywords and where you can place them for your mobile app.

App Name

The app name is limited to 50 characters. You may want to get one of your app store keywords in it but keep it user-friendly at the same time.

Make sure not to use any special characters in your app name (like “copyright” or “trademark”) because your app name defines the URL of your app in Apple’s App Store.


When it comes to keywords, Apple has clear guidelines about how many to use and where to put them. You can use 100 characters for your iOS app store keywords. Separate them with commas and use plurals if these fit better to increase your app’s reach.

Sensor Tower offers an easy-to-use tool that helps you count the amount of characters. Like this, you can see how many characters you have left for your keywords.

The keyword character count helps you to optimize you rgiven space in iOS

Counted characters for your app store keywords © sensortower.com

Some more tips regarding app store keywords:

  • Make sure to use all the provided space.
  • Don’t use trademarks as keywords, this could become a problem with its rightholder.
  • It is better to be ranked in the top 10 results with an ordinarily-searched keyword than in the top 100 for a keyword, which is well-searched.
  • Try to find a synonym for an app store keyword if you feel that it’s overused.
  • Never use complete phrases made of several words like “spanish lesson”. It is better to separate them: “spanish, lesson”

Publisher Name

The App Store search algorithm also includes publisher names in its ranking calculations. However, it can be a bad idea to use a keyword in the publisher’s name or at least opinions about this topic are divided. Our tip: Focus on app store keywords in other aspects of your app.

Name of In-App Purchases

This is an unproven factor for ranking in the App Store. It may happen that users find your app by searching the name of your in-app purchases. Only if the search term matches the IAP name exactly. So, this factor should be considered last when trying to optimize your app in the App Store, using your keywords in this section.

Please always keep in mind: Optimizing keywords for iOS is not a thing you do only once. It needs constant measuring, testing and analyzing.

Try your keywords for some time, then change some of them and take a close look at how your downloads increase or decrease or how many new users come to your app. Nothing is constant and static, neither should your keywords.

Curious about more information regarding iOS app promotion? Then check out this article.


Keywords in the Play Store

The process of how app store keywords work in general resembles the Play Store. There are some differences in how to integrate them in your app store page. We have gathered how to find, analyze and select the perfect keywords.


When trying to find good working keywords for Google, you should always think of keywords, which cause the user to download your mobile app. Be creative and don’t use generic keywords.

You have 30 characters for the app name. Google recommends to use “brand + key function”. A very good example is the app “hotels.com” because it combines all aforementioned elements.The app name of "Hotels.com" is a very good example for good ASO

This is how the app “Hotels.com” looks in the Google Play Store © Hotels.com / Google

You should also make sure to use long-tail keywords. Especially if you are a new developer/publisher and don’t have a big brand behind you (yet).

It is always a good idea to take a look at reviews of your app to get input for new or better app store keywords. With this method, you use the language of your users and find suitable keywords for your app more effectively.

You already gained some downloads? In this case, it can be very helpful to use a tool that looks through all the reviews in order to find good new app store keywords, like the one for Mobile Action below.

Take a look at the example below: All reviews were browsed through for the word “fun” and results are shown on the right side. 

With the help of Mobile Action you can search specific words in the reviews of your app.

With the help of “Mobile Action”, you can search your reviews for keywords © Mobileaction.co

Now, you can read through them to find hints for keywords that users associate with your app and the word “fun”.

Like finding app store keywords for iOS, you can also use the service of Sensor Tower for Google and find out what your competitors’ keywords look like.

Reminder: The Google Play Store does not openly reveal the keywords for apps published on its platform. So, please only use these results of your research as educational input.  


You’ve gathered a decent amount about app store keywords and you think they will lead your app to success. Now it’s time to get some hard data and metrics on each keyword.

It is necessary to get the help of an analysis tool for this step. Here, we will use the metric system of Mobile ActionThere are two important factors to consider when using this tool:

  • Search Score is the relative number of searches that a keyword receives. The higher the number, the more traffic it gets.
  • Chance is the possibility of the app store keyword ranking in the top 10. The closer you can get to 100%, the better.

This metric system is specific for Mobile Action only. Other providers like Sensor Tower use different calculations to rate the app store keywords.


Now you can select the app store keywords you want to rank in the top 10 charts with.

In Google’s Play Store, you place the keywords in the description up to 5 times, therefore keyword length is not a big problem.

Don’t make the mistake of targeting keywords, which are highly competitive since it will be really hard to get a decent rank. Try to find easy keywords users will search for to download an app but don’t make the mistake of using generic phrases.

You should choose keywords based on the following criteria in decreasing importance:

  • Download relevance – As mentioned before, you have to select a keyword what users search for to download an app.
  • Ability to rank – Especially for new apps, you should choose keywords with a good chance of ranking highly or that are not difficult to rank with in general.
  • Searches – In the last step, you should look at the amount of downloads your aimed keywords has.

Always remember that the numbers you get from these services do not cover all factors that influence the ranking of your mobile app. Make sure to add well-designed screenshots and videos as well.

Need more information on how to promote Android apps? Click here for more information.

If you are unsure about how to start the search for app store keywords, you can contact ad networks like ayeT-Studios. Not only will they help you with your app store page – they can also push your app’s visibility with various multichannel ad solutions. Like this, you will get the best possible traffic for your app.