How to increase app store rankings in App store

Lior Eldan 06 January 2016
How to increase app store rankings in App store

Most of an app’s traffic and success depends on its ranking in the app store. With over 5 million apps on the market right now, every improvement in your app’s structure, app marketing campaign and ASO efforts can make or break your results. For a company that revolves its entire business model around an app, its ranking is extremely relevant. Better rankings lead to more traffic, resulting in increased app installs, users, and revenue. We decided to give you insight on what an app ranking is, how to track your app’s ranking, and most importantly, how to increase the app store ranking of your app in both the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store.

What is an app’s rank?

Similar to how Google or Bing work, app stores show results based on user’s search queries. Let’s say that you’re interested in lowering your stress levels and want to learn how to meditate. Your first move would be to go into the app store and search for an app that can help you out. There are apps for almost anything today, so why not? You go into the search bar and type “relax” because that is something you want to do. In less than 1 second after you’ve triggered the search query, the App Store looks through hundreds of apps that match the keyword and show you relevant results. This is how our client, Calm, brings in most of its users. The chances are that one of the first apps you’ll see in the top-ranking apps is “Calm”, a simple yet useful meditation app.

Calm app store ranking

The app will be shown to you because it ranks high for the app keyword “relax”. The closer you are to the first app seen by users is your app ranking. You need to focus your marketing efforts on getting your app to appear in the first 5 spots.

How does the app store ranking work?

App store ranking is determined by algorithms in the app store. While the Apple ranking and the app ranking on Android have a couple of differences, the process is pretty similar. The App Store ranking algorithm analyzes all of the apps on its platform and decides what app will better help, educate or entertain the user. It does this by factoring in tons of app metrics. Due to all of these factors, ranking can vary widely, depending on the language and location of the user, their past searches or their device type.

Top factors that influence your app store ranking!

Your location:

An App Store’s search algorithm will be greatly influenced by geographical location. A pizza delivery app for a restaurant in Boston will rank in the first position in Boston and nearby areas. yet, it will be far down the list in any other location. App stores understand that proximity provides better user experiences, and for this reason, tailor a mobile app’s ranking accordingly. The same factor will even affect apps that can be used worldwide. We can bring Revolut as an example. If you search for a “banking app”, Revolut will appear in the top 10 for European countries. If you’re from another continent, though, it’s safe to assume that Revolut will be way out of the picture, as the main focus of the company and its main bank are located in Europe.


One of the best ways to increase an App Store ranking is by localizing your app for multiple languages – there are many other languages besides English. The App Store algorithm will rank apps that are translated into the main language of the user higher than the rest. Even if the app is less relevant, the fact that it’s translated will almost always rank it above more relevant global apps. Also, there are countries where people use a different alphabet and characters. Because of this, using the characters that people type in, in your app name and description gives you an edge over all English apps.

The main keywords your app is optimized for:

One of the most important ranking factors is your app store keyword optimization. If you don’t have a keyword in your title or description, the chances of your app ranking for that particular search query are much lower. It will be almost impossible for users to find you. Because of this, keyword research is crucial to all digital marketing campaigns that revolve around increasing your app store ranking and traffic through app store optimization (ASO). We’ve talked about why keywords are important and how to do keyword research in our article “How to optimize app store keywords”. Feel free to check it out and learn more.

App Reviews and ratings

App stores look into an app’s rating and the reviews users leave inside the platform. Depending on what the ratings are, an app’s ranking for a certain keyword can drastically change. Also, platforms verify the content of the reviews as well. If multiple people use a certain work or phrase to describe your app, the chances are that your app may start ranking for that. Negative reviews will negatively impact your ranking.

Number of Downloads

The higher the number of downloads, the higher the app’s ranking. That’s why big apps tend to stay in the top positions. Of course, its newness is also taken into consideration. The algorithm makes sure that new apps can rank as well. A really powerful strategy that helps app rank quickly is a burst campaign. This strategy works by rapidly increasing your app downloads through paid advertising in the first 24 to 48 hours from launch. Of course, great results require a big budget, and you may end up spending tens of thousands of dollars in just a matter of days.

Description of your app

Your app description will greatly influence your keyword ranking. This section is filled with content that will be crawled by the app store in a similar way a search engine crawls an article or a web page. If the app store finds your keywords multiple times in your description, it will better understand what your app is about and rank you accordingly. The app store description section is the best place to work on your long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords, while lower in search volume, are easier to rank for and have a higher conversion rate than more simple 1-word keywords.

Conversion rate

App stores have all the data that your app creates. The stores know how many people have installed your app, how many people bought your app or in-app products and even the app revenue you’re creating. They then use the data they gather to rank the app. Sales inside your app are a sign of trust and value. The idea behind using the conversion rate as a ranking factor is that if people trust your app enough to give you their money, it must mean they value it. And, because app stores take a cut of your app’s earnings, it is extremely important to:

  • Deliver valuable apps to the user so they can buy more
  • Rank your app higher so you can sell more

How to increase app store ranking?

Let’s start talking about how to increase your iOS app ranking and App Store keyword ranking. First and foremost, make sure that you’ve done your homework and researched the best keywords that your app can rank for. There is no reason to rank for a keyword that nobody searches for.

How to research your app keywords

You know your app better than anyone else, so start thinking about what keywords best describe it. Create a list either in Excel or in a simple Word document. Just make sure you add all the keywords within their line so you can import them into various aso tools for keyword research. After you’ve finished brainstorming, look outside of your office.

Integrate all of the genres and subgenres that your app falls into. If you created a mobile game about racing up and down a mountain, you can integrate the keywords “racing” and “hill climb racing” inside your strategy, as they are their genres and have a high number of searches. Use keyword tools similar to the ones that App Radar or Sensor Tower offers. You can also use Google Keyword Planner to get a couple of ideas. Last but not least, do not try to reinvent the wheel. See what the competition does and what they’re ranking for. You’ll find tons of great keywords that you can rank for as well.

Optimize your app for increased Android and Apple App Store rankings

App store optimization is the process of optimizing an app for the app store. Yeah, I know, worst explanation ever. ASO is a process in which you work on:

  • Aligning your text content and data with a set of keywords you want to rank for
  • Improving your images, screenshots or app preview videos for increase conversion rates
  • Increasing app downloads through organic and paid methodologies
  • Improving your app store rating and number of reviews

By working on all of the above, you improve your chances of ranking higher and boosting your number of installs. Edit your description, localize your app, A/B test your graphic design and bring backlinks towards your app. In the same way pages rank using SEO and backlinks, for apps placed on the Play Store, backlinks turn into a ranking factor. At Moburst, we’ve done app store optimization for companies like Samsung, Reddit, Gett and Calm. Feel free to contact us if you want us to take care of your ASO needs. Also, read our Blog, we post numerous guides on this exact topic.

Rapidly increase app downloads through a burst campaign

A burst campaign is a marketing technique that rapidly increases app downloads and installs through paid media in a short amount of time. The number of downloads that an app gets in its first few days are going to affect the ranking of an app and its validity in the stores. If the app is useful and the app notification strategy is relevant, it can also transform into a campaign that increases the number of reviews and the app’s rating. Doing a burst campaign will:

  • Improve exposure and ranking
  • Place you high in the charts
  • Rapidly increase your userbase

while the number of downloads needed to affect the ranking of an app can differ from store to store, the average is around 120,000 downloads. You’ll be spending a big chunk of your budget on this campaign.

Best app ranking tracker list

We use various ASO tools in our line of work as an ASO agency. One of the most important tools is the app store ranking tracker, which allows us to check the ranking of an app for a specific keyword daily. We analyzed the various tools to see which is the best rank tracking tool. The conclusion is that most tools should be used in combination, as they can provide different results depending on the niche. Combining the data from multiple tools will allow you to defer errors and mistakes while also giving you a better picture of the app store’s state. Our top recommended app store ranking trackers are:

  1. Apptweak
  2. Sensor Tower
  3. Mobile Action
  4. App Annie

Final Thoughts

At Moburst, we make it our mission to increase the app ranking of our clients. If you want a professional mobile marketing agency to run your ASO, improve your app page, boost your downloads and manage a burst campaign, feel free to contact us at any time.

Lior Eldan
Lior Eldan is the Co-Founder & COO of Moburst. As an ASO and Mobile media expert, Lior mentors and supports startups, helping them develop and execute their mobile marketing strategies.
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