What Developers Can Learn by Keeping an Eye on App Store Rankings

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App store rankings are among the success indicators that developers and businesses with apps should periodically monitor. However, app store rankings are so much more than just listing which one’s at the top and bottom. 

They can provide a treasure trove of insights that can influence the way you approach marketing your app. 

Also, different indexes rank apps using different criteria, such as engagement, app store search, off-platform media buzz and business success.

So depending on what index you’re using to determine your ranking, you might be able to identify opportunities for improving in-app product stickiness, app store optimization (ASO), conversion rate optimization (CRO), aligning your product’s value proposition with a trending category, or any combination of the above.

So, what can you learn by keeping an eye on your app store rankings? Here are a few key questions you might ask, along with some ideas on what to look at so you can determine the answers – and maximize exposure for your product on the app store.

Apple app Store

01. “What is and isn’t working in my app store optimization strategy?”

Monitoring your app store rankings might lead you to ask why your app is ranked where it is. It then leads you to investigate what worked and didn’t work in your optimization strategy.

You might look at these four specific performance factors affecting your rankings.

1.1. App title

Apple weighs the keywords in your app’s title more heavily than the ones in your app description. Studies show that apps with keywords in their titles rank more than 10% higher on average than those without.

When creating your app’s title, insert proper keywords and make it aptly and uniquely descriptive. It should also be engaging and accurately reflective of your app. Opt to do this over crafting a short, generic, brandable name.

For instance, if you want to be among the best to-do-list creating apps, don’t just name your app as “Tasks.” Play around your keyword extra-creatively the way Todoist and nTask did, and avoid sounding too similar to the existing apps.

1.2. Targeted keywords

The keywords you use directly impact the search terms you try to rank for on the App Store. They work similarly to how you optimize keywords for search engines. The only difference is that your search engine optimization (SEO) content can be of any length, while Apple restricts keywords to 100 characters when managing your app entry’s ASO settings.

This means you need to choose and use your keywords strategically. Don’t target unnecessary search terms, and avoid repeating and ranking for the same keywords. 

Additionally, don’t just pick keywords because they have low competition and high traffic volume. Instead, select those with excellent volume-competition trade-off, but significantly match your ideal app users’ search intent.

1.3. Number of downloads

Your app’s ranking improves crucially as more people download it. But Apple also focuses particularly on download velocity. 

For instance, if you released your app a month ago, you will likely have fewer downloads than an older one. 

However, if people install your app more frequently, you can still garner higher rankings over time. 

1.4. Positive ratings and reviews

The app store has added a new factor to their search ranking algorithm: app ratings. This sounds reasonable in Apple’s viewpoint.

After all, showing “better” apps in search results (as people determined through ratings) enhances the user experience. When your app gets an average rating of more than 4 stars, your rankings may see a lift. If it garners a score below 3, it will be easier for other apps to outrank yours.

Ensure also that your app has no glitches. Otherwise, users will not hesitate to give you a 1- or 2-star rating. If you get negative reviews, you can develop an update fixing the issues that users mentioned.

Apple’s algorithm then more heavily considers the recent post-update reviews. Once you have done that, excellent reviews can usually offset any penalty your app received and move its rankings back up.

Additionally, your app’s download volume has a positive connection with its ratings. This prompts you to create a superb app at the onset to boost your installs and, consequently, your ranking.

2. “How well does my app engage its users?”

Watching out for your app store rankings spurs you to assess your app’s user engagement. 

If your app is not that interactive, people will not use it regularly and for an extended period. They will also likely uninstall it soon enough. If your app’s ranking is lower than expected, evaluate whether it aligns with your ideal users’ intents and preferences. 

Check which of your app features received the greatest interactions and showcase these in your app description. You can then change your target keywords accordingly and insert them in your title.

You’d also do well to re-examine the simplicity of your app’s design, interface, and navigation. If it’s too complicated, its engagement decreases.

Measure your app’s engagement by checking the following performance metrics:

  • Conversion rate
  • Number of downloads or installs (especially the unique ones)
  • Revenue or lifetime value
  • Number of daily and monthly active users
  • Active devices and sessions
  • Audience interest

3. “Does my app perform better locally or globally?”

Filter your app store rankings by territory to see if you have particularly strong performance locally and globally. That way, you can modify your strategies and enhance your rankings in geo-locations where you have the most potential.

If you choose to go local, tailor your app’s listing page in the area’s dialect and location-specific colloquialism. 

Let’s say you want to target South Koreans with your rest-monitoring app. If you translate “rest” in their language, ensure that the term you mention is the same one locals often use.

Otherwise, your description will not sound authentic, repelling your target users. You can even narrow down your localization efforts by city or province. 

4. “Does my app store entry convey what’s special about the product?” 

When reviewing your app store rankings, you can’t help but check out the competition. If your rivals rank higher than you, you often want to learn how they did that. Maybe their optimization strategies and product traits were better, so you go ahead and probe into these things.

Competitor analysis is usually a huge opportunity when studying your app store rankings.  However, don’t let this influence you too much, because you might unconsciously end up doing exactly what your competitors have done. 

If you copy others’ strategies too much, you might end up glossing over what makes your app actually distinctive. You might end up altering your strategies and showcase your app differently from how you originally branded it.

Even worse, you might re-introduce your brand in a way that looks like a mere imitation of your rival.

Instead, learn from the principles behind what your competitor did correctly and follow them without changing your brand story. Work with your signature identity colors, use catchy phrases, and convey a consistent message on the app store.

Gain valuable insight from your app store rankings.

Your app store rankings have a wealth of valuable insights to give you. Monitor them periodically and probe into your and your rivals’ performance data. Analyze the metrics and their implications and enhance your optimization strategy accordingly. 

Keep doing this, and your app can fly off the app store with its ultra-high rankings.

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