Comment & Opinion

How to improve your App Store and Google Play search ranking

NativeX's Ryan Weber on secret formulas

How to improve your App Store and Google Play search ranking

Ryan Weber is Chief Product Officer of mobile monetisation and UA company NativeX.

67% of app users say the last app they downloaded was found using search.

Therefore, improving your search ranking is the most crucial component of App Store Optimization (the process of improving app store visibility).

But what can you do to get your app to rank higher in search results to be able to boost your organic reach?

Tricky business

NativeX recently published a free App Store Optimization (ASO) white paper featuring a detailed guide on what you can do to raise your app visibility in search ranks.

The paper includes content on how to effectively measure your ASO performance, determining which keywords will be most effective, and how to improve your rank.

The following are highlights on how to improve your rank.

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 On and Off-Page factors

    To achieve a top ranking, you must excel at both On-Page and Off-Page - factors which both heavily impact your app's keyword rankings for search.

    On-Page factors are the visible and non-visible information stored by the App Store in association with your app (for example, your app name & developer name) for the purposes of marketing it.

    Off-Page factors are the signals left by users who use your app (like click-through rate and downloads).

    Many articles have touched on ASO tools to help app publishers get their On-Page factors right, but often disregard the importance of Off-Page factors because they can seem more difficult to influence.

    However, if you ignore Off-Page factors, you'll likely never get into the top 3 positions for the keywords you are targeting, which is critical since over 50% of keyword traffic goes to the top 3 listings.

    NativeX also found that there is a lot of conflicting information about the importance of the various factors.

    While the actual ranking algorithm is a heavily guarded secret, through interviews and extensive research we have a much more in-depth understanding of the factors and their influence to search ranking.

    To optimize your ranking, it is important first to understand which On-Page and Off-Page factors will have a heavy impact on your search ranking and which will not.

    (And which factors are relevant to Google Play search ranking, but not to the Apple App Store and vice-versa!)

  • 2 Apple App Store Highlights

    • Keywords (Hidden), App Name, and Developer Name appear to be the most influential factors for On-Page impact.
    • App Name (Title) Length - Using more than 64 characters in you title doesn't add value to your rankings
    • CTR, Download Velocity and Total Downloads are what most influence Off-Page impact
    • 7 Day Cliff - Apps get a boost in ranking their first 7 days, so pushing to rank early is a good strategy as you'll see a boost if you make the top since the downloads then kick in
    • Effective Use of Ads - Paid advertising has a sudden and lasting impact on rankings but it needs to be handled carefully (downloads, download velocity, CTR, & discard rate influence)
    • Description - the keywords in your description do not impact what you index for but Apple does find keywords by associating your app with other similar apps so people often mistakenly assume it's based on their description
    • Reviews - The text used in reviews do not impact the keywords you get indexed for (somehow this myth exists in ASO land)

    Importance of Factors that Influence Apple App Store Search Rankings


  • 3 Google Play Highlights

    • Google does not provide a place for adding keywords, keywords are pulled from the On-Page factors of App Description, App Name and Developer Name.
    • Downloads - The past 7 days, the past 30 days, and the total downloads each count as factors but the most recent period is weighted more heavily (7 more than 30 more than all time).
    • Geo-fence - Tweets and other Geo-tags do have impact for regional success (Local language and presence matter)
    • Social Media - Google Play Services, Google+ influence rank

    Importance of Factors to Google Play Search Rankings

  • 4 Further reading

    The white paper goes more into depth on each of these factors and breaks them down with additional notes and explanations to help publishers better understand which factors to focus on for each store and why.

    Also included are many helpful lists of various services providers and tools (many free!) to get you started on the path to optimised app store assets and keywords to best ensure your app stays visible and easily discovered. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.