App store ranking, whether it be in the Google Play Store, App Store, or Windows Marketplace, is hugely important to the success of any mobile application. With upwards of 63% of all apps being discovered organically through app store search, improving your position by just one or two spots can mark a huge difference in your download numbers. The ranking algorithms used by each store are highly guarded, although it is generally accepted they base rankings on similar factors. Most started out as organic-only systems, however, there is a trend towards paid search that started in the summer of 2015.
That’s when Google launched a search ad feature for the Google Play store, allowing app marketers display paid app ads directly in Google Play search. This opened up another very lucrative revenue stream for Google and a chance for some smaller app developers to promote their apps outside of the traditional rankings (if they were willing to fork over the coin, of course).
The Apple App Store, however, had until now maintained its more “traditional” ranking formula. The current algorithm ranks apps based on factors like:
- Title and keyword density.
- Number of downloads/installs.
- Ratings and review volume.
- Growth trends.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the Cupertino, California based technology giant has assembled a 100 person team to look into potential changes for the App Store, one of which is a paid search feature.
The potential change to the app store would be huge news for the mobile advertising community and would mean some big changes as far as strategy goes. Up until now, the “best” (read, fastest) way to have an app rapidly shoot up the charts was to use incentivized install campaigns, where developers would reward users (typically with in-app currency or prizes) to download and use an application.
Of course there are those that say that this will only benefit the apps and studios that are already in the top 500, as they are the ones making money and able to afford an extended investment in paid search. But smaller indie studios coul also stand to benefit from the update. By using paid search and incentive campaigns strategically, they could give a potent boost to their app visibility at key times. Incorporating paid search strategy would be a one-two punch – getting more visibility to an app while boosting downloads and helping to improve “organic” ranking (through the downloads and reviews by new users) at the same time.
It will be interesting to see what other updates come out of this newly assembled App Store team. Here at Mobusi we will be watching and waiting to incorporate new features into our existing ASO strategies. We’re always looking for new ways to make our clients money!