ASO Ranking Factors Outside of Keywords

Sarah B. Touimi by
ASO Manager at AppTweak

Last updated: 7 min read

App stores use complex algorithms to index and rank each app, relying on many factors that impact your app’s position in the search results and that can be influenced to improve your app’s visibility.

Keyword optimization is one of the main factors affecting your app’s visibility on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. But what are the other ranking factors you should not neglect? Discover here which elements (other than keywords) impact your app’s ranking and visibility in the stores.

Discover the main ASO differences between the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store

Download Velocity

There is no direct way to control the number of downloads an app gets – but the more downloads it gets, the better it ranks in the stores.

Apple & Google focus more specifically on download velocity, meaning that the app with the best ranking is not necessarily an older app that has accumulated a large number of downloads over time, but one that is being downloaded more every day. For instance, Mario Kart Tour was launched on September 25th, 2019 and ranked #1 in the Games category in the first week after its launch because of the high number of downloads it got at that moment.

Page Conversion Rate

Another important aspect of ASO is to maximize your page conversion rate (the percentage of users that download/install the app once they have seen it in the search results or visited the app’s page). Optimizing your app icon, screenshots and app preview (video) on top of your app title and short description will not only help convince users to download your app, it will also help increase your app rankings in the long term. More specifically, both the Apple App Store and Google Play take conversion rate into consideration when deciding which app to show in the search results. Let’s take a look at the different types of creative and why they are important:


Icons play an extremely important role in the Click Through Rate (CTR) of an app. It is the first element the user sees when looking at the app or game, as it does not only appear on the product page, but also in the search results. Therefore, it is crucial that your icon stands out from your competitors’.


Screenshots are the most visible element on your app’s page, and are also displayed in the Apple App Store search results. They give users a sense of what the app is about and what to expect before downloading it. It plays a significant role in converting users as they would rather focus on screenshots than read the long description, which is read by less than 5% of page visitors on average.

App Previews (Video)

App previews (promo videos) offer the possibility to show what the app is about, even more so than screenshots. So, the more the video is engaging and using high-volume targeted keywords, the better the conversion rates are. However, using app previews can also be a double-edged sword: a bad video can have a significant negative impact on conversion.

Last but not least, videos autoplay on the Apple App Store but not on Google Play (this should change soon but it’s not yet the case), making videos much more impactful on iOS than Android.

Visuals play an important part in an app’s conversion rates. In order to fully take advantage of them, it is recommended to conduct A/B testing to optimize visuals and increase conversion rates.

Expert Tip

Top apps update and test their creative elements continuously to make sure they are relevant and appeal to the users during different times of the year. With AppTweak’s Update Frequency & Benchmarking feature you can find out how often top apps and competitors update their metadata.

User Ratings & Reviews

User ratings and reviews are important ranking factors as they have a direct impact both on the App Store search rankings and the conversion rate of the app. In fact, according to our data, apps with high ratings rank, on average, 25 positions higher than medium-rated apps, and 60 positions higher than low-rated apps.

Furthermore, ratings are one of the first things people see on the app’s page as it is located right under the icon on both the Apple App Store and Google Play, which means it plays an important role in convincing users to download your app.

Ratings and reviews can either help your app or break it: people trust other people so they will download an app if it has a lot of positive reviews. Positive ratings and reviews give an app credibility and the better they are, the more relevant the app is on the stores and the higher the ranking position gets. So it’s important to prompt happy users to leave a rating and/or review, or simply to reply to users addressing their concerns.


Being featured in either store means increasing visibility among potential users which can lead to higher rankings and a positive impact on conversions. For example, when you are featured in a story, the story can appear for weeks in the search results, make you stand out from the competition and give you more visibility.

Also, featured apps and games are found in specific tabs or themed lists and are presented to users based on their preferences and previous data. Thus, featuring helps target the right users for your app/game, which leads to better conversions.

Apple App Store Tabs: Today, Apps, and Games

If you want to be featured, keep in mind that store editors are more likely to select apps/games that have good visuals and are doing well (well rated, high volume of daily downloads and good conversion rate).

In-App Purchases

In-app purchases can appear in the App Store search results by themselves, and your app can also rank on the exact match of your in-app purchase title. For example, when searching for the long-tail keyword “animal jigsaw puzzle”, both the in-app purchase and the app Magic Jigsaw Puzzles rank top.

Search results for “animal jigsaw puzzle”

Just as an app’s metadata is optimized, so should an in-app purchase be (title and description). The title should attract the attention of users and encourage them to make the purchase, while the description should let them know what they’ll get out of it and why they should want it. For more visibility, it is necessary to optimize the title for long-tail keywords your app can rank on, specifically long-tail keywords that are combined of terms from the in-app purchase title and the app title.

By effectively promoting and optimizing in-app purchases on the stores with the right titles, visuals, and descriptions, you can increase your app’s visibility within search results. Also, it does not only boost sales, but also the downloads and conversions of the app itself. So, for apps that offer or will offer in-app purchases, it is crucial to effectively optimize them to encourage more users to download the app/game.


It is important to update your app regularly (1 to 4 times per month) as updates keep users engaged. Frequent updates allow the app to show up in the updates list of both the App Store and Google Play, thus keeping them in users’ minds. Also, algorithms in both stores take updates into account, which can lead to higher rankings and even featuring in editors’ lists on the Apple App Store.

Learn more about the ranking factors that can impact ASO


Overall, optimizing your app goes far beyond Keyword Optimization as these ranking factors can significantly impact the ranking position of your app in the app stores.

Do not forget to: optimize your creatives to improve conversion rates; work on reviews & ratings to improve your app’s visibility in the stores and drive downloads; optimize your in-app purchases (if you are offering any) to increase your app’s visibility within search results.

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Sarah B. Touimi
by , ASO Manager at AppTweak
Sarah is an ASO Expert at AppTweak, helping apps increase their visibility and downloads. She has experience in digital Marketing and is passionate about new technology. She is a born entrepreneur!