How Search Ads can Boost your app’s Organic Keyword Rankings

Marie-Laure Cruyt by
CPO at AppTweak

Last updated: 8 min read

One of the most frequent questions that our customers have been asking since Apple launched Search Ads is: If I bid on a word, will it impact my app’s organic rank? We’ve been doing some research on our side and found that bidding on a word will not sustainably increase your app’s organic rank on that word. However, there is a hidden effect: by bidding on a word, you can propulse your app to the organic 8th position for that word. Discover everything you need to know below!

[UPDATE IOS12 – On iOS 12, this glitch is still existent, however, the app that is featured in the Ad Banner appears in the organic results at the 12-13th position instead of position 8 or 9]

How to get your app to suddenly rank in the organic Top 10

Here’s how the trick works: when a user searches for a specific word and your app is shown in the Ad Banner, Apple also shows your app in the 8th position of the organic ranks, even if your app usually ranks much lower for this search!

It’s as if Apple gave your app a second chance in case your app didn’t manage to convert on the Ad Banner, by also showing it among the organic Top 10 results. Another way to see it is that your Ad is given double visibility:

  • once in the top position where it is clearly indicated you are paying to be there,
  • and second in the 8th position, as if your app organically ranked n°8 for that word.

New to Search Ads? Check out all you need to know on this new Apple feature to get started!

Let’s illustrate with an example. We searched for the word “shopping” in the App Store. Normally, the Top 10 apps that organically rank for shopping is the following:

Groupon usually ranks n°8, right behind PINK Nation! Yet, when we did a search on the word shopping, we were shown an Ad for Dote in the Ad Banner.


As we scrolled down the Store, suddenly Dote was ranking behind PINK Nation! and Groupon was pushed back to the 9th position.


We did another search and, this time, the app shown in the Ad Banner was Ebates. Once again, as we browsed through the Top 10 apps, Ebates appeared 8th, and Dote had completely disappeared from the Top 10 results.


We then checked in AppTweak how Dote and Ebates usually rank for the word “shopping”, and their ranks were pretty far from Top 10! Their rankings were boosted from 30 and 58 respectively to 8!


Curious to know what words your competitors are bidding on? Check out our awesome Search Ads Intelligence Dashboard.

What to consider when bidding on a keyword if you want your app to be boosted organically

So it looks like Search Ads can boost your organic visibility! Well, let’s nuance a bit.

First, the trick is only true if your app already ranks organically for the word you’re bidding on. If it doesn’t rank, then no change is made to the usual Top 10. Of course, if it is a word for which you already rank in the top 10 (say you rank in 2nd position), then your app stays there and no change is made. So be careful to choose words for which you typically rank in lower positions.

Taking the same example as before, we once had the Amazon app appearing in the Ad Banner when doing another search on “shopping”. Since Amazon already ranks 2nd for that word, the apps that were listed below showed the usual organic Top 10 with Groupon as n°8.


Second, keep in mind that this nice (not so) little boost only works when your ad is shown to the user. That means that if the user sees another Ad, then the 8th position will be taken by the App featured in the Ad banner at that moment, or the app that actually ranks 8th organically. So, in a way, the more your app makes impressions in the Ad banner, the more frequently it will appear as ranking in 8th position.

Finally, as soon as you stop bidding on the word, your app won’t rank 8th anymore but returns to its usual ranking position, there is no long term effect.

You can use AppTweak to monitor your app’s rankings and check out what words your competitors are using.

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Have you already observed this mysterious effect on your app or other popular keywords? Share your experience in the comments below!

Not convinced yet? Check out our many examples of searches!

Search on “booking”
Usual Top 10:


Search Examples:


Normal app rankings on “booking”:


Search on “games”
Usual Top 10:


Search Examples:



Normal app rankings on “games”:


Search on “bitcoin”
Usual Top 10:


Search Examples:



Normal app rankings on “bitcoin”:


Marie-Laure Cruyt
by , CPO at AppTweak
Marie-Laure is CPO at AppTweak, she has always worked in digital companies with a product focused around an app or a SaaS. She’s a real (dark only) chocolate lover.