Which Factors Influence App Rankings on the App Store?

Emily Sugrueby 
App Growth Consultant at AppTweak

6 min read

In today’s digital era, apps have become an integral part of our lives. With millions of apps available on the App Store, it’s crucial for app developers to understand the factors that influence their app’s ranking. The higher your app ranks in the App Store, the greater its visibility and potential for success. In this blog post, we’ll explore the key factors that influence App Store rankings and provide insights to help you optimize your app’s performance.

1. Include relevant keywords in app metadata

The most important factor is the placement of keywords in your app metadata. For example, keywords added to your app title will always indicate a higher relevance to your app than any keywords elsewhere, like in your keyword field. That’s because your app name is a strong ranking signal on the App Store. Besides the app title, the App Store also looks at keywords in your subtitle and keyword field to understand what your app is about, where on the store it should be shown, and how well it matches user search queries.  Apps you have never downloaded on your device will appear in the search results with their name, icon, subtitle, and screenshots or video. This means that you are likely to rank for keywords you’ve added in your title.

Similarly, your app subtitle on the App Store also appears in the search results just below the app name. As a result, your app subtitle should provide users with more information about your app and its purpose.

SmartNews is a strong brand in the US, but a lot of people may not be familiar with the app’s functionality, so adding local breaking news to its title not only helps with keyword searches but also with conversion
SmartNews is a strong brand in the US, but a lot of people may not be familiar with the app’s functionality. Adding “Local Breaking News” to its title not only helps with keyword searches but also with conversion.

As mentioned before,  Apple also looks at your keyword field to decide which keywords to rank your app for. This keyword field is not visible on your app page, and represents a 100-character opportunity to focus solely on keyword optimization.

2. High conversion rates

Higher conversion rates – from App Store views to downloads – positively impact your app’s ranking. This depends heavily on optimizing your app’s visual assets (icon, screenshots, and video) on top of optimizing your app metadata. Creative optimization can effectively convey your app’s value and appeal to your target audience.

In their “ASO Benchmark and Trends 2020” report, SplitMetrics found that optimizing the App Store icon can lead to an average CVR uplift of 22.8%, while optimizing screenshots can generate an average uplift of 21.7%. So, make sure that your app icon stands out and catches users’ attention, screenshots convey the look and feel of your app, and your video tells a cohesive story for users.

Screenshots with well-designed value propositions on the App Store
Screenshots with well-designed value propositions (Shazam, Headspace, Spotify) on the App Store.

Check out these tips and size guidelines for visuals on the app stores

3. Positive ratings & reviews

Positive user ratings and reviews are important signals for both users and the App Store algorithm. A lot of positive reviews and high-star ratings signal to the algorithms that users are liking your app. Encourage users to rate and review your app to help improve your overall app rating. Higher ratings and positive reviews not only attract more users but also contribute to better rankings. The App Store algorithm considers user feedback as an indicator of app quality and user satisfaction.

Take some time to read some of the top user reviews. Identify frequently mentioned comments and plan about how to integrate these into your messaging.


User reviews for Netflix
User reviews for Netflix.

4. User retention rate

User engagement and overall app performance heavily influence App Store rankings. The App Store algorithm considers user retention rates as a measure of app quality and value. Apps that encourage users to actively engage and interact are considered more valuable. The longer users stay active and engaged with your app, the better its chances of ranking higher in the App Store. Higher engagement signifies that users find your app useful, enjoyable, and relevant to their needs, leading to improved rankings.

5. Quality & performance of your app

Regular app updates that address bugs, enhance features, and introduce new content demonstrate your commitment to providing an improved user experience. The App Store algorithm values apps that consistently update and improve over time. By promptly addressing user feedback and fixing issues, you can ensure better app performance and engagement, leading to improved rankings. Also, don’t forget to optimize your app’s performance to ensure faster loading speed and smooth user interactions.

6. High download velocity

The rate at which your app acquires new users can influence its ranking. Download velocity refers to the speed at which your app gains new downloads. The App Store algorithm considers the rate of downloads as a measure of an app’s popularity and relevance. When an app experiences a high download velocity, it indicates strong user interest and engagement, which can positively impact its ranking. Apps that attract a large number of downloads in a short period are more likely to be promoted and ranked higher by the App Store.

7. Localization & international appeal

Catering to a global audience can significantly impact your app’s ranking. By localizing your app, you adapt it to different languages, cultures, and regions, making it more accessible to a global audience. An app that offers a culturally relevant and personalized user experience enhances user satisfaction and engagement.

Localization also takes into account keyword optimization. By incorporating localized keywords into your app’s metadata, you increase its visibility in local App Store searches. Focusing on localized markets with higher potential for growth can give your app a competitive edge and boost its overall ranking.

Spotify iOS uses regional artists for the US and Japanese markets as well as different styles and colors to appeal to each market
Spotify (iOS) uses regional artists for the US and Japanese markets as well as different styles/colors to appeal to each market.

Don’t forget to check out the ranking factors on Google Play


Ranking high on the App Store is essential for your app’s success and visibility. Here’s a recap of some of the most important factors that can have an impact on your app’s ranking:

  • Placement of keywords in your app metadata
  • High conversion rate
  • The number and quality of the ratings and reviews left for your app
  • User retention rate
  • Quality and performance of your app
  • Rate of downloads
  • App localization

Remember, the App Store algorithm continually evolves, so it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest trends and best practices to maintain your app’s visibility and ensure its long-term success in the competitive app market.

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Emily Sugrue
by , App Growth Consultant at AppTweak
Emily is an App Growth Consultant at AppTweak and is based in Brussels, Belgium. She's passionate about technology, mobile gaming, and cooking.