ASO for Apple (Apple Ranking Algorithm)

Since its launch in 2008, the Apple App Store has revolutionized the way we interact with mobile applications.

As the app marketplace has grown, so has the complexity of the App Store’s algorithm, the invisible force responsible for ranking and displaying apps to users. Understanding the history and evolution of the App Store algorithm is crucial for developers and marketers seeking to optimize their apps for visibility and success. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the history of the Apple App Store algorithm, highlighting the key changes and milestones that have shaped app rankings over the years.

  1. The Early Days: App Store’s Launch and Initial Ranking Factors (2008-2010)

The App Store made its debut with the release of the iPhone 3G in July 2008, initially offering around 500 apps. In its early days, the algorithm was relatively simple, primarily focusing on factors like app downloads, user ratings, and release date. As a result, early app store rankings were dominated by popular and new apps, often leading to a self-reinforcing cycle where popular apps became even more popular due to their high rankings.

  1. The Rise of Keywords: Introducing App Store Optimization (2010-2012)

In 2010, Apple acquired Chomp, a search engine for mobile apps, and began integrating its technology into the App Store. This acquisition marked the beginning of the era of App Store Optimization (ASO), as the algorithm began to prioritize keyword optimization in app titles, descriptions, and eventually, the dedicated keyword field. Developers quickly adapted to this change by strategically selecting and incorporating relevant keywords to improve their app’s visibility in search results.

  1. Shifting Focus: Quality, Retention, and Engagement (2012-2015)

As the App Store continued to grow, Apple shifted its focus towards promoting quality apps and improving user experience. In 2013, the company introduced a new ranking algorithm that took into account factors like user retention and engagement, in addition to the existing metrics of downloads, ratings, and keyword optimization. This update encouraged developers to prioritize app quality, usability, and user satisfaction, resulting in a more diverse and competitive app ecosystem.

  1. Emphasizing User Experience: App Store Redesign and Algorithm Changes (2015-2017)

In 2015, Apple introduced a major App Store redesign, focusing on improving app discovery and user experience. The new design featured curated collections, category-based browsing, and personalized app recommendations, making it easier for users to find relevant apps. Alongside these changes, the algorithm continued to evolve, with an increased emphasis on factors like update frequency, app quality, and user reviews.

  1. Today’s App Store: Machine Learning, App Store Connect, and A/B Testing (2017-Present)

In recent years, Apple has increasingly leveraged machine learning to fine-tune the App Store algorithm. By analyzing user behavior, search patterns, and app performance, the algorithm has become more adept at promoting high-quality apps and delivering personalized app recommendations.

In 2018, Apple introduced App Store Connect, a platform that allows developers to access valuable insights into their app’s performance, user feedback, and conversion rates. This tool has provided developers with the data they need to optimize their apps for the ever-evolving App Store algorithm.

Additionally, Apple has introduced support for A/B testing in the App Store, enabling developers to test different app store assets (such as icons, screenshots, and descriptions) to determine which variations result in higher conversion rates and better user engagement

How does the Apple App Store Algorithm works in 2023?

An In-Depth Look at Ranking Factors and Comparison with Google Play

In the ever-evolving world of mobile apps, understanding the Apple App Store algorithm is critical for developers who want their apps to rank well and gain visibility. With millions of apps vying for user attention, standing out from the crowd is more challenging than ever. The App Store algorithm determines how apps are ranked and displayed in search results, which directly impacts the number of downloads and overall success of an app. In this article, we’ll delve into the key factors that influence the Apple App Store algorithm, provide examples for each factor, and compare them with the Google Play Store (Android app store) algorithm.

  1. Keyword Optimization

Keywords play a significant role in the App Store algorithm. By optimizing your app’s title, subtitle, and keyword fields, you can improve your app’s visibility in search results. For example, if you have a fitness app, using relevant keywords like “workout,” “exercise,” or “fitness tracker” can help your app rank higher for those search terms. Keep in mind that the Apple App Store limits the keyword field to 100 characters, so choose your keywords wisely. On the other hand, Google Play Store relies more on the app’s title and long description for keyword optimization, allowing for a more extensive list of keywords.

  1. App Downloads and Conversion Rate

The number of downloads and the conversion rate (the percentage of users who download your app after viewing its App Store page) significantly impact your app’s ranking. Apps with a high number of downloads and a high conversion rate are considered more popular and relevant by the algorithm, thus ranking higher in search results. To boost your app’s conversion rate, focus on optimizing your app’s title, icon, screenshots, and description. Google Play Store also considers downloads and conversion rate as essential ranking factors, with a similar emphasis on optimizing these elements.

  1. User Ratings and Reviews

User ratings and reviews play a crucial role in the App Store algorithm. Apps with a high average rating and a large number of positive reviews are more likely to rank higher in search results, as the algorithm interprets these signals as indicators of user satisfaction. Encourage users to rate and review your app by asking for feedback within the app or through push notifications. However, avoid incentivizing reviews, as this goes against App Store guidelines. The Google Play Store also values user ratings and reviews, but the impact of these factors may vary compared to the App Store.

  1. Retention and Engagement

The App Store algorithm considers user retention (the percentage of users who continue using your app over time) and engagement (how often and how long users interact with your app) as important ranking factors. Apps with high retention and engagement rates are deemed more valuable by the algorithm, leading to improved rankings. To enhance user retention and engagement, focus on delivering a seamless user experience, updating your app with new features and improvements, and addressing user feedback. The Google Play Store also takes user retention and engagement into account, though the weighting of these factors might differ.

  1. Update Frequency

Regularly updating your app with bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features can positively influence your app’s ranking in the App Store. The algorithm rewards apps that consistently provide users with fresh and updated content. However, avoid releasing updates too frequently, as this might annoy users and lead to negative reviews. The Google Play Store also favors apps that are updated regularly, but the specific impact of update frequency may vary.


Understanding the factors that influence the Apple App Store algorithm is essential for developers seeking to improve their app’s visibility and success. By optimizing keywords, boosting downloads and conversion rates, encouraging positive ratings and reviews, enhancing user retention and engagement, and updating your app regularly

How Keywords work in the Apple App Store?

The App Store algorithm utilizes a combination of keywords to generate search results and long-tail keywords, which can significantly impact your app’s ranking. In this article, we’ll explore the inner workings of the App Store’s keyword system, and provide insights on how to optimize your keyword strategy for maximum success.

  1. The Importance of Keywords in the App Store Algorithm

Keywords play a critical role in the App Store algorithm, determining how your app appears in search results and rankings. By choosing the right keywords and phrases, developers can improve their app’s visibility and reach a wider audience. This involves a combination of selecting relevant, high-traffic keywords, as well as identifying potential long-tail keywords that may cater to specific user needs.

  1. Keyword Combinations and Their Impact on Search Results

The App Store algorithm processes combinations of keywords, enabling it to generate more accurate search results based on user queries. For instance, if a user searches for “fitness tracker,” the algorithm will consider apps that include both “fitness” and “tracker” as keywords, as well as any other related terms. This means that developers should think strategically about their keyword choices, ensuring that they cover a range of relevant terms and combinations to maximize their app’s visibility.

  1. Keyword Placement: App Title, Subtitle, and Description

Keyword placement within your app’s metadata can significantly impact its visibility in the App Store. The three primary areas to incorporate keywords are the app title, subtitle, and description.

  • App Title: The app title is the most crucial element for keyword optimization. It should include your app’s primary keyword or phrase, as this carries the most weight in the App Store algorithm. Keep in mind that the app title is limited to 30 characters, so choose your primary keyword wisely.
  • Subtitle: The subtitle offers an additional opportunity to incorporate keywords and is also limited to 30 characters. It should provide a brief, compelling summary of your app’s key features while incorporating secondary keywords.
  • Description: While the description is NOT A PART OF THE APPLE App Store algorithm, it’s still essential to include relevant keywords to improve your app’s chances of appearing in search results from SEO (Yep, google). Aim to create a well-written, informative description that naturally incorporates your chosen keywords.
  1. Generating Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are highly specific phrases that cater to a niche audience, often resulting in higher conversion rates. The App Store algorithm generates long-tail keywords by combining individual keywords from your app’s metadata. To capitalize on this, developers should strategically include a variety of relevant keywords in their app’s metadata, maximizing the potential for generating long-tail keywords that cater to specific user needs and search queries.

  1. Best Practices for Keyword Optimization

To optimize your keyword strategy, consider the following best practices:

  • Conduct thorough keyword research to identify high-traffic, relevant keywords and potential long-tail keywords.
  • Regularly update and adjust your keyword strategy to stay ahead of market trends and competitor tactics.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing, as this can result in a negative user experience and potential penalties from Apple.
  • Monitor your app’s performance in the App Store, using tools like App Store Connect and third-party ASO platforms to track keyword rankings and make informed adjustments to your strategy.

Understanding the complexities of the Apple App Store’s keyword system is essential for developers looking to optimize their app’s visibility and reach. By mastering the art of keyword combinations, placement, and long-tail keyword generation, developers can harness the power of the App Store algorithm to drive downloads and achieve success in the competitive

Deficiencies in the Apple App Store Algorithm

While the Apple App Store has revolutionized the way we discover and interact with mobile apps, its algorithm is not without its flaws in fact, it sucks a bit!.

As the marketplace continues to grow, developers and users alike have encountered various deficiencies in the algorithm, which can result in an unsatisfactory search experience. In this article, we’ll explore the shortcomings of the App Store algorithm and propose potential improvements to deliver a more accurate and enjoyable search experience for users.

  1. Inadequate Keyword Filtering

Despite the increased emphasis on keyword optimization in the App Store, the algorithm sometimes struggles to accurately filter search results based on user queries. For instance, users searching for a specific type of app may encounter unrelated or irrelevant apps, which can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Potential Improvement: Enhanced semantic analysis could be employed to better understand the context and intent behind user queries, resulting in more relevant and accurate search results. Additionally, incorporating user behavior and preferences into the algorithm could help refine the search experience, delivering personalized results based on individual preferences and app usage history.

  1. Favoritism Towards Popular Apps

The App Store algorithm often prioritizes popular and top-grossing apps in search results, potentially overshadowing newer or lesser-known apps that may be more relevant to a user’s search query. This can make it challenging for new developers to gain visibility and traction in the crowded marketplace.

Potential Improvement: Apple could consider implementing a “discovery” section or feature that highlights new, innovative, or niche apps. Adjusting the weight of popularity metrics in the algorithm and giving more importance to factors like relevance, user satisfaction, and app quality could help level the playing field for lesser-known apps.

  1. Inconsistency in App Rankings

Users and developers have observed fluctuations and inconsistencies in app rankings, which can be attributed to the continuous updates and adjustments made to the App Store algorithm. This inconsistency can create confusion and frustration for users trying to find the best apps for their needs.

Potential Improvement: Apple could improve the transparency of its ranking algorithm by providing clearer guidelines and communication to developers, allowing them to better understand the factors influencing their app’s ranking. A more consistent and stable ranking system would also enhance the user experience and build trust in the App Store search results.

  1. Ineffective Handling of Fake Reviews and Ratings

Despite Apple’s efforts to combat fake reviews and ratings, some apps continue to manipulate the system to gain an unfair advantage in the App Store. These deceptive practices not only harm the app ecosystem but also mislead users who rely on ratings and reviews to make informed decisions about which apps to download.

Potential Improvement: Apple could invest in more sophisticated algorithms and machine learning techniques to identify and remove fake reviews and ratings more effectively. Furthermore, stricter penalties for developers caught engaging in these practices could serve as a deterrent and help maintain a fair and trustworthy app marketplace.

  1. Limited Support for A/B Testing

Although Apple has introduced support for A/B testing in the App Store, the feature remains limited in scope, restricting developers’ ability to optimize their app store assets fully. The lack of comprehensive A/B testing tools can hinder developers’ efforts to improve their app’s visibility and conversion rates.

Potential Improvement: Expanding the support for A/B testing, including the ability to test various elements such as app titles, descriptions, and even pricing strategies, would provide developers with more comprehensive insights and allow for better optimization of their app store presence.

Despite its imperfections, the Apple App Store algorithm plays a critical role in shaping the mobile app landscape. By addressing its current deficiencies and implementing improvements, Apple can create a more accurate and enjoyable search experience for users while fostering a fair and competitive app marketplace for developers.