December 11, 2022

How to Improve App Category Rankings

App Store Category Rankings Best Practices

Let me take you on a journey of discovery, app store discovery. A high category rank can help users discover apps more easily in the App Store and Play Store. There is no guide from Apple or Google on how to improve rank, but it looks like we need downloads, and fast.  

The more downloads and user engagement your app has, the better its rank position will be. You want to keep increasing your download velocity, meaning the number of downloads your app gets within a certain amount of time. The higher the velocity, the higher the rank. -AppRadar

The more app installs, the better your category’s essential to keep increasing your conversion rate and download velocity to improve your ranking. -yodelmobile

An app's category rank depends, among other elements, on the app's quality and traffic. The more downloaded an app is, the higher the rank in its category. -apptweak

To make things interesting, AppRadar advises “some hidden factors” also impact both App Store and Play Store rankings.

Let’s boil this down into a few key areas of focus that can improve category rank:

Category - Apple allows you to assign a primary and a secondary category to your app, but the primary category helps users find your app when browsing or filtering search results, and it determines in which tab an app appears on the App Store. Though it’s recommended to select the category most closely related to the app’s function, a category where the app ranks may work better than one where it doesn’t.  We are also looking at what categories our competitors are in and how they rank when choosing a category.

Paid user acquisition (PUA) - Downloads can be bought or earned. If downloads drive rank, paid user acquisition would be one means to that end. After analyzing paid advertising spend versus app category rank using six of Loyal’s leading apps, we found that, in almost every case, category rank increased when ad spend increased.  Though PUA is part of our strategy, it’s not the only part.  

App store optimization (ASO) - ASO can drive downloads with little investment, or none at all. For this exercise we focused on ASO to start improving rank, then plan to turbocharge the effort with PUA later down the road.  Once we know what messaging, creative, and keywords work from ASO efforts, we use them in PUA campaigns targeted to countries with high install, revenue per user, or subscription rates. We also create custom product pages and features for seasonal, sports and cultural events.

Users - App users look at ratings and reviews. For apps with crappy ratings, downloads are hard to come by. We are setting up a system to answer reviews quickly, while helping the user navigate an issue, make a feature suggestion, or just vent. Promo codes and a Customer Service site that generates tickets play a big role in review responses.  Users can also be great app promoters so we plan to run In App Events with social integration, promote App Sharing, and utilize deep linking for sharing user or app content.

In addition to category rank improvement, a lot of this is what Apple suggests developers do to get their app Featured in the App Store. Fingers crossed.