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10 Feb 2015

How To Get Your App Ranked To The Top

The success of your app begins and ends with how well it ranks. Doing your part to make it rank at its best is also very tricky. It is a science that is always evolving, but with a little knowledge and time, you can give your app the push that it needs to rank at its best. Below are a few techniques to get you started. Good luck!

Understand App Store Optimization

Improving your app’s rank begins with understanding App Store Optimization (ASO). We would have to write a completely different guide to tell you everything that you need to know about ASO, but luckily we have already done this. If you need some beginner tips to understand ASO, read our App Store Optimization tips post and another from late last year.

If you’re hungry for more, you can even take a look at a few ASO tools we recommend.

There you go: more than enough content to help you to get started with understanding ASO. But before we move on, here are a few things that you need to keep in mind:

  • Placing keywords strategically is a must.
    • The tools linked above will help you to find the best keywords for your app.
    • Place your strongest keyword in the title of your app, and be sure to include at least one main keyword per paragraph in your app’s description.
      • It is also a good idea to sprinkle secondary (i.e. less competitive) keywords throughout the description.
  • Write detailed descriptions of app updates.
    • Not enough devs do this, but it works. Use your updates to insert a few extra keywords whenever possible.
    • Be sure to also include call to actions when possible.

Know thy audience

It doesn’t matter how you fine-tune your ASO strategy: if you do not know your audience, nobody is going to use the app. It is vital that you know the type of people that are going to be using the app and how appeal to them. Take a look at other developers that have created apps similar to yours, find them on social media, and see what their followers are interested in as well.

Figure out where most of your audience is located. For example, if you create an indie game primarily for English-speaking players but you notice a substantial portion of your audience is from Hong Kong, consider localizing the app to appeal to that sector of your audience even more. It’s a great way to increase your rank even further.


You also need to maximize your sources of traffic; which is easier said than done. Promoting your app regularly is essential. From discussing your app on social media to sending out press releases to writing blog posts, conducting interviews on podcasts, and beyond, maximizing traffic sources only works if you market regularly.

By marketing regularly, your studio will also create a following. You can use your audience to become ‘brand advocates’ for your studio by conducting contests on social media, engaging with them regularly, and showing them that you are a real person behind the brand. People love supporting brands that have a human touch. Give it a shot, and add/maximize your traffic sources.

Choose the best category

It is easy to want to rank at the top of a broad category – but this isn’t necessarily the best approach. Wanting to rank in the top 25 of the entire games section in the App Store is certainly something to strive for, but the competition is fierce. You want to work smarter, not harder. Thus, consider choosing a smaller category for your app. It is better to rank high in a small category than rank mediocre early in a larger one.

Entice users to rate the app

Your app’s rank depends pretty heavily on how often it is rated and its average score. Consider including a pop-up banner in your app asking users to rate it. We see this all the time in other apps, and for good reason: it works.

However, be sure that you allow these pop-ups to be displayed when the user is not using the app. For example, if you want players to rate and review your indie game, you would not want the pop-up to be displayed when the player is trying to play the game. This would infuriate most players, most of them would probably uninstall the game immediately, and if they did rate the game, they would probably give it a pretty poor review. Rather, a perfect place to put the pop-up would be in the middle of a loading screen or when the app is opened (just be sure to include a ‘don’t ask me again’ option in the pop-up).

Small size

Size does indeed matter – and the smaller, the better. People hate waiting for anything – including waiting for an app to download and install. Unless your app has name recognition, keeping your app’s size as small as possible is important. A good rule of thumb is to keep the size below 20MB. Because most mobile devices will only download an app using mobile data if it is below 20MB, this will ensure that everyone that wants to experience your game is able to do so as long as they have some sort of connection. Plus, the time it takes to download and install the app will only take a moment, meaning most people will probably not lose patience waiting for your app

Professional icon and screenshots

Personally, I think this is one of the most important tips in the entire list for one reason: a poor app icon will drastically minimize the amount of people that will download your app. Nobody wants to waste time with an app that doesn’t feel professional. Because your app’s icon is literally the gatekeeper for your app, it needs to look as slick as possible. Hire a professional to create an icon if you do not have the skills; just be sure that looks awesome.

Furthermore, ensure that the screenshots of your app also look fantastic.

Listen to feedback

Finally, listen to the feedback of your users. This begins with including a method for users to easily reach out to you within the app to provide feedback that you can use to constantly improve the app. You may even want to consider including a pop-up display from time to time asking your users to provide feedback.

Of course, be sure the pop-up does not appear when the user is in the middle of using the app. You’re bound to get a ton of feedback telling you to stop pop-ups from interfering with the usability of the app. You will only have to change this anyway, so just avoid it!

In the end, listening to your users is vital to increasing your rank. If you want people to use your app often and love it, that begins with:

  • Creating an app people want to use.
  • Evolving the app and ensuring that it is what the bulk of your target audience wants.

There is no magic secret to increasing your app’s rank. Simply be smart about it, market well, build an app your audience will love, research often, and bring it all together to improve its ranking. The competition among apps is at an all-time high, but by following our advice, you too can have a high-ranking app that will prove to be fruitful for your studio.

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