Easy to understand guide to app store ranking

The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store both have complicated algorithms. Although we can’t know for sure how they affect app store ranking, we can get an idea based on the current top-ranked apps.

So don’t let these mysterious algorithms intimidate you. Keep reading to learn more about this very important topic.

Ranking Volatility

In both stores, higher ranked apps are more secure in their positions, while lower-ranked apps are subject to greater fluctuations.

This could be due to several factors:

  • Better-ranked apps are installed more frequently;
  • They also have more users,
  • And they typically have better ratings.

Because these numbers are so high, they would have to decrease quite a bit in order to make a significant impact that would affect app store rank. Lower ranked apps are at a greater risk of ranking volatility because their lower number of installs, users, and ratings wouldn’t have to change as drastically to make a big difference.


Apps that rank higher and are less prone to rank volitation usually have better ratings, particularly in the Google Play Store. The ratings of the top-ranked apps in Google Play have fewer variances between them than the ratings of the top apps in the Apple Store, leading to the conclusion that Google places more emphasis on ratings than Apple does.

App Version

Both stores seem to reward frequent updates, probably because updates improve app quality, increase user acquisition, and earn better ratings. Outdated apps that don’t perform as well naturally rank lower.

app-store-rankRating Count

The number of times an app has been rated can also make an impact on ranking.

You might not realize this, but most apps haven’t ever received a rating. Those that do stand out. So apps with a high amount of ratings must be doing something right, which causes them to rank higher.

The ratings count also impacts ranking volatility. At least it does in the Apple Store, where apps with a higher volume of ratings have less volatile rankings. It’s not clear if this is also the case in the Google Play Store.

Number of Installs

The Apple App Store does not provide this statistic, but the Google Play Store does, allowing us to infer that install count does makes a difference in app ranking.

Apps that have the highest number of installs have a better chance of ranking well and face a lower risk of volatility.

However, this isn’t a perfectly tested hypothesis since Google Play does not give exact numbers. Instead, Google provides ranges, such as 500k-1M installs. Still, it’s good enough to give us an idea.

App Store Ranking Summary

After sorting through all of the statistics, it seems that rating count makes the biggest impact on app rank, with an app’s number of installs coming in a close second.

Although we can’t say for sure, it appears that the Apple App Store places greater importance on growth trends, while the Google Play Store favors ratings.

As far as algorithms go, this article has barely scratched the surface of a complicated system that is quite difficult to understand and involves so much more, such as choosing the right app store keywords and increasing user engagement.

It’s necessary to start somewhere though, and what you learned today will serve you well in your attempt to master the art of app store ranking. Just remember, any changes you make should be tested to ensure they are getting the results you are after.

But if this is all overwhelming to you, don’t do this alone. Get expert help from a specialist who can work with you to improve App Store Optimization and increase your app’s visibility.