How apps are ranked on the App Store and Google Play - differences in ranking factors

Although the App Store and Google Play are similar in appearance and purpose, their ranking factors system is thought out differently. When planning a promotion strategy, pay attention to the differences between sites in metadata and their indexing.

At the end of the article, you can find a 40% discount coupon for the first month of using ASOMobile - a tool for creating ASO and researching competitors in the mobile app market.

There is no exact answer on what criteria the Google Play Market and the Apple App Store assign positions to applications. But ASO experts, focusing on experience and expertise, have determined which factors are more or less of particular importance. Let's take a closer look at the example of two app stores

1. Application name (Title)

One of the most important ranking factors, and in both stores. Keywords in the title have the highest ranking weight.

Put the most relevant keyword in the title. You have 30 characters available for this on the App Store and on the Play Market - use them to the maximum. The name should reflect the essence of the application, describe its features and functions.

*Note: Previously, the Play Market allocated 50 characters for the Title, in 2021 Google made changes to the metadata requirements policy. Other equally significant changes are listed in the article "ASO optimization trends in 2022".

2.Subtitle as ranking factor

There is no such field on the Google Play Market. It is presented only on the App Store with 30 characters available. To increase the position in the SERP, add priority keyword phrases.

Keys in the subtitle are less indexed than those in the title but are also taken into account by the App Store agglomeration. The subtitle is visible to users, so list the main phrases that are most relevant to your app here.

3. Keywords

Only available on the App Store. You can use up to 100 characters (including commas) so use them properly:

  • Add as many relevant keys as possible.
  • Do not repeat those phrases that are already in the title and subtitle.
  • Do not duplicate keywords within this field.

Learn more about how to fill in the Keywords field properly.

4. Brief description (Promo Text)

Google Play takes it into account when ranking, the App Store does not. Google has 80 characters for a short description, while the App Store has 170.

Write here the main advantages, benefits, and features of your application, for Android applications use keywords.

5. Application description (for Google Play Market)

The full app description on the Play Market is limited to 4000 characters, and it is indexed, so use this text to the fullest. Write the most complete description, add important keywords to it. Keep in mind that the keys written in the first lines are more relevant than those in the rest of the description. Write down the most significant words and phrases several times. This way Google can better recognize which search terms are relevant to your app.

In the full description, repeat the keywords that you wrote in the short description. Repeat the most significant of them 3 times in different entries. At the same time, the meaning of what is written is more important - the app description should be understandable, clear, and correct in relation to the functions of the application.

For iOS apps, the description is not a significant ranking factor. Rather, it is a powerful marketing tool to attract users and convince them to install the app. App Store descriptions are also limited to 4,000 characters.

You may be interested in: How to successfully optimize your application description

6. Localizations

Only the App Store offers one main and one or more additional localizations for one country. Thus, you can intelligently optimize the application page for several countries at once. For each of them, you can use the highest priority keywords, adapt the title, description, and screenshots, taking into account the mentality and language features of different countries.

Languages ​​for localization can be found in the table.

7. Number of installations

The percentage of downloads is one of the most important factors influencing an app ranking top positions on the App Store and Google Play. The more often an app is downloaded, the more popular it is. This indicates that users are interested in your application and the system ranks it higher.

8. Revenue 

This is similar to the number of downloads, only applicable to paid applications. The App Store, as well as the Play Market, highly appreciates developers who bring a stable and high income to the app store.

If your application has excellent financial performance, this is a sign of high user satisfaction. The system ranks above applications that consistently earn a lot of money.

9. Delete rate

Not only the number of installs is important, but also the churn rate. A large number of deletions of an application can reduce its position in the search results. This dependence is valid only for Google Play, the App Store does not pay attention to deletions. For Apple, it is enough that the application is downloaded and interacted with.

Track user retention rates at every stage of the app experience and work to reduce uninstalls.

10. Rating and reviews

The conversion rate on the Apple Store and Google Play depends on the rating and comments. The higher the average rating, the higher the app moves up in the store rankings.

Reviews are a little different. They are important for ranking only on Google Play, for this site, for additional indexing, it is important to insert key phrases directly into reviews. Do not use keywords too often, the meaning of reviews should be preserved.

Lifehack: On the App Store, after each release of updates, you can reset the average app rating. Use this feature wisely as comments are not reset. Users will be able to see old reviews even after resetting the rating.

Detailed instructions from ASOMobile - How to work with app ratings and reviews.

11. Recent update

Apple and the Play Market highly value applications that provide a quality service to their users. Regular updates will improve the app position in the search results. The optimal update frequency depends on the category of your application. Track user feedback so you know when it's time to fix bugs or add new features.

To attract users and get the attention of the search algorithm, you can also release seasonal updates around the holidays. Change the icon or interface, add new features.

Also, app stores appreciate it when every update has a detailed description of all the changes. In this regard, Telegram will be a not bad example:

Lifehack: App Radar saves old versions of App Store metadata. Compare them to new updates to see which ones had the best impact on app growth.

* Below we list the factors that depend on the response of users. In ASO optimization, they are considered “unmanaged” because they depend on the reaction of the audience to your product and the results of advertising campaigns. Developers can only exert indirect influence, such as running ads, updating the app, fixing bugs, and responding to reviews.

Google is first and foremost a search algorithm. The company has invested huge resources in search and now uses its mechanisms in most of its products, including for ranking applications on the Play Market. Links on trusted websites that rank for keyword phrases that are relevant to your app make its page more relevant to the app store.

Attract as much external traffic as possible. Use social networks - Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, Vkontakte, and others. Find your audience and target it to attract them with ads. This way you will get a loyal audience, increase the rate of transitions to your application page and the number of downloads.

The difference in the ranking factors of the App Store and the Play Market - comparison in the table

Both Google and Apple offer enough tools to promote your apps on their platforms. At the same time, the main factors by which all applications are ranked are user response, profit, and attracting users to the application store from third-party resources.

The information in the table shows that text fields are equally important for ranking on the Play Market and the App Store, but optimization for different sites is different. If you want to have your application published on two sites at once, consider a separate promotion strategy for each of them.

Note: we did not write about the visual design of the page, since this indirectly affects the position of the app, but at the same time it has a huge impact on the conversion. If the application has a complex interface, incomprehensible icons, and strange screenshots, the user will simply go looking for a solution from competitors. Therefore, make sure that your visual is concise, understandable, and visual. Google Play and the App Store have different requirements for the visual optimization of the app page. In order for optimization to be effective, it is important to comply with all these requirements. Only then can you count on an increase in conversion after changing the visual.

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