Have you noticed a change in the iOS App Store today? If you have checked the app rankings for today, you may have noticed something different. According to GigaOM, Apple has been making changes to its app rankings algorithm, making its system a bit harder to game. Instead of just relying on the number of downloads per app, Apple seems to be taking into account app engagement level and usage. That means more engaging apps that are being used more often by folks will be showing up higher in the app rankings.
Google recently made similar changes to the way it ranks apps in the Android Market. Google takes into account daily and monthly engagement data. Not surprisingly, as a result of these changes, Facebook has shown up at the top of the top free apps list in iTunes.
Pandora Radio and Skype have moved up in the rankings as well. This is not a move that every developer will come to love. It is going to make it much harder for pay per install apps to stay high in the rankings if daily or monthly engagement data are counted in the iTunes app ranking algorithm. Sneaky marketers are going to find it difficult to game the system too. So what should developers do to keep their rankings? Having an engaging app that makes people want to come back for more is a start. Adding in-app installs and providing updates on a consistent basis will help too. Offering apps for free still counts big time. But it won’t be the decisive factor. Of course, Apple won’t discuss how exactly it goes about ranking apps but it is not too hard to figure it out over the long run.
This move by Apple will cause some developers some pain. We feel for them. At the same time, Apple needs to make sure only higher quality apps make it to the top of its rankings. Relying only on download data to rank apps was never smart to begin with.
Developers, was your app affected by this change in the app ranking algorithm?
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