Acquisition & Engagement

When To Worry About Drastic Ranking Changes

Becky Doles

If you take your app and app marketing seriously, you should be checking your ranking multiple times a week. If you are doing this, chances are you have noticed that your ranking changes a lot over the course of a week. But what kind of drop or rise should catch your eye? When should you be worried? What’s normal? What’s abnormal? And how should you respond?

The app store isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. There is a huge amount of competition, and your rankings matter – a lot. App store search is the single most used channel for discovery and downloads, and your position in the Top Charts can play a huge role in the success of your app.

The questions above are all valid and important ones to ask, but which have been impossible to answer… Until now.

What’s A Normal Day-To-Day Change Look Like?

Your app just dropped from 75 to 85 in your category’s Top Chart (or for one of your top keywords). You’re new to the ASO game, and have just recently started tracking your app so you don’t know if that’s normal. Naturally, you freak out, call a code red, start running around like a chicken with your head cut off, and shut down all operations. Funny thing is, as it turns out, you never should have worried. That kind of response would have been an over-re-action. If you had known what an acceptable and normal day-to-day ranking change was you wouldn’t think the world was ending.

We tracked the day-to-day changes for the apps in every Top Chart, so we can tell you when it’s ok to press the panic button. Here’s what we found:

As you can see, the average change day-to-day for apps ranked in the Top 100 is 10.8 spots (for iPhone). Your app was ranked 75, and dropped down to 85, which it turns out is completely normal. Check what your ranking was before the change, and then see what an average change for an app in that rank was. If it is below the average, you are fine, but if it is above the average, you should start looking into what might have caused the changes.

How To Respond To An Abnormal Change

A different one of your apps just dropped from 5 to 35 in a single day for your most important keyword. With that kind of change, it’s safe to say that something major happened, and you need to find out what. First things first – Don’t lose your cool like Steve Carell here.

The very first thing you should do is check to make sure the changes had to do with your app and not the app store. A quick look at our Sonar tool can help answer this question. Google and Apple are constantly making changes to the app store search ranking algorithm. In fact, we reported a major one just last month. If there are widespread ranking changes, it’s not your fault. However, if everything seems normal, there are a few things you should look into.

Downloads: You should obviously check your downloads. This is one of the major factors influencing your rank, and if they dropped drastically for some reason, it will have an impact on your ranking. Some of the following checks will also be related downloads, so you should have this information on hand.

Paid Ads: Have you made any changes to your paid strategy? If you recently stopped a paid campaign you were running, or if it underperformed compared to previous days, your download velocity could have dropped. Download velocity is one of the key factors determining your rank, so a big change could have played a role in your drop.

Ratings and Reviews: Another big factor influencing your rank is ratings and reviews (which is another relatively recent addition to the ranking algorithm). This might have directly influenced your rank if you had a huge influx of negative ratings, but even a smaller change or a popular negative review could have influenced your downloads.

Earned Media: Set some Google alerts for your app’s name, and check these to make sure you did not recently receive any negative press. We recently wrote a post on the huge impacts, negative and positive, that earned media can have on your app’s rank. Keep on top of these, and respond accordingly to any negative media you might receive.

All Top Charts And Keywords Are Unique

These are guidelines to help you determine when you need to worry about a significant ranking change. Check the chart above to compare your Top Charts ranking changes to what is normal, and check out our Sonar tool to see if there has been anything fishy going on with keyword rankings. But remember, take the data with a grain of salt. Each category, keyword, and Top Chart is a little different, and info we have is an average of all of them. Some are more volatile than the average, some are less.

Fortunately, the app store isn’t egalitarian, and all apps aren’t created equal. Some will rise to the top, others will fall to the bottom. Knowing when you need to take action and focus your attention on ASO will be hugely helpful in making sure your app is one that rises.

Don’t forget to sign up for a free account to get access to our Sonar tool which is available to everyone. Our Enterprise customers can also set up customized alerts to receive notifications anytime your app or a competitor’s app has had any significant changes.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

Leave a Reply