Keywords are the centrepiece of app store optimization (ASO). Most professionals would boil down ASO as the simple practice of adding keywords to essential meta fields. This in turn enhances the ranking strength of the app listing and increases the odds of top app store rankings.

It is wrong to fault this approach. Adding keywords to important metafields is a proven tactic to enhance visibility on app stores. Most ASO tools in the app marketing space offer keyword insights, the feature most professionals are on the lookout for. Finding unique keywords with meaty volumes can guarantee visibility and downloads.

However, it is wrong to focus solely on keywords in app store optimization. There are other essential factors that also affect app store rankings. Since most ASO professionals add relevant keywords to the meta fields, performance on other factors holds the key to high app store ranks.

The role of app marketing and ASO has become more pronounced in the last few years. Tools like the AppMySite mobile app builder have made app development easy and hassle-free. This has naturally turned the spotlight on mobile app promotion.

It is thus important to study all factors affecting app store optimization, not just keywords. Here are five factors that affect app store ranking besides keywords.

#1 – Ratings and reviews

The first factor independent of keywords that comes to mind is the overall status of ratings and reviews. Apps with a great rating and largely positive reviews are much likelier to rank higher compared to apps with poor ratings and reviews.

It is obvious for app stores to use ratings and reviews as important ranking factors. App stores are in the business of suggesting the best apps to the end user. Ratings and reviews come directly from users and are thus a reliable way to evaluate mobile apps.

This is why app stores alter rankings based on ratings and reviews all the time. This is done to ensure the average user is shown apps with better ratings and reviews first.

The only way to get good app ratings and reviews is offering a great app experience. Remember, this is only the first step. App companies have to find a way to make their users rate their apps and write positive reviews. Generally, companies use in-app pop-ups to direct users to the app listing for providing a rating and writing a review. Users can be incentivized to perform this task with unique offers and deals.

#2 – Conversion rate

Conversion rate is a measure of your total app downloads out of the number of people who visit your app listing.

It is difficult for app store algorithms to test the qualitative aspects of a listing. This includes evaluating the quality of the icon and screenshots.

This is where conversion rate comes in. It simply measures the percentage of people who download an app after arriving on an app listing. Generally, the icon, app name, and screenshots play a vital role in persuading an average visitor to download the app.

A higher conversion rate validates the quality of the icon and screenshots. App stores as a consequence move it higher in the rankings.  The best way to thus enhance the conversion rate is design the icon and screenshot in a way that drives visitors towards installing the app. Other tricks like adding a CTA to the app name can also help users understand the basic service on offer.

#3 – Featured listing

App store rankings are not the only place where apps can get visibility. There are a number of featured sections on an app store that provide free visibility to some apps.

The carousels on the home screen of Google Play are good examples of featured listings. Getting your app displayed in these sections can provide free visibility to mobile apps they wouldn’t otherwise get. This free visibility naturally translates to app downloads. Greater number of downloads naturally promise higher visibility on app store rankings as well.

Featured listings can thus help improve app rankings on important keywords. These listings are curated by the app store autonomously. The best way to get featured is working towards ranking higher in your app category.

#4 – Update frequency

It is within the interest of an app store to help users discover apps that provide a sound user experience. Bad recommendations and rankings generally hurt app stores in the long run. One way to measure the commitment of an app company towards UX optimization is the update frequency.

Rolling out regular app updates basically tells app stores like Google Play and Apple App Store that you’re committed to delivering sound user experience. It is thus wise to establish a stable app update strategy. This helps in enhancing app store rankings as well as user experience.

Launching updates only to give the app an ASO boost is not ideal. There are a number of viable strategies you can adopt when it comes to pushing out app updates. Ideally, each update must address the existing issues in an app and other areas where there is room for improvement.

#5 – Download velocity

App stores consider download volume a key factor while deciding the ranks for a given keyword. However, an app with higher downloads doesn’t automatically outqualify other apps. App stores use download velocity to compare apps based on download volume.

What does this exactly mean? Let’s say your pharmacy app is competing with a very old and popular app. Your app is getting a lot of downloads every day, but you naturally cannot beat the old app on pure download numbers. Luckily for you, app stores don’t consider total download volume a key factor.

Download velocity instead is a much more relevant factor. It basically shows the number of downloads an app gets in a day. Thus, if your pharmacy app is getting more downloads in a day or over a week than your illustrious competitor, you will get a higher rank.

It is thus more important to consistently maintain ASO efforts rather than banking on old download volume. The app that has been performing well recently will be favored over older apps with more lifetime downloads.

In conclusion

Keywords occupy a central role in app store optimization. However, they alone do not determine app store rankings.

This piece covers five factors that affect ASO besides keywords.Each of these factors affect the final rank an app gets. Some factors can be optimized by direct action from ASO professionals. Other factors are more complicated and cannot be affected by the direct action of an app marketing team.