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Is Top in App Store Achievable?

Short answer: Yes it is. But it’s terribly hard. Unless you were born lucky you need to think about the best channels to promote your app. We made an effort to analyze what apps get on top and what you may attempt to do in order to reach the top of App Store.


how to get to the top of App Store

Appurify, a startup supported by Google Ventures, did research in iTunes App Store Charts by analyzing a thousand leading apps.

The algorithms of Apple’s App Store ranking are constantly evolving. We, app developers, can orient at the bases rankings, the ones, that can predict app’s monetization success. Basically they are the mixture of the following factors:

Rank = Rating + Daily Downloads + Download Velocity + Favorability of Reviews + User Engagement

Ranking and rating are interrelated. It is important to assure good app performance on App Store by testing and fixing its quality both before the release and prior to update cycle as it has a huge impact on the ultimate star ratings.

Remember, that every update cycle refreshes the app ratings, and “Current Version” is featured on search engine results more prominently.

Among the featured section “great free apps” on App Store now there is a news collection app, a calculator, a karaoke app from music category, a flight tracker, a photo app etc. The majority of them are rated 4+. In fact, it is not enough to get to just 4 stars. You can consider it significant if your app gets 4,5 stars.

With the change of App Store ranking algorithm, Apples is now focusing more on users’ engagement and satisfaction within the app, rather than the number of downloads. Therefore, it seems like app user ratings start being integrated into app ranking algorithms. Apps, that received a user’s score of four stars or above, get a boost in their rank in the App Store Top Charts sections. Meanwhile, apps which failed to get 4 seemed to lose some of their rankings in the charts.

Category preference

The logic of app genre selection of the main page is hard to identify as these categories look like they are chosen serendipitously. Dave Addey did research in the kinds of apps that get featured on the App Store for different countries around the world.

According to his research, the majority of featured free apps in the USA belong to the category of lifestyle and entertainment. Austrian/German store has a skew towards lifestyle apps too. Brazilian App Store editors prefer to put music apps into the featured section, the Republic of Korea, China and Japan focus on education apps, Russian App Store features more news, education, photo and video apps.

Still if your app has high ranking and lots of downloads it does not mean that it will be noticed by Apple and take its place among those top ones.

Read also: How much does it cost to develop a profitable app

The Key to the App Store Top is Design

The key to the App Store is design

So what do those lucky apps have in common? Two things are certain: they have impeccable design and clear detailed description put in plain English. The more descriptive the text on the front page of your app is the fewer questions a user will have to determine whether he wants to download it. A great approach can be a reply to the question Why You Should Download My App.

The only way for your app to get featured on App Store top is great UI design. The icon should be simple and clean. Besides, it has to correspond to Apple’s perception of the right laconic form as well as interface accuracy and look like the news app Flipboard.

Unless you have excellently designed app, even the best idea can be left unnoticed and your app will never get on top. If you manage to combine great idea and astonishing interface that matches Apple’s tastes your app has more chances to meet your ambitious expectations. You may check MyScript Calculator app that not only got on top with it’s great idea and cool graphics but also won Mobile Apps Showdown at CES 2013.

We would also recommend that you take a look at award winning apps to get the feeling of what they expect you to have in order to win.

So do not hesitate to hire a cool designer and win success in this business.

Read also: App design cost worldwide

Get notoriety for your App

It is vital for your app to be put into masses and get promoted there subsequently. There are two ways to do it: PR and Advertising.

PR may work and it may not. Things like review sites, app contests and hackathons entrance, building connections with journalists, presses release, your app videos and viral marketing are surely great options. If you are determined to spend lots of time and energy, go for it!

Even if it does not work out it’s highly advisable to keep looking and experiment.

Howard Marks, a founder of StartEngine stated: “As a founder, you should never give up.  You should always keep going as long as you can because if you quit there’s a 100% chance of failure.”

For the busy ones (we all are, in fact) there is a ubiquitous and most widespread means - advertising.


Works best as a way to annoy people, to spend money, and... to promote your app. There are many different ways to bring it into life, among which we outlined Social Media Advertising and Advertising networks.

Social Media

New air of advertising approach is floating over all the corners of a society concentration across the world net: Google’s relentless investment in Google+, Facebook releasing Custom Audiences, and most recently Twitter’s acquisition of MoPub.

If you are not using social media advertising engines then what is wrong with you?


reach the top of App Store

What else can work better for targeting than a social network which has it all about potential customers? Find your audience and enrich their news feed with ads of your app.

Facebook’s mobile app install ad is a new ad tool that can both diversify an app marketer’s traffic mix and help you stay on top of a new source of loyal users. Mobile app install ads display in a user’s news feed on their mobile devices and make it possible for advertisers to drive users directly to an app install page in the app store.


Twitter ad suite is divided into 3 categories: Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends (isn't available to small businesses). It is advisable to always test and see whether it works best with promoting messages or gaining more followers to your account. You can also opt for keyword targeting (target those who search and tweet) and target by interest and followers.

Now when Twitter bought MoPub it is unequivocal that you should make an account and breed users by publishing relevant news and updates.

MoPub means a lot to Twitter and it’s advertising system is going to enhance greatly as digital marketers and agencies will have access to a vast mobile inventory with a high degree of targeting. Twitter ads will be available through mobile Real-time Bidding (RTB) making each impression on Twitter tradable through MoPub’s RTB exchange, and accessed through Mobile DSPs such as Madison.

People spent their whole life in social networks. Make sure your app is aimed at reaching this crowd.

Advertising Networks

App Store bans apps who buy pay-per-install ads from CPA, unless it is Apple advertising network. After all, Apple is unique all around, just like Steve Jobs wanted.

However you can try out some Advertising Networks and see what works best for you.

Advertiser focused

Those who make money from advertisers by pushing their ad supply: AdMob, RevMob, ChartBoost, AirPush, Millenial, Jumptap, iAds, Tapjoy, Epom Market

Rich Media Ad Servers

Companies focused on HTML5 or other rich media ad units (such as video and highly interactive mini ad portals). They normally work with CPM campaigns with branded advertisers. This includes Medialets and Crisp.


Companies that deliver an integrated portfolio of ad networks. It is used as a tool for analyzing different networks’ performance. A publisher can see which ads work best, filter them and optimize. These networks earn revenue from publishers for providing integration and optimization management services. This includes Mopub, Nexage, Adwhirl (which was acquired by Admob awhile back), Burstly, AdMarvel, AppSpot (launched by Flurry).

Some publishers may use Supply Side Platforms, or SSPs, to help better manage and sell their inventory.


In order to achieve the top in App Store and gain recognition of the world for your app, you should consider the following aspects:

  • ranking algorithms. Pay attention to ratings. Make sure your app gets 4,5 stars
  • featured apps category preference when you focus on a certain country of distribution
  • design is what matters the most
  • get PR
  • don’t ignore social media in advertising your app
  • choose the most suitable advertising network
  • All in all it’s up to you to decide which way to choose and which door to knock on.

Good luck with reaching the top of Apple App Store!


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