The iTunes App Store is changing the way apps are ranked. Once-upon-a-time apps were ranked purely by download numbers. This meant that the only way to gain rankings was to simply obtain downloads.
The thing is that ended up a double-edged sword. Apps with good rankings would get more downloads which meant they were more likely to keep those rankings and therefore making it more difficult for other apps to get top rankings.
Now however things are different. Other factors play into the ranking equation such as how long the app is opened as the active app and how often the app is opened.
This provides a HUGE opportunity to climb upward in the rankings and become one of the top downloaded apps, gaining the additional views and money for yourself. Here’s how you do it:
- Include the ability to post to Facebook and Twitter in your apps. The reason for this is simple, it generates competition among friends for better scores (or whatever). There are apps out there that include integration into their own websites to provide social features. In my opinion, this is foolish. Instead include that level of integration in facebook where what goes on is much more visible to friends and the like. Again, the idea is to get friends involved and increase usage because of the social interaction.
- Provide some kind of bonus or give some kind of additional content to people that will open the app for some amount of time every day. With my apps I will often give something if someone opens the app at least 20 times in 30 days with the app active for at least three minutes each time. Often I’ll try to make that “something” pretty awesome.
- Include things in your apps that allow for “on the spot” social interaction or messaging of some kind. Honestly this is something that I am only just including. One game soon to be released is a competitive type deal that allows for real-time competition across the world. Before and after each competition I going to allow for the people to message each other through the game. The goal here is simple: increase the amount of time people are using your apps.
- Program your games to have social features such as what is found in “Words with Friends”. This means that your app should be “memory resident”. Let people “friend” others (or use facebook integration or something) and allow friends to message others through the app to ask for time with the app. Again, this will increase time in the app and increase the frequency the app is opened.
Now, some of what I said seems to be more appropriate for games, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Business apps, fitness apps … all of them can utilize some of these features to improve the amount of time in the app and the frequency the app is opened.
HERE IS THE IMPORTANT THING
Apps that are opened more often and used more frequently will get better rankings. Yes, number of downloads is still important. However, you can put yourself above other apps, with more downloads, simply by having an app that is used for as much time as possible.
This is the important part however:
You can increase your number of downloads by going to http://mturk.com and paying something like 10 cents for someone to download your app. You could add 100 downloads to your download count for only a few bucks. While 100 downloads isn’t very many in the scheme of things, adding 100 downloads in the first few days or week that your app becomes available can help out A LOT.