Slipping in Your App Store Ranking? Explaining The App Store Dance

Have you noticed your app slipping in the App Store rankings over the past few weeks for keywords that previously scored high? Welcome to the club and welcome to the App Store Dance.

What is the App Store Dance?

The App Store Dance is a term that describes how the App Store search results bounce around in the iTunes results page or listings. You might get one set of results on the first page on one day — and then something entirely different the next day. The App Store Dance is just a simpler term to describe this. The rankings usually “dance” when Apple updates their search engine algorithm — which is pretty frequent — as they continuously attempt to keep the playing field level and fair for all app developers. However, the here is that it can impact your standings in the App Store charts, which can in turn influence your visibility, downloads, and revenue.

Many of the recent changes startled and alarmed app publishers as they watched their previous Number 1 app plummet to number 300 in the rankings — or disappear off the charts altogether. But don’t worry — you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that Apple is testing a new formula or algorithm to help users find more relevant results from their searches.

So, what to do if you’re in this kind of pickle? Stay up to date and do your homework. Don’t just try to figure out what the “new” algorithm is and optimize your app accordingly based on your instincts. First of all, the apple app store uses over 100 elements to rank an app. Since we can’t possibly know what all these elements are, or what weight is given to each element, we’re left wandering in the dark. Secondly, we don’t know how long this particular App Store Dance will last, so we might be optimizing an app only to have it all wrong once the Dance is over. Last but not least, we might optimize our app for a particular keyword, only to harm our rankings on other keywords.

There are a number of ways to spot a possible algorithms change (check out our algorithm changes posts 1, 2, and 3) but one of the easiest is to keep an eye on the rankings of top mobile apps. Because of their size and reach, a substantial movement of these apps in the charts can indicate that Apple could be making adjustments to how apps are weighted.

My advice is two-fold: First, read over the App Store guidelines and make sure that your app isn’t doing something against its policy, otherwise your app will be penalized and dropped in the rankings. Next, sit tight. Don’t panic. Wait for a couple of days to see how this particular App Store Dance goes. Monitor your app daily to see where its ranking is for each keyword phrase you’re tracking.

Tips: Additionally, you may want to A/B test your app icon, screenshots, app preview and description for better search conversion. Also, work on getting more and positive user reviews.


At the end of the day, what’s most interesting about algorithm changes or the App Store Dance is that it indicates Apple is looking to better its rankings for the benefit of all its users. The main purpose of these changes is to rank apps more accurately based on criteria Apple deems “quality”.

Also, ASO should be just one part of your entire marketing strategy. While the App Store Dance is happening (and some last a couple of weeks), focus on other pieces of your marketing strategy and use other techniques to bring visitors to your app. In the end, your ASO strategy and results will be stronger.

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