Incipia blog

Study on the App Store Keyword Ranking Algorithm – Word Position Ranking Strength

Gabe Kwakyi | August 22, 2016

In Apple App Store Optimization, there are two main locations that keywords can rank from: the app's title and keywords space.

Today's post is a follow up to a prior post on how keyword location and match status (scrambled or exact) influence that app's rank. Our study covered 3 apps attaining diverse rankings and looked at four segments of keywords. Here is an example of each segment, and here are our findings:

app store keyword ranking algorithm study

Average ranking strength per keyword segment (average of each keyword segment's +/- percentage in ranking vs each individual app's average rank):

#1 Exact match title: -43% vs average rank
#3 Scrambled match title +12.7% vs average
#2 Partial match title/KWs +.7% vs average
#4 Keywords match only +29.7% vs average


This fascinating study, while small-scale and without the confidence in significance of an official test, provides preliminary data rebutting our prior assumptions that keywords must be held entirely in the title to benefit from title strength ranking. Moreover, it seems that a keyword phrase made up of words entirely in the title but in a scrambled position underperform keyword phrases made of a word found in both the title and keywords space.

App #1 (7 keywords each, non-branded); Average rank: 9.1

Exact match title Avg rank: 4 (-56% vs average rank)
Scrambled match title Avg rank: 5.4 (-40% vs average)
Partial match title/KWs Avg rank: 14.1 (+55% vs average)
Keywords match only Avg rank: 12.9 (+41% vs average)


App #2 (4 keywords each, non-branded); Average rank: 141.6

Exact match title Avg rank: 128.3 (-9% vs average rank)
Scrambled match title Avg rank: 185 (+31% vs average)
Partial match title/KWs Avg rank: 116.8 (-18% vs average)
Keywords match only Avg rank: 136.5 (-4% vs average)


App #3 (7 keywords each, non-branded); Average rank: 22.7

Exact match title Avg rank: 8.1 (-64% average rank)
Scrambled match title Avg rank: 33.4 (+47% average)
Partial match title/KWs Avg rank: 14.7 (-35% average)
Keywords match only Avg rank: 34.4 (+52% average)


That's all for now folks! Thanks for reading - stay tuned to the Incipia blog or subscribe to our email list for more app store optimization tips, tricks and hacks.

Incipia is a mobile app development and marketing agency that builds and markets apps for companies with a development specialty in high-quality code architecture and keyword-based marketing optimizations. For blog/video or speaking requests, business or press inquiries please contact us at hello@incipia.co.