Unraveling the Changes in iOS App Store Algorithm: Impacts on Keyword Rankings

Changes in iOS App Store Algorithm affect approximately 75,246 apps with a drop in keyword rankings. Let's dive into the details of algorithm adjustments and explore the data dimensions that need to be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Unraveling the Changes in iOS App Store Algorithm: Impacts on Keyword Rankings

Developers have been taken by surprise by the recent algorithm updates in the iOS App Store, with a noticeable shift occurring around December 5th. A significant number of apps saw a sharp decline in their ranking keywords, raising questions about app downloads and visibility in the marketplace.

Word Monitor on FoxData
The "Store Monitor" on FoxData revealed the first signs of this algorithmic shift, affecting approximately 75,246 apps with a drop in keyword rankings.

It's vital for developers and marketers to comprehend and adapt to these changes to maintain their app's competitiveness. Let's dive into the details of algorithm adjustments and explore the data dimensions that need to be monitored on an ongoing basis.

Key Algorithm Changes to Consider

While the inner workings of the iOS App Store's algorithm remain confidential, careful analysis of various patterns and behaviors can shed light on the nature of its recent modifications:
  • Narrowing Keyword Coverage: The algorithm now appears to focus on relevance, potentially indicating a new update that prioritizes the quality of search query matches with app features.

    👉The related blog: Utilizing Keywords Tools to Improve Your App Marketing Performance(1)

  • Long-Tail Keyword and Relevance Emphasis: There's a newfound preference for long-tail keywords, suggesting that specificity and relevance are becoming more critical for app discoverability.

    👉The related blog: Which Keyword Drives Your App Downloads? Choose the Right Keywords with FoxData

  • User Engagement as a Priority: Metrics such as click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate have gained importance, hinting at the App Store's focus on user retention and satisfaction.

  • Penalty for Keyword Stuffing: The updated algorithm is cracking down on keyword stuffing, urging a more strategic approach to metadata optimization.

  • Enhanced Semantic Analysis: The algorithm's improved understanding of context and synonyms demands more sophisticated and contextually relevant keyword strategies.

Monitoring Algorithm Changes

To stay competitive, developers should keep a close eye on:

  • Keyword Rankings: Track your app's keyword rankings and note any changes using tools like FoxData.

    If your keyword rankings suddenly show a significant drop, it is a reflection of the iOS app store algorithm that has been adjusted. In other words, Ranked Keywords Trend can release the signal of algorithm adjustment in time. And remind you to pay attention to your keyword strategy.

    app's keyword rankings on FoxData

  • Download and Conversion Rates: Watch for fluctuations in downloads and conversion rates to spot potential impacts from algorithm updates.  If downloads rise or fall sharply in a short period of time, excluding the competent control of marketers, it is caused by the adjustment of the iOS App Store.

    App developers and marketers should pay keen attention to the changes in this dimension of downloads, especially the abnormal rise and fall before and after the peak, which means the indirect impact of the algorithm update to some extent. Timely attention can help marketers adjust keyword strategies in time.

    FoxData' feature of Downloads and Revenue

  • Visibility Score: Utilize analytics platforms to monitor your app's visibility score in the App Store. Visibility score calculated is based on the overall performance of the app in the app store and it represents the degree to which users have the opportunity to discover this app through search keywords, visiting rankings, etc.

    The full score is 100 points. Reelshort scores 70.

    Obviously, it has a quite good visibility score here, which proves that it has an advantage in terms of keyword coverage, ranking, and so on.

    What about the ASO condition of your app? Why not check your app's visibility score on FoxData now?

    Or you'd like to improve your app‘s visibility score firstly, check this blog👉 How to Perform ASO Keyword Research and Boost Your App's Visibility

    Visibility Score on FoxData

  • Competitor Analysis: Observe competitors' keyword rankings to glean insights into the algorithm's behavior.

    FoxData can help you do competitor research. You can track competitors under the feature "Keywords Ranked", where you can make a comprehensive analysis of competitors' Keywords. Beyond that, you can view the changes of your competitor's keywords directly.

    Take Reelshort's keywords on December 4 and December 5 as an example, it's obvious that there is a big change in many keywords. You can study the words that dropped precipitously in a short period of time for you and your competitors, and the commonality of these words reflects the algorithms adjusted by the iOS app store.

    Keywords Ranked on FoxData

  • App Store Reviews and Ratings: Keep an eye on user feedback, as positive reviews can boost keyword rankings. Pay attention to the peaks and bottoms of reviews and ratings, as well as the combination of ratings. At the peak point and when there are many positive comments, it proves that the user activity of the software is high and the software stability is high during this period of time, while the rating peaks but the bad comments are on the high side, it is necessary to consider optimizing the stability of the software and optimizing its functions. The key is to retrieve valuable information from their feedback to further optimize keyword ranking.

Reviews and Ratings on FoxData

  • Metadata Optimization: Regularly refine your app's metadata to align with the algorithm's emphasis on relevance and quality.

    Metadata Optimization on FoxData


The December changes in the App Store's algorithm pose new challenges and opportunities for developers. By understanding and responding to the algorithm's focus areas and keeping tabs on key performance indicators, you can navigate these updates successfully. 

Now just join FoxData and embark on a journey of business growth as we unveil a FREE App Data Analytics Tool, which boosts your downloads, increases your user base, and watches your performance soar to new heights!

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