Marketing Tips Blog

Can Buying Installs Aid Organic App Ranking?

Mark Anderson - Thursday, May 07, 2015

In regular Google SEO, paid links and advertising are negative link-building signals, but sometimes Google works with double standards. It seems both Google Play and the iOS App Store love all your installs, paid or not. Effectively, buying your app install base makes you rank in popularity lists, rank for great keywords in app search, and gets you the attention of popular review sites. Each bought install will get you at least two free organic installs as an indirect result. Time your app promotion well! [Source:]

App Store Optimization Competition

2015 has already proven to be a great year for mobile apps, but I seldom detect a similar strategy as the one described in this article from any of my competitors. This is quite surprising because the basics behind it were already disclosed in 2012 and it is still very effective.

The Organic Factor

App promotion uses a so-called organic factor in its CPI (cost per install) calculations. Where you can easily pay someone up to $ 2 CPI for each new app install they initiate by promoting the app, you might actually be paying $0.50 for the resulting installs because it leads to four instead of one install. Few of these installs can be directly linked to an individual CPI source, but scaling up your effort should show the same (or better) incremental growth.

Organic installs are the result of many different factors. Once you reach a certain critical mass or grow many installs in a short timeframe, the organic factor increases dramatically because of:

  • Mouth-to-mouth promotion and social sharing by existing users
  • Not all installs can be measured toward the CPI source you should pay
  • Popularity attracts professional review sites with a huge following
  • Paid media attention will also result in additional free exposure
  • A combination of many advertising types and platforms strengthens their effect and creates rumor around the app
  • Social media advertising can initiate a lot of natural social coverage
  • App store ranking for interesting keywords is highly impacted by your growing installs
  • Reviews and ratings from you growing amount of users help you rank
  • Popularity lists for specific categories use install trending and you can even aim for the generic popular apps for a specific country when you time install spikes correctly
  • Some functionality in your app can work contagious
  • Any viral message related to the app is much more likely to be successful

Using This to Your Advantage

Aim for multiple install spikes and stop focusing on a steady growth. Use all types of platforms for which you can calculate the advertising cost back to a cost per install. Paying on a CPM or CPC basis is fine as long as you know what each install costs you. Use in-app promotion, paid popularity lists and reviews, well-targeted social adds, retargeting, and many other forms of advertising and spend a large portion of your budget in a very small timeframe.

Plan ahead toward a single week or even a single day and repeat this about a month after the first peak. Keep some of your budget flexible. Fine-tune all your app metrics, so you can relocate budgets toward the most effective channels during the campaigns.

Tip: One country at a time! Many app store popularity factors work individually per country. Choose to be popular in at least one country instead of remaining unseen by spreading your focus.

Not Just Chance

The organic factor isn’t just based on chance. You can promote mouth-to-mouth or social sharing with some app functionality, you can bribe popular app reviewers to write about you (and others will follow for free), you can start your own rumor about the app, and you can definitely take more matters into your own hands. Combine these with successful advertising and your app is likely to beat all its competitors.

Good luck!

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