Every app publisher wants to know how to get more downloads for their app. There’s no magic trick that will instantly get you 1m downloads, but there are some basic ‘must-dos’ to increase your download numbers. Here are 3 things that you must do for every one of your apps for consistently higher download numbers.


1. Get a 5 Star Rating ASAP!

App ratings matter for several reasons.

First of all, they are used by search algorithms to determine where your app appears in the search results. Of course, there are many other factors that are considered in search ranking as well, but apps with a good rating get ranked higher.

The second reason why you need a good rating is because potential users IMG_0283will always look at the app rating when they are deciding whether or not they will download your app.

Social proof matters. Ratings/reviews are a great indicator of an app’s quality. If your app is listed in the search results next to a competitor with no rating, your 5 star rating will give a you a massive advantage.

If you have an iOS app, you need at least 5 individual ratings/reviews before an average rating is displayed. Aim to get these 5 ratings/reviews as soon as possible after you launch.


Here are some ways to get ratings and reviews for your app:

  • Friends and Family – Get everyone you know to rate and review your app on launch day. If you’ve already launched that’s fine, just get them to do it as soon as possible.
  • Online Communities – Reach out to online communities that you are a part of. If you’re a part of Facebook groups related to your app or it’s content, ask members to rate it for you. This will not only help with the app in the store, it will help you get some valuable feedback as well. But make sure you only do this where it is appropriate. Don’t just start spamming groups with requests to review your app.
  • Paid Services – Get people to leave honest ratings/reviews and feedback using one of the paid services out there. They will help you get ratings and reviews for your app by using an existing community. These will be genuine reviews, so there is no guarantee of 5 stars. Expect honest, valuable feedback from people interested in apps. One that immediately comes to mind is Gnome Escape.


What NOT to do

  • DO NOT buy ratings and reviews on Fiverr, oDesk, Elance etc. If you buy reviews using these methods you are basically paying for 5 star reviews. Neither Apple or Google like this and there is a very good chance you will get caught. If you don’t get in trouble, the reviews will probably be removed without any notice anyway, making them worthless.
  • Don’t do something silly like creating a bunch of different iTunes or Google Play accounts and leaving a review from each one. This will definitely be picked up, and at best the reviews will just be deleted.

2. Nail Your App Store Optimisation

App Store Optimisation (ASO) is the practice of optimising the presence of an app in the app stores. It’s often used interchangeably with keyword research but ASO is broader than just keywords. Keyword research is part of the ASO process but it’s not all of it. Here are the things you need to get right:



It’s important to do proper keyword research and select keywords that will allow you to rank well for as many search phrases as possible.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in this area. It simply falls outside the scope of what I cover. My advice is to either invest the time and effort learning how to do proper keyword research, or invest some of your budget to hire a professional to do this for you.



An Icon is often the very first thing about your app that a user sees. Make a great first impression with an amazing icon. You want something that stands out from the crowd, is simple, and communicates what the app is about.

One important thing to remember about app icons is that they are small. Looking at a nice big image of your icon on your computer isn’t enough. You need to test what it will look like on a device, where a lot of the detail will not be visible. I like to use AppSparky for this. It’s a great free website that will show you how your icon will look in different situations.

If you have a sub-par icon, you will be missing out on downloads. If you aren’t happy with your icon I highly recommend investing in a new one.

Let’s look at the difference between a good and bad icon. Here you can see Instagram’s icon on the left. Nice and simple, eye catching, and I can immediately tell that it’s a photo app.

On the right is an example of an icon that isn’t so good. I would have no idea what the app is about if I just saw this icon (in case you’re wondering, it’s for an ab workout app). And the overall quality of the icon is poor, which makes me assume the quality of the app is also poor.[/text_output]

Instagram Icon

Ab Icon


Like the icon, screenshots play a big part in convincing a user to download an app. They are an opportunity to show the user what the app does and why they need it. Make sure you do it well.

You want your screenshots to show off the most appealing features of the app and tell a story. Think about what potential users care about and make sure you put those things front and centre.

I’ve seen screenshots that show things like the in-app purchase screen or pause screen. Don’t make this mistake. I can tell you now; no one has ever downloaded a game because they saw its amazing pause screen in the screenshots!


App Preview Video

Both the App Store and Google Play allow you to upload a preview video, and there really isn’t any excuse not to. It’s a great way to show off your app and users are coming to expect to see previews for all apps. By not having one you are instantly at a disadvantage. Plus, rumour has it that it can help boost your search rank so there is an added bonus there as well.

There are a few options out there for app preview videos. You can make them yourself or hire a professional. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure the video adheres to the guidelines for the app store(s) you are publishing on.


Title & Description

Your app title and description are the final two opportunities you have to convince a potential user that they need your app. A great app title is essential to catch the users attention and get that initial engagement. You should then make sure you have a great description to close the deal.

One method I use to come up with inspiration for my descriptions is simply looking at how apps at the top of the charts write theirs. I don’t mean just copying the descriptions from top apps. What I’m talking about here are subtleties like using dot points, avoiding large blocks of text, length of descriptions etc.

3. Take Advantage of the Launch Boost

New apps are given an initial advantage in the app stores to help them gain some visibility and give them a chance to get some traction. This comes in the form of higher search rankings and entries on some of the lesser-known ‘feature’ pages within the app stores.

You should do whatever you can to take advantage of this initial boost. It’s a great chance to climb up the rankings and get some extra exposure.


Here are a couple of ways you can take advantage of the launch boost:

  • Spread the word. Tell everyone you can about your app and encourage them to go and download it. If you’ve got a mailing list full of users who would be interested in the app, now is the time to leverage them. Every download you get during this phase will have an even bigger positive effect on your app’s search ranking.
  • If you plan on paid installs, now is a good time to do it. As I mentioned previously, every download you get during this period has a bigger effect on search rankings, so paid install campaigns can be leveraged to drive more organic traffic during this launch period.


As I mentioned, there is no super secret trick to suddenly get a million downloads. But by following these simple tactics for every one of your apps you will see consistently higher download numbers. As an app publisher, these are all things you should be doing to put your apps on an even playing field with the competition and give them a fighting chance.