Influence of number of downloads to search ranking on App Store

Currency converter niche on the App Store is terribly crowded space. When you search for currency on the App Store, you get 2200+ results. Searching for currency converter gives you 840 results. My currency converter app - Banca - was ranked around 35-40th position when using these keywords, which is next to infinity in current cards-layout of the search results in the App Store app. Up to this point, Banca had 140k downloads (it’s on the store for two years).

Thus on January 17th, I organized a promotion where Banca would be free and I aimed to get as high number of downloads as I can in a short space of time. I wanted to see how much I can move that needle.

Results are not spectacular, but are still significant enough.

I set the app as free on Jan 16th 1pm CET and reverted back to paid on Jan 20th, around 4pm CET. During that time I got a little over 60k downloads: 8.5k on Jan 16, 41k the next day and then 5k and 3k.

Before this, Banca was well outside the Top 200 in the Finance chart on the US App Store thus it was fun to watch its rise. On noon of Jan 17th (almost 24h since it went free) it was ranked 16th on the Top Free Finance chart, at 19h it was up to no.7 which was the best position it got to. I estimate that took about 30-35k downloads per day.

During the period, Banca killed it around the globe. At one moment on Jan 17th, it was in Finance Top 20 in 120 stores around the world and no. 1 in about 35 of those stores.

How this influenced search rankings? When it reached no. 16 on the US App Store (12pm Jan 17), Banca was 24th result for currency converter. When it reached no. 7, it was 18th result. Thus, 60k downloads got me from 35th to 18th.

Now, few days later, Banca is still there in the same position; it seems it was not a passing thing while the downloads happened – it has lasting effect, which makes the promotion worthwhile. It’s a long way to go…

Update, Jan 25th: just checked and Banca is back to no. 33 search results for currency converter, 5 days after going back to paid and single-digit downloads. Well, lesson learned: going to free as search ranking booster is useless in the long run.