Does Running Apple Search Ads Influence App Rankings? 3 Ways to Optimize

As 65% of mobile app downloads are sourced from a search on the iOS App Store, you likely already know the value of app store optimization (ASO) and have considered adding – or are already running – Apple Search Ads as part of your mobile growth marketing strategy.

Before you launch your first (or next) Search Ads campaign, here are a few key considerations that will help maximize your ROI, installs, and even your app’s organic rankings.


Does Running Apple Search Ads Influence Your App Rankings?

The short answer: Yes, you can increase your app’s rankings by running Apple Search Ads.

Running Apple Search Ads campaigns contributes to your overall brand authority – which leads to increased organic performance and increased organic rankings. For example, Peleton saw their rankings for new keywords in the App Store rise rapidly during their Search Ads campaign.

Here are three best practices for maximizing the ROI of your Apple Search Ads campaigns and increasing your app’s organic rankings:

1. Strategically Plan Your Apple Search Ads Campaign Keywords to Influence Organic App Ranking

In order to positively influence your app’s organic search ranking through your Search Ads campaigns, you need to bid on keywords for which your app already ranks higher than position #8. This means you’ll want to select keywords that are highly relevant for your app and popular search terms. In addition to keywords for which you want your Search Ads to show, you should also select negative keywords for which you don’t want your Search Ads to show.

Apple determines campaign eligibility based on an app’s metadata, so the keywords you select should align with the metadata of your app. This step sets the groundwork for optimizing the reach and overall effectiveness of your Apple Search Ads.

(For an even more in-depth look at Search Ads campaign keyword planning and Apple’s model types, read How to Manage and Optimize Apple Search Ads Campaigns)

2. Optimize Your Search Ads’ Tap-Through Rate

Apple Search Ads pricing is a cost-per-tap model, meaning Apple presents ads that are most likely to be clicked (and therefore drive more revenue for Apple), rather than ads from the highest bidder. While the work you do in the keyword planning process supplements this, you can further maximize your Search Ads’ TTR (tap-through rate) and boost impression frequency by launching campaigns with high-quality, engaging (and relevant!) content.

Optimizing your ad campaigns for TTR is a win/win: Capture new installs from high-intent users and boost your app’s rankings for selected keywords.

And if you get stuck trying to improve TTR, consider taking measures to increase your app’s App Store rating through in-app rating and review prompts in the App Store. The more favorable reviews your app receives can make a big difference: iOS apps rated 4+ stars are pushed higher in the App Store search ranking, which leads to higher tap-through rates, and more effective ad campaigns.

3. Leverage Attribution Analytics to Gain Full-Funnel Visibility

Another important aspect of running effective Apple Search Ads campaigns is having accurate attribution data that gives a clear view of campaign performance. Armed with this data, you can make swift, data-driven decisions in order to optimize ad campaign performance – and maximize ROI. While Apple Search Ads is great for user acquisition, it leaves a little bit to be desired when it comes to reporting.

Branch’s Universal Ads solution fully integrates with Apple Search Ads to give you complete pre- and post-install visibility into app users acquired via Apple Search Ads.

Among the key benefits in reporting in the Branch <> Apple Search Ads integration:

  • Attribution Windows: Apple attributes all installs within 30 days of an Apple Search Ads click to itself. Branch’s default click-to-install attribution window is 7 days. You can also modify Branch’s click-to-install window if that time frame isn’t quite right for you.
  • Last-Click Attribution: Branch will attribute to the last click within its attribution windows, which can often be a different source than Apple Search Ads. This is important because it gives you actual insight beyond a number that might be incorrect. It also helps create a more complete view of your user funnel.
  • Reinstalls: An analytics report that tallies an app reinstall as a conversion can lead to data duplication and an unclear portrait of how many users are actually installing an app. Branch’s integration knows these are reinstalls, and shows them as such.

Learn more about how to optimize Apple Search Ads attribution with Branch Universal Ads. You can also learn more about Branch’s Attribution solution by reading The Ultimate Guide to Web and App User Attribution.

Ready to implement these best practices and maximize the ROI of your Apple Search Ads campaigns? Contact our sales team to get started with Branch’s Universal Ads today.