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How to Manipulate App Store Rankings? But Wait… Watch Out!

app-store-ranking -manipulation

Attention: App Developers and App Marketers.

Here’s a quick way to generate sky-high app rankings.

Just go and fork out some $11,200, and your app will surely get bracketed among the Top 10 apps in the app stores.

Whoa! This sounds cool…right?  

Nope! I can’t vouch for this thing, anyway. But then, the online blog world is going bonkers about it. No, Seriously!

And, yes, they also suggest, in case you want your app to hold the top ranking position for consecutive weeks, then just keep forking out $65,000 week after week. That’s about it! You will be able to maintain good rankings for weeks together, until the money part starts pinching you.

app-store-manipulation-prices

Merlin’s Beard: Price sheet for manipulating app downloads that went viral in the recent past

Yes, the Apple app space seems so hunky-dory; that is if you have deep pockets and all, you can literally move up your app rankings and app downloads artificially.

Though Apple has been making tall claims and all that it has tightened security measures that make app manipulation nearly impossible, and that even bots can’t crack their tight security codes; but then, what bots find impossible, humans find it practically possible.

By the way, isn’t that the case always?

So, some determined app manipulating farms have found some serious loopholes that has been helping them encroach Apple’s tight security measures and for quite some time have been happily manipulating away the app store rankings to their advantage.

So now, How Do They Do It?

Step in QQ – That’s a popular messaging service owned by Tencent Holdings. The messaging service offer app makers a platform to hold negotiations in terms of fees for manipulating app downloads. For some extra bucks, they would add positive app reviews as well.

Nah! No bots are used here for manipulating app downloads . Gone are the days when bots were used for manipulation. Nowadays, actual users are appointed to manipulate the app store rankings.  For instance, there’s this disturbing image of a Chinese woman that had gone viral some time back that made the app industry stop dead in their tracks. Sitting right in front a panel, with no fewer than 100 iPhones, this woman unabashedly went about manipulating the app store rankings (there is another panel as well on the opposite side. Did you see that?). Her job is to bring certain apps to the forefront through downloads, installs, uninstalls, and repeats. For your information, uninstalling and re-installing apps bolster the app’s download ranks.

App Store Ranking Manipulation

Oh! Blimey! A Chinese woman manipulating app downloads on hundreds of iPhones at the same time. (Source: Weibo)

Does this picture freak you out? It surely would have freaked out the Apple Development team as well, given that they can’t do anything about it, but feel helpless, since bots are not part of this manipulation exercise. Though, no one can outrightly tell you what Apple actually factors in when it comes to higher app rankings and app downloads and all on the app store; however, the convention says that higher the number of downloads, the higher the app rankings.

Mind you, the App makers are employing it in good numbers. And, why not? Perhaps, more downloads mean the app would pop up on users’ screen regularly, which in turn would prompt users to download them instantly. For developers desperate of app downloads, what with more than million apps flooding the apps stores, this service can come really handy. Wut you say?

Is That Easy to Find App Ranking Manipulation Farms?

Just key in “app store ranking manipulation” on China’s most popular C2C e-commerce site Taobao, and you will find for yourself a good number of companies offering app manipulation services. Can’t believe your ears? But then, it’s that easy.

Much as Apple frowns at the existence of app manipulation farms,  the fact of the matter is that local entrepreneurs are cashing in on it big time – despite the whopping amount they spend on handsets and employees.

Other Manipulation Tricks Adopted by App Makers to Manipulate App Rankings

Despite Apple’s warnings to developers time and again to not to fall prey to app manipulation tactics, still some desperate developers find these dirty tricks cool enough to inflate their rankings.

  • Offering rewards to post positive reviews (apple has clamped down on this anyway).
  • Setting up annoying pop-ups and then forcing users to click on them to rate the app, or else the pop-up stays there forever. Merlin’s beard! How mean that developer could be?
  • Some developers also resort to changing the interface of the app. For instance, they install the “rate the app” button right on the top of the “Play” button when the game ends, under the distinct impression that once the review screen pops-up, the users might just quickly rate the app. But then, this is pretty annoying for any app user.
  • Sending too many reviews from the same IP. (Yes, Apple has clamped down on this as well).
  • Developers also resort to fake reviews. Given that App Store and Play store give loads of importance to app ratings and app reviews, developers are banking on fake reviews like never before. Unsurprisingly, there are a bunch of companies, such as BuyAppStoreReviews and BestReviewApp that help developers with fake app reviews.

nightstar-chicago-limo-blatant-fake reviews

 Fake Reviews (Source: androidauthority.com)

And, if you think that only a selected few developers are resorting to these fake reviews, think again. For your information, iOS apps have more fake reviews as opposed to Android apps. According to latest stats, 55% of the iOS apps and 45% of Android apps were flagged for fake reviews. Electronic Arts was in the news recently for requesting users to rate the Dungeon Keeper Game. And the users who rated the app with 5 stars were pushed to the App store and the Play Store to leave a review, and if users selected in between 1-4 stars, s/he was re-directed to an EA mail form for feedback on the app.

OpenXcell’s 2 cents

Well, trust us, when we tell you that there’s no short-cut formula to propel your app rankings. All these app manipulative methods may appear appetizing and all, initially, but then, honestly, this hype will wear off in no time. App store ranking manipulation is nothing but a flash in the pan according to our app marketing experts here, with no long term benefits at all in sight. And, God forbid, if Apple gets a hint of your app store manipulation tactics, then be prepared to receive these sort of emails and more.

An Alarming email from Apple’s Development Team

Warning Email-from-The-Apple-Developer-Team

  This is an email from Apple’s  Development team warning a developer to keep off  from applying app manipulation tactics. Not complying with this rule could result in cancellation of developer program membership. (Source: buzztouch.com) 


Our app marketers still reckon that the only sure-fire way to “manipulate” App Store rankings is to develop and design an amazing app and then go full-on and pull all the strings in your mobile app marketing kitty. Not to mention streamlining of app store optimization strategies.
Certainly, building a great product is imperative, but you need to back it up with an incredible app marketing plan as well. As the saying goes, you need to spend some money to make some real money.  Easier said than done, I know, but it’s worth reiterating anyways.

OpenXcell is a market leader in app development and app marketing. So, if in case you are pursuing any serious app development and marketing plans for your organization, OpenXcell will be happy to help. We have the experience and wherewithal to make your app a super-duper success.

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Jini Maxin

Well folks, Appy Times are here. Though I am no appoholic, I am in an industry that breathe apps. So, despite myself, I keep waking up to smokin’ hot cuppa of app stories every day. So, do you like what I prattle here? Duh! Of course, you do. So just go ahead and scribble a line or 2 here in the comment box below, or share them on social media. Why? Because it will load me with just enough confidence to prattle a li'l (lot) more :)