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Apple is testing changes to App Store ranking algorithms

Determining what apps appear on the top of the App Store charts is a big deal, as it can make or break a brand.

App-marketing firm Fiksu has been keeping a close eye on the effect this top secret algorithm has on App Store hopefuls and has discovered that Apple may indeed be revamping the criteria it uses to rank digital products.

The company believes it has discovered two very important changes to the ranking algorithm that are being implemented: Rankings now take into account user ratings, and a change in how often the App Store updates the top-seller lists.

A tweak to allow app ratings to change rankings is certainly the biggest news, as I think we've all seen apps with one- or two-star ratings in the top 100 or even the top 10 of various categories and wondered how it happened. If an app is more promise than delivery -- think of how lots iOS games sell themselves as the next Angry Birds in text and screenshots, only to deliver something barely playable -- it will have a harder time luring suckers into a purchase.

The second change that alters how often the App Store updates its rankings -- from every 15 minutes to every three hours -- is also pretty huge, but in a more indirect way. If an app scores a bunch of downloads in 15 minutes (think suspiciously here), there used to be a chance it could sneak its way into a highly trafficked chart. Now, with three hours' worth of data to draw from, Apple can identify such outliers and deal with them before they con a top spot in the rankings.

[via TechCrunch]

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